Segunda División: 2012-13 FC Barcelona B Season in Review

David Ramos

The 2012-2013 Segunda División season is in the books and by most counts it was a largely unsuccessful one of Barcelona B. But many changes are on the horizon for the team and expectations for next season are high.

Barcelona B, playing their third consecutive season in the Segunda División, started the season very strong, even occupying 3rd place after Week 10. But soon after that the team's deficiencies became exposed and after a run of six losses and five draws in 13 games it resulted in a 9th place finish, one place behind the newly promoted Real Madrid Castilla, with a record of 15W-12D-15L. While finishing 9th might not sound particularly bad, I actually count this the team's worst campaign since the 2006-07 season when the team was relegated to the Tercera División.

The main reason behind Barcelona B's poor end to the season, apart from coach Eusebio Sacristan, is the team's defense. In 42 games the B team allowed an incredible 71 goals, or in other words 1.69 goals/game. Only one team in the entire division allowed more goals - Xerez, who finished the season dead last in the Segunda.

You could make a case that the best regularly used defender was Alejandro Grimaldo, who is an attacking minded left-back. That's like imagining Jordi Alba would be the best defender for the Barcelona first team, and that's just scary. Also, it has to be said that both goalkeepers, Oier Olazabal and Jordi Masip, had very strong seasons between the goalposts so the team's defensive record could've been even worse.

So, how does a team go from allowing only 53 goals the season before to 71? One reason is the fact that the team lost two of its top defenders to the first team - Marc Bartra and Martin Montoya. The other is misuse of talent by Eusebio. The most used center-back pairing was David Lombán and Carles Planas, the first one being a 26-year old disaster waiting to happen, and the second being a left back. Meanwhile, current starting CB for Portugal at the U-20 World Cup, Edgar Ié, was on the bench for all but six games. The only strong point in the defensive line was at left-back where Grimaldo made 22 starts, but then suffered a torn ACL.

The midfield was solid, but unspectacular apart from Rafinha. Rafinha was a member of a "holy trinity" of Deulofeu, Alberto and him, without which Barcelona B would've probably ended the season in the bottom third of the standings. Finishing in the top three in goals scored, assists and appearances, Rafinha took that next step in his development and provided a strong next season (most probably on loan) playing time in Barcelona's first team is nearly guaranteed.

Playing to his right, Sergi Roberto had a statistically very poor season, only one goal and two assists in 23 games, but his ball distribution remained strong as ever. Even though the stats don't show it Roberto was in some way involved in just about every goal the team scored. A diamond in the rough in this midfield group, and another example of player misuse, is Javier Espinosa. In only 15 starts the Spaniard showed remarkable dribbling abilities and scored five goals, making him the sixth highest scorer on the team.

And now for the absolutely brightest area on the team - the attack. Led by Alberto and Deulofeu Barcelona B scored 76 goals in the season, second highest in the league, only behind Castilla. Alberto also remarkably improved Barcelona B in set pieces. The forward showed fantastic free-kick ability, scoring some beautiful goals from dead ball situations from the left side.

While the production from the wings from the previously mentioned duo was exceptional, the center forward position has plenty of room for improvement. In 31 starts Sergio Araujo and Jean Marie Dongou combined for only 13 goals and four assists. Cristian Lobato, despite being a natural full-back, who also played as a midfielder and most recently as forward (misuse of talent, anyone?), was surprisingly involved in 13 goals this season, despite making only 26 appearances.

Statistic leaders

Top goalscorers: Gerard Deulofeu (18), Luis Alberto (11), Rafinha (10)

Most assists: Luis Alberto (17), Rafinha (8), Cristian Lobato (6)

Most appearances: Luis Alberto (38), Rafinha (36), Sergio Araujo (34)

Most minutes played: Rafinha (3156), Luis Alberto (3028), David Lomban (2859)

Yellow Cards: Patric, Rafinha (7), Ivan Balliu, Ilie Sanchez, Sergi Roberto (6)

Red Cards: Sergi Gomez (3), Oier Olazabal (2), Rafinha, Carles Planas, Gerard Deulofeu (1)

Awards

Most valuable player: Luis Alberto

Best forward: Gerard Deulofeu

Best midfielder: Rafinha

Best defender: Alejandro Grimaldo

Best goalkeeper: Jordi Masip

Most disappointing player: David Lomban

Best game of the season: Barcelona B 3-1 Real Madrid Castilla

Worst game of the season: Sporting Gijon 5-2 Barcelona B

2013-14 Outlook

Barcelona B will undergo a large change this off-season. Goalkeeper Oier's contract includes a clause that assures him a promotion to the first team, though he will likely leave on loan. Marc Muniesa and Ivan Balliu will leave the defensive line because their contract weren't renewed. Defensive midfielder Gustavo Ledes will leave for the same reason, while midfielders Rafinha and Roberto will be promoted to the first team.

In attack the change is even more drastic. Alberto and Araujo were returned to their teams, Sevilla (since then signed by Liverpool) and Boca Juniors, respectively, because their loan periods ended. Deulofeu will look to earn a place in the first team, while Cristian Lobato's contract wasn't renewed.

To replace the departing players Barcelona have confirmed seven Juvenil A players will be promoted. Among them are defenders Robert Costa, Frank Bagnack (both center-backs) and Lucas Gafarot (left-back). The midfield will be reinforced by Sergi Samper, David Babunski and Pol Calvet, while Sandro Ramirez will join the attacking corps. It is likely that the additions won't end there as a promotion of winger Adama Traore looks likely. Barcelona B have also signed former Villarreal B goalkeeper Adrián Ortolá and are rumored to be pursuing Boca Juniors center-back Tiago Casasola.

However, the change that most fans were hoping for did not happen. Eusebio will remain the head coach of Barcelona B for one more season. But one thing that has to change next season is the team's performances. The amount of talent in this squad is staggering and a top six finish is necessary for next season to be viewed as a success.

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