Now that teams are settled back into club football after a long international break, there is finally time to reflect on the standout players that defined some of the biggest international tournaments of this summer. One of these tournaments, the 2022 U20 Women’s World Cup, put on display some of the brightest talents the women’s game has to offer. First-time champions Spain shone the brightest of them all with a team largely composed of La Masia and Barça B talents. One of them will be the focus of our Barça Femení Talents series today- Júlia Bartel Holgado.
Already known for her big-game performances and pinpoint passing accuracy, Bartel is considered the midfielder with the brightest future in the Catalan squad. Exquisite technique, vision of the game, and the arrival in the box are just a few of her most outstanding traits.
Júlia Bartel Holgado was born in Castellbisbal, Terrassa, a city on the eastern edge of the province of Barcelona. Bartel was raised as a footballer within Catalan youth teams, namely UE Castellbisbal and Sant Cugat FC, the latter in which she played alongside club and country teammate Esther Laborde. She joined the ranks of La Masia in 2019 when she was 15 years old. Like many of Barcelona's female youth products, she joined La Masia from local rival Espanyol. She began in the Cadete-Juvenil category, but after just one season, she jumped to play with Barça B. Bartel made her first-team debut with Barcelona on June 27, 2021 against Eibar, and was one of the youngest debutants ever at 17 years and 1 month of age. She has made two other senior-team appearances since then with her first start happening in April of 2022. Bartel has played minimal first-team minutes, but has shown plenty of quality and promise.
Although Bartel plays for one of the biggest clubs in women's football, much of her notoriety comes from her successes on the international stage with Spain's youth categories. Perhaps her most iconic performance to date is the 2022 U19 UEFA Women’s Euro final, where she scored the 90th minute goal that helped Spain win against Norway. Bartel herself calls it the most important goal she's ever scored. The following month, Bartel won the 2022 U20 Women’s World Cup with Spain, the first U20 Women’s World Cup win in Spain's history. She proved to be one of Spain’s most important players, especially highlighted by her fluid link-up play with Barcelona teammate Esther Laborde.
Playing Style & Player Analysis:
Júlia Bartel is a very technical player who is confident with the ball, even when she is put under pressure. She is also very dangerous when she gets the ball between the lines and has time to turn around and run towards the goal. She is great at making the right decision and creating chances for her attacking teammates. She is quick without being pacy, but can consistently slip past any attempt from the opposition to track her midfield runs in the game. Bartel doesn't just command the ball, but is conscious of where she needs to be positioned before receiving a pass and is mindful of where the ball is going.
One of the most striking attributes of Bartel’s game as a central midfielder is her talent in running with the ball. The 18-year-old has a way of dribbling, combining the typical feints of a Spanish midfielder with a powerful ability to drive with the ball and punch holes in the opposition’s formation. She can fill multiple roles in midfield, shapeshifting between a controlling presence, a penetrative runner and also a chance creator. Like many iconic Barcelona midfielders, Bartel possesses distinct qualities like delicate ball retention and quick wittedness, combined with energetic pressing without the ball. Occasionally, she will drift wider in midfield and end up occupying the wing to connect play centrally, in the same way her idol- Aitana Bonmatí- often does. Additionally, similarly to Aitana, she routinely travels the most kilometers on the pitch– all while seemingly not breaking a sweat.
Bartel thinks two or three steps ahead and sees the angles, the runs, and the tiny details that no one else does, while simultaneously making it look so simple. Being smaller in stature is never an issue when Bartel is played to her strengths. She knows how to lower herself when receiving the ball, making her tough to intercept or tackle, and as a result she rarely loses possession. She has improved both in her long passing game and in her reading of the game in the last season, and because of that, she was instrumental in Barça Femení B staying in the RFEF Second Division.
Now, she’s reaching a level of performance that makes her one of the most valuable central midfielders from La Masia. She can dictate, set the tempo, create, assist and score. Her fleet-footed, silky-smooth style makes her a joy to watch, and hopefully, audiences from around the world will continue to watch as she makes a name for herself within Barcelona’s senior team.