Infuriatingly, I was 30 seconds away from planning my match report on a perfect winning performance for Castilla in one of the biggest games of the year, but football as we all have experienced can be the cruellest of sports, so instead I am sat here reflecting on a missed opportunity...
With both the Under 19s, and the first team out in Poland, it was easy to forget there was a Castilla game on at all, let alone one of this magnitude. Both of those sides borrowed some key players from Castilla with Sergio Diaz, Jaime Seoane and Luca Zidane on UYL duty, whilst Alvaro Tejero got to experience the real thing with the first team. Add Mario Hermoso (suspension) and in form Martin Odegaard (injury), and Castilla were left with a considerably weaker side.
Right from the start, it was clear that Castilla made up for this with a carefully constructed game plan, and every individual player had a job to do. The organization of the team was second to none, and they took a hold of the game very quickly. After quite a slow start, it wasn't long before Castilla started to look threatening, and gave us belief that a win was possible. On half an hour, after a good move, Aleix Febas picked up the ball, turned towards goal and let out a curling shot into the bottom corner. A brilliant goal for the young man to add to his terrific individual start to the season. 1-0 Castilla. From then on Castilla completely dominated the rest of the half, and our belief turned into expectation of a result. Barakaldo may have been missing some players but they looked a weaker side from the team that Castilla fought neck and neck with until the end last season. As it stood, Castilla strolled into half time with their lead.
The start of the second half brought much of the same, until just a few minutes in Nikos Vergos was sent through, the Barakaldo keeper rushed out of his boxed and appeared to 'save' Vergos' attempt at a lob, resulting in him being sent off. It didn't look good for Barakaldo at all. 1-0 down with 10 men, Castilla pushed them even further with some fantastic spells of possession play, with Fede Valverde really pulling the strings in midfield. Barakaldo still looked pretty dangerous at times considering their situation, but Philipp Lienhart was having the game of his season so far, and did not look like he was going to be beaten in open play. Castilla had a few chances to score, the best notably falling to Achraf who just put it wide of the post, but in the end look like they had settled for a 1-0 win.
Then came the late heartbreak. 4 minutes were added on and used up, and in the 5th minute of added time Barakaldo were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position. They threw everyone up, and I mean everyone. The free kick was hit so sweetly even Abad wasn't going to get anywhere near it, and all Castilla could do was watch it sail into the net... The final whistle blew soon after, to signal the end of a cruel evening for Castilla. One of the positives of situations like this occurring is the learning opportunities that come with it for these young players, and although they may not feel it right now, this experience could really benefit them going forwards. The ground had a ridiculously tense atmosphere.
2 points lost for Castilla... But a great performance nonetheless. Aleix Febas got man of the match for his truly wonderful display of skill and work ethic throughout the game! Although everyone did their job to the best of their abilities. Castilla will look to bounce back on Sunday when they host Sestao River Club!
Goals: Aleix Febas
MOTM: Aleix Febas