No Sergi, no problem - Manuel Queimadelos Alonso
Barcelona B continued their perfect 2013 record with a win against Xerez which saw them finish the first half of the Segunda División in fifth place.
FC Barcelona B extended their winning streak to two games with a solid but hard-fought win against Xerez CD at the Mini Estadi. As has been the case almost all season Barça B needed a lot of goals to secure the three points and in this one they got them from four different sources: Gerard Deulofeu, Javier Espinosa, Luis Alberto and Joan Angel Roman. The only goalscorer for the visitors was Lucas Porcar who found the back of the net twice.
Starting XI: Jordi Masip; Ivan Balliu, David Lombán, Carles Planas, Alejandro Grimaldo; Gustavo Ledes, Cristian Lobato, Luis Alberto; Kiko Femenia, Sergio Araujo, Gerard Deulofeu
Bench: Miguel Bañuz, Sergi Gómez, Ilie Sánchez, Javier Espinosa, Edgar Ié, Joan Angel Román, Jean Marie Dongou
It was another gem of a line-up from Eusebio who was forced to field a team without Rafinha, still with Brazil U-20, and Sergi Roberto, who is injured. To replace arguably two of the most creative players on the team he brought in Lobato, who is a decent winger/full-back, and the striker/winger Alberto while leaving the talents of natural midfielder Espinosa on the bench. The recently unimpressive Kiko also started ahead of Dongou who returned to the bench after missing several games with an injury.
Barca started the game with some quick pressure, but the visitors were very organized in defense and didn't allow Barcelona much penetration. The first real chance for the B team came after a great run by Grimaldo who passed the ball to Araujo in the middle, but the Argentine fired wide of the net. Quickly after Barca had another chance but Deulofeu's shot/pass didn't find the target while Araujo also couldn't get the decisive touch to put the hosts in the lead.
Xarez relied mainly on counter attacks, but Barça's defense did a good job limiting them to long range efforts which didn't cause any problems to Masip.
Just when it appeared that Barca's pressure was slowly winding down Deulofeu delivered some magic in the 19th minute. He went on one of his (already trademark?) amazing runs from the right side, made his way into the penalty area and off the post fired Barcelona in the lead.
The goal gave Barcelona even more confidence and they quickly created new chances. But first Araujo saw his shot saved by the keeper and in the 25th minute Deulofeu's shot hit the post and the ball found its way back into the safe hands of goalkeeper Raúl Navas.
Five minutes later Xarez received more help from Lady Luck as this time Aruajo struck the post. The Argentine received a good pass from Alberto and fired a shot from the edge of the box which looked destined to double the lead, but a good save by the keeper steered the ball to the post.
After that missed chance by Barcelona Xerez began pressing all over the pitch which caused quite a few problems to the hosts as they often turned the ball over in midfield. From one such occasion Marquitos made a good run on the left wing, passed the ball back to Rueda who fired a first time shot that went just wide of the goal. Rueda missed another great opportunity in the 41st minute as he couldn't redirect the ball on goal from just four yards out.
Toward the end of the half Xerez created a couple half-chances more but Masip wasn't tested and the score remained in Barca's favor at halftime.
The second half started with high pressure from Xerez and their pressure was rewarded just six minutes after the restart. Marquitos played a lovely ball to Lucas Porcar who showed good creativity to win space for himself and power the ball past the helpless Masip.
Xerez again made Barcelona pay for their poor defending in the 64th minute when once again Porcar beat Masip with a low shot just inside the post. The Barca B defense has been poor all season long and their turnovers have been really hurting the team, so it is a little worrying that these problems haven't been addressed by the coaching staff.
After allowing the second goal of the game, Espinosa (finally) came on the pitch. As I said before he should've started this game, but that a different story for a different day. Espinosa replaced Balliu, which meant that Kiko moved into the back four to play at right back.
Espinosa quickly made a mark on the game as he scored after being on the pitch for less than five minutes. The visiting defense looked unorganized for just a few seconds which the B team quickly exploited with Araujo passing the ball to Espinosa who made no mistake from close range. And just seconds later Barca B took the lead. Xerez's defense didn't have time to recuperate from their last mistake before Araujo unselfishly passed the ball to Alberto who scored into the wide open net.
With the lead Eusebio went to his usual tactic of defending the lead - with (nearly) the worst defense in the league. To help achieve that goal he replaced Deulofeu with defensive midfielder Ilie.
Of course, when you have the (almost) worst defense in the league such a goal is difficult to achieve. Xerez quickly started to create chance after chance and in the 80th minute it looked like we will have a tie game once again. Jesús Tato looked destined to score from close range, but Lombán got just enough of the ball to redirect it past Masip's far post.
Barca, however, also had opportunities to put the game out of reach. Grimaldo, who had an excellent game, created one out of literally nothing. The youngster had his head high all the time, looking for an open teammate, but since nobody was available, he weaved his way past three defenders. But the goalkeeper closed the space very well and Grimaldo couldn't put the ball past him.
In the 90th minute Román replaced Araujo on the pitch. Despite missing a couple good scoring chances, it was all in all a positive game for the striker who finished the game with two assists.
Roman, however, also made impact off the bench as he, like Espinosa, also scored. Roman was played through brilliantly by Alberto and the midfielder calmly slotted the ball past Navas for the final score in the 94th minute.
With the win Barça B ended the first half of the Segunda División season in fifth place . Barça's next game will be on Sunday at 5pm CET at the Juegos Mediterráneos stadium against third placed Almería.