With any dreams of a top league finish over for weeks, Barcelona B played their penultimate league match for the season against Eldense at the Miniestadi. The only motivation for such a match against another mid-table side with lofty aspirations, was to deliver some spectacle to the Miniestadi faithful for the last home match of the season. Yesterday, for a change, Barça B delivered. Free of pressure to get into the playoffs, or to avoid relegation, Gerard López’s men offered a free-flowing footballing spectacle that rather strangely ended with the score at 1-0.
Gerard López lined his team up as if the match were of real importance. Goalkeeper Adriàn Ortolà, quite possibly the team’s best player this season, was automatically given his spot between the sticks after recovering from a knee sprain. Midfielder Xemi and prolific striker Dani Romera were also welcome returns to the starting XI, which also included forgotten centre-back Robert Costa (Rubi), who was given the captain’s armband.
With nothing at stake beyond the need to fulfil the duty of defending the Barça shirt in the most proper way, one could expect the hosts to repeat their recent lackluster performances. Instead, they seemed to mean business from start. The Blaugranas, were, to put it bluntly, utterly superior to their visitors. Gerard López’s side had the lion’s share of possession with plenty of chances to score against an Eldense side that hardly ever tested Ortolá.
The hosts intently pursued a goal from the word go, and Juan Cámara was first to threaten with a shot that went straight to Poveda’s hands. Shortly after, a lovely combination between Perea and Cámara yielded another chance for the home side, with the returning Romera taking advantage of a sweet cross by the Andalusian to fire inches wide. The chances flowed for the hosts and the opener seemed imminent.
Alberto Perea forced a great save from the visitors’ keeper with a curling effort from a free kick and shortly after, the lively winger once again troubled the visiting defenders with one of his trademark solo runs, but ended up flashing his shot just wide of the post.
Against a clearly weak Eldense side, Barcelona B seemed to find opening the scoring sort of elusive. The visitors’ task was made even harder 30 minutes into the match when their captain, Cañadas, saw his second yellow card after first getting booked 12 minutes earlier. Before the break, Perea forced the visitors’ keeper into yet another save with a long distance effort.
The reward for the home team’s effort perseverance came after the restart and Alberto Perea was in the thick of the action. The Atlético Madrid academy graduate picked Romera in the box via a beautiful pass, with the former Almería man catching Poveda by surprise for his sixth goal with the Barcelona shirt. It was the perfect return for the swift forward, whose absence due to injury had clearly hurt Barça B’s bid for reaching the playoffs during March and April.
With the score where the hosts wanted it, the game did not drastically change and Barça B continued having lots of chances. Carles Aleñà, who came on for Xemi during the second half, took a crack from distance as he loves to do, but failed to trouble the keeper. Fellow substitute Salva Chamorro wasted one of the best chances of the night, when he headed an inviting cross by Cámara onto the wrong side of the net.
With the match all but decided, Wlifrid Kaptoum missed a tremendous opportunity to put the icing on the cake. The Cameroonian had the energy to make a brilliant solo run through the middle, beating everyone in his path, but just failed to hit the target. His deft toe poke finish rolled agonizingly slowly towards goal to hit the post before going wide.
Overall, it was a most welcome performance by the reserves, whose attitude lately seemed to be sort of a problematic. It is hard to get a team to play its best football with nothing at stake, but Gerard López, who has come under some fierce criticism this season, sometimes entirely justifiably, did manage to do it on Saturday.
Nos lo mereciamos!!!!!! 3 puntazos delante de nuestra aficion!!!!! FORÇA BARÇA???? pic.twitter.com/xAhCMyx9nY
— Carles Aleña (@Carlesale10) May 7, 2016
The team is still united, as Carles Aleñà’s twitter post suggests, but it has a lot to do for next season. Winning against Olímpic next week to ensure a top half finish would be nice, but no one should blame people at Barça B for feeling that this disappointing season is finally over but at least you have the best south african casinos of 2016 to spend your off season time on.