Barcelona B's run of poor form continued in Murcia where they were beaten by the score of 1-0 at the hands of Real Murcia. The only goal of the game was scored by Javier Matilla in the first half, but the B team couldn't mount a comeback in the second half, and looked generally unmotivated throughout.
Starting XI: Jordi Masip, Patric, David Lombán, Carles Planas, Alejandro Grimaldo, Gustavo Ledes, Sergi Roberto, Cristian Lobato, Javier Espinosa, Luis Alberto, Jean Marie Dongou.
Bench: Oier Olazabal, Ivan Balliu, Edgar Ie, Ilie Sanchez, Kiko Femenia, Sergio Araujo, Gerard Deulofeu.
A lot of changes in the line-up this week, mostly because of suspensions. Sergi Gomez and Rafinha were replaced by Planas and Espinosa, while Ilie got some rest and was replaced by Gustavo. After a magnificent performance against Numancia, even though he gave up three goals, Masip returned between the uprights, while the usual starter Oier took his place on the bench.
On the pitch the players didn't really line-up in the club's traditional 4-3-3, but it looked more like a 4-1-3-2 with Gustavo as the defensive midfielder. The new formation, it would turn out, wasn't one of Eusebio Sacristan's brightest ideas.
The game would start in very interesting fashion as both teams would have a goal disallowed for offside - both correct calls by the officials. For Barcelona Espinosa was just caught by the defense in the 6th minute, so his lovely finish to the far post didn't count.
It didn't take Barça's shaky defense to make an appearance in this game as Lomban carelessly lost the ball near the sideline which left him out of position and allowed Kike space to get of a dangerous shot that was well saved by Masip.
Barcelona would have another goal canceled for offside in the 18th minute. Dongou made a brilliant run down the left side, cut to the middle where he found the onrushing Patric, who was just offside at the time of the pass. Had he been just a step slower Esinosa's goal, who received the ball from Patric, the youngsters would've been in the lead at this point.
In the next minute Kike made a good run on the right wing, but Sutil, who received the ball in the front of the goal, couldn't get the shot off.
In the 29th minute Barcelona B conceded what would turn out to be the winning goal. The hosts took a quick corner and the ball got to Kike in a very dangerous spot nine yards from the goal where Grimaldo made a good block to stop the attempt. However, the rebound fell straight to Matilla at the edge of the box who drilled a half-volley low past the helpless Masip.
Masip had to remain very aware until the end of the half as he had to make solid saves on Sanchez and Saul, while also making good run out of his area to clear the ball before the opponent could get to it.
At the stroke of halftime Dongou had the best opportunity of the game for Barcelona B. Alberto played him through brilliantly, but Dongou's attempt was excellently saved by Javi Jiménez. Dongou was aiming for the near post, but the goalkeeper read it perfectly and assured that the hosts went to halftime up by the score of 1-0.
Barca B clearly lacked ideas ideas in the final third in opening 45 minutes, but that was understandable due to the fact that Deulofeu and Rafinha weren't on the pitch. Sadly, that would not change in the second half.
Nine minutes after the restart Kike had a fantastic opportunity to double the lead. The forward masterfully protected the ball with his body from Patric, that combined with some terrible positioning by Lomban led to a golden opportunity, but Kike fired it well wide of the post.
In the next minute Barca B had a chance to tie it, but Alberto couldn't control the ball in the box, so he decided to slide it to Roberto, whose shot was blocked by a diving defender. In the very next play Alberto had another chance to equalize, but his towering header was incredibly saved by the outstretched Jimenez.
In the 59th minute Deulofeu came on for Espinosa. The fact that Espinosa was the player who was replaced came as a surprise to me as the midfielder was (with Dongou) one of the most impressive performers of the first half. Lobato, meanwhile, was barely noticeable, but somehow (as has been the case often this season) wasn't the player to come off.
A short while later Dongou made way for Araujo. Do I really have to say what I think about this substitution?
Neither substitution would have much effect. In fact, it could be said that Murcia became even better as a result of them. Martinez sent a very good cross to the far post where Gomez was left all alone, but the powerful shot went just over the bar. On the next play Kike beat Lomban to the ball and had the opportunity to put the game out of reach, but Masip made another good save.
In an effort to go all in Eusbio replaced the right back with a winger - Kiko came on for Patric. Barcelona B would get some opportunities to tie the game after this substitution, but all they could muster up was a shot against the frame of the goal.
Six minutes before the final whistle Barcelona B had a gorgeous opportunity after Alberto brilliantly cut the ball back to Araujo who fired a shot on goal. The shot wasn't very good, but regardless it still hit the crossbar - and bounced out. Barca then won a free kick on the left wing and Deulofeu shot it just wide of the far post.
Kike would have another opportunity to finally get his name on the scoresheet in the last minute, but a great sliding tackle from the back by Planas disrupted him enough to give Masip a chance at the ensuing weak shot.
All those misses by Kike would not come back to haunt Murcia as they would hold on to the lead. Barca B's poor form therefore continued and they are now win-less in three games. The youngsters will have the opportunity to break that streak on Sunday when they host Racing Santander at the Mini Estadi.