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Xavi: “The lack of effectiveness makes us suffer and restart our season” | Soccer | Sports

Barça arrived emboldened by a good streak of eight games without losing. But the national team break put his progression into question. And also the team’s top scorer, Robert Lewandowski, who started the year 2024 more alive than the previous one. Against UD Las Palmas he had the chances, although most of them were frustrated by offside, by the hands of Álvaro Valles before being sent off for a challenge on Raphinha, or by his own aim. A first Vaseline attempt, a shot from inside the area, a header that went straight to the crossbar. The definition was missing, not the conviction. “If we had been a little more effective today, we would have won easily,” confessed Xavi Hernández after the match. And he added: “I think we have missed more goals than normal. It is a summary of the season, this lack of effectiveness that makes us suffer more than necessary.” Barcelona had 14 shots, but only two between the sticks. Although Lewandowski had little success, he did reconcile with the will: he was active, producing and eager to score. But he did not achieve the goal that he sought so much despite the multitude of opportunities. And Lewandowski’s weight is fundamental in the attack, but against the Canarian team he did not have a well-adjusted look. And he was preceded by his companion: Raphinha.

While Lewandowski did not have the day in the rainy Montjuïc, it was Raphinha’s moment to shine, the player who finished the most during the match: up to five times. “It was a difficult game. The goal would come at some point. The first was a goal, I don’t know what the referee thought. The important thing is that we won,” said the Brazilian player after the match. The forward had the revenge he wanted with his goal. In the first half, referee Busquets Ferrer controversially disallowed the player’s goal. “He didn’t understand it. The referee told me that he explained it to me later, that it was difficult to explain,” confessed Sergi Roberto, the captain, after the match. And Xavi added: “The disallowed goal against Raphinha is a serious refereeing error.” But during the second half, when Joao Félix came out onto the field and gauged him, he was able to redeem himself, and score the first goal of the match with a header, which he experienced by making the VAR gesture. “The game required Joao’s talent, his passing between the lines,” said Xavi, who had doubts in choosing the starting forwards. “He is so dynamic that he can participate in all forward positions. He is possibly the best footballer who attacks spaces. Sometimes he goes faster than expected, but that acceleration gives us a lot,” Xavi confessed about Raphinha. With this goal, there are now eight goals and five assists so far this season for the Brazilian.

And the Polish striker arrived with sweet numbers with Barcelona: two games in a row scoring – Atlético de Madrid and Naples – and three with an impact of two goals and three assists. This season he already has 20 goals – 11 of them in this second stretch – and nine assists on goal, one more than last season. After the last match against Atlético, Lewandowski suffered wear and tear with his team in the two Euro Cup play-off games, playing 120 minutes against Wales, and 90 against Estonia. “He is fine, he has returned from the national team. He is a transcendental footballer for our interests,” explained Xavi Hernández before the match. “He is a beast of a footballer,” added the Barça coach, who could not watch the game from the bench.

On the other side of the forward line, Lamine Yamal had a more secondary role than usual, and had no apparent impact on the match. So 20 minutes from the end he was replaced by Ferran Torres, applauded in what is his return after nine games lost due to the injury that forced him to leave the match against Osasuna in the seventh minute. And that he came out to show that his strong mentality is still intact, trying to extend his advantage as a scorer: he is the Barça team’s second top scorer with 11 goals, seven of them in the League.

To top off Lewandowski’s scoring frustration, Vitor Roque—who stayed in Barcelona training while the rest traveled with their national teams—came in for him to play the final minutes. The Polish striker left slowly, and earned him a yellow card that will cost him the next game against Cádiz, although he will be available for the classic on April 21. “If Madrid manages to win tomorrow, nothing changes. We will continue fighting. I hope I can be closer to the League title. We will be like this every day until we face them,” assured the Barça coach. Until then, the victory thanks to Raphinha’s goal leaves Barcelona five points behind Real Madrid.

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