The impossible happened. Two weeks ago, I wrote why Real Madrid should sack Santiago Solari (and I still stand by that). Ever since that article, Castilla got seven out of nine possible points. They beat Celta Vigo B 4-1 this past Wednesday, who are fourth in the league, and they also drew 1-1 with Atletico Madrid B.
So, what has changed? Well, I would argue that Solari finally saw the light and started the very talented former Juvenil A players. For obvious reasons not all of them are starting, but the spine of that team is. Finally, players like Sergio Leon, Mancebo, Reguilon and Molina are no longer sure starters; whereas Belman, Manu Hernando, Oscar, Franchu and Dani Gomez are. These five players are becoming key cogs in the Castilla team and their synergy from Juvenil years is for everybody to see.
XI inicial Rápido de Bouzas:— Cantera Real Madrid (@lafabricacrm) November 5, 2017
Belman, Álex, Tejero, Manu Hernando, Javi Sánchez, Quezada, Jaume, Feuillassier, Seoane, Óscar y Cristo. pic.twitter.com/BfcjHbKu3R
This game was a classic game of two halves. Both teams approached this game very carefully and it was evident that neither team wanted to commit any mistakes. It was overall a very disciplined and compact performance with little to no chances.
There were two stand-out Castilla players: Manu Hernando and Francisco Feuillassier (otherwise known as Franchu).
Manu Hernando was a crucial player for Guti and he's displaying the same level of performance and confidence despite my worries that he will need quite a bit of time to adjust to Segunda B physicality. He has great positioning and a sixth sense for last-ditch tackles. Today, he was a literal wall, clearing and intercepting left and right. It's strange how much more great defensive talents La Fabrica produces compared to forwards.
Franchu. What else is there to say about this little Argentinian dynamo. He tore apart Rapido's left-back the whole 90 minutes and his powerful long runs spearheaded Castilla's counter-attacks. Today's game was another dose of evidence of why it was so stupid to play Mancebo instead of Franchu. In time, and after a few seasons on loan, I think Franchu can fill the “Lucas Vazquez” role.
Back to the game. Solari probably felt the pressure to win this game, as he made a half-time substitution. Álex, who had big troubles with Anderson and was already on a yellow card, came off and Dani Gomez was introduced.
Just five minutes into the second half, Manu Hernando was taken down in the penalty box and the referee correctly awarded a penalty to Castilla. Javi Sanchez stepped in and comfortably converted this golden chance.
Y el gol de Javi! Gana 1-0 el Castilla pic.twitter.com/eKnZ9h7ppT— Soy Madridista (@soymadridista) November 5, 2017
This goal completely changed the whole dynamics of the game. Club Rapido was forced to push more aggressively forward, which consequently left more open space for Cristo, Franchu and Quezada to run into. Moreover, you could see the confidence of the Castilla players grow. They started to play with more swagger and it did yield results.
Club Rapido, in their attempt to play more expansively, started to play more aggressively. Therefore, it came as no surprise that Ruxi got a second yellow card and they were left a man down with 18 minutes to go.
Castilla started to create chance after chance. And then in the 75th minute, Luismi Quezada produced his beautiful trademark in-swinging cross and Alvaro Fidalgo, who came on for Cristo, headed that cross in. 2-0 and Castilla were flying.
Vintage Quezada cross. Fidalgo leaps to make it 2-0 for Castilla. pic.twitter.com/el9sIBqey4— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) November 5, 2017
And then five minutes later, Seoane piled on with a quick close-range finish.
Seoane scores in his 2nd consecutive game. Tejero whips the cross in. pic.twitter.com/0QgVR2SH6v— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) November 5, 2017
Castilla went on and finished the game in a relatively easy manner and they finally escape the relegation zone. Now, they sit comfortably in the middle of the table in 9th spot with 16 points. Let's hope that they can keep these good performances up.
Man of the Match: Manu Hernando