Does a team in 5th place budding for promotion via the play offs, deserve that chance if they fail to beat a team second from bottom? Or if they fail to gain any consistency over the course of the season? Nope.
Castilla had already fallen at the second hurdle in their 10 game finale, and one more slip could put an end to their aims. Today, they travelled over to Bilbao to play River Sestao Club, a side desperate for points to miraculously save them from impending relegation. With captain Enzo back from suspension, and the international players also returning, surely this would have been on of the easier remaining fixtures for the whites.
Solari interestingly opted to carry on playing two left backs on the left hand side, over 3 wingers on the bench. But apart from the line up, they looked pretty strong. The main focus being that Sergio Díaz finally was given the chance in his main position of striker after impressing there last week in just 15 minutes. If he scored today, then he would have been the first choice striker once again... The in-form Tejero was given the start ahead of Achraf just before kick off.
There really isn't much I can say about the first half... Hermoso hit the bar in the first minutes and Díaz came quite close, but after that the play was very slow and dull. After a period of Castilla domination, Sestao grew back into the game, and actually started carving out some decent chances. They even found the net, but luckily the goal was incorrectly disallowed for offside. Quezada then saw his amazing effort hit the crossbar towards the end of the half. After an even first half, the referee blew for the break with the scores being 0-0.
At half time, Solari brought off Abner for striker Campuzano, pushing Díaz, who agonizingly failed on perhaps his last chance to impress this season, back out wide. It didn't change much, as Sestao just grew stronger and stronger. Not long after Achraf came on for Tejero to provide a stronger attacking option. It still did not effect anything, as without Abad, Castilla would have been dead and buried by now. Then came the killer blow, Sestao pushed forward, and although Castilla provided a couple of blocks in the build up, nothing was stopping the long range effort by Sestao forward Rodri as it fell to him outside of the box. The ball whistled into the back of Abad's net to give Sestao River a 1-0 lead. The game continued to be pretty slow, with the only real chances falling to Sestao. The only notable chance Castilla created was when Díaz produced a fabulous turn right at the end, but failed to shoot in good time and was eventually stopped well. If he had that chance at the start of the season, that would have been a goal.
The game ended 1-0, to Sestao River.
That loss could potentially take Castilla down to 7th place, 4 points off of the play offs, with some tough fixtures yet to play. There is still a chance they can make it, but being realistic, it is all but over. Even if they did somehow pull it off, it wouldn't be deserved in the slightest. The tactics today were again surplus to requirement, and the performance of the players not good enough. I predict Solari will be gone by the end of the season, and that definitely is for the best. Man of the match went to Fede Valverde, who controlled the game for Castilla pretty well, showing off some great passes and dribbles. As the play offs are unlikely, and the season is all but over, here are some new short term challenges I'd like to see Castilla complete in the last 6 games:
- Win as many games as possible, finishing the season strong, and fighting until the end to keep the dream alive.
- Score and assist as many goals as possible, as the figures are currently pretty low, and loads of players are joint on numbers, congesting up the end of season charts.
- Work on defending as a unit, and attacking with confidence and freedom.
- And finally, for the players eligible for a UEFA Youth League medal, focus and work as hard as possible to lift the title, and sync in with Guti's tactics. He is the favourite for the Castilla hot seat next season.
Castilla host Arenas Club de Getxo next week, and literally cannot lose. It'll be very interesting to see how the manager sets the team up, and how the players react. Be sure not to miss it, I'll have you covered on ManagingMadrid, and my own Twitter account @CastillaStats. Thanks for tuning in!