Why Do People Hate Xavi?

Xavi Hern√°ndez Creus is a Spanish professional football manager and former player who is currently the manager of La Liga club Barcelona. Widely regarded as one of the greatest midfielders of all time, Xavi came through Barcelona’s youth academy and played 17 seasons for the first team. He is also a key figure in Spain’s golden generation which won successive European Championships and the 2010 World Cup.

However, despite his incredible success and achievements as both a player and now manager, Xavi has his fair share of critics and detractors. In this article, we’ll explore some of the main reasons why certain groups of fans dislike or even hate the legendary midfielder.

Association with Barcelona

One of the biggest factors is that Xavi is intrinsically linked with Barcelona, having spent the vast majority of his career there. As one of Barcelona’s most iconic players, he naturally attracts hatred from opposition fans in Spain, especially supporters of Real Madrid.

The intense rivalry between the two clubs means anti-Barcelona sentiment is ingrained into many Madridistas. As a product of La Masia and a one-club man, Xavi embodies the values and identity of Barcelona for their fans, but this also leads him to be a figure of hate for rival supporters.

Perceived Arrogance

Another common criticism of Xavi is that he is arrogant or dismissive of other teams and players. Some believe he overstates the quality and accomplishments of Barcelona teams he played in, not giving enough respect to rivals.

Certain comments Xavi has made praising Barcelona’s style of play and philosophy while criticizing other approaches are seen as arrogant and rubbing rivals the wrong way. This perception of arrogance, whether accurate or not, is a turn-off for some fans.

Style of Play

The possession-based tiki-taka style of play Xavi embodied, both for his club and the Spanish national team, has also been a polarizing factor. Many appreciated the artistry, technique, and intelligence of this playing style centered around relentless ball control and quick passing moves.

However, some saw tiki-taka as boring or overelaborate, especially in matches where Spain dominated possession for long stretches but struggled to create chances. Xavi’s teams have been accused of playing boring or unadventurous football at times, which the midfielder naturally gets associated with.

Lack of Physicality

Compared to some footballers, Xavi’s game was not based on physical attributes like strength, speed or aerial ability. Rather, his strengths were his vision, touch, passing range, and reading of the game. For fans who prefer more dynamic, box-to-box midfielders, Xavi’s more refined technical style may not appeal in the way an Iniesta, Gerrard or Vieira does.

His relative lack of physicality or highlight-reel moments leads some to underrate him. There is also a sense he depended heavily on teammates like Messi, Iniesta and Busquets to fully function at his best.

Perceived Lack of Personality/Charisma

Some argue Xavi has a rather guarded, non-controversial public persona and does not radiate charisma in interviews and media appearances. He is not necessarily a player who makes headlines off the pitch.

For fans seeking big personalities, Xavi fades into the background compared to former teammates like Ronaldinho and Puyol or rivals like Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic. His reserved nature may make him less likely to attract supporters outside his club compared to global superstars.

Associations with Qatar

In the latter part of his career, Xavi earned criticism for moving to play for Al Sadd in Qatar, a league perceived as lacking in competitiveness where he could effectively semi-retire.

Qatar’s controversial hosting of the 2022 World Cup has also shone a critical light on players taking up opportunities in the country, including Xavi as manager of the national team. Allegations of human rights issues and Qatar “sportswashing” its reputation make some uncomfortable with Xavi’s close associations there after building his career in Spain.

Perceptions of Favoritism

Some believe Xavi has been the beneficiary of unfair advantages, protection and favoritism, especially early in his career at Barcelona. There is a sense he was fast-tracked to prominence in the first team due to the club’s politics and nepotism.

Later on, it’s argued managers like Luis Enrique and Vicente del Bosque showed favoritism towards Xavi by building teams around him. His legendary status at Barcelona is seen to have protected him from criticism at times when his performances dipped.

Playing Style Not Suited to Modern Game

As football has evolved to become quicker and more athletic, there is a view Xavi’s skillset is less suited to the modern game. His style characterized by technique, intelligence and ball retention over speed and physicality looks outdated to some fans in today’s era.

