Xavi’s position at Barcelona is not under immediate threat despite Wednesday’s embarrassing defeat to Antwerp, according to reports in Spain.
The Catalan giants, who were beaten 4-2 by Girona at the weekend, fielded a strong team in Belgium despite already being assured of top spot, though they were on the receiving end of a 3-2 defeat.
Antwerp went ahead after just two minutes and Barca twice had to net equalisers to square the game, though Marc Guiu’s late leveller was cancelled out just a minute later as George Ilenikhena claimed all three points for the previously winless Belgians in stoppage time.
Barca president Joan Laporta is believed to have insisted on Xavi playing as close to his best XI as possible, with the club’s financial struggles meaning they needed the €2.8million (£2.4m) prize money teams receive for any group stage victory.
But instead the players delivered another worryingly lacklustre performance that raised more questions over Xavi’s future at the club.
According to , however, Laporta still has faith in Xavi and has no immediate plans to replace him.
There is a feeling among the Barca hierarchy that the former midfielder has enough credit in the bank to be given an opportunity to try and turn things around.
Barca’s form and performances will need to improve dramatically, though, and the situation will be reassessed at the backend of January.
Both Laporta and sporting director Deco have made it clear to Xavi that there are certain aspects of his management that do need addressing, however, and they feel he could be more disciplined with a squad that has become a little lax.
His team selections have also been questioned, particularly the continued presence of some ‘untouchable’ players in the team.
Xavi has also been encouraged to get back to basics and play players in their proper positions, with Ronald Araujo returning to centre-back, Joao Cancelo back to right-back and Alejandro Balde to come back in at left-back.
Barca’s hierarchy expect to see a response against Valencia on Saturday evening, with a favourable run of fixtures following over the coming weeks.
The Catalans are currently in fourth place in La Liga, seven points adrift of leaders Girona and five points behind Real Madrid, and for now Barca do not feel there is any reason to panic, with the gap to the top far from insurmountable.
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