Real Madrid Castilla's draw at Alfredo di Stéfano Stadium today wasn't enough to earn them a direct spot in Spain's Segunda division next season. The overall aggregate score was 4-3 in favour of UCAM Murcia, and had Castilla scored another goal to level the aggregate, they still would have been behind on the away goals rule.
Castilla performed well in today's draw, but their defensive holes and vulnerability on the counter-attack really came back to haunt them. While Murcia played a compact and organized defensive game, they waited patiently to retain possession and sling back counters knowing fully-well Castilla would have a hard time coping with those calculated waves of attack.
Murcia started the match with the same aggressive nature that saw them -- somehow -- escape the first leg without a single red card to their name. There were plenty of complaints on social media about the thug-like style of play that Jimenez Moreno's men displayed, but the truth is it really disrupted Castilla's flow at times, and it was a system that worked for them. Even Mariano, the behemoth who bulldozes opponents for a living, couldn't outmuscle two-to-three Murcia defenders at a time who closed him down every time he had the ball.
After Ivan Aguilar opened the scoring, Mariano equalized in the 2nd half with a monstrous header. Up to that point, Ramis' Castilla side were playing with momentum and dominating the match, but minutes later, against the run of play, Murcia's Pablo took advantage of some poor defending to find himself at the tail-end of a low cross to put his team up 1-2. Castilla then needed three goals - a tall task against Murcia's stubborn defense.
Although Mariano scored his 2nd goal from a beautifully-struck free-kick, it was too late.
And look, there is still hope for Castilla to advance -- they have to play another four legs while leapfrogging over two unknown opponents to make it happen -- but the reality is they missed out on a huge opportunity to have a more direct path to Segunda, and losing this tie on aggregate stings.
The good news - apart from Castilla still having hope to qualify? Martin Odegaard was one of the best players on the entire pitch. He was composed and graceful with the ball, snuffed out passing lanes, ignited attacks, and distributed the ball beautifully. Now that he's growing into his role in a new country and establishing himself, he's begun to manifest the silky-smooth dominance he displayed in Norway prior to being signed.
No word or details yet on Castilla's next match on the schedule, but we'll keep you updated.