Get the job done. That’s what yesterday’s match against relegation-threatened AE Prat was all about for FC Barcelona B. Last, they conceded a late goal and let the chance to secure top spot in the league slip. Not this time though. The Blaugranas made light work of their visitors and after the referee’s final whistle, the Miniestadi, finally went into party mode.
If there was one person who wanted to get the job done, that was Gerard López. The coach lined up his best available side, with undisputed starters Cucurella and Kaptoum returning to the starting lineup after missing last week’s draw at Hospitalet. Juvenil A’s Dani Morer and Oriol Busquets made up for the numbers with the team hit by a mini suspension/injury crisis.
Not that those things made much of a difference. The hosts dominated from kick off. Their first clear chance of FC Barcelona ended up becoming the opener. A low, rolling cross by captain Sergi Palencia found Marc Cardona inside the box, with the striker managing the slightest of touches to deflect the ball past the keeper and towards the far post. The touch came out to be perfect as the ball agonisingly found its way into the back of the net. 1-0 to Barcelona B, and the hosts were already getting a hand on the league winner’s trophy.
Visitors AE, Prat, despite suffering an early setback, stayed true to their principles. A narrow 4-4-2 with two pressing forwards up front was a shape they adhered to throughout the match. They were solid at the back and incisive on the wings, and they didn’t take too long to threaten. Barça B keeper Alberto Varo almost completed the gaffe of the century when he slipped while in possession of the ball on the edge of the six-yard box. With a Prat player charging towards him, Varo lunged into a challenge that could have easily become an offence worthy of a penalty to the opposition. In the end the keeper only played the ball and worse was averted.
Following this strange situation, the game didn’t see too much action up to halftime, with Gerard Gumbau the only outfield player to test the opposing keeper with a couple of long range efforts.
Game, set and match to Barça B
After the first 15 minutes of the second half, during which things got quite a bit cagey between the two sides, Barcelona B let themselves loose. The hosts purposeful mounted waves of attacks and started going closer to doubling their lead. Romera first had a shot blocked by a defender, and minutes later, he was hurled down in front of the referee to win a penalty for the Blaugranas. Expert spot kick taker Gerard Gumbau stepped up for the penalty, but goalkeeper Toni blocked his effort to convert himself into the first goalkeeper who has managed to keep out Gerard Gumbau. Saturday was in fact the day on which the former Girona man missed a penalty for the first time in his career.
After his miss, Gumbau was on the receiving end of a yellow-card foul that also afforded the hosts with a good set piece opportunity. Gumbau let Alberto Perea take the free kick, and the winger proved this to be a wise decision, bending a beautiful effort over the wall and into the top corner via the crossbar. With 2-0 on the scoreboard, one would think that the match would die down
The hosts though had other ideas. Barcelona B pushed for more, buoyed by the excitement in the stands. Cardona drew a top drawer save from Toni on 64 minutes, before he was. The Catalan, off the back of his beautiful goal in Juvenil A’s UEFA Youth League semi-final loss to Salzburg, looked lively on his debut day.
Fali sent off, Blaugranas hold their lead
In the 72nd minute, Fali saw two yellows in quick succession. The ill-tempered Valencian first saw yellow for stopping a promising attack, and was then booked for squaring up to Prat’s Pluvins, who was also given his marching orders. In attempt to shore up his midfield after losing his pivot, Gerard took off Alberto Perea, and handed Oriol Busquets, the heir apparent to the Sergi of the same surname, his Barça B debut.
It was all but over though, with Prat’s players too tired to even believe in a comeback that would give them valuable points in their fight against relegation. Ten-man Barça B held on, and with the referee’s final whistle, the party got started.
Barça B aiming high
With top spot in the bag, Barcelona B now have two games left of the regular league season. With the Segunda División literally a couple of playoff matches away, one may think that Barça B will completely ignore what remains of the league season. However, Gerard’s side has some interesting records to think about. This year’s reserve team has shattered the goalscoring records of previous Barcelona B champion sides, with 78 goals scored to date. The last time Barcelona B won the Segunda B title in their group, back in 2002, they had scored 73 goals. Gerard’s team is also looking to set a record points total, for a Barça B side in Segunda B. What a better way to improve on their current total of 76 points than doing so away at Espanyol B?