Barcelona B had a frustrating time on Saturday afternoon as they just about salvaged a point in front of 2,187 at the Miniestadi against an Atlético Levante side who are fighting to survive in Segunda B Group III.
Barça made just one change from the victory against Gavà, suspended Marlon making way for utility-man Fali in the centre-back position.
The more interesting news came from the substitute bench, where promising Juvenil A winger Jordi Mboula took a seat after some impressing performances for the U19s in the Uefa Youth League and División de Honor Juvenil.
Early on in the match Dani Romera had a half-chance to put Barcelona B in front but his shot was blocked by Levante goalkeeper Dani Sortes.
After this early chance it felt like this game would be similar to last weekend’s game against Gavà, but Levante were not intimidated by Barça’s early opportunity and put Gerard López’s team under real pressure, forcing a good save out of José Suárez and then a brilliant block on the line from captain Sergi Palencia.
Barça’s poor start got even worse after Moises Delgado picked up an injury just 20 minutes into the match, forcing Gerard to replace him with Nili Perdomo, who, as a right-winger, slotted into a very unfamiliar position at left-back.
Despite Levante having the majority of the chances and probably deserving to be in front, the teams went into the break at 0-0 after a relatively dull first half.
Things liven up
With 64 minutes played, after chances for both sides, the referee gave Levante a penalty after Borja López pulled back forward Arturo Molina, who then stepped up to smash the penalty above a diving Suárez.
After going a goal down it was clear Barça needed to show more attacking penetration, as wingers Alberto Perea, Romera and substitute Alfaro were having relatively poor games and lacked the quality to feed Marc Cardona any real chances. Enter Jordi Mboula.
Gerard looked to the 17-year-old to change the game, and he definitely delivered. Mboula did everything that Perea, Romera, and Alfaro failed to do, using his skill and pace to get by the full back and putting dangerous and accurate low crosses into Cardona.
Just six minutes after entering the field for his Barcelona B debut Mboula left his marker for dead, ran down the line, put a brilliant ball into the back post which forced a mistake from the Levante defender and Cardona was on hand to put away the loose ball for his 10th goal of the season.
Barcelona continued to push for a winner as Levante looked to counter attack against Gerard’s men, who had opted to play just two at the back during the closing stages of the match as they went for their second goal, but Levante held out for a point.
Although it was definitely a day to remember for Mboula, Gerard is keen to ensure that the winger is handled properly, saying after the game: “Mboula is a special player. He has a unique skill set which is useful for us, but we must be calm and patient with him. He deserved his Barça B debut after his recent performances. However, we shouldn’t put too much pressure on him.”
Saturday’s game was definitely two points lost for Barça B, but with results going their way as Alcoyano failed to capitalise on the draw the reserves stay on top of Segunda B Group III for the 14th round of matches in a row. Next up for the B team is a short trip to Sabadell to face 13th placed CE Sabadell.
FC BARCELONA B: Suárez, Palencia, Moisés (Nili, min.19), Fali, Borja (Mboula, min. 71), Ferran (Alfaro, min.61), Aleñá, Gumbau, Romera, Perea, Cardona.
ATLÉTICO LEVANTE: Sotres, Son (Shaq, min. 69), Álvaro (Àlex Gil, min. 83), Kaiser, Andreu, Ribelles, Fran Manzanara, Pepelu, Allyson (Boris, min. 60), Arturo and Manu Viana.
Goals: 0-1 Arturo, min. 64, 1-1 Cardona, min. 77.