News From Spain: Gianluca Zambrotta highlights quality Xavi Hernandez shares with Pep Guardiola

With the possible exception of Johan Cruyff, there can be no greater praise for a Barcelona manager, or no greater pressure, than being compared to Pep Guardiola. Their most successful manager ever, it is still no surprise that Gianluca Zambrotta sees similarities between Guardiola and incumbent manager Xavi Hernandez.

Both spent the vast majority of their careers at Barcelona, crossing paths as teammates first before Guardiola took over the Barcelona job while Xavi was at his peak. Now, he is trying to emulate the Manchester City boss.

Zambrotta sees similarities between the two.

“Xavi, like Pep, had a coaching mentality. He didn’t start his coaching career at B but he has always opted for Barça’s philosophy in his game. When he played he was already a coach. He’s doing a great job.”

The Italian right-back made the comments to MD, as he explained that he felt Barcelona were doing well with Xavi.

“Barca are in a good moment, and even more so after winning the Super Cup against Real Madrid. I always look on Barcelona fondly, I have excellent memories of Barça, of the friends I left there, of Xavi, my teammate when I played there.”

“I think they’re doing very well, they’re a great team, a great club always has irregular moments, sometimes they’re up and other times a little lower. After having won the Super Cup, they are leaders… I am happy for Xavi and for Barca.”

Certainly Xavi and and Guardiola are moulded from the same school of football. The latter has embraced varying tactics, while still prioritising the ball for the most part, since leaving Can Barca. His time as manager featured a possession-heavy game, predicated on dissecting the opposition defence.

For many, it has been surprising how much more dynamic Xavi’s Barcelona have been. Xavi was probably the largest propagator of that short-passing style, but as a manager, his team have been much more direct and dynamic.