Maybe all they needed was a name change.
After a very disappointing 2021-22 season, Barça B became Barça Atlètic again, and Sergi Barjuan was replaced by club legend Rafa Márquez. Almost 20 players left in the summer, and a completely revamped squad featuring younger players than usual kicked off a new era for the Blaugrana’s youth affiliate.
Developing players and playing a similar style to Xavi Hernández’s first team is the number one priority, but striking a balance between development and results was also an important part of Márquez’s job description. Six weeks into the season, it’s safe to say Rafa has passed the test with flying colors.
The defeat away to Real Sociedad last weekend was a painful one, and a reminder that the Third Division is always going to be tough no matter where and who they play. But going unbeaten in the first five games while also playing some high-level team football was a very encouraging sign, and even in the loss to Sociedad there were moments of impressive play that provided reasons to think this team can go places this season.
Márquez has rotated his squad a lot in this young season to take a look at as many players as possible, but the likes of center-back Chadi Riad, winger Ilias Akhomach and midfielder Marc Casadó have been fixtures of the team and played well enough to already be training regularly with Xavi’s main squad.
With the current injuries in the first team it won’t be a surprise to see some names from Barça Atlètic pop up in this busy October, and a few have played well enough to even get some minutes with the big boys. Their confidence is high, they are well coached and the results are coming early on.
A trip to relegation candidates Atlético Baleares this Sunday is a good chance to get back on track after last week’s loss, and continue to improve and make progress. It’s a very young team that will have natural ups and downs throughout the season, but the vibe at this moment is much better than last season.
The Baby Blaugrana are growing up fast.