It’s been a wild day for Castilla. A wild, wild day. If you thought last years captain Mario Hermoso scoring three goals for Espanyol, but only one for his team, was the strangest Castilla related story you’d see today -- then think again! Castilla played host to Deportivo Coruña’s B team today, a side that humiliated them in the reverse fixture last year. That game finished 3-0, and saw Deportivo sit at the top of the table. They have since slightly dropped in form, falling to third place. It still looked a challenge too much for Castilla, but no game is won on paper.
Off of the pitch, a number of other stories surfaced, and we will get into those later. But first: the game! Solari went with a slightly different line-up compared to last week’s defeat at Ponferradina. Dani Gómez was a noticeable ejection from the squad. Goal scorer Mancebo made way for Reguilón to return from injury, and Quezada moved back to the left wing in an otherwise unchanged team. The visitors had two players in their side that featured at the Bernabéu for the first team version of this fixture. Edu Expósito in particular was a player that Castilla would need to watch carefully.
The first half was terrible. It was 35 minutes of nothing. However, it was Deportivo’s 35 minutes of nothing. They were dominating possession, and Castilla offered no threat going forward whatsoever. It looked for sure that if anyone was going to score, it would be Deportivo. Expósito operated from deep, trying to orchestrate attacks (which was perhaps a big reason for their downfall), whilst Deportivo winger Pinchi looked very lively. Things got worse after Javier Sánchez was forced off with injury. 37 minutes in however, everything changed. Cristo González picked up the ball and found Sergio Reguilón out-wide. He played a brilliant first-time ball into the box for Luismi Quezada to head home to make it 1-0 — completely against the run of play!
Before I had the time to describe the goal on twitter, Castilla had another. The Deportivo keeper received the ball in his box, and as a tribute to Luca Zidane, decided to do a ‘Cruyff turn’ instead of releasing the ball. Cristo was having none of this, and pinched the ball away from him, before finishing into the empty net to make it 2-0.
What was going on? Deportivo all of a sudden looked completely lost. Half time was signalled, and Deportivo had 15 minutes to recompose themselves for the second half.
Quezada drifts into the box and opens the scoring for Castilla. For once, it's him on the end of the cross, not the other way around. pic.twitter.com/y0aUWFOrP4— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) January 28, 2018
The second half was anything but terrible. After a slow start, things promised to get more exciting after Reguilón received a second yellow card for a late challenge, and was sent off. You’d think things were looking pretty bleak for Solari’s men, but Football is one funny game. Castilla actually started to look good with 10 men, as Quezada was pushed back to left-back, and Cristo took up every role under the sun. Of course, the game was blown wide open, and Deportivo had plenty of chances, but Castilla also looked dangerous throughout. If Óscar or Seoane had brought their shooting boots to the party, then we could have been witnessing a cricket score. But the same could be said for Deportivo, who spawned chance after chance. Defensively, Castilla have made it. They are now a very good unit, and whoever they play against, they can always put in a good shift. This will be the best thing Solari ever achieves with Castilla, and he deserves full credit for it. After a fast paced last quarter, filled with chances all over the place, the final whistle blew to earn Castilla their biggest win of the season.
And almost immediately, after, Cristo scores this. Ha. pic.twitter.com/9wwXnyEGue— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) January 28, 2018
With this win, Castilla fly up to seventh place in the table. Of course, the play-offs are not really a realistic picture. And if that miracle is cracked, then promotion is certainly a step too far. You cannot take anything away from these players though, who are perhaps overachieving given their circumstances. Man of the match was Cristo González, who worked so hard in multiple roles, and bagged the second goal because of his own good play. In truth, the defence was awesome, as well as Seoane. Everyone had a good showing. Hopefully Javier Sánchez returns as soon as possible. Talavera are up next for the youngsters, and after a 2-0 home win last time out, the players will be confident that they can push on and continue to collect points.
Goals: Quezada and González
Off the pitch, it has been a big day for Castilla as well. Here are a few updates you guys need to know about:
This information is a tad late, but Segura was let go last week. He has joined José Lazo at Recreativo Huelva on loan for the rest of the season. Toni played just four times in the first half of the campaign, so a loan was much needed. This however could spell the end of his Real Madrid dream. I hope he is back much improved for next season.
Alex Martín has signed a new contract with Real Madrid, keeping him at the club until at least 2021. This contract is significant, because it potentially will see Alex promoted into the first team at some point in the near future, where he will either be loaned out or looking to fight for a place. Alex has struggled to break into Solari’s staring line-up this season, and has often been forced to play as a right-back (he has done well every time). This deal is a huge confidence boost for the youngster, and confirms that he is in some sort of plans that the club has for him. His centre-back partner Manu Hernando has already signed a first team contract as well, and I am hoping that there a quite a few players that will join them!
OFFICIAL: Alex Martín has signed a new 3 year contract with Real Madrid! This is huge news for the young defender, who is yet to break into Solari’s starting line-up. Congratulations, Alex! #RealMadridCastilla pic.twitter.com/m27zSChqCF— Real Madrid Castilla Stats (@CastillaStats) January 28, 2018
Today, Mink Peeters found a new team to see his campaign out with, after featuring just once in the first half of the season for VVV Venlo in the cup. Dutch second division outfit Almere City unveiled him to the surprise of many. To me, this highlights a few long existing player management problems that Real Madrid have. Mink Peeters is a player in desperate need of exactly what Castilla exists for: development. How putting him on a contract and shooting him off to Holland in hope that something will automatically click has been accepted as a good idea, I will never know...
Real Madrid do so much good work when it comes to developing young players to go on and have a successful top level career, irrespective of whether they will make it at the club or not. This work is constantly undermined because of the seemingly poor judgement from certain people at the club. The media constantly push the narrative that Real Madrid is a cesspit for young players, and that they never do anything right -- and that is partly based on situations created by these people. Whether it be Martin Ødegaard playing just two first team games in two years, or Luca Zidane securing a full time first team spot despite being just about semi-professional standard on a good day, someone somewhere at the club is doing their job wrong. Real Madrid have come very close to finding the perfect mix of youth products and purchased imports in recent times, and it has been a huge factor in their success. If they can improve some of their weakest factors regarding player development and the academy, then they could reach new heights in the footballing world. But they have to take that step at some point.
Dani Gómez was left out of the squad today for no apparent reason. This should potentially cause a bit of worry for Madrid fans. In recent weeks, it has been reported that Gómez is in an ongoing contract dispute with the club, and has since been dropped from any first team activity, as well as the Castilla line-up. Castilla’s top scorer — and debatably best player -- hasn’t started a game since October. Remember, it is still January for another three days, and Dani has been linked to both Valencia and Celtic. Losing this talent would be a huge blow for the club, as he is a player that has a genuine chance at a first team spot in the future. Stay on the lookout for any developments in this story, it has the potential to explode.