Ever since the news broke that Martin Ødegaard will be loaned out to Heerenveen, everybody was wondering who will replace Martin in the lineup, and how will this change effect Castilla going forward. Santiago Solari chose Javi Muñoz as his replacement for this game.
Starting XI for Castilla. It looks like the 4-4-2 is going to be a thing this season. pic.twitter.com/9h6oKjoM2h— Ondra Paul (@OndraPaul) January 14, 2017
There were also a couple of forced rotations. Achraf Hakimi was suspended, Salto is injured and Lienhaart wasn't called up (it's not clear whether he's injured or being rested). These rotations prompted a change in formation, from 4-4-2 to 4-2-3-1 with Enzo in the hole and Javi Muñoz and Sergio Díaz on the wings.
Castilla yet again started slow and Real Unión dominated the early minutes of the match. After about 10 minutes Castilla finally woke up and started playing like we have seen in previous matches. In the 12th minute, Castilla had a free kick in a good position and, even though the delivery from Fede Valverde hasn't been great, Hermoso was able to head the ball back and Campuzano tapped it in. Castilla took the lead and it looked like the 2017 winning streak would continue.
Castilla found its rhythm, especially the double pivot - Valverde and Febas. Valverde stayed back, broke up the attacks and made perfect use of his passing range from the deep positions. On the other hand, Febas was given the attacking responsibilities. He was pushed a bit higher, but he also has the engine to run up and down the pitch and contribute in any phase. This meant that Valverde was practically playing a single pivot and he certainly looked good in this position. I'm looking forward to seeing him play there more in the future.
Castilla asserted control, didn't concede any bigger chances and saw out the rest of the first half easily. At halftime Solari subbed Quezada for Abner, who got his first minutes since his injury. I think Solari hoped that Abner would provide more support for Díaz than Quezada. Sadly, Abner didn't provide that at all. He was clearly rusty and will need more minutes to get in shape.
In the second half, Real Unión came out strong again and Castilla showed familiar defensive weaknesses. In the 54th minute, Valverde and both Javi and Hermoso didn't cover and closed down fast enough their players. Real Unión cut through the defence and equalized. And 15 minutes later, the defenders were caught sleeping again. A long ball from Real Unión's left back put Galán through on goal, who squared it for Ozkoidi. This conceded goal was even more painful, because of what happened a minute earlier. Sergio Díaz received the ball on the wing and showed us a piece of skill that we love so much. The same one that Emilio Butragueño did in Cadiz.
Lovely footwork. Almost like Buitre in Cadiz. pic.twitter.com/rUA3jkkOq2— Ondra Paul (@OndraPaul) January 14, 2017
In the last 10 minutes of the match, Febas rose to the occasion and was the main man, who tried to find a solution and get some points from this match. Castilla put good pressure on Real Unión in the final minutes. They had a few set pieces in promising areas, however they didn't have Sergio Ramos in the team, and they were unable to equalize.
All goals from this match:
Castilla first loss in 2017. Good spirit at the end, but overall not very inspiring. pic.twitter.com/JHVyRf8uxz— Ondra Paul (@OndraPaul) January 14, 2017