Source: Imago Images
Source: Imago Images

One last dance for Xavi

Football OlyBet 19.04.2024

Is this a goodbye or a see you later? Xavi, almost synonymous with Barcelona, will step down as head coach of Barcelona. This could well be his last El Clasico. Ever. Depending on the result, his last seven-game stretch can either fizzle out quietly or etch the legend in history once more.

The next time Barcelona meet Real Madrid – due to the overmonetizing of football, we already know it will happen on the 3rd of August in New Jersey, USA – Xavi will most probably not be there. He announced in January that he would leave his post at the end of the season, no matter what happens next. Xavi admitted the job is taking a toll on his mental health.

“As a Barca fan, thinking of the club’s best interests, I think it’s the right decision. No one is bigger than the club and I am a supporter above all. I love this club,” Xavi said. “I don’t want to be a problem for the club, I want to be a solution. Thinking with my heart and thinking about the club, it’s best that I leave in the summer.”

Born and raised near Camp Nou, Xavi joined Barcelona at age 11 and played 767 official matches for the club. He faced Real Madrid a total of 42 times as a player, with 17 wins, 12 draws, and 13 losses to show for it. This will be his tenth Clasico as a manager, with four wins and five defeats so far. His 52nd meeting with Real Madrid could be his last. It will be for a while at least.

When he rejoined Barcelona in 2021, they went from ninth to second. Last season, they conquered La Liga. This season, they made it back to the top eight of the Champions League, and another La Liga triumph could be on the cards.

Can Barcelona close the gap to five points with six games to go and which other games to enjoy over the weekend?

All times listed below are in Eastern European Summer Time (GMT+3).

Manchester City – Chelsea

Saturday 19:15

The supporters of City hung out a banner with the words “Wembley Express” on Wednesday, indicating they would love to travel to the famous stadium on June 1st.  Well, they can still make the trip, but City will not be there – and should they lose the FA Cup semi-final vs Chelsea, this could be their last Wembley trip this season. In February, City snatched a 1-1 draw at home via a late goal from Rodri.

Chelsea might be the most unstable of the top teams, but they are unbeaten in their last eight games and the FA Cup is their last hope of finishing the season on a high note. This could be the time to take down City, likely tired and mentally down after their Champions League crushing heartbreak. Chelsea know it.

Borussia Dortmund – Bayer Leverkusen

Sunday 18:30

Champions League semi-finalists hosting a team after their 45th consecutive game without a loss? Could be epic. Although this week almost confirmed that the Bundesliga will get a bonus (fifth) spot in the Champions League, Dortmund would still prefer not to tempt fate. They are on equal footing with Leipzig and seven points off Stuttgart, so it will most likely be a race for fourth place.

In December, Dortmund raced to an early lead, but a goal from Victor Boniface in the 79th minute levelled the scores. Xabi Alonso is yet to beat Dortmund (1D 1L), but with their current form, he would expect to leave Dortmund with a W to set the tone.

Real Madrid – Barcelona

Sunday 22:00

Real are unbeaten in their last 25 La Liga matches and have not allowed the opposition to score in their last four home league games (360 minutes) dating back to early February. It will be rather difficult to reorganize themselves after an epic Champions League night in Manchester while knowing they have an eight-point gap could actually work against them. Real will definitely be the more tired team.

Barcelona were shocked in the Champions League by PSG after taking an early lead (and 4-2 on aggregate) at home, so are looking to bounce back. La Liga remains the only trophy they are still in contention for. They have kept a clean sheet in their last six La Liga games, and another shutout would give them the platform to take all three points.

The Betis Babble

OlyBet is the proud betting partner of Real Betis.

Next game: Saturday 19:30 @ Valencia

Betis returned to winning ways vs Celta Vigo to rebuild some confidence, but this will be a crucial away game. Valencia are currently seventh with a two-point advantage; they hold the position to qualify for the Conference League play-off round. Recently, Betis have a good record vs Valencia (4W 2D 1L). In October, Betis won 3-0 at home.

Looking forward, Real Sociedad are sixth – with a ticket to the Europa League group stage – and just five points ahead. If Betis can close the gap, they have a head-to-head on May 19th before Betis ends the campaign away to Real Madrid on May 26th. Those games could prove to be vital.


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