Barcelona grabbed the three vital points in their game against Deportivo Alaves in La Liga. The former La Liga champions are almost out of the title race and one of the main goals for them this season is to qualify for the UEFA Champions League next term, having been knocked out from the group stages this time around.
The Blaugrana is currently sitting in the 5th position behind rivals Atletico Madrid. After the conclusion of the International break, Barca will face off against the reigning La Liga champions in what could be a crucial tie in deciding who takes the fourth spot. Barca’s Sunday victory saw them close down the gap to Atleti by just one solitary point. Having said that, Barca were lucky enough to win against Alaves.
Frenkie De Jong’s late goal saw the former La Liga champions grab a slender 1-0 lead against the home side, having been ineffective for almost the entire duration of the game. The Blaugrana were clearly reeling from the extremely exhausting fixture against Atheltic Bilbao in the Copa Del Rey RO16, which was only settled by Iker Muniain’s penalty kick at the end of the first half of Extra time.
Coming to positives for the Blaugrana, Frenkie De Jong was the player under the spotlight as the Dutchman’s future at Camp Nou has come under scrutiny lately, with Bayern Munich said to be interested in him. However, the former Ajax player provided the winner and the only goal of the match for his side and that should see him regain some confidence upon which he can build. Pedri yet again showed what Barcelona have been lacking in the midfield in his absence and was the standout performer for the Blaugrana. Coming to defense, Ronald Araujo was almost impenetrable and was the key in Barca keeping their fifth clean sheet of the season.
What has been said?
Speaking after the game, Xavi said that his side deserved to win under some challenging conditions. The pitchside was extremely cold at the Mendizorrotza and it was challenging for either side to maintain a proper rhythm.
“It’s a very important victory. It was difficult because the field was frozen but it’s a crucial victory and it leaves us happy after the effort put in.”
Speaking about the importance of the win, Xavi did not understate the value of the win. The 41-year-old said that his team had earned ‘golden points’, as they look to maintain their charge of securing a UCL berth for next term.
“We are not in an easy situation and we have to suffer. Today we’ve achieved golden points.”
When asked about Ousmane Dembele
Dembele’s relationship with Barcelona and Xavi has changed considerably after the Frenchman decided to back out of the contract renewal at the last moment. Numerous sources have understood that Barcelona had reached an agreement with Dembele over a new contract but the player and the agent decided to shake things up on the day of contract signing.
Dembele’s extraordinary financial demands of €200 million in wages across 5 seasons in addition to a €20 million signing-on bonus for himself and his agent left Barca bamboozled and the entire situation has exploded out of proportion. Barcelona sporting director recently said that Dembele and his agent have been ‘asked to leave’ Barcelona this month. The 24-year-old has not featured in any of the Barca squads since the 3-2 loss against Real Madrid despite being fully fit. With that said, it is a club decision and Xavi has shown no signs of him missing the former Borussia Dortmund winger’s presence in his team.
“Dembélé? Honestly, the situation is the same. He hasn’t shown up for training because he wasn’t feeling well, but it doesn’t change anything.”
What next for Barcelona?
Barcelona have earned a much-deserved break as February will be a litmus test for Xavi and his men. Barcelona will take on Atletico Madrid on 6th Feb before taking on rivals Espanyol away from home. February will also see the former Spanish champions take on Napoli in the UEFA Europa League RO32.
A medical student with an avid interest for the game.