For a large part of the 2021/22 season, a campaign review is something most Barcelona fans wouldn’t have wanted to read.
Things were going awfully, everyone was disappointing and it looked like a question of just how low Barcelona could sink…and yet they ended the season in second and were genuinely upset that they couldn’t make more of a title race out of things.
A throwaway season quickly became one of real promise and transition, and now the hopes are high for the future at Camp Nou.
Here’s the rundown on their 2021/22 season, from their player of the year to the biggest disappointment.
With Gerard Pique slowly falling victim to Father Time, Barcelona were worried they might find themselves without a defensive leader. Enter Ronald Araujo.
The 23-year-old enjoyed an absolutely immense campaign which propelled him from exciting young defender to undisputed superstar, taking charge of Barcelona’s defence and doing everything possible to lead the team to victory.
To top it off, Araujo inked a new contract towards the end of the season. He’s here to stay.
Honourable mentions: Pedri, Jordi Alba
Jordi Alba vs Atletico Madrid
Jordi Alba probably didn’t mean this one. Well, he definitely meant to score it, but he’ll have wanted it to look a bit more like his volley against Real Betis later in the season.
Fortunately for the left-back, this one ended up looking a whole lot better.
Alba ran on to the cross but instead of thumping his volley into the near post, he appeared to slice it and time slowed down as it sailed across the box and into the opposite top corner, helping his side seal a 4-2 victory which played a big role in the team’s fortunes turning.
Honourable mentions: Pedri vs Sevilla, Sergio Busquets vs Frankfurt, Frenkie de Jong vs Napoli, Ansu Fati vs Valencia, Memphis Depay vs Alaves
Real Madrid 0-4 Barcelona
Duh. Barcelona went to the Santiago Bernabeu and scored four unanswered goals. How could this ever not be the winner?
While many point to Real’s tactical slip-up – Luka Modric is not a striker – credit needs to go to Barcelona for how they capitalised on that to dominate both possession and shots on goal in an atmosphere as hostile as El Clasico.
Two goals either side of half time had Barcelona cruising to victory and sent a real message to the rest of the continent. The sleeping giant was waking.
Honourable mentions: Barcelona 4-2 Atletico Madrid, Barcelona 4-0 Athletic Club, Barcelona 4-0 Osasuna
Sergio Aguero joined in the summer in the hope of banging in goals at Camp Nou, but after his heart issue led to his early retirement, Barcelona had to take a punt on another ageing Premier League striker in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
He’d had a woeful time at Arsenal but exploded into life in Catalonia without missing a step. He bagged 11 goals in just 17 league games and wasn’t far off securing the team’s top scorer title.
Aubameyang was supposed to be a stop-gap signing but was so impressive that he has to be in consideration for a starting spot next year too.
Honourable mentions: Dani Alves, Memphis Depay, Luuk de Jong
This is an easy win for Gavi, who started the season as a largely unknown kid and ended it as one of the most exciting young players on the face of the planet.
The 17-year-old was given his debut by Ronald Koeman and never looked back, establishing himself as a starter for his club and a regular at international level as well. It’s been a whirlwind 12 months for Gavi, who has attracted interest from every top side on the planet as a result.
To look right at home in Barcelona’s midfield isn’t an easy task, but nobody told Gavi that.
Honourable mentions: Ronald Araujo, Pedri, Ousmane Dembele, Nico
Frenkie de Jong
Frenkie de Jong was fine. Yeah, of course he was.
The problem is that ‘fine’ isn’t enough for a player who was supposed to be a generational talent when he joined for £65m in 2019.
He was woeful under Koeman and his improvement was only marginal under Xavi, who battled to find the best way to use De Jong for the entire second half of the season. It didn’t really work, and the exit rumours have followed.
Dishonourable mentions: Eric Garcia, Ferran Torres, Adama Traore