Barça B forward Bruna Vilamala became this season the fourth youngest debutant in the history of the Femení, and she recently signed her first professional contract too. We analyse her trajectory so far, playing style and what’s to come for her.
On 1 February 2020, 17-year-old forward Bruna Vilamala got her first taste of the Estadi Johan Cruyff when she debuted against Sevilla for Barça Femení’s senior team. Seeing a La Masía graduate debuting for the first team has always been a proud and special moment for Barça fans, especially in such a poetic way of entering the pitch for an icon like Lieke Martens.
When watching her matches with the B team, there are clear glimpses of her talent and potential. Bruna knows has what it means to play the Barcelona way with the Barça DNA.
Recovering from injury
The young debutant is an integral part of the FC Barcelona Femení B squad who ended third-place in this year’s Segunda Division. In the previous season with the Juvenil, Bruna suffered a very serious injury that kept her away from the playing fields for much of the season. Now that she has recovered from it, she has been able to return to her best form.
After an injury last campaign, her excellent 19/20 term has allowed Bruna Vilamala to debut with the first team
Thanks to her great performances this year with the B team, she has managed to fulfil one of her dreams: debuting with Barcelona’s first team. The young blaugrana is the fourth-youngest player to debut with the women’s first team at 17 years, 7 months and 26 days. Ahead of her are Patri Guijarro, with 17 years, 3 months and 17 days; Jana Fernández, with 16 years, 9 months and 22 days; and Claudia Pina heading the list, with 16 years, 5 months and 2 days.
Bruna Vilamala is a versatile forward who can play across the pitch as a winger and striker. She is often deployed on the flanks for Spain’s U–17 and Barcelona B due to her exceptional dribbling abilities. An outstanding stat of her dribbling ability is that she completed five successful dribbles out of five against England’s U–17 in the 2018 UEFA Women’s U–17 Championship.
In total, last season Bruna played 885 minutes for Barça B and scored 8 goals, or 0.814 goals per 90.
Link-up play with Barça B’s front three
One of the most admirable qualities of Vilamala is her understanding of the movements of her attacking partners. Barcelona Femení B had been playing brilliantly last season due to the understanding between the teams’ forwards. Claudia Pina dropping deep, moving laterally and dragging defenders out of position has been essential in creating space for Carla Armengol and Bruna Vilamala. This chemistry with Pina has allowed Bruna to shine more in the final third. Bruna pressing high up the pitch and unselfish link-up play are what made Barcelona B the highest-scoring team in Reto Iberdrola.
Bruna’s key moments against Madrid CFF B
At the 23rd minute, there was a series of intricate passing between Pina, Bruna and Aida Esteve which ended up in a goal. It started with a pass from Sheila to Aida. Aida passed the ball to Pina, and a skillful backheel from Pina put the ball in Bruna’s path, who passed it to Aida. Aida sensed the space behind the defense and flicked the ball over the defenders for Bruna to bury it. The on-rushing goalkeeper stopped Bruna from getting a shot, but Bruna set up a pass for Carla Armengol who in turn nestled it into the back of the net. You can see the passage of play leading to the goal in the screenshots below.
Two minutes after scoring the goal, Bruna Vilamala designed another goal-scoring opportunity. She received the ball and sent a disguised back pass to Aida, who directed the ball back to Bruna, opening up the defence. She spotted Claudia Pina running behind the defence and duly sent a through ball to finish it off. Unfortunately, it had too much pace and ended at the feet of the approaching keeper.
This was another example of how she can orchestrate build-up play by creating goal-scoring chances with key passes. Her movement without the ball shows how she is mature beyond her age. She fits into the Barcelona system well and can be decisive in the final third. You can see her playmaking skill in the below screenshots.
Her work rate and impeccable pressing in the opposite half are other valuable traits of her game. She is often used as a winger since she has pace and dribbling abilities in one-on-one situations and when leading counter-attacks.
Making her debut
Barça’s match against Sevilla served to write another page in the history book of the FC Barcelona. She entered the last moments of the duel against the Andalusian team, with the result already decided. The Borgonyà-born footballer replaced Lieke Martens to a resounding reception in front of the blaugrana faithful and completed her debut with the first team under Lluís Cortés. In her debut, Vilamala was added to an elite list of La Masia players who have made the long-awaited jump to the senior team.
