The striking La Liga table since Xavi announced he’s leaving Barcelona

Barcelona’s fortunes have turned around dramatically since Xavi Hernandez announced his decision to leave the club at the end of the 2023-24 campaign.

The club endured a poor first half of the season, looking as though they’d put up a feeble challenge to retain their La Liga title.

Things hit a nadir in January. Xavi’s side were thrashed 4-1 by Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final and were later eliminated from the Copa del Rey with a 4-2 defeat to Athletic Bilbao.

Things got worse on January 27th with a shambolic defensive display in a 5-3 defeat at home to Villarreal – a result that left them out of the title race and a performance that raised questions of whether they’d even be able to finish in the top four.

It was at that moment that Xavi told reporters of his decision to depart his beloved boyhood club when the season is over.

“I would like to announce that I won’t continue as the club’s coach from June 30th. We have been talking about this,” Xavi announced in his post-match press conference.

“I believe this situation deserves a change of course and as a Culer, I can’t allow this situation to continue. The decision was made a few days ago. Judging on this result, I believe it’s the right moment to say this.

“The club needs a change of dynamic. Thinking about the club and the players… they play under far too much pressure. It’s best if I leave. I will always give my best with what I have left. I still believe we can complete a great season.”

The 44-year-old appeared steadfast in his belief that his decision to step aside would have a galvanising effect on the remainder of the campaign – a message he reiterated to his players the following day.

According to respected Spanish journalist Javi Miguel, the day after announcing his decision he hugged his players and staff members one by one and told them:

“I’m sorry that you found out this way, but it was something that I had had in me for a long time and that I couldn’t wait any longer.

“I sincerely believe that it is the best for everyone – for me, because I am freed from a burden and for you, because you will be able to play without so much pressure.

“I believe firmly that we can hit the table and surprise those who already consider us dead.”

Results ever since then have vindicated Xavi’s decision. They’ve got the best record in La Liga over the past six weeks, having taken 13 more points than Girona, who were considered viable title challengers back in January.

A top-four spot now looks all but secure, while the prospect of reigniting the title race doesn’t look completely impossible if Real Madrid start to slip up.

Barcelona are unbeaten since Xavi announced his decision, winning six and drawing two of eight league games played. Performances haven’t all been dazzling, but their statement 3-0 victory away at Atletico Madrid – the first side to win a league match there in almost a year – demonstrates they’re on the right path.

They’re also through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time in four years, having beaten Napoli over two legs in the Round of 16.

Here’s how the La Liga table shapes up in full since Xavi announced his decision to leave in late January. All teams have played seven matches unless otherwise specified.

1. Barcelona – 20pts, GD +12 (Played 8)
2. Real Madrid – 18pts, GD +13 (Played 8)
3. Villarreal – 15pts, GD +8
4. Athletic Club – 14pts, GD +7
5. Getafe – 12pts, GD -3 (Played 9)
6. Atletico Madrid – 11pts, GD +1 (Played 8)
7. Sevilla – 11pts, GD +1
8. Real Sociedad – 10pts, GD 0
9. Celta Vigo – 10pts, GD -1
10. Mallorca – 10pts, GD -3
11. Osasuna – 10pts, GD -4 (Played 8)
12. Real Betis – 8pts, GD 0
13. Valencia – 8pts, GD -1 (Played 6)
14. Almeria – 7pts, GD -1
15. Girona – 7pts, GD -2
16. Cadiz – 6pts, GD -4
17. Alaves – 6pts, GD -4
18. Las Palmas – 6pts, GD -6
19. Rayo Vallecano – 5pts, GD -5 (Played 8)
20. Granada – 3pts, GD -8

The La Liga table since Xavi Hernandez announced his decision to leave Barcelona at the end of the season

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