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Segunda División: Real Madrid Castilla 3-2 FC Barcelona B: Match Review

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Sergi Roberto was arguably the best Barcelona player on the park today
Sergi Roberto was arguably the best Barcelona player on the park today

Barcelona B crashed to a 3-2 defeat against Real Madrid Castilla tonight, thanks to a combination of defensive mistakes, refereeing errors and – as always – Eusebio. After the senior side’s win on Thursday, the B team could have made it a Clasico clean-sweep with a win at the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium, but fell behind early on courtesy of a goal from Juanfran. Denis Cheryshev extended Castilla’s lead on 24 minutes with a composed finish, but Gerard Deulofeu pulled one back before half-time, although I’m not quite sure how he has been credited with the goal. Oscar Plano restored Castilla’s two-goal advantage just minutes after the restart and although Sergi Roberto reduced the deficit from the penalty spot, Barcelona B couldn’t quite force an equaliser and will return to Cataluña empty-handed.

After their 4-5 loss to Almeria in last week’s season opener, Eusebio and his B team were looking to register their first win of the new Segunda season against Real Madrid Castilla at the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium. With Carles Planas suspended, Alejandro Grimaldo started at left-back with Rafinha Alcântara, Jean Marie Dongou and Gerard Deulofeu all starting in attack. In principle, that’s a fantastic strikeforce, but again Cristian Lobato was out of position in a central midfield role and Javier Espinosa, one of the team’s best performers of last season was on the bench. The full line-up was as follows:

Oier Olazabal; Ivan Balliu, Sergi Gomez, David Lomban, Alejandro Grimaldo; Ilie Sanchez, Sergi Roberto, Cristian Lobato; Rafinha Alcântara, Jean Marie Dongou, Gerard Deulofeu

The team started well, forcing a few early corners, and unsurprisingly the match followed a similar pattern to the "senior" Clasicos: Barcelona kept the ball, Castilla looked to counter, and unfortunately, just like the Clasico in we saw on Thursday, Real Madrid took the lead. What looked to be a routine defensive play turned out to be too much for David Lomban who scuffed his clearance to Alex, and for those who don’t know Alex, he is Castilla’s midfield general – their Xavi if you will – and he was the Player of the Tournament in the 2011 Under-19 European Championships. In short, he was the last player Barcelona will have wanted to gift possession to, and he made Eusbeio’s team pay, lifting the ball to Juanfran, who did well to control, swivel and shoot, all in the same motion. 10 minutes on the clock, and Castilla were ahead.

The Blaugrana looked to respond in a similar fashion to the senior side, but in doing so, they became fairly predictable. For all the talent in the side, the ball was routinely given to Deulofeu, and with little in the way of support, Deulofeu couldn’t make as much of an impact as he would have desired. He gave it his best, taking on, and beating multiple Castilla defenders, but couldn’t work enough space for a decent shot on goal. Castilla on the other hand looked to cause problems with every attack, and on the 24th minute, they extended their lead after a massive error from the Blaugrana defense.

Oscar Plano had just flicked on a simple throw-in, and both Ivan Balliu and David Lomban went to challenge for the ball. However, all they challenged was each other as the two collided and fell to the ground allowing Denis Cheryshev a chance on goal. Grimaldo tried to get back and cover for his teammates error(s), but he slipped over, and Cheryshev slotted the ball past Oier to double Castilla’s advantage. If one thing has been obvious, even at this early stage of the season, it’s that David Lomban is a terrible defender.

Jese nearly got a third around the half-hour mark with a fierce effort at the near-post, but Oier was equal to his effort. Lobato fired over wastefully in what was Barcelona’s best chance since the first goal, before Grimaldo tested Tomas Meijias with a stinging effort. Collecting the rebound, Grimaldo then proceeded to win a free-kick with which Barcelona pulled one back in the most bizarre of circumstances. The free-kick was delivered in by Deulofeu with pace and it lacked any real accuracy, but Nacho Fernandez mistimed his header, heading the ball upwards instead of away from goal. Meijias was also at fault for the sequence that followed as he jumped and hung on the crossbar, presumably to see the ball over the bar. Unfortunately for him, that didn’t work out as the ball bounced the other side of the bar and into the back of the net. A truly absurd goal, but as the cliché goes, they all count the same, and somehow this goal was credited to Deulofeu.

Headed into the break, Castilla hadn’t necessarily been the better side, but they had committed fewer errors and had been clinical with their chances. Gerard Deulofeu was looking bright on the right-hand side of the field, while Lomban (you know why) and Lobato (out of position) were two points that needed addressing. But then again, Eusebio was in charge...

Instead of making the logical change of Javier Espinosa for Cristian Lobato, he decided to replace Dongou with Kiko Femenia. Then, as if it couldn’t get worse, Castilla restored their two-goal advantage thanks to some truly inept officiating. Jese played a pass in the direction of Oscar Plano who was clearly offside. The ball may have rebounded off a Barca player, but when the ball was played, Plano was offside by a good few metres, and the call should have reflected that fact. However, what actually happened is that Plano volleyed the ball into the far corner of Oier’s net, and Castilla were 3-1 up.

Then it proceeded to get even worse. Eusebio took off the side’s best player, Deulofeu to bring on Sergio Araujo. Imagine the senior side 3-1 down in a Clasico, only for the manager to haul off Lionel Messi, it wouldn’t happen, and there’s good reason for that, but reason and logic don’t tend to matter to Eusebio.

Barcelona did come close to reducing the deficit on 65 minutes as Kiko played a one-two with Rafinha to create space on the left-hand side of the Castilla penalty area, but he directed his effort right at Meijias. It wasn’t to matter though; the Catalans would create a far better chance just two minutes later. Lobato was involved, squeezing a pass to the right-hand side of the Castilla penalty area and Ivan Balliu was there to meet it. While Balliu did manage to get a shot away, he was taken out by Nacho Fernandez and after deliberating with his assistant, the referee pointed to the spot. With Deulofeu sitting on the bench, Sergi Roberto stepped up and sending the keeper the wrong way he smashed the ball just to the left of the middle of Meijias’ goal.

Finally, Javier Espinosa was brought on for Cristian Lobato and he looked to make an instant impact, but with just 10 minutes remaining, it was far too late. Sergio Araujo nearly started a brawl with a couple of rash challenges, but the referee intervened before anyone could do anything they would have regretted. Just when it looked as though the game would end without incident, Sergi Gomez collided with Meijias in injury time, and despite only having eyes for the ball in a 50/50 challenge, the referee produced a second yellow, followed by the inevitable red card. Gomez was receiving treatment at the time, and looked bewildered by the decision. Then again, he should have expected as much after the referee allowed Castilla’s third.

Now after two defeats from two matches, Eusebio’s team sit third from bottom having conceded eight goals in two matches, but also having scored six. Next up is a Catalan derby against CE Sabadell, who early today held Villarreal to a 0-0 draw.

Goles: RM Castilla 3-2 Barça B (via Barça Vid)