Barcelona B thrashed Llagostera 4-0 last week to return to winning ways, but everyone knew that last weekend’s travel to Valencia would be a different kind of ball game. A match against a direct promotion rival away from home, is basically, as hard as a task can get for any team. Yet Gerard’s Barça B negotiated their task magnificently. A repeat of last week’s scoreline, meant that the Blaugranas not only got all three points, but did so in triumphant fashion.
Valencia Mestalla, who had only lost one game at home prior to Saturday’s match, was always going to pose a genuine threat to the league leaders. In the end, all they did was to watch their opponents roll them over. A big win from last week meant that Barcelona B had a voracious appetite, and the Blaugranas, in spite of all their problems, ended up swallowing their opponents.
Barça B lose Suárez early on
Barcelona B knew that their task in Valencia would be a little bit harder given some key absences. The inclusion of Juivenil A star forward Abel Ruiz was great news, but there was on big hole in midfield that needed filling. Midfield schemer Carles Aleñá, away on international duty with Spain’s U19s, was truly key absence for Gerard, but the coach found the way.
With Gerard’s signature attitude, aiming high with their feet on the ground, the Blaugranas performed superbly. In what closely resembled a promotion playoff tie, the Barcelona B players didn’t seem to be affected by any blows.
The initial tactical plan was for Barcelona B to line up with a 4-4-2 and some experimentation in defence. Centre-back Borja López started at left-back in the absence of both Moi Delgado and Cucu, while midfield destroyer Fali replaced him at the heart of defemce. Despite the shakeup at the back, the Blaugranas were unfazed by the hosts’ early pressure.
Cardona was the first to threaten for the visitors after chesting down a rebound from a failed effort by Dani Romera. Valencia Mestalla’s top gun Aridai, the scorer of 12 league goals this season, did not have his day, and was behind the hosts’ first chance, with which Suárez dealt with easily. The visitors’ keeper though was hit by bad luck in the next intervention he had to make. The Asturian landed awkwardly after saving a shot by Eugeni, and had to leave his place to Alberto Varo.
The clock was on 25 minutes was this forced substitution took place, and the break in play, paradoxically, seemed to favour the Blaugranas, who went up through the gears. Gumbau looked to surprise with a shot that Ferri managed to block. Shortly after, Cardona wanted to tried to pounce on an error of the home keeper, but his rushed effort sailed over the bar.
On-fire Perea starts off the goal fest
The match lacked a moment of individual brilliance to get things more animated, and Alberto Perea provided just that on 35 minutes. The winger started a Neymar-esque run from the left wing to cut inside past five defenders before firing low and hard into the bottom left corner. Perea’s beauty, his fifth goal in seven matches, seemed to open the floodgates.
Five minutes had elapsed since the opener, when the hosts’ Quim Araujo clearly tripped Alfaro in the box. The penalty kick was awarded to Barça B, and Araujo went into the book. Spot kick specialist Gerard Gumbau faced goalkeeper Ferri and once more made no mistake, expertly booting the ball to a spot where no keeper can reach.
The visitors went into halftime with a commanding two goal lead, and with the restart, they showed no signs of relinquishing it. Gerard’s men displayed admirable defensive solidity, further frustrating an already frustrated Valencia. Not even after Valencia Mestalla coach Curro Torres brought on the gem of Valencia’s cantera Fran Villalba, could the hosts produce a reaction.
Cardona and Martínez finish the job
On their part, Gerard’s men gave their hosts no respite. Cardona netted the third after getting ahead of goalkeeper Ferri to produce a surprising backheel finish, and shortly after, Martínez got ahead of La Masia graduate Sergi Ayala to head home Perea’s corner. From that point on, there was not much of real note. Although Alberto Varo was put to the test on a couple of occasions by Villalba and Vidal, the substitute was able to respond well without too many problems.
The visitors’ dominance became more evident as the minutes passed, with Valencia Mestalla sunk by the weight of the scoreline. Ferri denied Barça B a fifth, first saving from Perea and then Cardona. The damage was already done though.
Barcelona B went home from Valencia with their second consecutive 4-0 victory, having practically knocked out Valencia Mestalla from the title race in the process. The team led by Gerard affirmed their superiority, and the coach saw his stock rise a bit higher, with his tactical tweaks overcoming key absences. With seven matches remaining and a 5-point lead over second-placed Alcoyano, first place is now Barça B’s to lose. The loss of José Suárez to a shoulder injury for 6 weeks is certainly a blow, but the team is more than capable of delivering, even without its key men.
Valencia Mestalla: Ferri, Vidal, Lato, Javi Jiménez, Ayala, Gregorio (Fran Villalba, Min 46), Aridai (Alberto Gil, Min 77), Quim, Rafa Mir, Eugeni, Nacho Gil
Fc Barcelona B: Suárez (Alberto Varo, Min 25), Palencia, Martínez, Borja López, Xemi, Fali, Gumbau (Sarsanedas, Min 65), Romera, Perea (Carbonell, Min 74), Marc Cardona
Goals: 0-1, Perea (Min 35), 0-2, Gumbau (Pen, Min 39), 0-3, Cardona (Min 48), 0-4, Martínez (Min 49)