Today is an historic event. You may think the next Clasico is this Wednesday, but you are wrong. The next meeting between the two titans of Spanish Football is on Saturday at 21:00 Barcelona time (3pm EDT). That is when Barcelona B and Real Madrid Castilla meet for the first time in 14 years. Barça B made the step up into the Segunda Division at the end of the 2009-2010 season under the able coaching of the much-missed Luis Enrique (finishing 2010-2011 in a historic 3rd-place and only missing out on playing for promotion due to their status as a B team). RM Castilla was promoted at the end of last season. I have asked our friendly neighbourhood madridista, Bassam (check out his blog here), to give us a little preview of what we can expect from our
baby rivals, so here he is:
*Real Madrid Castilla finally made the jump up from Segunda B to start
fighting among tougher opposition of Segunda. After missing out on
promotion 2 years ago in the playoffs, it seemed like Castilla was set to
stay in Segunda B after losing some of its best players to La Liga teams
(Sarabia, Fran, Juan Carlos). But the group of players from last year
fought well and hard to gain promotion, and by the end of the season, they
made it seem like it was too easy, winning the Segunda B division after
beating Cadiz 8-1 on aggregate. The stars of the team where Joselu (top
goal scorer with 26 goals), Carvajal (top assister from RB), Jese (all
goals went through him) and Morata (both goals and assists). *
*Unfortunately, from the players mentioned above, only two players remain
in Morata and Jese. Carvajal decided to take his chances at Bayer
Leverkusen and Joselu at Hoffenheim (earning the club 13m euros in transfer
fees). The effect of the loss of these two players cannot be understated,
as they both contributed to over 45 goals and assists last season, which
the team will be missing dearly. But worry not, as super-agent Mendes is to
the rescue, with Castilla signing 18 year old Brazilian youth international
Fabinho at RB. At first, I didn’t like the move, but after watching Fabinho
play, I say he is a player with loads of talent. He does, however, fit the
stereotypical Brazilian full back reputation of knowing how to attack but
not knowing how to defend. In short, Barca B wingers would be advised to
attack the RB position the most, as the 18 year old is still a tad rusty. *
*Other acquisitions have been youth products Mosquera (midfield) and Mateos
(CB) who left the club a year ago and return to add some experience to the
lineup. Borja Garcia, a 21 year old midfielder was brought in from Cordoba
after scoring 17 goals from midfield for them last year. I’m yet to be
convinced. The club promoted it’s best talents from the Juvenile A team
like Raul de Tomas, Jose Rodriguez and Cristian Benavente, who if you watch
Spanish youth national teams, you would have come across these 3 great
players. Derik, a center back, was also promoted, who many saw in the Under
19 Spanish team this year, and who is not the best defender. Good to look
at, according to Blitzen, though. He’ll be on the bench. *
*The starting line up will be similar to that which played Villarreal and
lost 2-1 last week, with the players lined up in a 4-2-3-1, similar to the
of the first team with the axis of the team being central rather than left
wing. The players should be Mejías, Nacho, Mateos, Fabinho, Casado, Alex,
Mosquera, Juanfran, Denis, Jesé, Plano. A very youthful group of players,
they are. And except for Mateos and Mosquera, very few with experience
higher than Segunda B. I doubt Morata will be ready to play, but I wouldn’t
be surprised if he does. Plano is not the best of players out there and
Denis had a horrible game against Villarreal, so wouldn’t be surprised if
one of them gets replaced by Morata who is flexible enough to play anywhere
up front. *
I’m not good at predictions, but i think it will be a high scoring
game. Maybe a 3-3? I’ll go with that.
*For those Spanish speakers/readers, here is a very nice history of Barca B
vs Castilla games
Madrid and Vamos Castilla! *
Thanks for that, Bassam! I’ll pass the tactical advice along to Eusebio. 😉
As for us, Barcelona B are off to a rather chaotic start this season, with a 4-5 defeat in their first game against Almeria last weekend. It was a crazy game, with lots of effective attacking and a shambolic defense. It is important to note that this is an almost completely different team than last season. Many important players have been promoted or left, including almost the entire first-choice back line. Bartra, Montoya, Jonathan Dos Santos, and Muniesa were all promoted. Marti Riverola signed for Bologna, Oriol Rosell is playing for the Sporting Kansas City, Sergio Ayala went to Segunda B club Alaves on loan, and Rodri is on loan to Sheffield Wednesday (thank Cruyff!). Crowd favourite (!) and former captain Armando has gone to Mexico to play with Veracruz, and Kari’s best beloved Carmona had his contract rescinded by mutual consent and now plays for Sporting Gijon. Sadly, we are still stuck with Kiko Femenia, who is out on his first injury break of the season.
Returning players include: goalkeeper Oier Olazabal (excellent on his day but inconsistent), Planas (a very effective LB), Ilie Sanchez (an extremely talented midfielder who missed most of last season through injury. He is the new Barça B captain.), Espinosa (an Iniesta-like midfielder who was sorely underused last season. This will be his year.), Sergi Gomez (a good, but not spectacular CB. He will need to step up his game this year.), and two very special players:
Rafinha: The younger brother of Thiago Alcantara, he plays in midfield, but can also play as a false 9. He has great game intelligence and is very skilled on the ball. He is the epitome of the Barcelona-style attacking midfielder, with Brazilian flair. Last season it seemed like Eusebio had trouble finding the perfect position for him, but with Rodri gone I think he will slot into the “false Messi” position perfectly.
Gerard Deulofeu: He has been touted as the “new Messi” for years, which is a bit unfair to him. He is an exceptionally talented forward, but doesn’t play in Messi’s position. He usually plays on the right, and is very effective there. He does have a tendency to be selfish with the ball and shoot when he should pass.
Sergi Roberto and Tello are also still Barcelona B players but have been called up for every preseason game so far, plus the Supercopa game, so i have no idea if they will be called up tomorrow.
Of the newly promoted players, the name you should take note of is Grimaldo: a marauding left back who is only 16 and has already debuted in the Segunda (youngest player ever at 15). He routinely makes a mockery of players years older than him, and has already been called up to the first team in preseason. The other name to note is Jean Marie Dongou, our fantastic Cameroonian youth player, who was one of the outstanding stars of last year’s NextGen tournament. He is a natural goalscorer and I expect him to start this game.
FCB had a lot of holes to fill in the B team this season and bought a whole bunch of players. I’m not going to detail all of them here, but the most important are:
Sergio Araujo: A very talented forward on loan (with option to buy) from Boca Juniors, who has already scored for his new club.
Agostinho Ca: A Portuguese midfielder with great potential.
I am not going to speculate on what players or formation Eusebio will go with tomorrow, because frankly the man is a mystery to me. I do expect Deulofeu, Araujo, Ilie, Planas, Espinosa, and Rafinha to start. Everything else is up for grabs. I admit I don’t know much about our opponents beyond Morata and Jefe (who are both quality players). I believe our core midfield and forward players are more skilled, and if our defense holds up Barça should win. We will probably concede at least one silly goal from a set piece as usual. Prediction? 3-2 for us.
Game time: 21:00 CET, 3 pm EDT. Be there or be square! Visca Barça!