Champions are made of metal. Barcelona B have looked every bit like champions during this season, overcoming any kind of difficulty that has crossed their path to assert their superiority in Group 3 of the Segunda División B. So well-focused have Gerard’s players been, that they now seem to have mastered the complicated task of playing with a man down. This weekend in Sagunto, the Blaugranas played for half an hour with ten men, and still managed to pull off a seemingly unlikely comeback in the end.
Barcelona B could not stay away from the taste of victory for too long. After two consecutive draws against Prat and Espanyol B, Barcelona B finished the first round of league action and 2016 with a dramatic win away at CD Ebro. The team from Zaragoza pushed the Blaugranas all the way, but a stellar performance from Jesús Alfaro ensured that the team led by Gerard López held on to top spot to finish the year as winter champions.
Over the past month or so, Barcelona B have installed themselves as favourites for one of the promotion playoff spots in Group 3 of the Segunda División B. The Blaugranas have been excellent value for the lead, but as all teams, they too can have days off. Against Badalona on Saturday, the stars seemed to conspire against Gerard López’s team. In front of the biggest crowd the Miniestadi has seen this season, the reserves huffed and puffed, but all they managed in the end was to lose 3-1 after going down 2-0 at halftime. The golden Segunda B rule was at work again: fail your chances and you shall be punished.
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.
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.
Barcelona B are obviously going through a rough patch. For yet another week, Gerard López’s men have failed to win, extending their winless (and also scoreless) streak to three matches. The Blaugranas at least got a point from their visit to Atlético Levante, after two successive defeats that nobody really saw coming. As Gerard López correctly pointed out in the post-match press conference, neither team deserved to win on Sunday.
Defeats are, just like wins, a part of the beautiful game. They all hurt, but some defeats hurt harder than others. Barça B suffered a defeat of the painful type this weekend, succumbing to their first home defeat of the season against Catalan neighbours Cornellà. Gerard López’s men controlled the match from start to finish, and should have really clinched the three points from the first 45 minutes of the game. A less intense second half though, coupled with a hotly contested decision by the referee to award the visitors a penalty five minutes from time meant the hosts were left empty-handed.
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.
If there’s something that characterises this year’s Barcelona B, then that must be the team’s incredibly strong fighting spirit. In the five matches they have played so far, Gerard López’s men have won four times, and for three of these wins, they had to wait until the final ten minutes to score the winning goal. It was no different this weekend. Against Atlético Baleares, a team that came to the Miniestadi for Saturday’s match while on a four-game unbeaten run, the reserves left it late to seal the three points that rubber stamped their return to the top of the table after last week’s defeat saw them drop from the top.
Good things can’t last forever. Barcelona B’s winning run in the Spanish third tier came to an end on Sunday at El Collao, against a combative Alcoyano side that will certainly rival the Blaugranas for promotion. Gerard López did say last week that the match against Alcoyano would be war; the coach was proved right as the game was intensely contested and, above all, contained lots of controversy. The Blaugranas almost completed a miraculous comeback after coming back from 2-0 down, but this time round, they were defeated in the same way that the won last week, thanks to a late goal scored by the hosts.