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Barcelona 2022-23 season review - star player, best moment, standout result

Sports Mole takes an in-depth look back at Barcelona's 2022-23 campaign, which saw them win La Liga and the Spanish Super Cup.

Barcelona's 2022-23 campaign came to a close with a 2-1 defeat at Celta Vigo on Sunday evening, but they still managed to end the season comfortably clear at the top of the La Liga table.

An excellent campaign saw Xavi's side claim 88 points from 38 league games, finishing 10 points clear of last season's champions Real Madrid, but they lost to their bitter rivals in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey and faced more huge disappointment in Europe.

Indeed, Barcelona once again failed to make it out of the group stage of the Champions League before being knocked out by Manchester United in the Europa League playoffs.

Here, Sports Mole takes an in-depth look at the club's 2022-23 campaign, which also saw them win the Spanish Super Cup at Real Madrid's expense.


SEASON OVERVIEW

Barcelona players celebrate winning the La Liga title on May 20, 2023© Reuters

Final league position: 1st

Copa del Rey: Semi-finals

Spanish Super Cup: Winners

Champions League: Group stage

Europa League: Knockout round playoffs

Top scorer: Robert Lewandowski (33)

Most assists: Raphinha (12)

Barcelona's standout summer acquisition was Lewandowski, while Franck Kessie, Andreas Christensen, Raphinha, Jules Kounde, Hector Bellerin and Marcos Alonso also arrived during a busy transfer window, with the Catalan giants able to boost their squad despite their financial problems.

Xavi's side started the season in impressive fashion, winning each of their opening four matches, including their first Champions League group fixture against Viktoria Plzen, but they were on the end of a 2-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in their second match in the section on September 13.

Barcelona continued to impress in the league, beating Elche, Mallorca and Celta Vigo in quick succession, but they were struggling in the Champions League, picking up just one point from their two games against Inter Milan, before losing 3-0 at home to Bayern in their final Group C fixture, meaning that the Catalan side again failed to qualify for the knockout round of the Champions League.

Barcelona's first La Liga defeat of the season was the 3-1 loss at Real Madrid on October 16, but they responded by winning their next five league matches, and the year then finished with a 1-1 draw at home to Espanyol in Spain's top flight, with the team returning to action following the 2022 World Cup.

Xavi's team managed to progress in the Copa del Rey with a 4-3 victory at Intercity in their first game of 2023, while January was also to bring Barcelona's first major trophy since 2021, overcoming Real Madrid 3-1 in the final of the Spanish Super Cup after beating Real Betis in the semi-finals.

Barcelona also managed to progress to the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey by beating Real Sociedad, with the team winning all eight of their games in January, including three in La Liga.

The team actually won 11 games in a row at the start of the year, but they did not progress to the last-16 stage of the Europa League, losing 4-3 to Manchester United on aggregate, with the Red Devils running out 2-1 winners in the second leg of their playoff contest at Old Trafford.

Barcelona striker Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring against Manchester United on February 23, 2023© Reuters

There was a hangover from the clash in Manchester, with Almeria beating Barcelona 1-0 in La Liga three days later, but Xavi's side responded by recording a 1-0 win over Real Madrid in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final, putting them in an excellent position to reach the final.

Barcelona won four straight league games between March 5 and April 1, but they incredibly suffered a 4-0 loss to Real Madrid in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final on April 5 to exit the competition, putting huge pressure on Xavi to deliver the La Liga title.

There was a stumble after the four-goal loss in El Clasico, with Barcelona winning just one of their next four, but they then won three in a row, including the 4-2 success at Espanyol on May 14, which secured their position as La Liga champions in a huge moment for Xavi.

The 2-1 win over Real Madrid in the league on March 19 put Barcelona 12 points clear at the top of the table, and they never looked like being caught from that position, with Real Madrid stuttering themselves and Atletico Madrid's form in the first half of the campaign costing them the chance to be in a title race.

Barcelona will lose two huge figures this summer, with Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba both leaving on free transfers, and it is set to be a fascinating transfer window for the club due to their ongoing financial issues.

Reclaiming the La Liga title means that the season must go down as a positive one, but their failure in Europe must be addressed during the 2023-24 campaign, as a team of Barcelona's ilk simply have to be competing in the latter stages of the Champions League.


LA LIGA STATS

Wins: 28 (1st)
Draws: 4 (=8th)
Losses: 6 (12th)
Goals scored: 70 (=2nd)
Goals conceded: 20 (16th)
Yellow cards: 72 (14th)
Red cards: 6 (7th)
Passes: 20,039 (2nd)
Shots: 525 (2nd)
Saves: 86 (16th)


HOW DID IT COMPARE TO LAST SEASON?

Barcelona's Pedri celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on April 3, 2022© Reuters

A turbulent 2021-22 season saw Barcelona have three managers in charge, with Ronald Koeman and Sergi Barjuan leading the team before Xavi was appointed at the start of November 2021.

The Catalan outfit finished second in La Liga last season, while they were eliminated in the round of 16 in the Copa del Rey, semi-finals of the Spanish Super Cup, group stage of the Champions League and quarter-finals of the Europa League.

Barcelona have actually performed worse in Europe this season, again failing to make it out of the group stage of the Champions League, before losing to Man United in the Europa League knockout round playoffs, but there has been an improvement in the Copa del Rey, making the semi-finals.

Xavi's side also won the Spanish Super Cup this season, but the biggest change has been in La Liga, picking up 15 more points this term to win the title.

In 2021-22, Barcelona won 21, drew 10 and lost seven of their 38 games to claim 73 points, while they only scored 68 times and conceded 38, whereas this season, they won 28 matches, drew four and lost six, scoring 70 goals and conceding 20, with their defensive improvement clear to see.