“It’s what I’ve dreamed of since I was little”
on making her debut with Barça Femení’s first team
The Barça forward appeared in front of the media after the match against Sevilla to analyse what had been her official debut with FC Barcelona: “I am very grateful, I still don’t believe it”. She also wanted to place special emphasis on the reaction of culés every time the youth player touched the ball: “When I saw the response from the fans, I got goosebumps. It’s what I’ve dreamed of since I was little”.
The first professional contract for Bruna Vilamala
The good news do not end for Bruna, as the young Barça star signed her first professional contract for Barcelona on 26 June 2020, extending his spell at the club for three more seasons.
“It is a dream for me that the club has given me this opportunity. It is a dream that I have had since I arrived and that it can be fulfilled makes me especially excited”
after signing her first professional contract
With Bruna Vilamala extending her contract until 2023, she will enter the first team dynamics next year with the expectation of being a regular starter for Barcelona in the future. It’s hoped by most of the Barcelona faithful that she can learn and develop like her predecessors and becomes a fundamental part of the first team in the years to come.
This season under Lluís Cortés she has one appearance off the bench where she impressed the tactician, but he has since stated that he wants to see more from her and her B team teammates in the future. These renewals for Barça B players like Bruna Vilamala are a clear statement from FC Barcelona to the European giants of what is coming up from the La Masía project.
Barça Femení’s October Player of the Month: Alexia Putellas
Alexia Putellas has been performing as possibly the best midfielder in the world in the past months, but in October she rose to a different level as the best player of the month for Barça Femení.
Upon beginning the 2020/21 season, Barça Femení have started off their campaign flawlessly in both the league and the Copa de la Reina. Aside from all four of their matches being victories, they have completely and utterly dominated their competition with 22 goals scored and zero conceded. Every individual player has done their part in contributing to this dominance, but the team has taken such a commanding lead largely due to the consistent, near-perfect performances from our October Player of the Month, Alexia Putellas.
2020 has already been a huge breakout year on an individual level for the midfielder. The entire year, she has been playing the best football of her life for both club and country. October, in particular, has been her best month of 2020 from a statistics standpoint: she has 3 goals and 3 assists in four games. We will be looking at a match-by-match analysis that breaks down her scoring, passing, movement, and all the other elements that have made this October such a successful month for her.
Alexia bagged 3 goals in 3 Primera Iberdrola games in October for Barça Femení, while also scoring a goal and assisting another for the Spanish National Team last Friday. The Catalan playmaker is completely on fire in every game she plays in and arguably claiming to be the best midfielder in the world right now.
Primera Iberdrola | Real Madrid Femenino (A) (4/10/2020): 0–4
- Minutes: 90
- 1 Goal
- 1 Assist
The defending champions started their new season in style by winning 4–0 against the newly-established Real Madrid Femenino, formerly known as CD Tacón. Similarly to last year’s season opener, Alexia Putellas was once again the protagonist against Los Blancos with both a goal and an assist.
Alexia’s first direct goal involvement of the season was assisting Barça’s first-ever goal in the women’s Clásico. Alexia waited towards the corner of the box to send in a through ball to Patri Guijarro, who then scored on the edge of the box to find the back of the net for the first time in the historic fixture.
In the 20th minute, she pulled the trigger from the edge of the box with a rocket of a shot that would’ve surely lengthened Barcelona’s lead if not for an equally outstanding save from Misa Rodríguez. She then unlocked the defence yet again with a defence-splitting pass to Marta Torrejón in the 22nd minute, but the latter missed scoring from point-blank range. Alexia created all sorts of danger for Real Madrid Femenino. She rounded off her excellent performance with a well-deserved goal in the 75th minute. Alexia preyed around the box and slid the ball past Misa after a pinpoint cross from Caroline Graham Hansen to make it 0–3.
Against Real Madrid, most of Barça’s attacks came through the left (6 shots), which indicates that Alexia was one of the key players in terms of chance creation. In addition to that, she completed 3 successful dribbles along with as many shots on target. Alexia started off her season with an excellent game, setting a precedent for her performances later in the month.
Copa de la Reina semi-finals | Sevilla Femenino (H) (8/10/2020): 6–0
- Minutes: 63
- 1 Assist
After playing the full 90 minutes against Madrid, Alexia started the Copa de la Reina semi-final encounter with Sevilla. The Catalan was once again the catalyst for the team and spent her 63 minutes moving forward, breaking lines, and being a constant threat on the pitch.
