Juvenil A welcomed CD Diocesano, the seventh team in the Division, on a Saturday afternoon in Valdebabas. Guti had to rotate his lineup once again due to minor injuries to Zábarte, Gorka Fidalgo and Dani Gomez.
At first it looked like he overdid it. This was arguably the most offensive lineup he could field. Juvenil had 2 wingers as fullbacks and those 2 central defenders are both very attacking and comfortable on the ball.
Juvenil hit the ground running and in the 2nd minute Fran made a run down the left flank, his cross was chested down by Toni into the path of Óscar, who scored with a calmly placed finish. Juvenil kept the high tempo and the Fran-Franchu duo was wreaking havoc down the left side. And a few minutes later, thanks to Diocesano’s keeper’s horrible mistake, Juvenil scored an easily goal. Diocesano’s keeper was trying to avoid a corner and accidentally passed it right to Óscar, who had an empty net.
At this point of the match, everybody expected that the Juvenil would keep scoring goals and it would be business as usual. And they were almost right. Alberto, Mink and Echu all had clear cut chances to make it 3-0, but they couldn’t convert them and unfortunately, in the 25th minute, a penalty was awarded against Juvenil. Manu was late to challenge and even though he barely touched the attacker, the referee pointed to the spot. Javi González made Moha go on the wrong side and converted the penalty.
This goal gave a lifeline to an otherwise timid opponent. Diocesano started to play with more confidence, they kept the ball much better and they formed a very compact block (4-4-2), which became hard for Juvenil to break down. Manu and Álex were pushing higher to overload their midfield and help with distribution. They are the perfect center backs to carry out this task, because both are very accomplished passers and they can also play as defensive midfielders.
In the 43rd minute, Martín Calderón made a crucial tackle to stop Diocesano's counter and picked out Franchu on the right flank, who squared it for Mink. It was a very nice team goal and it showed another big strength of this Juvenil side. They can win possession very high up the pitch and quickly counter through the wings, where they have pacy and tricky wingers.
After the break, Juvenil kept control of the match, they passed the ball around nicely and swiftly, but once again they (Mink, Franchu, Toni) couldn’t finish those chances. And to make it worse, in the 74th minute, Moha didn’t cover himself in glory and let in a goal, which he should’ve saved, because it wasn’t a particularly difficult shot -– it went straight at him. 3:2 for Juvenil.
Suddenly it was game on for Diocesano, they had a couple of decent counters, but ultimately they didn’t lead to big chances. Because Diocesano put more men forward to get the equalizer, Juvenil had space to counter and as always Franchu took advantage of that. However, his brilliant runs were undone by poor finishing from his teammates. Franchu prepared a golden chance for Mink, who had an empty net, but his shot only hit the bar. In the end, Juvenil kept control of the match in the final minutes and deservedly took all 3 points.
There are only 8 games to go until the end of the season and Juvenil have an 11-point lead on Atleti, who have 1 game in-hand. The title is getting closer and closer...
Goals: Óscar 2x, Mink
Assists: Toni, Franchu
- Alberto as right back was an interesting move from Guti. It ensured a constant overload on the right flank, but it was shaky in defense (positionally). Alberto often overcommitted to pressing and left gaps behind for Diocesano to exploit. But if we take in mind, that Alberto is a natural winger and not a full-back, he did very admirably in this new position. At times, it was as if he was the winger and Echu (RW) was right back, they constantly interchanged their positions and because both are very quick, they still managed to track back in time.
- Martín Calderón, Gorka Zábarte and Fran García will miss at least the next game, because they were called up by Spanish U18 National team for a Copa Atlantico.
Óscar Rodríguez Arnaiz
Some of you might have noticed in the last few days that Óscar has become a transfer target for Manchester City (and not only them, many clubs are watching him), but Real Madrid has no intentions of letting him go. He is a crucial part of this side and a very highly rated player in La Fábrica. So, I decided to introduce him a little bit and explain why City are interested in him.
Óscar has been in La Fábrica since he was 9 yrs old. He is a media punta (a fancy Spanish word for an attacking midfielder). But in Guti's team, Óscar has been playing as a central midfielder in a 4-3-3. And even though he has been playing in a deeper position, he is still a very prolific midfielder, as he’s the second top scorer of team this season with 15 goals and 6 assists in only 18 games.
There are 3 areas that make him a stand out player in this team, and that is his passing, vision and leadership. You can say he's the typical midfield general, who likes to take control of the game and set the tempo. He doesn’t possess a brisk pace or sophisticated dribbling skills, but he uses quick body movements and feints to evade the pressure from opposition. He is a very intelligent player with excellent technique and thus he relies more on quick passing than on dribbling. Usually he comes deeper to get the ball and help defenders to play out of the back (a bit like Toni Kroos does) and then he very quickly moves up the pitch to the left half space. And from there, he usually combines with Franchu (left winger), who then makes runs down the left channel. He has very well timed late runs into the box, from which he scored a number of goals.
His biggest weakness is his defensive game, however that doesn't mean he is poor defensively. He has a good work rate, but his defensive positioning still needs a lot of refinement. And this shouldn't be that much surprising, because a) Juvenil are rarely forced to defend for longer stretches and; b) transition from CAM to CM is hard, mainly because of the positioning. Another aspect of his game that he has to improve on is penalty taking. Óscar is the designated set piece taker and he's excellent at it. He can score both curved direct free kicks and the classic “Close-my-eyes-and-hit-it-with-max-power” free kick, but he fails to convert penalties, which given his set piece prowess is truly baffling.
Everything takes time and we mustn't forget that Óscar is only 18yrs old. He has shown enough progress to believe that he will be a fine central midfielder in the future. And it's easy to understand, why a club like City (especially with their new philosophy and Pep Guardiola as a coach) would want to secure his signing.
I made a brief compilation of his actions from this match and can we just marvel at those beautiful cross field passes?...