Today's home game marked the half way point of Castilla's season. Results prior had been very unpredictable, with Castilla impressing in the big games, but slipping up far too often on the road and against teams further down the table. Albacete were the visitors today, and they were sitting pretty at the top of the table coming off the back of a 10 game unbeaten run (they had also only conceded just 5 league goals all season).
The stats didn't look good for Castilla, but Castilla just had to win. They had dropped too many points, and the play-offs were slipping away. In January certain key players are set to leave, so any more points lost today would leave Castilla stranded, whilst a win could set them up nicely for a second half of the season comeback.
One notable change coming into this match, is that Castilla reverted back to the 4-3-3 formation the club and it's players know so well. They had previously been experimenting mainly with a 4-4-2 shape that hadn't really been working, so it was always going to be interesting to see how the players responded going back to this formation. Víctor Campuzano was the surprise inclusion today, dropping Sergio Díaz to the bench for the first time in his Castilla career.
Castilla XI: Abad, Achraf, Lienhart, Hermoso, Tejero, Febas, Valverde, Muñoz, Ødegaard, Enzo(C) & Campuzano #RealMadridCastilla pic.twitter.com/9KOSStstcT— RM Castilla Stats (@CastillaStats) December 17, 2016
Castilla started well and although Albacete looked slightly more dangerous, they looked very comfortable on the ball and put together some nice passes, something that has been lacking at times this season. The game evened out, and Castilla needed a goal to show for all of their good play.
Step up Campuzano. Ødegaard found Enzo, who fed Campuzano, who then nutmegged his man and finished delightfully to put Castilla 1-0 up.
From then, on the Whites started to dominate, and it brought back great memories of the side from last year. They moved around and picked each other out with perfection, and it was so entertaining to watch. They were rewarded further when Enzo hit a free kick well into the bottom corner to double the lead. 2-0 and Castilla were flying! Albacete could not wait for half time and the teams went into the break 2-0 up.
So Ødegaard starts on his 18th birthday! This could be his last game for Castilla. His 98th professional appearance... #RealMadridCastilla pic.twitter.com/mbJNYQZ0Cg— RM Castilla Stats (@CastillaStats) December 17, 2016
Castilla came out and performed at exactly the same intensity as the first half, as they attacked Albacete's back line from the off.
Fede Valverde was a particular thorn in the side of the opposition at the restart, producing some devastating early runs in-behind with the ball.
It wasn't long before Castilla had another, with Valverde intercepting the ball, then chasing it, and then winning the ball back in the opposition half, before beating his man and finishing nicely to make the score 3-0. A goal made and scored by the ever present Valverde.
Castilla went onto produce some of their best football so far this season, and apart from a slight blip and a headed goal for Albacete to make it 3-1, they saw off the game producing a fabulous display ahead of the Christmas break.
Díaz came on and should have scored with his first interaction, but it was wrongly called for offside.
The game finished 3-1 to Castilla, but on another day it could have been much more!
The huge 3 points gained today puts us in 8th place, 1-4 points away from the play-offs places at the half way point of the season. The play-offs are an easily achievable aim from here, but I wouldn't dare predict how the season will pan out based on the first half...
A big shout out to Martin Ødegaard on his 18th birthday for producing a mature defensive display. This could very well be his last game for Castilla... Happy birthday, Martin!
Man Of The Match was ridiculously close, with all 14 players involved playing really well, but Fede Valverde was the key component to this team performing today, and was brilliant all over the pitch, earning him the accolade this week!
Goals: Campuzano, Enzo, Valverde