After an unfortunate exit from the UEFA Youth League, Juvenil needed to bounce back quickly, because they faced their fierce rivals from Madrid. This time it wasn't in Group 5 División de Honor, but in Copa de Campeones, which is a competition for the winners of each Group.
.@Gol Real Madrid Juvenil starting XI: Belman, Zabarte, Alex, Manu, Fran, Oscar, Martin Calderon, Toni, Alberto, Dani Gomez, Franchu— Ondra Paul (@OndraPaul) May 1, 2017
Guti had to deal with only one absence -- Moha Ramos — who is with the U17 Spanish National team. Apart from Moha; Guti had his full squad at his disposal and he went with his most trusted players.
The start to this game was frenetic. Juvenil were pressing very high up the pitch, but soon Atletico found a way to slice through the press and so it became an end-to-end match. Atletico twice threatened Belman with quick and incisive counters. The third time they scored, Manu overcommitted to the left side and Giovanni was left completely unmarked in the box. 1-0 for Atletico.
Things started to look dire. Players were down and they became sloppy. However, Juvenil have a fantastic captain -- Óscar Rodríguez Arnaiz — with a sublime right foot. He was given a free kick near the penalty box and he does't miss from that range. For him, it's like taking penalties.
Óscar Rodríguez Arnaiz, the freekick wizard. Fantastic player and brilliant captain. @oscararnaiz10 pic.twitter.com/ooNeULFvfA— Ondra Paul (@OndraPaul) May 1, 2017
The rest of the first half went on in a similar manner. Juvenil were trying to play their football, while Atletico were extremely compact and launched quick counters. Belman was lacking confidence and on several occasions he caused a number of mistakes. Fran had to make a last minute goal-line clearance after one such mistake, when Belman was trying to play sweeper keeper.
At half time, Guti made one change — Zabarte off and Soti on. Juvenil made a brilliant start to the second half, as they scored in the 48th minute. Fran showcased his offensive abilities and made a dazzling run down the centre. He linked up with Toni and Dani Gomez and then nutmegged Atletico's keeper.
Fran's match-winning goal. It's a thing of beauty. pic.twitter.com/8R5rSHvmgZ— Ondra Paul (@OndraPaul) May 1, 2017
Fran was a constant threat on the left side and it was by far his best match in 2017. His speed is so hard to contain and finally he also improved his defensive game. Fran and Franchu on the same side are a terrifying duo and if Juvenil want to win the title, these two players have to be at their best, because they are the main catalyst in the final third.
The last 10 minutes were a true nail bitter. Atletico created a number of chances, but luckily Belman settled down, regained his confidence, and in the end Juvenil survived it. It's a major win and the first step towards the Copa de Campeones title. Now, Juvenil have to wait and see who will be their opponent in the semifinals. It will be either Las Palmas or Villarreal.
Goals: Óscar 1x, Fran 1x,
Assists: Dani Gomez 1x
Next match: Las Palmas/Villarreal