PLAYER OF THE SEASON: ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI

Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring for Barcelona on October 12, 2022© Reuters

Lewandowski has scored goals throughout his career, so it is hardly a shock that he has brought that form to Barcelona, with the Poland international almost a guarantee in terms of finding the back of the net.

The 34-year-old has been integral to Barcelona claiming two trophies this season, finding the back of the net on 33 occasions in 46 appearances, in addition to contributing eight assists, while he finished as the leading goalscorer in La Liga with 23.

The season has not been perfect for Lewandowski, but he also scored five times in Barcelona's disappointing Champions League group-stage campaign, and the forward has been comfortably the team's main source of goals during the 2022-23 season.

There have been a number of strong performers for the Catalan giants this season, but it is difficult to look past Lewandowski considering that he continues to do the hardest thing in football for a player - find the back of the net on a consistent basis at the highest level.



STANDOUT RESULT: ESPANYOL 2-4 BARCELONA

Barcelona's Alex Balde celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on May 14, 2023© Reuters

Barcelona entered the Catalan derby on May 14 knowing that a victory would see them regain the La Liga title, although there was not major pressure on the team due to their huge lead at the summit.

It was always going to be a case of when and not if Barcelona would win the title, but it would have been incredibly special for the club's fans to claim the championship against Espanyol, who have actually now been relegated back to the Segunda Division for the 2023-24 campaign.

Barcelona were simply brilliant in the opening 53 minutes of the match, with Lewandowski scoring twice, while Alejandro Balde and Kounde were also on the scoresheet, as Xavi's side moved into a four-goal lead, and some of their football during that match was simply brilliant.

Espanyol did manage to register twice late on through Javi Puado and Joselu, but Barcelona were never in danger of giving up their lead, and the result confirmed their position as champions - a hugely important step for Xavi during the early stages of his managerial career at Camp Nou.

> Click here for a full list of Barcelona's results from the 2022-23 season



BEST MOMENT

Barcelona's Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring against Espanyol on May 14, 2023© Reuters

Barcelona's 3-1 victory over Real Madrid in the final of the Spanish Super Cup in the middle of January was certainly in the running in this category, with the success securing Xavi's first trophy as head coach of the club.

However, as mentioned above, the win over Espanyol to secure the title was a big moment for Barcelona.

Having finished second, third and second between 2019 and 2022, Barcelona were absolutely desperate to end this season with the La Liga title, with that competition viewed as their priority, even above the Champions League, where they were again eliminated in the group stage.

In the end, the Catalan giants won the La Liga title incredibly comfortably, but the moment when their position at the summit was confirmed was special, with the celebrations on the pitch and in the dugout a demonstration of that, and Xavi will now be looking to build on that success next term.


TOP PRIORITY FOR SUMMER

Paris Saint-Germain attacker Lionel Messi warms up on May 27, 2023© Reuters

It is set to be a fascinating summer transfer window for Barcelona, who have ongoing financial problems. The club's president Joan Laporta has promised that there will be additions across the board, though, and one of those could be Lionel Messi, who is preparing to leave Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.

Messi's return to Camp Nou would be one of the stories of the summer, and Barcelona are pushing to re-sign him, but a lot still has to happen before a deal could go through.

Barcelona will be removing at least two huge salaries from their wage budget this summer, with Busquets and Alba leaving on free transfers, which should allow them to register the new contracts of Gavi and Ronald Araujo, with the pair currently in a strange situation at the club.

The Catalan side are not in a position to make any big-money signings, so the majority of their work could come in the free agent market, with Ilkay Gundogan also believed to be a leading target.

Barcelona are targeting a new central midfielder to replace Busquets, with Real Sociedad's Martin Zubimendi thought to be a leading target, but the Basque outfit have secured Champions League football for next season, and the Spaniard is seemingly in no hurry to switch clubs.

Bayern Munich's Joshua Kimmich is also one to watch, although it will be difficult to convince the German champions to sell one of their most important players.

The club are also in need of a specialist right-back this summer, with Manchester City's Joao Cancelo seemingly emerging as their leading target, but the numbers will have to make sense, and it will be very interesting to see the Barcelona squad beyond the end of the upcoming window.


FINAL VERDICT

Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele celebrates scoring against Real Sociedad on January 25, 2023© Reuters

Barcelona once again failed to make it out of the group stage of the Champions League, which was undoubtedly their biggest disappointment of the season, while they passed up a good opportunity to win another Copa del Rey trophy, in addition to facing a knockout round playoff exit in the Europa League.

The La Liga title is the trophy that the club really wanted this season, though, having watched Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid win it in the last three seasons.

Xavi has again had some difficult moments at the helm this season, but the club appear to be heading firmly in the right direction once again, and if they can move some unwanted players on this summer and add quality across the board, then they could be a force in all of the major competitions next term.


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Barcelona director of football Jordi Cruyff pictured in January 2020
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Tables header RHS
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Real Madrid1512213392438
2GironaGirona15122134181638
3Atletico MadridAtletico13101230121831
4Barcelona1494127141331
5Athletic Bilbao1584330181228
6Real Sociedad157532618826
7Real BetisBetis146621816224
8Las PalmasLas Palmas156361313021
9Valencia155461720-319
10Getafe154741720-319
11Rayo Vallecano154741622-619
12Villarreal144372125-415
13AlavesAlaves144371419-515
14Osasuna154381725-815
15Sevilla132651919012
16CadizCadiz142571121-1011
17Mallorca141761320-710
18Celta Vigo141581424-108
19Granada1514101935-167
20Almeria1403111637-213

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