Compared to emerging midfield stars like Pedri, Tielemans and Bellingham, Xavi’s approach appears antiquated. Some believe he has struggled to adapt his tactics and philosophy as Barcelona manager for the modern game.

Perceived Lack of Defensive Contribution

As a center midfielder, Xavi was not particularly imposing defensively and lacked elite tackling, intercepting or covering abilities. He compensated through positional awareness, cutting passing lanes intelligently.

But some see him as a defensive liability who relied completely on partners like Busquets to shield the defense. When Barcelona struggled, his lack of physical and defensive presence in midfield was highlighted. This led accusations that Xavi was a “luxury player” who didn’t contribute enough defensively at the highest level.

Seen as Representing Previous Regime

For Barcelona fans dissatisfied with the previous Bartomeu-led regime and desiring wholesale changes, Xavi represents part of the old guard. His close ties to the club’s establishment, having come through La Masia, mean some supporters see him as part of the problem during Barcelona’s decline.

Appointing club legend Xavi as manager is seen as unimaginative and a symptom of Barcelona’s lack of fresh thinking. Some wanted a clean break from the past Xavi is so embedded in.

Perceived Tactical Shortcomings as Manager

In his first managerial role, doubts persist over Xavi’s tactical acumen, ability to set up a defense and make proactive in-game changes. There is a sense he remains stuck in a Cruyffian ideology not flexible enough to address recurring issues Barcelona have faced, including defending transitions and dealing with physical, counterattacking sides.

Xavi’s commitment to positional play and dominating possession shows tactical limitations to some observers. His ability to motivate and discipline the squad has also been questioned during poor runs of form.

Why is Xavi so closely associated with Barcelona?

  • Xavi came through Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy system and spent 17 highly successful seasons with the first team between 1998 and 2015.
  • He made over 750 appearances for the club, winning 8 La Liga titles and 4 Champions Leagues among many other honors.
  • Xavi was the embodiment of Barcelona’s possession-based football philosophy and exemplified their values.
  • He only ever played for Barcelona professionally, turning down offers from other big clubs.
  • Xavi is seen as one of the club’s greatest ever players, if not the outright best midfield player.
  • His style of play and identity was intrinsically linked to Barcelona’s system under Cruyff, Guardiola and others.

What has Xavi achieved with the Spanish national team?

  • Xavi was a key member of Spain’s golden generation that won consecutive European Championships in 2008 and 2012.
  • He was a crucial part of the 2010 World Cup winning side that dominated possession and established Spain as the preeminent national team.
  • Xavi represented Spain 133 times between 2000 and 2014, playing in four World Cups and three European Championships.
  • He is Spain’s third most capped male footballer behind only Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos.
  • Xavi’s ball retention and passing ability was vital to the tiki-taka style that brought Spain their era of success.

Has Xavi’s style of play attracted criticism over the years?

  • Yes, Xavi’s possession-focused tiki-taka approach has been criticized by some as boring and lacking creativity.
  • When matches became sterile, with Spain or Barcelona dominating possession without converting chances, Xavi drew detractors.
  • His game relied more on subtle skills like close control, vision and passing rather than physical attributes like pace, power and goals.
  • In the modern era, this style centered around technical ability over athleticism has been labelled outdated by some critics.
  • There is a sense Xavi could control games but depended on others to provide moments of magic.

What managerial challenges has Xavi faced since taking over at Barcelona?

  • He faced a difficult situation with an aging, unbalanced squad lacking cohesion and clear direction after Messi’s departure.
  • Barcelona were struggling financially and could not reinforce the squad adequately during Xavi’s first transfer window.
  • Injuries to key attackers like Ansu Fati and Ousmane Dembele compromised Xavi’s tactical options.
  • There have been questions about whether Xavi’s possession-based approach can still thrive against elite modern opposition.
  • Inconsistent results and periodic thrashings like the 4-0 loss to Real Madrid have increased pressure on Xavi to find solutions.

How has Xavi responded to criticism throughout his career?

