This week English media outlet Sky Sports have claimed that La Masia graduate Adama Traoré is on the radar of Antonio Conte’s Premier League leading Chelsea side. This is just another possible twist in the career of the winger who seemed to be on the fringes of the Barcelona first team when Tata Martino was coach back in the 13/14 season.
Champions are made of metal. Barcelona B have looked every bit like champions during this season, overcoming any kind of difficulty that has crossed their path to assert their superiority in Group 3 of the Segunda División B. So well-focused have Gerard’s players been, that they now seem to have mastered the complicated task of playing with a man down. This weekend in Sagunto, the Blaugranas played for half an hour with ten men, and still managed to pull off a seemingly unlikely comeback in the end.
La Masia is world renowned for being the best football academy on Earth, but at times the FC Barcelona academy’s status comes under threat as more and more teams and organisations around the world copy the winning formula and apply it meticulously. Of course, the best way to dispel any doubts is by doing so on the pitch. Barcelona’s U12 side (Infantil B) have been doing just that over the past three days in Tenerife, where they have been dazzling the crowds at the annual La Liga Promises tournament. As a bonus for their play, Sergi Milà’s side returned home with a wholly deserved winner’s medals.
Barcelona B could not stay away from the taste of victory for too long. After two consecutive draws against Prat and Espanyol B, Barcelona B finished the first round of league action and 2016 with a dramatic win away at CD Ebro. The team from Zaragoza pushed the Blaugranas all the way, but a stellar performance from Jesús Alfaro ensured that the team led by Gerard López held on to top spot to finish the year as winter champions.
Over the past month or so, Barcelona B have installed themselves as favourites for one of the promotion playoff spots in Group 3 of the Segunda División B. The Blaugranas have been excellent value for the lead, but as all teams, they too can have days off. Against Badalona on Saturday, the stars seemed to conspire against Gerard López’s team. In front of the biggest crowd the Miniestadi has seen this season, the reserves huffed and puffed, but all they managed in the end was to lose 3-1 after going down 2-0 at halftime. The golden Segunda B rule was at work again: fail your chances and you shall be punished.
Good teams must know how to win convincingly. But what ultimately makes a good team into a champion team is the ability to win ugly. Against bottom-placed Eldense, Barcelona B didn’t even come close to playing their best football. The Blaugranas did dominate the match from start to finish, looked sharper than the opposition and had the best chances, but still left a lot to be desired with their performance. The team managed to dodge the banana skin in the end, but only just. Gerard Gumbau, who has become a key figure in Barcelona B’s resurgence of late, netted a wonderful free kick just 5 minutes from time to keep his team top of the league standards from yet another week.
Three matches without win were more than enough for high-aiming Barça B. The FC Barcelona reserves managed to rediscover their scoring boots after three goalless matches and after dominating Catalan neighbors Sabadell for the best part of ninety minutes on Saturday afternoon, the Blaugranas got a comfortable win. The win was the first for Gerard López against Sabadell, but nothing would have been possible without the poacher instincts of Dani Romera.
Barcelona B are obviously going through a rough patch. For yet another week, Gerard López’s men have failed to win, extending their winless (and also scoreless) streak to three matches. The Blaugranas at least got a point from their visit to Atlético Levante, after two successive defeats that nobody really saw coming. As Gerard López correctly pointed out in the post-match press conference, neither team deserved to win on Sunday.
Defeats are, just like wins, a part of the beautiful game. They all hurt, but some defeats hurt harder than others. Barça B suffered a defeat of the painful type this weekend, succumbing to their first home defeat of the season against Catalan neighbours Cornellà. Gerard López’s men controlled the match from start to finish, and should have really clinched the three points from the first 45 minutes of the game. A less intense second half though, coupled with a hotly contested decision by the referee to award the visitors a penalty five minutes from time meant the hosts were left empty-handed.
Gerard López´s Barcelona B seems to loving hard life. Nothing else can explain the reserves astonishing knack for getting themselves into trouble, only to stage great escapes just minutes later. This weekend’s match was just another link to the chain of great escapes. Against Mallorca B, a promoted side which had only picked up 4 points from a possible 15 prior to kick-off, Barcelona B could be forgiven to think that things would be sort of easier. The Blaugranas though, always love some drama: they had to fall behind, see the rival have a player send off, equalise and then take the lead, spurn dozens of chances to seal the win, concede an equaliser and then score a late goal to get three points.