The Barça B Roundup: Reserves lose again

Photo: FCB

Once again, Barcelona B have ended the weekend feeling hard done by their result. This time round, the feeling is that the team managed to lose three points that seemed destined to become theirs. Away at neighbors Gavà, the reserves did everything right, but once again they couldn’t get the goal they needed. The effectiveness in front of goal was missing and with their only decent chance of the game, the hosts scored and stole all three points despite playing the whole of the first half with ten men.

The loss at Gavà holds some ominous signs for the Blaugranas. Gerard’s men dominated during most of the first half and were clearly on top of their opponents during the second half. In football though, nobody has ever managed to win by just playing well, or just better than the opposition. The teams who manage to win are the ones which put the ball in the back of the net. Barcelona B haven’t done that for the past two matchdays, and unsurprisingly enough, they have been defeated twice. In Gavà, the reserves seemed to do everything, try to win in every single way one can come up with, but Lady Luck said no once more. The Blaugranas sent shots onto the woodwork, called for a ghost goal to be awarded to them, had a goal ruled out, missed sitters, saw the opposition’s goalie make great saves, but in the end they went home with empty pockets.

Barça B took to the pitch of the Estadio La Bóbila De Gavá conscious of the fact that only a win would keep them top of the league. The coach didn’t underestimate the opponent by even a tiny fraction, and lined up his best available XI. Up front, Dani Romera made his return to the starting lineup after overcoming his injury.

Aware of the need to get an early goal to avoid any unnecessary late nerves, Barcelona B began the match strongly. Carles Aleñà, the team’s best player this season, called the keeper into action within the first minute of the match. The first 10 minutes went by without any team imposing itself on the game though, with Gavà registering their first shot with a tame effort that didn’t worry Suárez.

With the passage of time, the visitors started adding some more urgency to their game, but their buildup still seemed to lack the cutting edge. The ball would seldom be passed into danger areas and the team’s forwards seemed a little bit isolated up front. Alberto Perea though did have a great chance to put the visitors ahead on 18 minutes. After a long stint of possession outside the hosts’ penalty box, Perea was set up alone inside the box by his teammates, but the winger could only fire to the clouds from a tight angle.

The reserves’ tempo followed a downward trend to the half hour mark, and Gavà took notice. The hosts fancied their chances during their guests’ sloppy spell, with David Suárez thinking that he had opened the scoring after finishing off a counter with a shot headed for the corner. José Suárez had other ideas though, with the Blaugrana keeper tipping the ball over at full stretch. From the resulting corner, the visitors were lucky not to concede. The hosts’ defender Cazorla was left alone in acres of space in front of goal, but somehow managed to fire over.

40 minutes into the match, things took an unexpected twist. In a seemingly common forward-defender battle, Mario Gómez elbowed Dani Romera while both players leaped to get to the ball. The Barça B forward went to ground and physios was called onto the pitch. The referee, despite the fact that Mario’s action seemed to have nothing intentional about it, immediately red carded the hosts’ man.

The sending off set up a wholly different story in the second half. Barça B, fully conscious of the glorious opportunity they were handed, pushed up through the gears. Alberto Perea almost surprised Craviotto with a free kick early on, and from that point onwards, the game was all about Barça B piling up more and more pressure. The hosts were pegged back, and the visitors seemed like scoring every time they set their sights on Craviotto’s goal.

The clearest chance came after 58 minutes of play, and once again, Aleñà was at the thick of the action. The Catalan midfielder showed his immense class as he connected with a seemingly harmless free kick with a deft touch that produced an inviting ball across goal. Somehow though, no defender or attacker got a foot to the ball, which rolled agonisingly slowly onto the post before bouncing wide.

Aleñà was the man assisting Fali for what seemed like the opener just minutes later, but the linesman’s flag was up for offside. Faced with the increasingly difficult task of breaking through the hosts’ defence, Gerard reacted. The coach took Fali and Nili off, bringing on Mújica and Abeledo in an attempt to revitalise his front line. The plan seemed to work, as Barça B managed to keep up the pressure and test Craviotto’s shot stopping. The hosts’ goalkeeper stood tall on every occasion, producing a collection of top drawer saves to keep the visitors out.

Football though is almost never fair. With their only decent shot of the second half, ten man Gavà managed to take the lead. The hosts’ captain Boris expertly bent a free kick over the wall and past José Suárez’s desperate dive to send the home fans into delirium. With just 10 minutes left on the clock, the visitors saw their chances for getting all three points take a big hit.

A visibly shocked Barcelona B pushed on for a late equaliser and in the depths of stoppage time, the Blaugranas thought they had got it. Substitute Nacho Abeledo rose higher than everybody to meet Aleñà’s cross, with his header looping over the keeper. The ball struck the crossbar and then bounced off the ground, seemingly crossing the line. The visitors protested intensely, but the referee would have none of it. Shortly after, he blew his whistle to signal Barça B’s second consecutive league defeat.

The worrying thing about Sunday’s result was that Barcelona B didn’t seem to learn anything from what happened last week. The Blaugranas are obviously in a poor spell with regards to goalscoring, and Gerard tried to react by handing Romera a start. With the former Almería clearly away from peak fitness, the boss didn’t do much with his decision. On a more worrying note, Barcelona B conceded for an eighth consecutive time. With the team’s defensive work not getting any better (although this is something that should be happening), Gerard López must find a way to get his forwards firing again. Thanks to the brilliant Aleñà, the service they are getting is top notch. The finishing needs to improve dramatically if the team is to reconquer the top of the league table any time soon.

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