La Liga: Xavi begins as Barcelona coach by beating Espanyol

La Liga: Xavi begins as Barcelona coach by beating Espanyol


Xavi Hernandez wanted a penalty to start out his return to Camp Nou as Barcelona coach in successful trend.

Barcelona’s 1-0 win in opposition to Espanyol on Saturday started the best way Xavi needed, together with his staff dominating the ball just like the Spain nice had when he joined Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta to forge one in all soccer’s biggest sides as its midfield maestro.

But the identical issues that had led to the demise of his predecessor quickly emerged. Barcelona’s assault failed to show its large benefit in possession into pictures on purpose aside from Memphis Depay’s second-half penalty, whereas its protection got here aside within the remaining stretch. Only Espanyol’s misfiring forwards stopped the Catalan derby from ending in a draw.

“Overall, I am happy, but it is clear that we have to improve,” Xavi mentioned. “We are building a new project and these three points in a derby gives us a boost. It was tough because they could have scored. We were in control for 60, 70 minutes, but we should have been more patient and held onto the ball. It is a question of knowing how to interpret the match.”

The crowd of 74,000 chanted “Xavi! Xavi!” within the sixth minute in honor of the quantity Xavi wore for 17 seasons when he helped Barcelona win 25 titles. He was employed two weeks in the past earlier than a world break for membership competitors when Ronald Koeman was let go after one too many painful defeats.

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Barcelona moved into sixth place within the Spanish league, eight factors behind chief Sevilla and second-place Real Sociedad.

Ivan Rakitic’s stoppage-time purpose lifted Sevilla to the highest of the desk after combating again for a 2-2 house draw with Alaves.

Atletico Madrid additionally wanted a late purpose by heart again Felipe Monteiro to edge Osasuna 1-0 at house.

XAVI’S CHANGES

Xavi is again after six years enjoying and training Qatar as the person Barcelona hopes can restore the staff to greatness after years of decline.

The former midfielder had mentioned that he would supply a shock in his beginning lineup with so a lot of his attacking gamers out with well being points. And he didn’t disappoint by giving a debut to 17-year-old reserve-team ahead Ilias Akhomach, who made the beginning lineup to assist fill in for the absent Ansu Fati, Ousmane Dembele, Sergio Aguero and Martin Braithwaite.

A slick move by 17-year-old Gavi Paez to play Depay clear within the forty eighth minute was one of many few moments of inspiration by a Barcelona participant within the opposing space.

Gavi was one in all a number of younger gamers that Koeman introduced into the primary staff. Xavi had mentioned that he would use the gifted teenager as a “wild card,” and he performed Gavi on the left facet of his assault in a brand new place for the pure midfielder.

Gavi’s move left Depay sizing up goalkeeper Diego Lopez when Espanyol defender Leandro Cabrera slid and took him down. Depay took his league tally to seven targets when he despatched his spot kick to his proper whereas Lopez stretched the opposite means.

After barely touching the ball within the first half, Espanyol had two wonderful probabilities to seize a late equalizer. But substitute Landy Dimata headed vast from point-blank vary earlier than Spain striker Raul de Tomas hit the publish.

“A draw would have been a fair result, but soccer is about scoring and we couldn’t get the ball in,” mentioned De Tomas.

Barcelona hosts Benfica on Tuesday in search of a win that may seal the Catalan membership’s spot within the knockout rounds.

SEVILLA WINS

Alaves was poised to get solely its second-ever victory at Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium when Rakitic fired house a ball that fell to him from a poorly defended cross.

The draw left Sevilla forward of Sociedad on purpose distinction. Sociedad performs Valencia on Sunday, when Real Madrid may also transfer forward of Sevilla if it wins at Granada.

Defender Victor Laguardia headed from a nook kick to offer Alaves the fifth-minute lead.

Lucas Ocampos equalized for Sevilla within the thirty eighth, however his handball allowed Joselu Mato to place the guests again forward in first-half damage time from the penalty spot.

ATLETICO STAYS CLOSE

Diego Simeone had loaded Atletico’s beginning 11 with attacking gamers led by Antoine Griezmann, however Osasuna’s cussed protection had the guests three minutes from incomes some extent within the capital.

That was when Felipe jumped excessive on the close to publish to slice a cross by Yannick Carrasco into the other facet of the online and seize the winner.

The win left fourth-place Atletico one level behind Real Madrid in third.

Atletico hosts AC Milan on Wednesday in a match that it must win to spice up its probabilities of advancing from a troublesome Champions League group that features Liverpool and Porto.

WINLESS AWAY

Villarreal stayed winless on the highway in seven league video games this season after Celta Vigo got here from behind for a 1-1 draw.



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