I’m currently facing a slight dilemma. If you watch Castilla, then maybe you are facing the same situation. Castilla are on a winning streak for the first time in a while, which is surely a good thing, right? Well, perhaps not. Every good result will prolong the stay of infamous tactician Santiago Solari, and that, is not a good result at all. The 4-1 win against Celta Vigo was impressive and I don’t think anyone saw that coming. The 3-0 win against Rápido Bouzas last week could be considered more routine. This week, Castilla travelled to Cerceda, to engage in another very winnable fixture. The line up was as so:
Castilla XI vs Cerceda: Belman, Tejero, Javier Sánchez, Hernando, Reguilón, Seoane, Grau, Rodríguez, Feuillassier, Quezada & Gómez #RealMadridCastilla #RealMadridCastillaLive pic.twitter.com/fZJhSoAokd— RM Castilla Stats (@CastillaStats) November 11, 2017
Castilla looked a lot sharper from the start in this game. The last couple of weeks have obviously had a positive effect on confidence levels. Could you say they were playing well? Not particularly. It was still pretty slow, none of the play was at the level that the badge on their jerseys requires, and the game was reasonably close. The only difference between the teams in the first half, came from a dead ball scenario. You guessed it, Óscar Rodríguez stepped up, and curled his effort into the top corner to score his first senior goal. The half ended at 1-0 to Castilla.
Free-kick specialist Óscar Rodriguez golazo for Castilla pic.twitter.com/vKuwgEqKPh— Greed (@GreedMB) November 11, 2017
The second half promised more action, but it was Cerceda who grew into the game better. Without having a clear shot on goal, they strangely still managed a handful of clear cut chances. It took a Luismi Quezada wonder challenge to prevent the hosts from tapping the ball into an empty net, and the defence had to stay strong to deny an equalizer. Dani Gómez came close a couple of times, before Castilla decided it at the death, on a counter attack. Franchu put in a great ball, and one of three Castilla players had the job of easily finishing off the move. Sergio Reguilón got the touch, and made it 2-0. The final whistle blew, and Castilla gave themselves an even comfier cushion from the relegation zone.
I will always say what I see. I know many of you have very high hopes for Óscar, and will be filled with joy to see that he scored his first goal today. The reality is, he is yet to turn up this season. Of course, like most things that go wrong for these players, the blame can easily be traced back to Solari. Santiago has misplayed Óscar for 11 of the 14 games played so far this season. Castilla have won the remaining three. Today, bar his goal, he contributed next to nothing to the game, and looked visibly frustrated when he was subbed off. After watching Sergio Díaz slowly transform into a shadow of his former self at the hands of Solari last season, I think the sooner the alarm bells are raised this time around, the better. If this carries on, by the end of the season - Rodríguez may have no first team hopes left.
The defence has improved greatly over the past season or so. I can safely say that I am impressed with nearly all of the defenders that have played so far this year, and that is a very rare occurrence these days. Javier Sánchez has been at the heart of this, and is actually having a really good individual season. Hernando and León have impressed, whilst Tejero and Reguilón especially have been impressive. If they can keep improving, then the defence alone could save Castilla from any relegation threat.
Another wake up call, apologies! Franchu has not strayed far from the performances of Óscar so far this season. That being said, I have heard rave reviews about his involvements in the games that I missed, and he has taken his time to integrate into the Castilla side. From here, he can cement his place in the team, but big improvements still have to be made. As it stands I can’t see any first team future for him.
Five clean sheets in 10 games now for Belman, a number that Luca Zidane is simply not capable of reaching. Belman has not made any first team squads so far this season which sadly points towards him being excluded from any plans. This is a shame as he is a La Liga standard talent, and is actually the best young keeper that the club has at its disposal. I hope he keeps the number one jersey throughout this season, as he deserves it.
So, three wins from the last three games. In reality, two of them were always very winnable. Castilla play Toledo next week, a team who are in the relegation zone. They need to pick up as many wins as possible before they start playing some of the tougher sides in the group again. Unfortunately, it looks like Solari is here to stay.
Goals: Rodríguez, Reguilón