Xavi claims Barcelona are the best they’ve been since he arrived

Barcelona coach Xavi has claimed that his team is now better than at any previous point during his time in charge since being appointed successor to Ronald Koeman in November 2021.

Xavi was handed the reins with Barca at their lowest ebb in decades. The club was hamstrung by a dire financial situation and had been forced to cut loose Lionel Messi in the months prior because they didn’t have the resources to register an agreed contract extension.

The team had also started the season in desperately poor form, winning only four of their opening 12 La Liga games under Koeman and interim boss Sergi Barjuan.

Almost two years on, Xavi’s impact has been transformational. Now, only five of the players who were part of the 20-man matchday squad for the 3-3 draw with Celta Vigo – Barca threw away a 3-0 half-time lead – the day before Xavi’s arrival, remain in the current first-team squad.

“[This is] the team’s highest level since I became the coach,” Xavi said, via SPORT, in response to Barcelona’s 5-0 win over Royal Antwerp in their Champions League opener.

Joao FelixJoao Felix

Barcelona marked their return to the Champions League with a win / David Ramos/GettyImages

“I am very satisfied with the result, but especially with the game, with how we are understanding it. Players have arrived who have improved the team, but it is [also] wonderful to see how we interpret the game and how we push up. I’m proud to see the team.”

Barcelona, who have been knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage in each of the last two seasons and are therefore looking for a strong showing in Europe, enjoyed two more goals from new signing Joao Felix. Fellow recent arrivals Joao Cancelo and Ilkay Gundogan also impressed.

“We don’t have to say anything to Gundogan and Cancelo because they have had a coach [Pep Guardiola] who also plays like us, so everything is easier,” Xavi said.

“It’s wonderful to see Gundogan play. Cancelo also improves the squad…and Felix. The most important thing is that they are enjoying themselves.”

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