The Estadio Alfredo di Stefano was enveloped in a beautiful Madrid sunset and on this balmy August evening expectations were high, as the players of Real Madrid Castilla and Barcelona B walked out onto the pitch to contest the first ‘mini clasico’ since season 97/98, when a young Carles Puyol and Xavi Hernandez plied their trade in the reserve side.
Perhaps more important than the obvious bragging rights were 3 points at the end of this game, both teams having lost their season opener last weekend.
Since that first game, Barca have not only had Sergio Ayala depart on a year’s loan to Alaves, but also lost new signing from Sevilla, Sergio Juste, with a hamstring injury sustained in Tuesday’s training session. Juste now finds himself sidelined for a minimum 3 week period.
A little side note to the match was that Sergi Roberto, who got the game underway, joined a select bunch of players who have played in a senior and B team clasico for Barca. His class, first touch and composure on the ball were self evident for much of this game, without bringing too much reward.
Madrid pressed from the first whistle and had the first chance inside a minute when Juanfran’s shot fizzed wide. There was a frenetic early pace to the game, especially in the midfield areas, with the ball zipping around on the heavily watered surface.
Within 10 minutes, the hosts were in front. Barca’s defensive frailties were to the fore again as Juanfran found himself completely unmarked 8 yards out and in the centre of the goal. He made no mistake with a clinical finish.
If Barca manager Eusebio was unhappy about the first goal, the 2nd will have done nothing to lighten his mood. With 25 minutes on the clock, Madrid had a throw in halfway between penalty area and half way line. There was no immediate danger yet the loose ball somehow caused panic in the Barca defence, the normally assured Lomban and Balliu running directly into each other whilst going for the same ball. As both players lay prone on the floor, Cheryshev fired home to make it 2-0. Both Barca defenders required the attention of the medical staff after what was a truly catastrophic error.
Barca needed an outlet but the much talked about Dongou was completely anonymous in this match, hardly registering a touch let alone a goalscoring opportunity. It was no surprise that for the 2nd game running he was subbed at half time, Kiko replacing him.
On 41 minutes, Barca got back into the match with one of the strangest goals you will ever see. Awarded a free kick out wide, Deulofeu whipped the ball in at pace. It was cleared skywards by the defender and took an age to come back down. As it did so, keeper Mejias bizarrely decided to hang onto the crossbar allowing the ball to bounce down and then spin back over him as he scrambled to clear.
At 2-1 Barca were back in the game but any half time team talk was undone within a minute of the restart. Madrid’s Plano was clearly yards offside when receiving the ball and the linesman flagged immediately. When the referee waved play on, the Barca players stood like statues and watched Plano fire home. A very slight touch from a Barca defender may have been the reason the referee over ruled his fellow official, a ‘pass back’ the only possible explanation for such a poor decision.
Barca’s young starlet Deulofeu was not having his best game but it was still one of many baffling decisions by Sacristan to sub him on 54 minutes, Araujo taking his place.
Kiko deserved better on 65 minutes when his fierce shot after a great one-two was straight at the keeper and Sergi Gomez got himself booked after a nasty late challenge which wasn’t in keeping with the rest of the game. Barca began to dominate in patches but Castilla were still moving the ball well and looked threatening on the break.
A trademark flowing Barca move led to their second goal, the ball eventually falling at the feet of Balliu. As the right back shot, the challenge just came a second too late. Balliu looked up expectantly and after a long pause, the referee pulled out the yellow card, having deemed the challenge from Nacho as late – penalty to Barca! Sergi Roberto, coolness personified, stepped up and swept the ball home and Barca were back in it on 69 minutes.
The second Barca goal breathed new life into the team and at times Madrid struggled to get out of their half. There were a flurry of late substitutions, including Espinosa, who had been left on the bench despite impressing throughout pre season and during last week’s defeat.
Deep into stoppage time, a mid air collision between Mejias and Sergi Gomez saw the latter sent off. The Barca player can have no complaints as his foot was raised for a chest high studs up challenge on the Madrid keeper.
With Barca unable to find an equaliser, they are still pointless after 2 games with 8 goals conceded. Manager Eusebio still doesn’t seem to have a clear and settled idea of his first XI and there will be much work required on the training pitch this week to ensure Barca don’t come up short again in their next fixture.
Sergi Gómez (Red Card)
Ilie Sanchez (Espinosa, 78″)
Jean Marie Dongou (Kiko Femenia, 45″)
Gerard Deulofeu (Sergio Araujo, 53″)
1-0 J Fuentes (12 mins)
2-0 D Cheryshev (25 mins)
1-2 Deulofeu (39 mins)
3-1 Oscar Plano (49 mins)
3-2 Sergi Roberto (69 mins)
This review was written by our Barca B correspondent, Jason Pettigrove. Follow Jason on twitter @jasonpettigrove