Xavi has missed 9 games so far this season, seven of which have ended in victories, and Keita has substituted him on eight of those occasions.
Xavi is the epitome of Barça’s style of play – the pace, the guile and the magic and a
hardworking energy-filled master of the footballer’s art who because of suspension, Guardiola
will have to find a replacement for on Saturday against Villarreal.
How do you go about replacing such a unique talent? Xavi is a one off, but the team know how
to play without him and how to win too, having managed seven victories from the nine games
they’ve had to play without him so far this season.
Four La Liga games
Xavi has missed four La Liga games –the draw with Mallorca at the Nou Camp
and the away wins over Zaragoza, Deportivo and Mallorca and Guardiola has always called on Keita or
Iniesta to cover for him.
Three Cup wins
In the Spanish Cup, Keita also took Xavi’s place when he missed both the
games against Ceuta and in the second leg against Almeria. Against Ceuta, Keita played alongside
Thiago, whilst in the other game it was Busquets who sat alongside him, but the result was the same
–three wins from three games.
Super Cup and Champions
Xavi also missed out on the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup against
Seville and the home tie against Rubin in the Champions League group stage. Like the rest of his
World Cup winning teammates, Xavi was still away on holiday for the first game, when Keita,
Jonathan dos Santos and Oriol Romeu covered the middle in Barça’s 3-1 defeat.
In the final group stage game, it was Mascherano who stepped up to take Xavi’s place
alongside Busquets and Jonathan dos Santos. The team were already through to the knock out stages
and won the game 2-0.