Castilla had 10 games left of their season. They currently sit in 4th place and in a play off spot. The premise from here is simple: End the year strong and finish in the play offs, achieving their goal and having a successful season; or finish poorly and fall out of the play offs, resulting in a failed campaign. Today they hosted bottom of the table Zamudio, who they drew 2-2 with in their previous away match. Play off rivals Fuenlabrada had already won their game the previous day, so this was a must win game if Castilla wanted to stay in the top 4. Being honest, if Castilla didn't win today, then with much harder fixtures on the way, there wouldn't be much of a chance of them reaching the play offs. The team was relatively unchanged, with Campuzano one of the only exclusions due to suspension. Mario Rodríguez was given a rare start, but Solari chose to continue misplaying Sergio Díaz on the right wing. I now am very sure that as long as Solari is in charge, Díaz will not play as a striker again...
Castilla XI: Abad, Achraf, Lienhart, Hermoso, Quezada, Febas, Valverde, Enzo(C), Rodríguez, Vergos & Díaz #RealMadridCastilla pic.twitter.com/KeR3mBQFT8— RM Castilla Stats (@CastillaStats) March 12, 2017
The game started off pretty slow, but Castilla got the ball down early and knocked it around nicely. Febas got on the ball a lot in the middle, and Luismi Quezada was always an outlet on the left hand side, teaming up with Rodríguez to cause the Zamudio defence a lot of problems! The first 20 minutes dragged, but from then on Castilla started to take control. Lienhart spawned a brilliant chance when he directed his free header straight at the keeper. Moments later, Lienhart was controversially involved again, as he brought down an opposition attacker in the box to gift Zamudio a penalty.
Enter Carlos Abad. He guessed the right way and parried the powerful effort away to keep the teams level. This had huge significance to the game, as minutes later Febas and Luismi linked up really well, before Luismi beat his man twice and curled in a delightful cross for big man Nikos Vergos to head home. It could have been so different if that penalty was put away!
Luismi was at it again instantly, defending well to stop Zamudio finding a way back into the game. Castilla had plenty of opportunities themselves before the half way mark, but Vergos and Díaz could not add to their 5 goals so far this season. Castilla went into the break deservedly 1-0 up.
Y por supuesto, el paradón de @CarlosAbad1 pic.twitter.com/jk3bYpwBDs— Julio SánchezBarreda (@JulioTFP) March 12, 2017
Castilla came back out instantly looking for more. They were in control of the game, and it could have been 2, but Enzo's shot was directed too high early on. Enzo, Díaz and Achraf then all saw dangerous balls defended well as Zamudio were hanging on by a string.
The next chance fell to Nikos Veros who took on virtually the whole defence by himself, before forcing a really good save from the goalkeeper. At times, it was like watching the Castilla side of 15/16. Some of the play out from the back was sublime, and Valverde was at the centre of most of the play. It really was entertaining to watch, and Castilla should of had more goals to show for it. Luismi Quezada beat his man before firing inches wide. Solari then decided to bring off the impressive duo of Mario Rodríguez and Nikos Vergos for the more defensive Abner and Jaime Seaone. In a game that Castilla were controlling and didn't look like conceding these changes seemed unnecessary. Nevertheless, these changes worked and Castilla held out for a 1-0 win, keeping them 4th in the table and in the play off places. Only 9 more 'finals' to go...
Some crazy good link-up play between Quezada and Febas before Nikos makes it 1-0 for Castilla. pic.twitter.com/WvxjZDijj2— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) March 12, 2017
Man of the match today goes to Luismi Quezada, who had a stellar first half in both attack and defence, and a solid second. He has made sure that he is Solari's number 1 choice in the left back department with his strong performances in recent times, and it looks like he will only get better! Today the team as a whole played a very complete game, which they haven't always been able to do this season, so everyone deserves a lot of credit. I hope these performances can long continue! Especially as the next two fixtures are Athletic Bilbao B away, and Barakaldo at home — 2 huge games! You won't want to miss the Bilbao game next week, so make sure to keep your eyes on @ManagingMadrid, and my Twitter, @CastillaStats!