Xavi Hernández has an unalterable roadmap in terms of his way of seeing football and his proposal on the field. At AS we discover the pillars of your style book.
1- “The ball is not a bomb, the ball is a treasure.” This was the first declaration of intent that Xavi Hernández made on his first day as coach at the head of Al Sadd to change the mentality of the team. The ball is the center and origin of everything. No other way of playing is conceived other than with possession of the ball. The ball as a priority to dominate the game.
2- The concept of superiority. One of the priority objectives is to look for superiorities on the field, that is, to find moments and situations in the game in which it allows you to be just another player in the same space, and therefore to overcome rival lines. Players with imbalance are capable of seeking that superiority in one-on-one, but the objective is to achieve this through collective play. The basis of superiority on the field is achieved through triangle play, where the player with the ball always has at least two solutions when it comes to getting the ball out.
3- The execution time. On Xavi’s board, speed is vital to surprise the rival and this is achieved by being well positioned on the field and knowing how to perfectly read the needs of the team. The first touch and the unchecks allow the ball to go fast. “The ball always runs faster than the player” is another of the mantras that Xavi often repeats to his pupils.
4- The free man. In Al Sadd’s schemes there is always a player who does not have the need to mark a man or fix a specific position, but must always know how to read the game and find the best solution. In the case of Al Sadd that man is usually Santi Cazorla, his extension in the field. In Barcelona, everything indicates that Sergio Busquets could be the most common.
5- The 4-3-3. In principle, Xavi has two clearly defined systems in his style book: 4-3-3 and 3-4-3. In Al Sadd he uses both indiscriminately and sometimes in the same party. More than a specific drawing, an intention is sought: to dominate and propose in the game.
6-Ends wide open. Fundamental is the role of the wingers, both when opening the field and facilitating spaces for the interiors in the game between the lines as well as in search of the imbalance in the band. In this case, the recovery of players like Dembélé or the arrival of Stearling would be, without a doubt, very well received.
7- The blaugrana DNA. Unwaivable from all concepts. Players who have sucked Barça football since childhood, based on the speed of execution, correct reading of space and time in the game, individual talent, sacrifice, team play and always being proactive. The commitment to young people is inalienable in its philosophy.
8-High pressure. It is vital to recover the ball in the opposite field. First because the team spins all their game with the ball and second because the opponent gets disorderly if they lose the ball in a low block. The pressure is carried out jointly on all lines and seeking to avoid transitions, with the free man as a wild card. If the goalkeeper decides to throw the ball long, then the markings are delayed in unison, putting a meter behind the scoreboard to anticipate a second play.
9. Proactive. There is never speculation, the ball is always in the opposite field, possession has the priority objective of ordering oneself on the field and looking for the rival goal. You do not understand the game from behind, you always have to look at the rival field.
10. Quick centrals. It is vital in defense to have players with immediate recovery and capable of instantaneous reactions because they defend with the very forward line to seek to join lines. Araújo and Eric are presented as two candidates to make this way of playing profitable, which takes risks, but which is considered vital to complete the pressure in all phases.
11. Everyone in the bandwagon. Group management is very important to Xavi. He does not want anyone disengaged and seeks the commitment of all, whether they play a lot or a little. Meritocracy is a ‘sine qua non’ rule on the Spanish coach’s roadmap. Also dialogue and that the player feels heard. The door to his office is always open.
12. Win. Xavi is a winning coach as evidenced by the fact that he has won seven titles in just over two years with Al Sadd, putting a 34-game unbeaten streak on track in Qatar. But from his perspective, cruyffista like few others, more important than the result is the game. If you play well, you usually win games. If it is played badly, it is more difficult, if not impossible. The game is always above the scoreboard. Resultism is an emergency solution, which almost never ends up being successful.
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Xavi’s football ideology