Barca B: Aleña and Palencia necessary to avoid relegation

There have been cries all season for Barcelona B midfielder and La Masia crown jewel Carles Aleña to be promoted to the first team. Aleña looks likely to take the step up to the first team over the summer, and he is assured to have plenty of competition, as Francesc and Dan discussed on the latest edition of The Barcelona Podcast:

Yet, those cries will need to wait until next season. An appearance on the bench for Aleña as the first team took on Athletic Bilbao left the B squad without their best player and top goalscorer in a 1-1 draw against Lorca, a team stuck in the relegation zone that hasn't won a game since the end of November.

Relegation is the key word here. After losing 2-0 to Osasuna at the Mini Estadi, Barca B has collected 37 points in 32 matches and remain four points clear of the drop zone. At this point in the season, the only goal is to survive and Gerard Lopez will need to do everything in his power to ensure this happens. Surprisingly enough, three Juvenil A players have made their Barca B debuts in the last month, including Riqui Puig, Alex Collado and Alejandro Marques. Their potential may be great, but their temporary promotions are more likely a by-product of the surplus of injuries that the B team are dealing with.

Long-term layoffs for Oriol Busquets, Ferran Sarsanedas and Jose Arnaiz, as well as multiple injuries to Inigo Ruiz de Galarreta and Marc Cardona has left Gerard and company without many of their most vital players. Along with Aleña, captain Sergi Palencia has needed to use his leadership skills to great effect as each training session seems to present a new face. More than thirty players have played with Barca B this season, but Aleña and Palencia have been pillars of the starting line-up.

Fielding a team that is almost always younger than the opponent is a difficult challenge, but the talent and pedigree of Aleña and Palencia, as well as regular starters Marc Cucurella, Adrian Ortola, Christian Rivera, David Costas and Carles Perez, make that challenge much more manageable. If Jorge Cuenca, Juan Miranda and particularly Abel Ruiz, all three currently on international duty with Spain's U-19 squad, can jump right back into the fold at a high level, Barca B have the tools to navigate their ten remaining fixtures and avoid the drop.

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