Barcelona’s Xavi Under Increasing Pressure as Royal Antwerp Upset Adds to Woes

Last-placed Royal Antwerp bid farewell to the UEFA Champions League with a sensational 3-2 victory over Barcelona. The defeat, coming on the heels of Barcelona’s recent La Liga loss to Girona, intensifies the scrutiny on head coach Xavi Hernandez, with many considering it one of Barcelona’s worst performances this season.

Despite already securing qualification for the Round of 16 and top spot in Group H, Barcelona’s lackluster display against Antwerp has triggered concerns among fans and pundits alike. The match began disastrously for Barcelona as 17-year-old Arthur Vermeeren scored just 76 seconds into the game, marking the quickest goal conceded by Barcelona in the Champions League in over a decade.

Xavi made seven changes to the starting lineup, aiming to recover pride and confidence after the Girona setback. However, the disjointed performance and the subsequent 3-2 defeat have led to heightened criticism of the coach. Post-match discussions centered on a potential crisis brewing at the club, putting Xavi’s managerial position under the microscope.

Ferran Torres and substitute Marc Guiu managed to equalize for Barcelona, but Antwerp’s Vincent Janssen and George Ilenikhena secured the upset victory in stoppage time. The shocking defeat has fueled doubts about Xavi’s ability to steer Barcelona through challenging times.

Barcelona captain Sergi Roberto expressed the team’s frustration, acknowledging their disappointment despite securing a spot in the Round of 16. Xavi’s attempt to rotate the squad did not pay off, leaving questions about the team’s depth and performance.

Xavi, already facing scrutiny for recent results, now confronts increasing pressure as Barcelona’s Champions League campaign takes a hit. The defeat against Antwerp, coupled with struggles in La Liga, has prompted club president Joan Laporta to express his outrage over the team’s performance.

While Xavi insists that the team is united and under construction, concerns are rising within the board about the direction of Barcelona under his management. Laporta, who initially supported Xavi’s appointment, is reportedly dissatisfied with recent displays and may be reconsidering the future of the coaching staff.

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