Just a few days ago now, myself and Kiyan recorded a Castilla based podcast which brought up many contemporary topics regarding the team and it’s players. Five days, and one game later - a few of those topics have taken a new turn. In this article we will be revisiting some of those subjects, as well as catching up on Sunday's game against Pontevedra! With no time to lose, lets crack on...
Real Madrid Castilla 3-0 Pontevedra CF
Everything about this match pointed towards another really boring encounter. That was until the squad list was released. Cristo González was excluded from the squad due to injury (killing half of the fantasy league’s scorer predictions), leaving the starting spot free for either Víctor Campuzano - or the controversial Dani Gómez. Luca Zidane, one of many players brought up on the podcast, returned to the squad after a lengthy injury. Perhaps the most exciting inclusion was that of 17 year old academy starlet César Gelabert. The line-up on the day was as so:
The first half confirmed what everybody already though. Just like the sentence - it was very boring. Pontevedra started nicely with some really good individual touches, but Castilla eventually edged out the half when Jaime Seoane was hacked down inside the visitors penalty area, after a good run. Dani Gómez stepped up on his returned, and smashed the penalty home like he was never away. This goal sent him back to the top of the scoring charts. Half time, 1-0!
I was ready to take a nap at half time, and had one eye shut when the teams returned to the pitch. However, Castilla came out and shone from the get-go. Two minutes into the half, Castilla doubled their lead. Sergio Reguilón got on the end of Óscar Rodríguez’s class flick on to make it 2-0. From here on in, it was all Castilla. That man Óscar Rodríguez was at the heart of it as Castilla went on to produce a rare great performance. It will be of little surprise to anyone how the third goal was put away by the man himself. Castilla won a free-kick in a good area, and Óscar effortlessly lofted it into the top corner... 3-0, game over. Castilla continued on in the search for more, but the game ended 3-0 to the hosts. Let’s have a look at some of the many talking points we can take away from this game:
The man of the match, for the first time in his career. Óscar Rodríguez was world class in this game. He really was. Myself and Kiyan talked about Óscar, and how he has disappointed this season on the podcast - and he must have been listening in. His skills were unbelievable, and he grabbed a great assist, and brilliant goal to go with them. This is the exact kind of performance that if executed consistently, can warrant you to be labelled one of the worlds top talents. It’s taken a while, but we now know what this kid is capable of in senior football, and the important thing now is to replicate it. Without creating too much pressure, my eyes will be certainly glued on Óscar this weekend.
Before we go into some of the other more positive inclusions, we need to address this problem. Another hot topic brought up on the podcast, I stated that I was surprised at Luca’s lack of involvement with Castilla since his return from injury (he had only been around the first team thus far), but expressed an element of worry that when he did return, he would immediately bench the impressive Javier Belman. Just five days later - here we are. Javier Belman has had a terrific season, and is arguably the best keeper that Castilla have had in the last three years. He has been so good this season, that I find it nothing short of disrespectful that Luca Zidane can simply push him out of the way on his first game back. It occurred to me after a short debate on social media that because his last name is Zidane, some people rate him quite highly. That, and the fact his CV checks out because of all the opportunities his name has gifted him. I want to set the record straight on this - Luca Zidane is genuinely the worst professional goalkeeper I have ever seen. I have watched every single game he’s played so far, and many of his academy games, too. Although he may be a great lad away from pitch, on it he is simply terrible. Real Madrid are wasting their time fielding him, and I am genuinely concerned that Javier Belman may not feature again for the remainder of the season. Not too long ago I voiced concern over some of the the catastrophic decision making that completely kills dead development during key times of certain individuals career. This is one of them. If Real Madrid ever want to shake off the stigma that they are a bad choice for young players, they will have to patch factors like this as soon as possible.
