When Messi won the Ballon D’or for the third time last week he dedicated it to Xavi and in my opinion rightly so. When I came to Spain 6 years ago I thought Xavi was overated and slowed down all the Barcelona attacks. I couldn’t have been more wrong and much as I dislike Barça I love to see him play.
His achievements over the past few years have been staggering. Puyol and Iniesta have done the same but Xavi is always there and has not had the injuries of the other two and maintained his consistency. Reak Madrid won the league in the 2007-08 season but once that ended this is what he has achieved in the past 3 years:
European Champions (Spain) 08
Spanish League 08/09
Spanish Cup 08/09
Champions League 08/09
FIFA Club World Cup 09
Spanish League 09/10
World Cup (Spain) 10
Spanish League 10/11
Champions League 10/11
FIFA World Club Cup 11
He is rarely injured and for all the hype about Leo Messi he was poor in the world cup. He did have an incompetent manager but Xavi did the same job for Spain as he does for his club and led them to the title. His consistency has to be applauded and it’s a shame he probably just missed out on the last chance he had of getting the recognition he deserves. He turns 32 this month and the demands of the modern game mean he might have 2 or 3 more seasons left. People may argue he can play on like Giggs has but Giggs has been used sparingly by Ferguson and Xavi needs to be in the centre of the pitch controlling all the action.
I wrote an article for the Betting School last month and came across some interesting stats as I was looking at how teams perform when certain players play. The information I found persuaded me to write this post as last seasonXavi started in 15 Barcelona home matches and they won every single one. He missed 4 games and they won 1 of those but also drew with Real Mallorca and Deportivo, who were relegated and also lost to Hercules who also went down. So 45 points from a possible 45 when he started and 5 from a possible 12 when he didn’t.
His record was not so good oustanding when Barça were away from home but I think those home stats show his true worth. I think the achievements Xavi has made with Spain and Barcelona make him the real star of the last few years. It’s a shame he gets on his high horse about the way Barça play but when he’s gone they will miss the true conductor and I believe in the next couple of years will need to find a new style as without Xavi the tiki-taka will not be the same.