Gerard López´s Barcelona B seems to loving hard life. Nothing else can explain the reserves astonishing knack for getting themselves into trouble, only to stage great escapes just minutes later. This weekend’s match was just another link to the chain of great escapes. Against Mallorca B, a promoted side which had only picked up 4 points from a possible 15 prior to kick-off, Barcelona B could be forgiven to think that things would be sort of easier. The Blaugranas though, always love some drama: they had to fall behind, see the rival have a player send off, equalise and then take the lead, spurn dozens of chances to seal the win, concede an equaliser and then score a late goal to get three points.
The midday kick-off in Mallorca did not initially hold the best omens for the visitors. Mallorca B started brightly; the hosts were intense and effective with and without the ball, keeping the ball rolling and having a sense of purpose to their game. On the other hand, the visitors were the exact opposite; their build up play was unimaginative at best, and each time the hosts decided to press high up the pitch, it seemed as if somebody stood on the panic button.15 minutes into the match, Moi Delgado inexplicably gifted the ball to the rivals in his own half, with Sastre selflessly squaring it to Alberto, who opened the scoring with a well-taken finish.
Conceding seemed to serve as a wake-up call for the Catalans. Their initial cluelessness on the pitch gave away to some purposeful build-up play, and soon after, the visitors were creating decent chances. Just two minutes were enough for the mercurial Carles Aleñà to force the hosts’ goalkeeper into a flying save. Rafa Mújica also came close to equalising when Moi Delgado took advantage of a great pass into space by Alex Carbonell, to whom Gerard handed his first start of the season. Captain Sergi Palencia, who returned to his usual right back position, almost scored from distance after a well-thought set play but his teammate Ferran Sarsanedas inadvertently stood in the way of his shot and deflected it wide.
Barça B’s dominance seemed certain to increase when Mallorca B’s James saw his second yellow on 38 minutes after a rather rash challenge on Sarsanedas just ten minutes to the break. The hosts protested the decision intensely, but the referee was unmovable. The sending off stood, and the visitors almost instantly took advantage. Winger Jesús Alfaro, who got to train with the seniors this week, curled a beautifully executed effort past a helpless Valens after Sarsanedas picked him with a clever ball. Gerard López’s men went to the dressing room knowing that the hardest part, getting the equaliser, had been already achieved.
After the restart, the Blaugranas seemed to be in no mood for jokes, and it just took them ten minutes to complete the comeback. Carles Aleñà was the man to get the goal, with a slice of luck, as Valens should have done better with the midfielder’s shot from just outside the box. Barcelona B didn’t seem to care though, and the visitors quickly set about sealing the win. Aleñà was once again at the thick of the action, with the midfielder missing a brilliant double chance to leave the hosts dreams dead in the water. He first fired onto the post following some brilliant passing between Mújica, Carbonell and himself, and then saw Valens somehow save the rebound on the line.
In football you always get to pay for your misses, and Tià Sastre got to remind Barcelona B of this important truth after firing home off the rebound after Suárez pushed away a great shot by Ángel Sánchez. For a while, it seemed as if Mallorca B, who looked dead and buried just minutes earlier, could have turned things around, with Sastre and Cano giving Barcelona B a couple of nervy moments. The age-old rule of the Segunda B though then smiled on Barça B. Aleñà-the team’s best of the match by a country mile-set Alberto Perea on for a one-on-one with Valens, with the former Olot man dribbling Valens and finishing while on the fall to put the Blaugranas back into the lead with 15 minutes left on the clock as if they had a portable skateboard rail ready to use it. Gerard quickly reacted to avoid any late heartbreaks by bringing Xemi and Fali in a clear attempt to shore up his midfield, but in the end, his team held onto the three points at ease.
In the end though, Barcelona B once again made things more difficult than they should have. They needlessly conceded an equaliser to a team playing with a man down, and reminded everyone that they’ve still got tons of work to do at the back. Curiously enough, the Blaugranas have the best offensive stats in the league, scoring an average of 2.5 goals per match, but they are also the league’s worst defenders with 10 goals conceded in 6 matches (second-placed Valencia Mestalla have just conceded five). Gerard’s team may be top of the table for now, but one has to ask the question: how long can their goalscoring exploits carry them for without improvement at the back? We can just hope that centre-back Marlon getting into the side will mean that the second part of the question becomes redundant…