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Barcelona: Xavi has everyone pulling in the same direction as Luuk de Jong winner shows

Xavi is letting Barcelona move in the same direction to take a step closer to Europa League glory tonight – Luuk de Jong is set to leave this summer but his 93rd minute winner

  • Barcelona beat Levante 3-2 on Sunday night thanks to late winner Luke de Jong
  • They lie second in LaLiga with faint hopes of snatching the title from Real Madrid
  • Xavi has done a remarkable job since taking charge at the Spanish giants
  • The club legend has made all players feel like they have a role to play this season
  • Barca are now trying to end the season with Europa League silver

Players who are substituted on for six minutes in a game are generally not rated in Spain Diary AS but they made an exception for Luuk de Jong on Sunday after his added-time winner against Levante.

The Dutch striker received three aces out of a possible four, he barely had a touch but what a touch it was – a 93rd-minute header to win a five-goal thriller.

Xavi said after the game that the victory was mainly down to two ‘great professionals’, referring to Marc Andre ter Stegen, who made several key saves and saved Roger Marti’s penalties; and to Luuk de Jong.

Luuk de Jong was Barcelona's savior in Sunday's 3-2 win at Levante in LaLiga

Luuk de Jong was Barcelona’s savior in Sunday’s 3-2 win at Levante in LaLiga

The striker scored the winning goal in the 93rd minute to keep the momentum going at Barcelona

The striker scored the winning goal in the 93rd minute to keep the momentum going at Barcelona

The Dutch striker told Barca TV: “If the team needs me, I’ll be there for them.”

It’s all a far cry from the early days under Xavi when he didn’t even warm up in games. Slowly but surely, Barcelona’s new manager has signed everyone to the program, there isn’t a single player who doesn’t feel like a stakeholder in this campaign, even those who are unlikely to be with the club next season.

It’s the alliance of this newfound spirit with the wealth of talent on Barcelona’s books that makes Xavi’s side strong favorites to win the Europa League when they go 1-1 in Thursday night’s quarter-final second leg against Eintracht Frankfurt at the Nou Camp . 1 total.

Corresponding TVP sports in Poland, Robert Lewandowski has already told FC Bayern Munich that he will join Barcelona this summer. There’s little chance of De Jong staying around, but his desire to go full steam ahead has been bolstered by the vital supporting role Xavi has given him. “We want to win something,” he told LaLiga TV after the weekend’s win.

Despite scoring six goals in just five starts, the Dutch striker will need to find a new club this summer, but until then he is fully committed to helping Barcelona finish the season in the best possible way. “Can you still win the league?” He was asked.

He was candid, saying: “Madrid have only lost three games all season, to expect them to lose three more in the last seven games is asking a lot but you never know. We just want to finish as high as possible.

They are second and if they win their game they will be within nine points of Real Madrid. The near-impossible league doesn’t take away from the joy the season seems to bring to all of Xavi’s players and that’s a testament to his squad management too.

De Jong has scored six goals in five starts but will leave the club at the end of the season

De Jong has scored six goals in five starts but will leave the club at the end of the season

De Jong’s case also shows that the young Barcelona boss has a certain level of pragmatism that might surprise some. Throwing at the big man might not be page one of Xavi’s manual on how to win a game late, but as de Jong warned earlier in the season: “The team know that there can be danger if they put the ball in for me takes the penalty area.” . That’s exactly what happened on Sunday when Jordi Alba’s cross hit the head of a player who could easily have left in January.

Troubled Cadiz wanted to sign De Jong and only Sevilla, who still own the player, blocked it. He stayed and he rose.

Sevilla could bring De Jong back for good this summer. He has one year left on his contract with them. What they do with him depends on what happens with the other strikers at the club, but seeing him score goals for Barcelona will have whetted their appetite to keep him.

Winning a Europa League with Barcelona, ​​the club’s first, would mean as much as winning with Sevilla two seasons earlier.

Barcelona manager Xavi can afford to smile after transforming the club since taking the reins

Barcelona manager Xavi can afford to smile after transforming the club since taking the reins

Taking the Europa League seriously is another reason Xavi has been able to get all his players rowing in the same direction. Dani Alves had to drop out of the squad for the European competition because Barcelona couldn’t register all the January signings. But that only fueled his desire to make every league game count. As soon as Serginio Dest is fit again, he’ll be right back in the Europa League and he’s another who was initially discarded but then made himself important.

The Xavi players know that there will be an eviction at the end of the season, but that will have to be put on hold while this season is played. Everyone has their part in it and everyone wants to be part of it.

De Jong, similar to Memphis Depay, the club’s top scorer, and Wolves winger Adama Traore, set to return in June, feel their combined efforts in this incredible 15-game unbeaten run are worth just as much as they do individual runs of form from the likes of Pedri, Ousmane Dembele and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (centre) has been a revelation since joining Barca in January

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (centre) has been a revelation since joining Barca in January

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Maureen Mackey

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