Xavi hunting for Lewandowski supply-line in vital week

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Xavi hunting for Lewandowski has proven over the years that he is a goal-guarantee when given the ball.

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez is looking for solutions to that problem, as his team’s form has dipped at an inopportune time, with the club hosting Inter Milan and then facing Real Madrid in the Clasico this week.

The Italians visit Camp Nou on Wednesday in a near-death Champions League clash, before Barcelona visits the Santiago Bernabeu in a battle to reclaim first place in LaLiga.

Lewandowski’s goal-rush has dwindled in tandem with the team’s struggles, as evidenced by a 1-0 defeat at Inter last week and a shaky 1-0 win over Celta Vigo on Sunday.

The Polish striker, who had scored in six straight LaLiga games, was unable to continue his streak against Celta after Inter blanked him at the San Siro.

Since the international break, “we haven’t been at our best,” Xavi admitted on Sunday. “Three weeks ago, we were soaring, but now we’re not; we need to get better.”

Barcelona has regained first position for the first time since June 2020 thanks to Lewandowski’s goals, who currently leads LaLiga with nine goals.

In Spain’s premier division, the Catalans remain unblemished, but the situation is different across Europe. They desperately need a victory on Wednesday after losses at Bayern Munich and Inter on the road.

Perhaps the most concerning aspect is that, while Lewandowski has not missed chances in the last three games, which could be a temporary issue, his teammates have not created them.

The Polish forward’s precise finish earned Barcelona a 1-0 win over Mallorca on October 1, but it was a chance he created. In the two games since, he hasn’t even had a shot on goal.

Xavi hunting for Lewandowski supply-line in vital week

He was uncomfortable in the second half (against Celta), but the entire team was, according to Xavi. “We have to look for him more.”

At Camp Nou, Barcelona’s wingers had trouble, with Ferran Torres and Raphinha wasting early opportunities and failing to find Lewandowski. When Ansu Fati and Ousmane Dembele entered the game in the second half, the narrative remained unchanged.

“Perhaps they’re getting anxious, looking to score,” the coach added. “The forwards require goals to build confidence.”

Inter started with five defenders at the San Siro and could play even more defensively on the road, knowing that a draw puts them in a good position.

They were able to disrupt Pedri and Gavi in Italy, leaving the creative midfield duo struggling for influence, while the wingers resorted to slinging crosses into the area, which were easily dealt with.

The game, and Barcelona’s future in the competition, may hinge on Xavi’s ability to create a supply line for Lewandowski against suffocating defenses intent on stopping him.

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Maznur Rahman
Maznur Rahman
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