After knocking out RCD Mallorca 6-2 on aggregate, Guti's Juvenil was drawn against Villarreal in the semifinals, just like in Copa de Campeones a month ago. On the latest Managing Madrid podcast with a special guest from RealMadrid TV, Kiyan and Alex Kirkland from RM TV made an argument that we should take Juvenil A results with a grain of salt, because they have a much better squad than the rest of the regional teams. I completely agree with that and that's why Copa de Campeones and Copa del Rey Juvenil are such exciting tournaments to watch. You can finally see this team matched against equal opposition.
And that's exactly what we had yesterday. Two equally great teams with great coaches. Villarreal's Juvenil team is indeed a very good team tactically and they have excellent and exciting young players. They managed to finish first in their regional league ahead of Valencia's Juvenil team, which is a superb achievement.
Real Madrid Juvenil A starting XI:
Belman; Achraf, Álex, Manu Hernando, Cobo; Martín Calderón, Óscar Rodriguez, Toni Robaina; Alberto, Dani Gómez, Franchu
Injuries: Gorka Fidalgo, Gori, Tati, Fran García
Not called up: Moha, Zabarte, Alváro, Bravo, Echu, Llario, Ousama
Juvenil came out guns blazing and pinned Villarreal right from the get-go. Villarreal seemed overwhelmed and couldn't cope with the speed and precision of Juvenil players. In the fourth minute, Juvenil broke the deadlock with a brilliant delivery from Óscar and Manu's slightly deflected header.
For the next five minutes, Juvenil kept on pushing for another goal, but slowly Villarreal found their footing and a few minutes later, they started to take control of the match. Juvenil fell back and resorted to a more defensive and compact shape. This gave Villarreal the opportunity to impose themselves on the game and they created two very good chances, which they narrowly missed.
Both teams were set up to prevent central creative players to have time on the ball, so Óscar was forced to drop even deeper to collect the ball and advance the play. Meanwhile Toni was deployed as the free roaming playmaker operating mainly in between lines. However, he wasn't particularly effective, because Villarreal's man marking was on point.
All things considered, it was an even first half. At times, Villarreal was in the driving seat, but Juvenil also had their good longer spells of possession and control.
Guti, as is his custom, made one half-time substitution. Toni Robaina was subbed off and Mink Peeters came on. Guti wanted to solidify the centre of the pitch. However, it was Villarreal who had the first big chance of the second half. Fortunately, Belman made a crucial save and prevented Villarreal from scoring.
Just five minutes into the second half, Guti made another substitution. Cobo was taken off and Javi Hernandéz took his place. Villarreal also made a couple of changes to inject fresh legs and try to find the important away goal.
Juvenil created a couple of great chances, but we have to give credit to Villarreal's goalkeeper, because he was truly excellent. Alberto and Franchu, who were supported by the sensational Achraf and Javi, caused a lot of trouble to Villarreal's full backs. Alberto tried to imitate Franchu and he dribbled past 3-4 Villarreal's players, but when he finally got to the goal keeper, his touch failed him and the ball went out of play.
Franchu saw what Alberto tried to do and he accepted the challenge. He went on his trademark run down the left wing and left every opponent in the dust. Then he found César completely unmarked in the box, who converted a golden chance.
Franchu is truly something else, he does this move every single time and yet the defenders are unable to defended it. It's like watching Robben doing his usual trick - to cut inside and curl it to the far post.
2-0 for Juvenil and things were looking rosy.
In the dying minutes of the match, César had another excellent chance to make it 3-0 and make the result even better for Juvenil, but unfortunately he couldn't convert it. The second leg will be played next weekend in Villarreal.
Final bits and pieces
Real Madrid Juvenil had a special visitor today. The legendary Real Madrid striker and icon Raúl González Blanco, who visited Valdebebas, and together with Juvenil C's coach Álvaro Benito, watched this game. Raúl is rumoured by some in the media to be a candidate for the Head of Academy position after Victor Fernadez's departure. Another candidate is Roberto Olabe, the former Real Sociedad Sporting Director, who resigned in November 2016.