The Palamos stadium in the Costa Brava was the ground that Xavi Hernandez got his coaching career underway at. The man who is considered their heir to Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola at Camp Nou, has begun.
That was reflected in the 1,400 strong crowd, an elevated number of fans for a friendly between Catalan side Palamos and Al Sadd, the Qatari side where Xavi retired at and then took charge of.
Despite the result, 1-1, Xavi responded to the expectation on him.
He went for a 4-3-3 formation which had a Barca identity stamp. A lot of ball possession and inclusion of the goalkeeper in the creation of play.
With the defence planted in the middle of the pitch, Al Sadd kept the ball wetland pressed high when it was lost.
Xavi followed the game on foot, correcting his players’ positions time and time again, against a Palamos that could only counter attack.
Al Sadd lacked practice and they will take time to adapt.
Xavi benefitted from VAR which ruled out tow Palamos goals, the first after 16 minutes with VAR showing a handball at the start of play.
Then right at the start of the second half, Xavi German had a goal disallowed for a foul.
However VAR worked in Palamos’s favour for a penalty which hit the bar and bounced down - with the video showing it was justo ver the line.
With 12 minutes to go Al Sadd raised their game, and the pace of the play, another of Barca’s pillars. Finally Nam Tae Hee was able to equalise.
Lot (24th) and Sabadell (28th) are the next stops for Xavi as a coach.