FC Barcelona is undergoing a renaissance of sorts under the leadership of new manager Xavi Hernandez who re-joined the club in order to help get them out of a rut back in November. The legendary midfielder-turned manager returned to his beloved club and has now put them in a position to be able to make a bid for second place in La Liga Santander.

On Sunday, the Blaugrana managed to mount a strong comeback to defeat Elche 2-1. The home side took the lead in the closing minutes of the first half through a goal from Fidel, but winter signing Ferran Torres was able to equalise for the visitors at the hour mark.

The closing minutes of the match were tense, and it looked to be heading for a draw before Memphis found the winner from the spot after the VAR spotted a handball by Antonio Barragan and alerted head referee Alejandro Hernandez Hernandez.

Barcelona had several other opportunities to score throughout the match, with Frenkie de Jong threatening the goal twice in the opening half. Half-time substitute Torres also had a few squandered chances later in the game. He did not start the match but the former Manchester City forward quickly proved that he was a worthy signing after making a solid impact almost immediately after his introduction.

It was not all rainbows and butterflies for Ferran, who also made a defensive mistake which allowed Pere Milla to make a shot on target for Elche, which was dealt with by Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Nevertheless, Xavi's additions (Torres, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Adama Traore and Dani Alves) have made a big difference since January, and the Blaugrana now sit in third place on the La Liga table. They are seven points behind Sevilla, but they still have a game in hand. This means they have a prime opportunity to close the gap and maybe try to overtake the Andalusian side.

It has been an absolute turnaround for Barcelona, who started the year swimming in their financial crisis and the departure of Lionel Messi. They were languishing outside the European spots for a while before slowly climbing their way back up to third place.

Memphis Depay
Barcelona player Memphis Depay AFP / ANDER GILLENEA