Mini-Clasico Preview

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 Hala
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!

By blitzen

Canadian, cule, corporate wage slave. Came late to the beautiful game, but fell under FCB's spell in 2006 and never looked back.


  1. One thing that EE is easily better off than Barca is the plays on the transfer market and financing. 13million for the Dani Carvajal/Joselu transfers when they were third division players?!

    How much did we get for Jonathan Soriano, Victor Sanchez, and Nolito who were part and very much parcel of the 3rd placed B team under Lucho? Peanuts?

    1. Xactly! 13 m for two third division players? What is the world coming to?

      N.B. : Mou mou, by contrast, bought a certain Ozil for 10m!

  2. After every game, a compilation of Tito’s expression’s when Barca scores should be made. Hilarious!…The contrast of Pep and Tito’s reactions are striking…

  3. If I can pick up a half decent stream I will definitely check this game. Do you have any idea whether these games are hyped in Spain at all or are they just moral victories, because we have always talked up our youth system and it’s results.

    1. I would like to know this as well.

      nzm, has there been any hype at all in Barcelona over this game? It’s being played in Madrid, but has the local media been talking about it?

    2. Nope – hardly mentioned.

      Sport has nothing, and Mundo Deportivo has a little article about halfway down its Liga Adelante page.

  4. Anyone watch the Swansea – West Ham game?

    Michael Laudrup is stamping the Spanish way into the Welsh side – very exciting, almost Barca-like with their possession.

    Their purchase of Michu from Rayo (for 2 million!) was a smart move.

    1. But it looks like Laudrup got a good deal on Madrid’s old playing strip for Swansea this season! 😀

    2. I meant to but I missed it. I’m really happy that Swansea and Laudrup are off to such a good start. Laudrup is one of my favourite players ever (even if he did leave us for them), and I love what he is doing with Swansea so far. Michu has got to be one of the smartest buys of the summer.

    3. Really he is just continuing what Roberto Martinez started and Brendan Rodgers refined to a very fine team. Laudrup has made some fantastic buys with his knowledge of Spain. I’m happy to see Spanish players making the move to the PL. I hope it will help the league become more technical, but not at the expense of Liga. Laudrup does seem to be a decent coach though.

  5. De la lista de convocados, Vilanova ha explicado que no hay un motivo concreto por no haber citado a Fontàs, Dos Santos y Afellay. A pesar de reconocer que puede que algunos jugadores salgan antes del 31 de agosto también ha apuntado que “existe la posibilidad de que se queden los tres”.

    “Vilanova has explained that there is no concrete motive for not having called up Fontas, JDS and Afellay. Despite recognizing that it may be that some players leave before August 31, he has also pointed out that ‘the possibility exists that all three stay.'”

    1. ugh,,i mean he didnt call them up for the osasuna match.

      hard to believe that some club out there wouldnt want to have these players on loan.

  6. *crosses enemy lines*

    Just as an update, Mourinho announced that Morata will be with the first team this weekend. So that’s one goal threat that ya’ll don’t have to worry about. Should make things easier for your defense.

    Thanks again, Blitzen. Hope I was helpful!

    *crosses back to safety* 😀

    1. oh come on now, bassam, even if you arent commenting we know you are luuurrrrkingggg.

      any news on pepe? will he play tomorrow and/or wednesday?

    2. Haha I always lurk 😛

      He is back in training, but he’s training alone. I suspect he won’t be risked this weekend and will start on wednesday, to Messi’s delight.

  7. beINsport program grid shows the game time start of 12:55 p.m. tomorrow. That’s an unusual start time?

  8. 0-2 behind and the second goal off a shambolic collision between the Barca B “defenders”.

  9. Barca pull one back off a weird free kick – deflected sky high, bounces right in front off the goal and goes in.

  10. That Barca B goal is the funniest thing I’ve seen in a while. Whoever predicted a high scoring affair obviously knew what they were talking about.

  11. It’s not been an impressive performance by Barca B – especially in the attacking third. Seems like more of their passes go to RMB players than their teammates. About the most worthless 70% possession I have ever seen.

  12. Halftime at the Babies’ game.

    Let’s start with the worst: Gomez and Lomban are the only CBs availiable atm. Loaning Ayala out to Alaves is going to hurt for a while.

    Ilie has not impressed as a pivote before Eusebio and he still doesn’t. It’s an area Eusebio should’ve improve before getting yet another winger.

    Lobato playing in the middle doesn’t help either.

  13. What the hell happened with Madrid’s third goal?

    Weren’t there at least two offsides, one of which was clearly signaled by the assistant ref?

  14. Dongou out after a pretty miserable first half. Rafinha looks to be playing as a false nine now with Kiko coming in to play on the left.

  15. Interplay in the attacking third has improved over the past few minutes and Barca B wins a penalty as Balliu is fouled as he shoots. Sergio Roberto buries it. 3-2 RM B with 20 minutes to go.

  16. Luckily Sandro and Zubi extended Eusebio’s contract.We were in great danger of a first division team poaching this great coaching talent 🙄

    I like how he inexplicably started Lobato two games in a row.The second time in midfield, to display just how creative only Eusebio can be.

  17. *Deep Sigh….*

    Maybe I’m living Espinosa fandom, but Barca B’s midfield left me speechless today. Sergi Roberto was the only bright spot in that midfield. And this area of the pitch was supposed to be our specialty. I don’t understand why Espinosa was not in the starting lineup. His weakness is his defensive work, but his strength in quick passing and movement could perhaps take the workload off of Sergi.

    The first half was really frantic and didn’t help that our defense was so weak. Grimaldo played fantastic but he couldn’t do it all by himself. Lomban was a waste of space. Curious that we got two red cards in two games. Composure and discipline on the pitch should be addressed. I didn’t like it when our kids got into fights at the end.

    1. Well in Eusebio world if Espinosa started how would Lobato play? You see, Rafinha played on the left wing and Lobato in midfield.It would be like playing balliu as a winger and Deulo as a RB. Unfortunately Eusebio has being doing these odd things since he almost relegated Celta three years ago.They realised after l a year and sacked him.We have given him a second season for reasons unknown to mankind.

    2. I read something a while ago that said Eusebio and Zubi are good friends (they played together in the 90s), and that was the main reason he was given another year.

    3. Sergi Roberto & Grimaldo were both brilliant. Rafinha tried hard, but he was played out of position (again!) and nothing went right for him. Lobato was useless. Dongou was shockingly ineffective, although to be fair they hardly gave him the ball.

      Deulofeu was as good as he could be, and certainly trying hard, but there was no one in the middle for him to send the ball to. Then Eusebio decided to take him off for Kiko!

      I am extremely disappointed with this performance, even as I already knew our defense would be terrible. Eusebio made every wrong decision he possibly could. I just don’t know where we go from here.

  18. I though the babies experience in Liga Adelante would have given them a boost..Nope.

    I think everybody has already said enough about Eusebio. He needs to get out.

    I’m not so much as disappointed in the loss but how the team played and the team selections. Maddening, really.

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