Sergi Barjuan’s first season in charge was a surprising one. With many ups and downs, the Catalan’s never quite found their footing.
Before the Season
A massive indicator to how this season would play out, came before the season began. To the surprise of many, longtime FC Barcelona staff member, Garcia Pimienta was sacked.
After coming close to promotion in his last couple of stints, many wondered why such a decision was made by Joan Laporta.
Obviously, a decision that was out of Sergi Barjuan’s hands, it would be one he would constantly be reminded of. When his Barça B side would struggle, he would ultimately face the backlash of the decision he played no real part in.
His side was going to constantly be compared to those of Pimienta’s simply because what Pimienta had been achieving in recent seasons became the benchmark to what the fanbase would expect from the team.
It’s not necessarily fair, but it’s one that comes with any job, especially a job in the sporting field.
With all eyes on Barjuan, the preseason for Barça B was a solid one. Preseason games aren’t really an indicator to how a season will play out but with a new manager and new players getting their chances with the B team, there was some eagerness surrounding the product on the pitch.
With three convincing wins a draw and a tough loss in their five preseason match ups and league play right around the corner, it looked promising.
An Inconsistent Start to League Play
Three wins, in their first eight matches. That’s how the season started out. A frustrating start for a club that looked to be achieving more. Part of what made that start frustrating was because those games they didn’t win were right there for the taking.
In the first game of the season against Algeciras, the blaugrana had led the match and looked to have it under control. Arnau Tenas looked unbeatable, and the club were pushing for their second goal of the game.
Even though there was still time left in the game, it looked promising for securing three points. That would be until Arnau Comas was sent off and the game just went downhill from there.
Lucky to escape with a result, it was bittersweet for a side that looked to on for more than just a single point.
Same in their match against UE Costa Brava. Not being able to finish games off was an early indicator for this side. They played better than the results were showing in that very early stage of the season.
Finding their footing
Despite the early woes, the Catalan side would begin to get things right after that draw to UE Costa Brava. With six wins out of the next nine matches played, things were looking up for the side,
It wasn’t perfect, criticism of their playing style was loud and clear. At times it was boring to watch but results were being produced and the emergence of certain players were as well.
Angel Rodado carried the scoring early in the season for Barça B, but it would be during this stretch where Ferran Jutgla would begin to make his presence felt. It would also be here where Illias Ackhomach would begin to garner eyes from the senior team as well as, most noticeably Ez Abde.
His mazy dribbles kept the B team exciting to watch.
Things were looking up, but not for long.
What goes up, must come down
Barça B’s form was looking good approaching the end of November. Having just won three games in a row; not having lost in their previous six matches, what would happen next was almost unimaginable.
The Catalan side would go on to lose three in a row, five of their next six and reach what would be their lowest point of the season after the midseason winter break. A loss to the worst team in the league, Betis Deportivo Balompie.
Being dubbed the worst team in the league is typically a subjective statement. But Betis have been last in the standings for the majority of the league season and have the lowest point tally by far.
Losing to Betis was an embarrassment for Barça B and it would begin a winless drought for the side in 2022 which didn’t see them get their first win of the new year until the end of February.
By that point the promotion dream looked all but dead and a fight against relegation was ensuing.
A Show of Resilience
Although promotion seemed very unlikely, that wouldn’t prevent Barça B from fighting. Late season surges from Jandro Orellana, the continuous scoring from Ferran Jutgla and contributions from the squad members both new, such as Fabio Blanco and old, would lead a charge for a playoff spot.
A streak of four straight wins, and six of their next seven matches being wins, took the side from fighting relegation to fighting for a playoff spot. Resilience was something we had seen from this team numerous times this season.
Responding to a bad half with an excellent second half. Responding to late deficits with quick goals in added time. Responding to a bad run of form with a great one. It was an admirable trait this side possessed this season.
Unfortunately, a sloppy start to the month of May, with two losses brought the promotion dream to an end. It made those last two wins to end the season bittersweet.
A strong end to the season showed what this team was capable of, if only they had gotten it right sooner.
This side will look different next year, especially with Jutgla confirming his exit. His production will surely be missed.
It wasn’t always perfect, even when things were going well it was far from ideal for Barcelona side. But we must keep in mind that the main purpose of the youth teams is to develop first team players; results come second.
Overall, it was a season that consistently remained inconsistent.