Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez and his squad held a lengthy chat on Wednesday afternoon, following their defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk. With the intention of halting their downward spiral against Alaves this weekend, both players and manager discussed areas that they needed to improve.
One of the key areas that Xavi highlighted had dropped considerably was the high pressure, according to MD. He took some of the responsibility for the poor form, but Ilkay Gundogan, Robert Lewandowski, Ronald Araujo and Marc-Andre ter Stegen all raised their voices in the name of improvement too.
While they were clear that they had not played well of late, it was also noted that there was no need to get overly worked up by the situation. Barcelona are just two points away from Real Madrid in La Liga, and one win away from qualifying in top spot in the Champions League.
In terms of the pressure, the squad agreed they needed to emphasize the collective much more, and communicate better on the pitch. Bringing the ball out from the back, and chance creation are the other key areas that were circled for improvement.
It was also agreed that the team not only needed to move together both in defence and attack, as a unit, but had to become much more solid, and recover some of the essence of their title-winning team last year. Barcelona now want to be more concentrated and more intense in their play.
All of this sounds good, but until it is seen on the pitch, it will be empty discourse. One of the things that has seen Xavi criticised in recent weeks is the difference between what he claims he is setting his Barcelona up to do, dominate and play good football, and what has been seen on the pitch, which is a side that has scraped through a number of games through grit and quality.