I feel a little unhinged whilst sitting down to write this piece. I’m aware than many of you reading this are only here because of one man. I’ve also very quickly become acquainted with some of the mass collective frustration currently travelling through certain parts of the Madrid fan base. Whilst I hold my own concerns and judgements regarding the situation, it would be a waste of time to spend this entire report branding certain perceptions as fickle. This is a match report after all. So I will use a segment of this article to talk things out after the action has been covered. I’m fully prepared to have a good discussion in the comments about it but won’t reply to any blatant ignorance, so it could be worth reading this article written earlier in the summer, which weighs up the potential benefits and risks of every option he had this season.
Castilla kicked off the 2018/19 season today, at home to fellow reserve side Las Palmas B. The visitors had two ex-Castilla players in their squad, with Antonio Segura left out, and Cristian Cedrés listed on the bench. There were a few new faces on show for Madrid, with promoted Juvenil A prospects Sergio López and Adrián De La Fuente handed starts. Luca Zidane found himself demoted back to Castilla after his old man left, and took advantage of Belman’s minor injury by keeping the number one shirt warm. Of course, the big news was that €45 million man Vinícius Júnior was brought in to make his Castilla debut.
Castilla XI against Las Palmas B:— Managing Madrid (@managingmadrid) August 26, 2018
Zidane, López, Sánchez, De la Fuente, Fernández, Grau, Seoane, Fidalgo, Feuillassier, Vinícius Jr & González.
Vinícius Júnior starts for Castilla! De la Fuente & López also get their debuts!#MMCastillaLive pic.twitter.com/DwJ3Ncq1xP
Whilst Castilla have had a poor pre-season following on from two poor actual seasons, they actually looked pretty energetic in the first half today. Vinícius was getting involved a lot and the midfield were seeing a decent amount of the ball. Imperatively, the defence still seemed to be a strong unit even after the departures of some of the players that helped make it so solid. And it was a defender that played a huge part in the opening goal. Sergio López played an exquisite pass forward with the outside of his boot up to Jaime Seoane whom slotted the ball away tidily. The second goal was even better, as Cristo González switched the play over to Francisco Feuillassier. The Argentinian did brilliantly to touch the ball down around the defender before smashing it home. The game, whilst played at a better tempo than usual, failed to really create anything else in the first half. The referee’s whistle blew to send the teams in for half time with the score at 2-0.
What a run / pass from Sergio Lopez to Seoane for Castilla's opening goal of the season. pic.twitter.com/U3624wsbFp— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) August 26, 2018
The new found tempo from the first half got a tad slower in the second. Madrid’s attacking players were struggling to fully impose themselves on the game, even though Franchu was popping up a lot more since his goal. Madrid’s best chance of the half came through substitute Alberto when he had acres of space to shoot on his weaker foot, but chose to cut in only to see his shot well blocked instead. New signing Jorge De Frutos came on for Vinícius Júnior and looked very lively. Las Palmas didn’t really offer much of a challenge for the result, with the only notable chance being skied over from mere yards out. Castilla ended up comfortably taking all three points, with the score finishing as 2-0 to the hosts.
A reasonably easy start for Castilla then. They will want to pick up as many points early on as possible to avoid any of the struggles seen in the previous two seasons. The performance was good, but you couldn't stretch much further than that. Vinícius Júnior had a below par debut for Castilla, but he wasn’t the worst player on show. Whilst this performance would’ve been Martin Ødegaard’s worst in a Madrid shirt so far, there is still no reason to panic at all. It appears that Real Madrid will consider Vinícius a first team player, which was one of the three options for him this season. When he is not called up by the first team, he will play for Castilla. In other words, he is most likely to be a young first team player that is guaranteed a game every single week. I have seen a few people suggest that promoting him to the first team alone would be a better option, which to me is ludicrous. Fair play if you want to see him sent out on loan for different reasons, a return to home club Flamengo was my preferred choice as well. To act baffled about him getting a better deal in the first team though does get me puzzled...
If he is to remain playing games for Castilla, then a couple of things need to be changed. The first should be his training schedule. Training full time with the first team is great, but it also isolates him from his Castilla teammates. The lack of chemistry on show today was clearly evident. When fellow new signing Jorge De Frutos came on in Júnior’s place he looked far more bright and fluid alongside his teammates, Even if it was just one day a week, integrating the lad with his teammates would have a huge benefit on himself and the team. The second problem needing to be fixed lies with Santiago Solari. It is so rare to see an academy side take a different approach to football compared to their senior team. This may have been allowed because Zidane didn’t really delve into the world of tactics too often, but currently Castilla have no system. The front three rotate, the defence remains solid with a defensive midfielder to protect them, but besides that players are left to do whatever they want. Hiring a manager can make the world of difference to teams, and doing that with Castilla could transform the side back to the developmental kings the once were not long ago at all... Pretending that Vinícius isn’t able to perform in Segunda B is pointless, as if he gets it right he could be unstoppable in this league like many of the other talents brought in before him.
Not easy for Vinicius to find space today. His body language on defense has also been very meh. Dani Fernandez picking up a lot of slack on the left flank while Vinny walks around and gets beat. Clear lack of chemistry, and UDLP packing the flank / playing rough. This was nice: pic.twitter.com/QRWBRlUyJN— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) August 26, 2018
Man of the match went to new right-back Sergio López, a player that stood out all game long earning an assist and a clean-sheet for his troubles. Sergio spent all summer with the first team and is obviously rated very highly from the club, so expect to see him progress quickly this season. Castilla’s next match is another big one as the mini-Madrid derby returns. The whites take on Atlético Madrid B next Sunday, be sure not to miss it! What were your thoughts on today’s game?
Goals: Seoane & Feuillassier.
Assists: López & González.