Good teams must know how to win convincingly. But what ultimately makes a good team into a champion team is the ability to win ugly. Against bottom-placed Eldense, Barcelona B didn’t even come close to playing their best football. The Blaugranas did dominate the match from start to finish, looked sharper than the opposition and had the best chances, but still left a lot to be desired with their performance. The team managed to dodge the banana skin in the end, but only just. Gerard Gumbau, who has become a key figure in Barcelona B’s resurgence of late, netted a wonderful free kick just 5 minutes from time to keep his team top of the league standards from yet another week.
Going into the match, Gerard López knew that the visit to Eldense would not be plain sailing. For all their struggles this season, the fellow Blaugrana team seemed to find its mojo over the past month or so, led by their new coach Mario Barrera (the team’s third coaching appointment in the season). All four points Eldense had won prior to hosting Barcelona were won in the four matches preceding Sunday’s game.
And indeed, the Blaugrana reserves did help their cause initially. The visitors particularly struggled to adapt their game to a pretty bad pitch and during the first half, they only had one decent chance. From a corner, Fali produced a header that seemed destined for the net, only for Urzaiz to clear on the line. During the first half, Gerard’s plans took a blow when Rodri Tarín had to come off with what has already been confirmed as a ‘serious knee injury’ by the club’s medical services. Ferran Sarsanedas came on with Gerard Gumbau dropping back into the heart of defence. The lanky Catalan’s creative instincts were obviously missed in midfield. The visitors produced very little in terms of attacking output. The returning Marc Cardona flashed an effort wide, Alfaro had an audacious attempt sail over and Gumbau missed an effort struck with his weaker right foot. This was pretty much it on behalf of the visitors. The hosts watched on from a more passive role, but they ended up having the first half’s best chance. Anaba’s volley from the edge of the box rattled the crossbar a few minutes before halftime.
The break seemed to come at the perfect time for Gerard López and his men, as the visitors came out for the second half firing on all cylinders. Alberto Perea issued multiple warnings by beating his fullback time and time again, but the final pass often lacked precision. The hosts continued in a defensive mode, but they seemed to fancy their chances on the counter. Fali had to stick out a leg to divert a good shot by Victor wide in one of those counterattacks.
The Blaugranas kept pushing on and in the end they ended reaping the full reward for their efforts. Five minutes from time, Gerard Gumbau expertly booted a free kick past the wall and straight into the top right corner, with the hosts’ keeper hopelessly watching the ball as it traced a curving path to the net. With the lead in the bag, Carles Aleñà had the chance to seal the win for Barça B in stoppage time, but the youngster was denied by the keeper. In the end though, the three points went to Barcelona, and nobody in the reserves seemed to care too much about what seemed an ugly win.
A win is a win after all. Barcelona B won at Eldense fair and square, despite not setting the world alight with their performance. The league table is there for everyone to see, and Barcelona B are now top with a two-point lead over Alcoyano. Not an insurmountable lead, but Barcelona B have shown so far that they good value for their lead. They beat a close challenger in Valencia Mestalla on Wednesday with Dani Romera’s hat-trick, but on Sunday they proved that they’ve got the resources to get out of tricky situations. Champions elect? Only time will tell.