New Barcelona manager Xavi could have been dealt a kinder hand for his first couple of games in charge but betting apps have tipped the club legend to safely navigate his way to back-to-back victories.
First up for Xavi is Saturday’s Catalan derby with Espanyol, who don’t have a particularly good record against their neighbours but they’ll surely be hell-bent on causing an upset in what is being billed as the homecoming of a Barcelona legend.
The best price available on a Barcelona win is currently Boylesports' price of 2/5, but for those who fancy the upset William Hill is the place to go to back Espanyol at a massive 8/1. The draw is widely available at 4/1.
As if a local derby wasn’t enough pressure to begin with, Xavi then has the smaller matter of salvaging Barcelona’s faltering Champions League campaign as Benfica visit the Camp Nou on Tuesday night.
A win for the Portuguese giants would put them ahead of Barca in second place in Group E with only one game remaining, and with Bayern Munich away in their last group game that would be a disastrous outcome – although the Germans have already qualified, to be fair.
Nonetheless, it’s a risky situation Xavi will want to avoid and thankfully for him, the bookies are also odds-on about a home win over Benfica, with the best price being SportNation's 4/7.
That means a double on back-to-back wins for Xavi is just over even-money – a great price for two home wins on a team like Barcelona, regardless of all their troubles this season.
One former Barcelona player who is looking forward to Xavi’s reign is Emmanuel Petit, who played alongside him during his sole season at the Camp Nou in the 2001-01 season.
“I wish him all the best,” Petit told bookmakers.co.uk.
“If he can manage the team anything like he could play on the pitch then he will be a success.
“There has been a lot of trouble at the club for months and years even, both financially and politically, and the club can be a nightmare or a dream – things move very fast there.
“I think it was about time for Ronald Koeman to leave, it wasn’t really working with his relationship with the press and the fans. For Xavi, it’s a homecoming, and the fans are getting someone that they truly love.”
During Petit’s season at Barcelona, who he joined from Arsenal, the club were in a similar financial crisis to where they find themselves right now.
However, they stumbled upon a golden generation of players with Xavi, Andres Iniesta and later Lionel Messi to become one of the most adored teams in world football.
In recent years Barcelona have resorted to spending excessively – and badly – in the transfer market instead of nurturing talent from their famed La Masia academy, but their current financial turmoil may force them back to their roots.
Petit insists the club will return to the top table of football one day soon, but Xavi will need time and patience to nurse them back to good health.
He said: “We all know how it works at big clubs now. It’s all about money, if you don’t have the money then you don’t get the players. It’s as simple as that.
“In the past few seasons they haven’t spent their money well and now key players have left. They will rebuild one day, but it will take time to get back to the highest level and be the threat they once were in the Champions League and even in La Liga.
“They have some very good players but they don’t have a team to scare the best teams in Europe.”