And so the start of two huge fixtures began. Castilla travelled to Bilbao with the 1st team to take on Athletic Bilbao B. In their last meeting, Sergio Díaz was the difference, being in the right place at the right tie to capitalize on a mistake from the keeper. This time out however, it was a sure thing that Díaz would not get the opportunity to be in the right place at all. Castilla chose to start with Abner at left back, with Seoane coming in for the absent Fede Valverde. Díaz was misplaced as usual, with the in-form Nikos Vergos starting alone up top, as Campuzano was still banned. Solari was banned from the bench as he was still serving his suspension.
It was obvious that this was going to be a game of high quality, with all 22 starting players dreaming of a future in La Liga with their respective 1st teams, and the game started very well. I didn't spot a single unnecessary long ball for a long time, and nearly all of the play was on the floor being moved around tidily, trying to hurt the opposition from the middle of the park. Castilla were actually the better team of the opening 35 minutes or so, and should of had the lead when Nikos Vergos was played through by Febas, before being brought down by the Bilbao keeper.
Surprisingly, the in form and free-scoring Vergos was snubbed for the penalty in favour of captain Enzo who did have a good record, but he stepped up and placed it wide of the left hand post. Castilla did not let this get to them though, and were soon in the lead, with Achraf bursting forward and smashing the ball into the box, only for it to take a deflection and fly into the Bilbao goal. 1-0!
Bilbao recovered well however, and minutes later were on equal terms as a good cross came in for the own goal scorer Nunez to redeem himself, and tie the score at 1-1.
From this point onwards Bilbao started to grow into the game. Castilla did create some more chances, but Vergos and Enzo could not finish them off. An entertaining half finished with the score at 1-1, and Castilla put on a good show in 45 minutes.
Castilla came back out searching for a much needed winning goal and a vital 3 points. Unfortunately Bilbao were intent on the same. They started strong and continued to hold Castilla back. It wasn't long before Castilla were behind, a well worked opening finished off by a Bilbao attacker to make it 2-1. Castilla looked a different side. They created little in the second half, and Mario Hermoso had to go off injured. Tejero, Quezada, and Rodríguez were all brought in as Hermoso, Díaz and Abner made way. The tactics, although some forced, did not really work out, and Bilbao continued to dominate the game.
The game took an even worse turn when towards the end, Enzo received a reckless second yellow card and was sent off. Bilbao hit the post from the resulting free kick, and in the end deserved a really important win. The game finished 2-1, and Castilla leave empty handed.
That defeat sees Castilla drop out of the play-off positions and into 6th place. Man of the match goes to Jaime Seoane for a reasonably decent game from centre midfield. He has shown with his good performances that he is good enough for that starting spot going into next season. Even though the first half was pretty good, the tactics in the decisive second half were horribly wrong, and Sergio Díaz is still being unacceptably used incorrectly. I am now strongly against Solari continuing as coach, and even at this point in the season would see a change in management as a good thing rather than bad. Unfortunately it looked like Solari will be in charge until the end of the season. There are 8 games left to go, and next week sees Castilla host Barakaldo in the biggest game of the season so far. Anything but a win in that game could spell the end for Castilla's play-off hopes. This one you will not want to miss!
Goal: Own Goal