  • He has typically been measured in his reactions, avoiding inflammatory comments or stooping to the level of critics.
  • Xavi frequently states his focus is simply on his own team’s performances and style of play.
  • He has conceded possession football has its drawbacks but largely stood by his overall philosophy.
  • At times he has suggested detractors simply fail to understand the nuances and complexity of his approach.
  • As a manager, he has acknowledged needing to prove himself again and demonstrate he can adapt his ideas.
  • Xavi seems aware of the polarized opinions about him but appears relatively unaffected by them.


In closing, Xavi undoubtedly splits opinion in the football world. For Barcelona and Spain fans, he is an iconic figure who brought them incredible success. His graceful playing style, visionary passing and role embodying the teams’ philosophy cemented his legendary status.

However, being so intrinsically tied to Barcelona made him an unpopular figure with rival supporters. Perceptions of arrogance, a boring playing style and underwhelming charisma have also fueled criticisms. As manager, doubts remain over whether Xavi’s idealistic philosophy can flourish in the modern game.

Time will tell if Xavi can prove himself as a manager and add more trophies to his overflowing cabinet. But his achievements as a player ensure he will always remain one of the most intelligent, technically skilled and celebrated midfielders of his generation. Xavi’s impact on Spanish and European football is assured, regardless of the polarized opinions he provokes among fans and pundits.

Frequently Asked Questions

What team did Xavi play for the longest?

Xavi spent 17 seasons with Barcelona’s first team, playing 767 matches for the club in all competitions from 1998 to 2015. He came through Barcelona’s youth academy La Masia and never played professionally for any other club, cementing his legacy there.

How many trophies did Xavi win with Barcelona?

In his 17 seasons with the Barcelona first team, Xavi won a total of 25 major trophies. This included 8 La Liga titles, 4 UEFA Champions League titles, 3 Copa del Rey trophies, 6 Spanish Super Cups, 2 UEFA Super Cups and 2 Club World Cups.

Why did Xavi leave Barcelona in 2015?

In 2015, at the age of 35 and after a storied career at the club, Xavi decided to leave Barcelona on a free transfer. He moved to play for Al Sadd in Qatar, citing a desire for a new experience in an easier league after years of high-pressure matches for Barca and Spain. The lucrative contract offer from Al Sadd was also reportedly a strong factor.

What number did Xavi wear for Barcelona and Spain?

Throughout his club and international career, Xavi wore the number 6 shirt. At Barcelona, he took over the number from one of his youth coaches and role models Pep Guardiola in 1998 and made it his own. For Spain, he wore the number 6 shirt in tribute to Barca teammate Guardiola for many years.

How would you describe Xavi’s playing style and strengths?

Xavi was the quintessential midfield maestro, renowned for his technical qualities on the ball, playmaking skills and ability to control games with his intelligent passing. Strengths included vision, touch, ball control, positional awareness and world-class passing range. He epitomized Barcelona and Spain’s tiki-taka possession style of play.

What coaching experience did Xavi have prior to taking over Barcelona?

After retiring as a player, Xavi began his coaching career with the Al Sadd youth teams before taking charge of the senior team in 2019. He led them to success in the Qatar Stars League and Emir of Qatar Cup. In November 2021 he was appointed Barcelona manager following the sacking of Ronald Koeman, replacing interim manager Sergi Barjuan.

Why are Xavi’s ties to Qatar controversial to some?

Xavi’s time playing for and managing in Qatar has linked him closely to the country just as it prepared to host the 2022 World Cup. With Qatar being criticized over its human rights record, Xavi’s ambassadorial-type association with the country through football has sat uncomfortably with certain fans and commentators.

Has Xavi advocated for political causes during his career?

No, he has generally avoided making overt political statements or becoming a spokesperson for different causes. Xavi has focused almost entirely on football throughout his career. The only notable exception was in 2017 after the Catalan independence referendum when he spoke out, criticizing the Spanish state’s response to the vote.

What trophies has Xavi won as a manager so far?

In his short managerial career so far, Xavi has won two trophies. He won the 2020 and 2021 Qatar Stars League titles as manager of Al Sadd before returning to Barcelona. He is yet to win any silverware as Barcelona manager, reaching the quarterfinals of the Europa League in 2021-22.

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