Dani Gómez & Víctor Campuzano
Yet another hot topic discussed in detail on the podcast, Dani Gómez has been submerged with problems ever since stories about a contract rejection surfaced. His involvement with both Castilla, and the first team was cut - but he still confusingly took to the pitch every time the under-19s needed him in the UEFA Youth League. Last years top scorer Campuzano has also been struggling for minutes this season, but his struggle has been away from the spotlight. Seeing Dani return to the starting line-up on Sunday was joyful, but also created a lot more confusion. Does this mean that he IS allowed to play? Will he just be benched again for the rest of the season when Cristo comes back? What has Campuzano done to receive less than half of the minutes that “punished” Gómez has been given? Real Madrid, what on earth is happening?! It will be interesting to see how this all progresses in the coming weeks.
17 year old César Gelabert was a surprise inclusion in Sunday’s squad. He started on the bench, but eventually came on in the second half, replacing Adrián Mancebo to become the first player born after the year 2000 to feature for Castilla. Even for what is basically an extended youth team, that is impressive! I currently know little about César, but the Spanish youth international is very highly rated, and I can’t wait to see more of him in the future!
A 3-0 win, a good performance - Solari must’ve done something right for once? Wrong. It says a lot when you can pick huge holes in this mans personal performances even when the team plays well, and you can every time. After performing averagely all season (likely stemming from Solari forcing him to play out of position), Óscar Rodríguez was having the game of his life. You could visibly see his confidence levels sky rocketing with every minute that passed by. This game is huge for the boy, and could completely turn around his season. Now, imagine that you are Santiago Solari - your team is 3-0 up. what would you do? That’s right! Take him off after 73 minutes... A spark was finally trying to light itself after months of anticipation - and it was starting to burn really bright, until Solari came along with his big bucket of water and killed the spark dead. The sooner this guys goes, the better.
First team call-ups
This week also saw two first team call-ups for Castilla players (yes I am excluding Luca Zidane).
Álvaro Tejero started the week off by gaining a call up into Zidane’s La Liga squad for the Deportivo Alavés. He sat the whole game on the bench. Álvaro Tejero’s first team involvement formed an important part of the discussion from Thursdays podcast. This was Tejero’s 14th time on the bench or the pitch for Real Madrid. He has been called up to the squad on many other occasions too. Whilst I’m happy for his success, sharing those numbers out would have been a far better option. It does seem that in the eyes of the first team, they maintain favourites.
Óscar Rodríguez has been called into the first team squad for tonight’s La Liga game against Espanyol. Amazing performance get great rewards! Well done, @oscararnaiz10! #RealMadridCastilla https://t.co/OcaIO1af1e— Real Madrid Castilla Stats (@CastillaStats) February 27, 2018
Finally, Óscar Rodríguez receieved a call-up into yesterdays La Liga squad for the Espanyol defeat. Like Tejero, Óscar also spent the entire game on the bench. This was a great move by Zidane, though. A mere two days after his world class performance, Óscar was rewarded with this first team inclusion. In my mind - this is how it should always happen. Martin Ødegaard would play like that often, but would rarely get that merit of reward for his efforts. If a player in any position performs to that standard, then the reward of a first team place is a perfect idea.
58’ GOAL! @oscararnaiz10! We are witnessing an Óscar Rodríguez masterclass! He hits that free-kick as sweet as you like into the top corner. World class! 3-0 Real Madrid Castilla!! [3-0] #RealMadridCastilla #RealMadridCastillaLive pic.twitter.com/9LxzuhUPUy— Real Madrid Castilla Stats (@CastillaStats) February 25, 2018
So, we are only half way but it’s been quite the week so far at Castilla! Luckily for Kiyan and I, most of the topics we spoke about have been expanded further in the last few days. It isn’t too difficult to predict that most of them will develop further in the next few weeks. Castilla will aim to finish this week on a high when they travel to Gimnástica Segoviana on Sunday. This is another very winnable game, but you can never be too confident when it comes to Castilla...
Pontevedra goals: Gómez, Reguilón & Rodríguez
Pontevedra assist: Rodríguez