Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez has hurled praise at 18-year-old left-back Alejandro Balde after the defender picked up two assists during the team’s 3-0 La Liga win over Elche at the Camp Nou on Saturday, August 17.
Balde started the game again at left-back, replacing Marcos Alonso, and enjoyed another strong showing as Barcelona cruised to a fifth straight victory in La Liga.
Xavi spoke about the teenager after the match at his news conference and made it clear just how highly he rates the defender. The coach also explained his decision to start the youngster ahead of more experienced options such as Alonso and Jordi Alba, as reported by Diario Sport.
“I have seen that they did a lot of individual marking and Balde can generate superiorities inside and out,” he explained. “It never ceases to amaze me that an 18-year-old boy is at this level. He has a lot of confidence and personality, he has a great physical condition and he’s going to give us a lot.”
Balde has now made five starts for Barcelona in La Liga this season and looks to have a big future ahead of him at the club. Yet his emergence is likely to spell bad news for veteran defender Alba.
The Spain international has been a regular at left-back for almost a decade but is now having to get used to life on the bench. Alba has only started once in La Liga in 2022-23 and may have to get used to a bit-part role if Balde can continue his fine form.
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Xavi Talks Barcelona’s Win
Xavi also spoke about his team’s victory which saw Barca temporarily move into top spot in La Liga. The Catalans are a point above Real Madrid who play Atletico Madrid on Sunday, September 18.
The Barcelona boss rotated his team for the match, bringing in players such as Franck Kessie, Memphis Depay, and Frenkie de Jong and admitted he will need to use his full squad given the congested fixture schedule caused by the 2022 World Cup.
“In the end we are a very broad squad, everyone is training well and performing well. It is an atypical year, in which the calendar is more compressed,” he explained. “We need the whole group, everyone must be prepared. Whoever plays is up to the task. We are in good dynamics, in terms of results and play. We have a choice and the squads are the ones that win the titles, not a starting eleven.”
Memphis Depay certainly impressed on a rare start for the Dutchman. The forward bagged his first goal of the season with an emphatic finish to offer a reminder of his talents at the Camp Nou.
La Liga now pauses for an international break which means most of Barcelona’s squad will head away from the Camp Nou for fixtures with their national teams before domestic competition resumes in October.
Barcelona’s next fixture is away at Real Mallorca on Saturday, October 1.