Xavi Hernández – Masterclass On The Coaches Voice: The Evolution Of One Of The Greats

Xavi Hernández – Masterclass On The Coaches Voice: The Evolution Of One Of The Greats

Xavi Hernandez Creus or better known as Xavi is a player who is widely regarded as one of, if not the greatest midfielder to play the beautiful game. But just as all the other greats have been influenced and molded by their coaches, Xavi has been too. And it’s that evolution that he portrays in this Masterclass by the Coaches Voice.

Xavi, fondly called ‘La Computadora’ is born and bred Blaugrana. He joined Barcelona’s youth set-up, the famed La Masia at the tender age of 11. And since then, he hasn’t looked back. From being to be able to share the field with Barcelona legend, Pep Guardiola himself, to winning the Champions League under the Catalan boss; Xavi has had an illustrious career.

Also read: Xabi Alonso’s Masterclass on The Coaches’ Voice: His Role In Different Teams

Breakout At The Base

Xavi’s breakout seasons coincided with Guardiola’s twilight years in the red & blue of Blaugrana. And as the baton was passed on, the young stalwart was entrusted to play the ‘4’ or the pivot in Barcelona’s typical 4-3-3. Xavi was not a physical specimen of a pivot, but he found the qualities that better suited the position in himself.

xavi masterclass coaches voice
Xavi’s first position as explained in his Coaches Voice masterclass

“Logically, I was neither fast, skillful nor strong; I wasn’t. But, I had the play in front of me & this allowed me to see forward with 5 players in front of the ball. Perfect for me, no?”, he says.

Xavi was an able pivot. He was excellent in the position but many of his coaches felt the untapped potential in him. Inaki Saez, the then coach of the Spanish U20s, prompted Xavi to play slightly forward. But this too wasn’t unknown territory for Xavi as he had played the role of a  ‘10’ during his time for the Spanish U18s & U20s in a 4-2-3-1 shape. But the young Xavi was not a big fan of the position.

“I didn’t see myself there (as the interior). Why? Because I had to play with my back to the goal”, he recounts.

The arrival of Rijkaard as Barcelona coach changed a lot around the club. In Xavi’s case, in particular, his position. Rijkaard asked Xavi to play higher up, in the right interior role of the 4-3-3.

The interior role asked more questions & physical demands of Xavi. While the pivot posed challenges of organisation and maintaining the rhythm of play, the interior role asked him questions of decisiveness. From higher up the pitch, he had to contribute offensively with efficiency as it would be them who would be expected to give the final line-breaking pass.

The Cometh Of Age

Rijkaard pushed Xavi up the field during the 02/03 season and he adapted pretty quickly. He had been observing the role and did know a thing or two about its intricacies. He knew he would receive the ball with his back to goal, he would be under pressure from the get-go and would have options up ahead, but it was his duty to find them and be decisive while doing so.

However, Xavi had the ability to pull it off. His excellent reading of the game and his ability to scan the spaces and relative positions of his teammates were exquisite and hence he was always a step ahead after receiving the ball. 

xavi coaches voice masterclass
Xavi explains his position higher up the pitch in his Coaches Voice Masterclass

“Many people say: ‘Xavi exploded in 05/06.’ No. It’s not that I exploded. I was the same player as I had been here, but it’s totally different playing in one position than in another.. Here, obviously, I was more decisive. I was closer to where things happen in football..”

Xavi became more productive in the final third as a result. His tally of goals and assists increased. But he was not a template player that fit into any class of a midfielder. He wasn’t adept at dribbling and was not the usual incisive head getting into the box & scoring a lot of goals, but he adapted well with all the attributes he had.

xavi career stats xavi goals and assists career analytics
Xavi’s goals & assists over the course of his career

Xavi didn’t like the change at the beginning but felt more comfortable in his new position as time progressed. He liked the responsibility of having to be decisive offensively rather than being the orchestrator at the base of midfield and defence.

His defensive duties were reduced and his offensive work increased in tandem, although this irked him a bit at the onset, Xavi does accept and appreciate the importance of that change now.

More Influential, More Attractive

The growth from the pivot to the interior was crucial in Xavi’s development. In fact, it could be arguably the most crucial change in his career. It’s what made him go from the average La Masia graduate to one of the greats to have ever played the game: A fact that he is self-aware of and is full of gratitude for.

The perception of Xavi and his whole career has changed due to the positional evolution he underwent. The fans, media and the spotlight obviously falls on goal scorers & assist providers, and being closer to goals and its derivative decisive moments put the spotlight on Xavi; which he reflects on appreciably in his masterclass.

Slowly & surely, not only coaches but the media and the general public began to recognize the genius in him, cementing Xavi as one of the Barcelona greats.

The Third Man

“It’s the Barca DNA,” says Xavi to the question of the concept of the third man. A tactical principle taught from the academy levels of La Masia; it is one of the best ways to break down defensive lines and slice through them with silkiness, effectiveness & touch of aesthetic class.

In simpler words, it’s an idea by which an indirect pass helps to open up a direct and better channel of offensive play, essentially beating the press and finding space within one or two passes. A calculated give and go, done at pace, simple to see, hard to stop.

“The third man is an invaluable solution for overcoming pressing lines,” Xavi explains.

The plays by the third man & more recently even the fourth man, are some of the essential components of the style of play that Barcelona aspire to cultivate and are part of their core philosophy to this day.

Xavi has been part of many of those beautiful patterns of play combining with other greats like Iniesta, Messi, Busquets, Villa, and many more. 

Watch The Full Masterclass On The Coaches’ Voice YouTube Channel 

Analysing Xavi’s evolution as a player can be useful for aspiring coaches & managers to understand how tactical & positional flexibility can aid the development of players. Xavi’s perspective in his masterclass throws light on how he progressed under some great Barcelona managers in Saez, Rijkaard & Guardiola & can help aspiring managers develop their youth players in a similar fashion.

For more detailed observations and conclusions, you can watch the Masterclass by Xavi on the Coaches’ Voice YouTube channel linked below.

Subscribe To The Coaches’ Voice Academy: Get A 10% Discount On Your Purchase By Using Our Affiliate Code & Link 

This Masterclass by Xavi is not all, get all of The Coaches’ Voice’s detailed and in-depth content accessible on all devices by subscribing to The Coaches’ Voice Academy!

Get ahead and get smart about the game by registering for the Coaches Voice Academy and begin your in-depth & immersive journey into everything about the beautiful game delivered by top coaches and players from around the world available at your fingertips!

Whether you’re an upcoming coach, scout, analyst, or a football enthusiast, or fan who is looking to learn more and explore the finer details of the beautiful game, subscribe to the CV Academy by using this link and entering the code ‘BUDDY10’ to get a 10% discount on your purchase.

Link: https://bit.ly/3xi9KeJ

Click the above link to subscribe to the Coaches’ Voice Academy & don’t forget to enter the code!

Register now!

Related post