The Barça B Roundup: Reserves break winless run

Three matches without win were more than enough for high-aiming Barça B. The FC Barcelona reserves managed to rediscover their scoring boots after three goalless matches and after dominating Catalan neighbors Sabadell for the best part of ninety minutes on Saturday afternoon, the Blaugranas got a comfortable win. The win was the first for Gerard López against Sabadell, but nothing would have been possible without the poacher instincts of Dani Romera.

In the run-up to the Sabadell game, the dominant talk in the Catalan press was full of pessimism. The B team’s sudden drop in form, coupled with the team’s awful recent results against Sabadell (two losses in the league and the lost Copa Catalunya final last year) and the multitude of key absences, seemed to make Catalan journalists feel that Barça B’s winless run would be extended. They seemed to have a point. Captain Sergi Palencia, who has kept an incredibly wobbly backline together all too often this season, was suspended for the match at the Miniestadi. The team’s best player by a country mile, Carles Aleñà, was called up by Luis Enrique to help make the first team’s bench at Mestalla full and was thus unavailable. Gerard though was undeterred. To everyone’s surprise, he fielded a previously unseen midfield three. Flanking Gerard Gumbau, who, according to the press, is not getting along with the coach, were recently promoted Ferran Sarsanedas and Álex Carbonell.

Whatever Gerard had in mind, it worked. The team was clearly superior to their visitors throughout the match-barring a brief period towards the end of the first half-and created lots of chances. The first half hour clearly belonged to the hosts, whose slick possession-based football made it hard for Sabadell to follow. Less than five minutes into the match, Marlon came inches from scoring when he fired Moi’s well-placed cross just wide. Gumbau, on his first start of the season, missed a great chance to score after Nili tied him up expertly. The former Girona man was at the centre of the action some minutes later, when he laid a ball to Nili Perdomo to put an inviting cross into the box which nobody managed to reach. The pressure kept piling up on the Sabadell goal-which on Saturday was defended by Barcelona loanee Jokin Ezkieta-and a goal for the hosts seemed imminent. and  From there, the trend leaned visitors , who played their best minutes of the meeting. Their efforts were however frustrated, as on too many occasions the Blaugranas seemed to get the wrong man behind the ball when it came to taking chances. In the final ten minutes of the first half, Sabadell showed some initiative, but José Aurelio Suárez was barely threatened and the two teams went into the dressing rooms tied at 0-0.

After the restart, Barcelona B knew that they would live through Gavà, Cornellà, and Levante all over again if they didn’t get a goal, but fortunately for them, Dani Romera’s class in front of goal made a telling difference. Two minutes into the second period, Nili’s accurate cross into the box found the forward, who pulled off a neat pirouette-like move under the pressure of a defender before scooping the ball home. With Romera’s first goal since the striker’s return from injury, Barcelona B picked up momentum and pushed on for a second goal that would kill off Sabadell. The Catalans dominated and chances were aplenty. The Catalans were wasteful though: first Carbonell, who had a shot fly well wide, and a double chance of Carbonell and Perea could have easily been goals. Gumbau, who was particularly active on Saturday night, tried his luck from distance, but Ezkieta kept him out with a superb save.

The game was calling for a great striker’s touch and Dani Romera didn’t fail to answer the call. The former Almería man, took advantage of a great free kick booted in by Alberto Perea to send a looping header through a perfect parabolic path and beyond Ezkieta’s reach to give Barcelona B a two-goal lead. The second goal pretty much put the match to bed, but before the end, there was another little twist to the tale. During a melee in Barcelona B’s box before a corner, Sabadell’s Ian somehow thought it wise to punch Romera. The referee’s eye caught it, and Sabadell were duly reduced to ten men, effectively putting an end to the match 17 minutes before the final whistle.

In conclusion, Barcelona B showed a champion team’s reaction against Sabadell. Before the match, Sabadell coach José Solivelles said that Barcelona B’s squad is good enough for a title challenge. As things stand right now, as Barcelona B are currently just a point off new leaders Alcoyano, after previous leaders CD Ebro suffered a shock home defeat at the hands of relegation contenders Atlético Levante. Gerard López team can now rest in knowledge of the fact that Dani Romera is very much wired up and firing, but even more so because the team managed to keep its second consecutive clean sheet and second overall. With an improving defence (credit must go to Marlon Santos) and a front line that’s warming up again, Barcelona B can only see brighter times coming.

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