As the curtains fall on 2023, Barça Atlètic, under the guidance of Rafa Márquez, secures a commendable sixth position, edging closer to the promotion play-off spots. In the second season with the former Mexican international at the helm of the Blaugrana reserve team, the numbers show a slight improvement compared to the same period last year. While progress is evident, the challenge now lies in translating and solidifying these gains in a 2024 season brimming with aspirations.
Closing the year with 28 points, only 7 adrift from the table-topping Celta Fortuna and a mere point behind the fifth-placed Nástic de Tarragona, Barça Atlètic finds itself in a promising position. Drawing parallels with the previous season at the same juncture, the team boasts three more points than last year when it stood at 25, positioned ninth in the league.
Factors Indicating Improvement:
Despite the marginal increase in points, two critical factors substantiate the progress made over the year. Firstly, the current season’s competition appears to be more challenging overall. Additionally, Márquez has encountered increased challenges with Barça Atlètic, ranging from injuries to the need to bolster the first team and international commitments following the recent U-17 World Cup. Notably, he manages all this with a squad that is even younger and almost entirely revamped compared to the previous season.
Personal Growth of Márquez:
Acknowledging the slight score difference, it’s crucial to consider Márquez’s personal growth. Arriving at the helm with minimal coaching experience, he views this period as a continuous learning experience. In his debut year, he successfully curbed the usual defensive vulnerabilities seen in reserve teams. A year ago, Barça Atlètic conceded 19 goals in 17 matches, a number reduced to 18 this season. Noteworthy contributors to this defensive improvement include the Senegalese duo Mika Faye and Mamadou Mbacke, with special mention to promising central defender Pau Cubarsí.
Pau Víctor’s Impact Upfront:
Undoubtedly, the most significant improvement is in the team’s scoring ability, with 8 more goals compared to the previous year. Concluding 2022 with 17 goals, the current campaign sees the Blaugrana reserves netting 25 times. Pau Víctor, the Girona loanee, emerges as the standout performer, contributing 11 goals. Not only is he the top scorer for Barça Atlètic, but he also leads Group 1 of Primera RFEF and stands as the second-highest scorer across the category, trailing only Jesús de Miguel from Castellón with 12 goals.
Looking Ahead to 2024:
As the team prepares to return to action on January 27, hosting Unionistas at the Estadi Johan Cruyff, the positive momentum from 2023 sets the stage for a promising 2024. The first leg of the season concludes on January 13 with a match against Arenteiro in O Carballiño.
Barça Atlètic, evolving under Rafa Márquez’s guidance, showcases not only improved numbers but also a promising outlook for the challenges that lie ahead in 2024. The blend of defensive stability and increased scoring prowess positions the team well for a successful campaign, leaving fans optimistic about the future of this rising talent.