Pep Guardiola’s first season as Barcelona manager was the stuff of legend.
Promoted from the Blaugrana’s B-team, the now iconic Spanish coach managed to deliver the treble in 2008/09.
Lionel Messi was at the forefront of Barca’s success that season, but the glue holding the litany of world-class superstars together was Xavi Hernandez.
The Spaniard was at the peak of his powers in 2009 and at the Bernabeu that year, he delivered one of the most complete performances of all-time from a midfielder.
Think we’re over-exaggerating? No, no we’re not. Xavi was conductor-in-chief behind one of Barca’s finest ever results as they beat their eternal rivals 6-2 on their home patch.
That memorable evening, Xavi recorded four assists and played like a man possessed. His highlights package from the game is so good that you begin to question whether the video has accidentally captured two different players.
Surely one man couldn’t do all that? Well he could and if you ever needed proof – which most don’t – that Xavi is one of the greatest to lace a pair of boots, this is it.
The Barcelona maestro’s first assist (2:10) is a perfectly delivered free-kick which is powerfully headed home by Carles Puyol.
His next (4:58) comes courtesy of dispossessing Lassana Diarra, with his interception rolling into the path of the on-rushing Messi.
The third (8:20) is an effortlessly brilliant through-ball to Thierry Henry, with the Frenchman calmly slotting the ball under Iker Casillas.
But the final assist is the best of the bunch. Xavi picks up the ball (10:35) on the edge of the Real Madrid box, pirouettes and finds Messi, who fires the ball home at the near post.
Every pass is precise, every dribble provokes the Real Madrid defenders into action. Midfielders like Xavi come along once every couple of decades.
The legendary artist finished the 2008/09 season with 22 assists to his name in La Liga alone, with another seven coming in the Champions League.
To put those numbers into context, the Premier League record for most assists in a single season stands at 20 – achieved by Henry in 2002/03.
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