It didn’t take Alexia long to find herself on the scoresheet yet again when she assisted a Caroline Graham Hansen goal in the 18th minute. After Patri stole the ball back from a Sevilla defender, Alexia moved away from pressure and sent a perfectly weighted, line-breaking diagonal pass to Caroline Graham Hansen who was just outside the box. Graham Hansen performed an elegant dribble move past three defenders and slotted the ball into the back of the net.
Alexia’s vision was again in full effect when she sent a no-look through ball in the way of Caroline Graham Hansen, who rounded up Barça’s second goal. Again, in the 25th minute, when Barça countered Sevilla following a corner, Alexia got into the box as a centre-forward ahead of Asisat Oshoala. However, Caroline Graham Hansen picked out Torrejón, who put the ball wide of the right side of the post. These two plays demonstrate their chemistry with each other. Alexia’s connection with Graham Hasen – arguably Barcelona’s first or second-best player – has been crucial in goal creation and attacking momentum this season.
Along with being pivotal in playmaking, Alexia showed herself to be more prone to getting in the box and looking for scoring opportunities. This match is yet another example of Alexia being an all-around player in build-up, goal creation, and goalscoring.
Primera Iberdrola | EdF Logroño (H) (11/10/2020): 6–0
- Minutes: 24
- 1 Goal
Alexia Putellas was on the bench against Logroño to make way for captain Vicky Losada, who got her first start of the season in this match. Barcelona were cruising past the opponents with a scoreline of 4–0 when Alexia was subbed in for Vicky in the 67th minute. Alexia widened Barca’s lead when she scored their fifth goal out of six, a strike from within the box after a swift buildup sequence.
Barcelona’s fifth goal was a fluid, well-worked goal involving 8 players with 9 passes between them. Alexia was positioned in the midfield leading up to the goal, always keeping herself open for a pass. When the ball advanced upfield thanks to an excellent dribble from Jana Fernández, Alexia started to make a run up the centre. No player marked her entry into the box because the focus stayed on Graham Hansen, and Alexia timed her run perfectly and slotted in neatly between the two centre-backs to find the ball and score.
In addition to Alexia’s goal, Vicky bagged one of her own and Aitana scored a brace. Since the loss against Wolfsburg, the midfielders have been getting into the box to contribute to scoring much more often. It became clear in the Women’s Champions League semi-final that the team had poor effectiveness in front of goal, and thankfully, almost every player seems to be making progress in that regard. Alexia particularly is leading by example with a refined finishing technique and an increased proclivity to get into the box.
Primera Iberdrola | Huelva (A) (18/10/2020): 6–0
- Minutes: 90
- 1 Goal
- 1 Assist
Barça Femení visited a notoriously difficult ground in La Orden to face Huelva on Matchday 3. Alexia started the match and was once again crucial to Barca’s win by scoring a goal and assisting another during her fine display.
Alexia frequently advanced into the box in the first half of the game, switching positions with Lieke Martens on the left side of the pitch. In the photo below, Alexia sends in a perfectly timed through ball, dissecting the defence for Martens. However, Martens’ first touch was a bit heavy and the defence took care of it quickly.
At the 39th minute, Alexia picked the ball on the left of the pitch, dribbled past a player, settled towards the end of the box, and sent a long-range lob shot that chipped the keeper on its way into the net. This goal took serious technical skill to finish off and is probably one of the best goals of her career. Alexia is becoming even more lethal inside the box than she used to be, and given how clinical she’s been from both long and short-range, she could be on track to beat her single-season league goal record of 16.
During the build-up, Alexia’s positioning and link-up play with Mapi León were crucial again in Barcelona’s success. She got herself in between players and constantly asked for the ball to break the defensive structure of the opponent. Alexia once again found her name on the stat sheet with her assist to Bruna Vilamala, who scored her first senior-team goal in the 78th minute. This was another well-worked team goal with 15 touches involving 8 Barça players. The sequence ended when Alexia shook off her defender and sent in the assisting pass straight to Bruna Vilamala’s feet.
In addition to her performances with Barcelona, Alexia put up yet another stellar performance for the Spanish national team with a ridiculous volley goal and an assist to cap off one of the finest months of her career. Alexia has already been having a phenomenal 2020, but consistent, dominating performances like those we saw this month only solidify her reputation as one of the best players in the world with unlimited potential to get even better.