This is probably going to be the hardest article I've written, not just for MM; but in general, as there is so little to talk about. Castilla are approaching the end of the season, and are just in it for pride. On Sunday they were to go head-to-head with UD San Sebastián de los Reyes. Quite a mouthful. SS Reyes for short, were toying with the relegation zone and desperately needed a win for a chance at staying up. Amongst their roster is 21 year old Adrián Mancebo, who is heavily linked with a move to Castilla for next season. The game’s premise seemed interesting enough. Castilla were without Achraf, Jaime Seoane, Fede Valverde and Sergio Díaz who were a part of the u19s in their UEFA Youth League semi-final heart break against Benfica. This gave Francisco Tena a chance in the midfield. Solari chose to bench three wingers and start with Luismi Quezada on the left with Abner behind him, a tactic that we have seen go both ways before. Nikos Vergos got the start ahead of Campuzano.
The game was very slow-paced, and, I'd struggle to say that it got more interesting than that last sentence. Some good points were that the defence was pretty solid, with Javier Sánchez coming back into centre back showing his good form. Tejero was excellent on the right hand side and going forward to deliver some great crosses for big man Vergos. Febas also had a good first half, and as usual was constantly being dragged around by the opposition in an attempt to stop him. In the midst of all those positives, there were a few more negative points that stuck out to me.
I hate to compare this years side to that of last years, and usually refrain from doing so, but going forward, Castilla's class of 16/17 could learn a thing or two from their predecessors. In the final third, some of Castilla's play was very good, but for the majority of the game it was predictable and frankly pretty dull... Every player in every single Real Madrid team, from the first team to the academy sides, is capable of the extraordinary. To fulfil the dream of every young Madrid player of getting into the first team squad, it is expected of them to consistently pull off the unthinkable. At times this season I have seen these players do just that, and they have scored some great goals and recorded some top results. What's holding them back from their objectives? Perhaps it's down to poor tactics, or a lack of chemistry, but these players have failed to produce enough quality going forward this season, and have at times looked very ordinary indeed.
If you want to watch the video shown below, it shows the best Castilla goals from last season. That 15/16 side blew my mind time and time again with their play. I'm well aware that the quality of last years side was much higher, and that a few of those players have gone on to perform at a top level this year, but this season’s team could have easily gotten just as far if not further in their campaign. My advice to these current players would be to embrace failure, as that is what Castilla is predominantly for. They should be encouraged to be as creative as possible, and leave everything on the pitch. The first half unsurprisingly ended goalless.
The second half was barely different, and I didn't really bat much of an eye until Enzo disconcertingly limped off of the pitch, having to be replaced by Cristian Cedrés. Moments later, SS Reyes took the lead. An amazing first time strike into the top corner from outside of the box gave Abad no chance. 1-0.
Campuzano was then thrown on for Tena, and Rodríguez for Abner as Castilla threw everything forward. The three new players were all capable of magic as mentioned above, but the play was still way too predictable. SS Reyes dragged out the game well, and just as it looked like it was going to be another defeat for the whites, a Quezada corner met Hermoso's head only for the keeper to parry the shot into Campuzano's path, who finished accordingly to salvage Castilla a point. 1-1 the final score.
All in all, there isn't much to be taken away from that game. In fact the biggest positive was probably Adrián Mancebo's performance. I'm still doubtful he is what Castilla really need if they want to challenge next term, but at least he looks promising. Man of the match goes to Álvaro Tejero, who I thought had a really good game at right back. Castilla make the trip to CD Navalcarnero next week, and with nothing to play for, hopefully they experiment with the mass ability they posses. Whatever the outcome, I'll be sure to keep you informed!