Of the characteristics that could be expected from Xavi’s Barça, none was that it could be the most aggressive team since the 2016-17 season. Whoever commits the most fouls, go. The average of infractions of this campaign is the highest in the last six years, surpassing those directed by Luis Enrique, Ernesto Valverde, Quique Setién and Ronald Koeman, who started the current campaign and shares with Xavi the authorship of this very combative team .
And this Barça does not respond, precisely, to the footballing virtues that Xavi treasured, a footballer more exquisite than enraged, but intense in his emotions, as was discovered after Pedri’s goal. Barça committed more fouls than Sevilla (12-8), and it was no exception. He also did more than Madrid in the classic (12-9). And more than the rival on duty in half of the games led by the former Barça brain (13 of 26). Perhaps it was the lack of belligerence one of the explanations why Barça had lost competitiveness and was rolling downhill.
Avoid another 2-3
It is true that one of Xavi’s demands, which asks his men for an intense pressure after losing the ball to recover it, it is that they also avoid the rival’s counterattack if they do not succeed. Barça has committed numerous tactical fouls to stop the opponent from leaving, without any shame that they were so cumbersome that they led to a warning, such as grab opponents by the waist to hinder them. What Busquets and Piqué did against Sevilla and Busquets and Pedri against Madrid. The ultimate goal is to avoid defeats like 2-3 of the Super Cup in Arabia.
Xavi claims “intensity, desire, enthusiasm” from the dressing room, virtues that also have to do with the defensive facet, an aspect in which there has been a substantial improvement, as well as in the greater scoring production. Ter Stegen has only conceded two goals in the last seven games.
Barça does not have aggressive or violent footballers; yes temperamental for the cards product of the protests. In this course some have increased due to loss of time to protect the result: the last one was from Memphis in Elche.
Far from ‘Fair Play’
The number of cards has also increased notably: 106 yellow and 7 red in the 42 games played to date. Piqué, Busquets, Nico, Alba and Gavi have already completed a cycle of reprimands; Araujo, Eric and Frenkie are warned. Last year there were 103 yellow cards and 5 red cards in 54 games. Is he 10th place in the Fair Play ranking of the League, an award that he won uninterruptedly from 2011 to 2017, in Luis Enrique’s last campaign.
However, despite the percentage increase in cards compared to recent years, Barça still suffers more offenses than it commits. That has not changed.