Barcelona B extended their winning streak to four games with a victory in a difficult away game against Hércules. It was probably Barca B's best performance of the season as they pretty much dominated the entire game. Goals from Luis Alberto, David Lomban and Javier Espinosa assured Barça B their most comfortable victory of the season.
With Sergi Roberto called up to the first team it would be obvious, to me at least, that Espinosa would get his well earned chance in the starting line-up. But you would be wrong. Espinosa still found himself on the bench with Ilie Sanchez, Cristian Lobato and Rafinha forming the midfield. Kiko Femenia was initially expected to start on the wing but he picked up a late injury and was replaced by Sergio Araujo in the opening lineup.
Starting XI: Oier Olazabal; Ivan Balliu, David Lombán, Carles Planas, Alejandro Grimaldo; Ilie Sanchez, Rafinha, Cristian Lobato; Sergio Araujo, Luis Alberto, Gerard Deulofeu
Bench: Jordi Masip, Sergi Gomez, Agostinho Cá, Patric, Javier Espinosa, Kiko Femenia, Jean Marie Dongou
Barcelona B are pretty much always the team that controls the ball, but that was even more noticeable in this game. They barely allowed a touch in the early going to the team that last season earned a place in the promotion play-off, Hércules.
Grimaldo, Rafinha and Luis Alberto were especially dominating as just about every dangerous play went through at least one of them. Grimaldo and Rafinha both made several dazzling runs while Alberto was a constant threat around the penalty area. Alberto's signing wasn't discussed much but he has quickly become the first choice attacker for Eusebio.
Despite all that domination Barcelona B couldn't get that final touch that would put them in the lead. The youngsters created at least half a dozen noteworthy chances in the opening 30 minutes alone but there was nobody there to poach the ball in. At this point in the game it was evident that Araujo wasn't in this game - mentally - which had me wishing for some Dongou action.
Those feelings became even greater 10 minutes after halftime when Araujo missed an easy chance to finally put Barcelona B in front. A minute later I got my wish as Dongou replaced the unproductive Argentine.
Because the game was at this point still scoreless Barça's defense had to stay on their toes and not allow a cheap goal. Hércules had a terrific chance take the surprise lead in the 57th minute but Lomban's clearance saved a certain goal.
Second after the one hour mark young midfielder Patric replaced Deulofeu. While this looks like a surprising substitution, Deulofeu had a quiet game and didn't look even remotely as dangerous as he usually does. Patric, meanwhile, was making his first appearance of the season.
The substitutions worked well for Barcelona as they finally broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute. Dongou controlled Balliu's cross but the defenders swept the ball to Lobato who laid it to his left to Alberto. Alberto displayed great poise sending a defender and the goalkeeper the wrong way which left him with a simple finish.
15 minutes before the end my second wish came true as Espinosa made a substitute appearance, replacing the hard working Grimaldo who had yet another fantastic game. Not long later, Dongou created a chance out of absolutely nothing, but his shot was tipped wide by the goalkeeper Falcon.
Facing a defeat at home Hércules attemped to get something going, but Barcelona's ball control was nearly perfect which limited their chances. 10 minutes before the final whistle they had a good chance to level the score but the long range shot went wide of Oier's left post.
Alberto then had a chance to put the game out of reach but his low shot wasn't accurate enough. That almost came back to haunt Barça B, but Planas made a last ditch interception to send a dangerous cross out for a corner kick that didn't result in any danger.
But all those chances were quickly forgotten in the 86th minute when Lobato showed some impressive moves and forced Diego Rivas to handle the ball, winning a penalty. To the surprise of many Lomban stepped up to take the penalty but he made no mistake. He fired the ball inside the keeper's right post to make it 2-0. Falcon correctly guessed the direction of the penalty, but Lomban's shot was simply too accurate and powerful. It was Lomban's first Barca B goal.
But Barcelona wasn't done scoring. Seconds into added time Rafinha won a lot of space down the middle of the pitch with a good run, passed the ball to Espinosa who ended the play with a lovely right footed finish inside the far post.
The game ended with Hercules having a chance for a consolidation goal but the free kick from just outside of the penalty area went wide of the goal.
It was a very positive performance from Barcelona B. As I said before, it was probably their best game this season in terms of a full 90 minute effort. I may not agree with Eusebio's methods, but in this game he got it right and it worked, nearly, to perfection. The only thing really missing this game was the finishing. This one should've been decided in the first half and a player like Dongou could've really done something about it had he been given the chance to start the game.
Next up for the youngsters is the home game against Las Palmas. The team from the Canary Islands is having a miserable seasons so far as they have only gathered five points from six games.
Hercules 0 - Barcelona B 3 | Goles | Segunda | 22/09/2012 | HD (via SergitooHD)