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.
FCB Femeni’s January Player of the Month: Alexia Putellas
Another month down, another couple of wins for FCB Femeni. The team is in smooth sailing towards their second consecutive league title with an otherworldly wins-only season, including 73 goals scored and only 3 conceded. January was a rough month for the Catalan team, however, as they faced multiple match cancellations due to both a freak snowstorm and COVID-19 positives alongside an early Supercopa Femenina exit. Aside from the many downs, there were plenty of positives. FCB Femeni played a history-making match at the Camp Nou, the team’s first competitive match in the iconic stadium, and they dominated in a resounding 5-0 win against local rivals Espanyol Femeni. Later in the month, they smashed Rayo Vallecano Femenino 7-0, and at the end of January, they won the second-ever El Clasico Femenino against Real Madrid, scoring 4 at the Estadi Johan Cruyff.
Given the many iconic moments in this month alone, it was never going to be an easy choice. Plenty of players showed up big this month. Asisat Oshoala seems to have returned to form after a rough few months, scoring four goals and having many quality performances aside from her goalscoring. Melanie Serrano has had one of her best seasons in recent memory, and her performances this month were no exception. But if there was one player who came in clutch and made history, it was Alexia Putellas. She started the year strongly by being the first-ever woman to score a competitive goal at the Camp Nou. Her free kick in the dying minutes of the Supercopa Femenina saved Barcelona from going out in regular time against Atletico Madrid. At the end of the month, she drew first blood in the second-ever Clasico, imposing herself against Los Blancos with relative ease. Aside from her goalscoring, she once again had multiple dominant performances in terms of her assisting, passing, and attacking play. Once again, Alexia Putellas is deservedly our player of the month for January.
Primera Iberdrola – RCD Espanyol Femeni (Camp Nou) (6/1/2021): 5-0
• Minutes: 90
• 1 Goal
January 6th marked a historic day for Barcelona as they entered the Camp Nou pitch for the first time after 50 years. The Blaugranas started the game on a bright note with Alexia dictating the play. At the 4th minute of the game, Alexia had a tame shot at the goal following a cut-back from Melanie Serrano. As the shots racked up in the beginning minutes, it looked like Barca would follow this season’s pattern of scoring an early goal. However, Barca were devoid of any clear cut chances after that, and Espanyol started to grow defensively as time went on.
The second big chance fell to Alexia Putellas in the 43rd minute after a cutback this time from Patri following a beautiful couple of moves inside the box. Again, Alexia’s shot was too weak with her right foot and it found the hands of the goalkeeper. However, Alexia made up for her misses when the turning point of the game came in the 45th minute. During a stoppage-time corner, Alexia raced past the marker to head the ball into the far corner of the net, giving Barca some much-needed breathing room going into the half-time. Barca cruised to victory in the second half with a scoreline of 5-0 after goals from Melanie Serrano, Marta Torrejon, Lieke Martens, and Ana Maria Crnogocevic, which ended any hopes of a comeback for the local rivals.
Spanish Supercopa Femenino: Semi Finals – Atletico Madrid Femenino (A) (13/1/2021): 1-1 ( 3-1 PT)
• Minutes: 120
• Goals: 1
Barca played Atléti in the Spanish Supercup semifinal on January 13th. Both the teams were going into the game after Spain’s freak snowstorm, “Filomena,” canceled all the league’s Madrid-based weekend matches. Atlético Madrid announced the re-hiring of manager Dani Gonzalez on the eve of the matchday, sparking a lot of excitement going into the game. The game followed a similar pattern to that of the one played in August when Barça defeated Las Colchoneras to clinch a spot in the UWCL semifinals. As expected, Atleti defended with 9 women at the back and played long balls to Ludmila whenever they had a chance to counter.
Even though Barcelona dominated the game, they failed to score and paid for their lack of effectiveness when Atléti were awarded a penalty in the 66th minute. Merel van Dongen then converted it to give Madrid the advantage. It looked like everything was lost until the 90th minute when Alexia was brought down at the edge of the box. Although it looked like Barcelona was going to lose in regular time, the midfielder had other ideas and took matters into her own hands. Alexia scored a sublime free-kick past a diving Hedvig Lindahl who, until then, was keeping Barca at bay for 90 excellent minutes. In the end, it was not enough for Barca as they paid the price for not converting their chances, also being kept down by some harsh refereeing decisions not going their way. The Catalans ended up losing to Atléti on penalty kicks and were knocked out of the tournament, thereby missing their first possible title of the year.
Primera Iberdrola – Rayo Vallecano (H) (20/1/2021): 7-0
• Minutes: 72
• Goals: 2
FCB Femeni came into the game after their tough semifinal loss to Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Supercup, hoping to get back into their rhythm. Barça scored an early goal inside 5 minutes after Alexia’s header was parried into the feet of Jennifer Hermoso. After the first goal, it was one-way traffic for the home side as they punctured Rayo’s defense with another 3 goals- Alexia being the catalyst of each of them.
Alexia scored her first goal of the game following Melanie’s cross. She stayed in position and gracefully chipped over the keeper’s head to double Barca’s lead. She remained a key part of the midfield in tracking back and dictating the entirety of the half and scored her second goal following a well-worked team move. In the 40th minute of the game, Asisat Oshoala was sent through by Jennifer Hermoso, and Asisat teed up Caroline Graham-Hansen to score from close range. However, Hansen’s shot was blocked and the ball fell into the path of Alexia for an easy tap-in. Barça easily swept past mid-table Rayo to remain top of the table after the matchday.
Primera Iberdrola – Real Madrid (H) (31/1/2021): 4-1
• Minutes: 87
• Goals: 1
• Second Assists:1
Barça faced their new league rival Real Madrid Femenino in the last game of the month, 11 days after their match against Rayo due to multiple match cancellations. This was expected to be a totally different game compared to their first encounter, as Los Blancos have grown into the league and were occupying the second-place position at the time. All the match previews indicated that Real Madrid were in great form, recording only 3 losses in 15 games, with a much more balanced and cohesive team than their first game against the Blaugranas. Additionally, if the team from Spain’s capital won at the Estadi Johan Cruyff, they would’ve gone to the top of the league.
The match started with Real Madrid and Barcelona both going on the offense and trying to assert themselves. Despite Madrid entering the match bravely and attacking well, Barcelona scored first just 14 minutes into the match. Once again, it was the captain, Alexia Putellas, who kicked it off for the Catalan team. Alexia was intuitive in collecting the ball at the edge of the box and scoring a blistering strike to the top left of the net that Misa Rodriguez struggled to get a hand on. From then, it was a similar pattern as the first Clásico, and Barça advanced to a 3 goal lead by the end of the first half. The match proved that Madrid’s women have improved a lot, but they were never a match to the 2019-20 champions as Barca ran out winners 4-1 at the end of full-time.
When Alexia is fit and firing, there isn’t a way to stop her from creating chances and scoring goals. After her breakout out season last year, she’s continued her form and is having yet another world-class season. Alexia only continues to get better and better, and with a lot of important competitions in the next few months, her performances will be integral to the success of the club.