Castilla’s injury list has expanded over the Christmas period, with Franchu, Javier Sánchez and Dani Gómez all out for an extended period of time. As well as this, Jorge De Frutos and Adrián De la Fuente are currently serving a suspension, meaning that Castilla were down to the bare minimum for the trip to Pontevedra. Miguel Baeza and Pedro Ruiz were brought into the squad from the under-19s to cover for the missing prospects. Surprisingly Baeza was handed a start, being placed on the wing to make his Castilla debut. There were a few other rotations in the team, but nothing else so significant.
Castilla XI against Pontevedra: Zidane, López, Hernando, Zabarte, García, Seoane(C), Calderón, Fidalgo, Alberto, Baeza & González.#MMCastillaLive pic.twitter.com/JT2qv0gMGi— Real Madrid Castilla Stats (@CastillaStats) January 6, 2019
Pontevedra were not far behind Castilla in the table, and had won five out of their last six games. Both teams were looking to grab as many points as possible to fuel a potential play-off charge during the business end of the season. Castilla however were a far more unpredictable side, and it that was highlighted throughout this match as they were completely torn apart. Despite Luca Zidane’s best efforts, the hosts took the lead on the 30 minute mark, as the ball was sprayed around the penalty box until it finally landed to a Pontevedra attacker to lift home. Castilla managed to keep the score-line low until half time, but entered the second half even more helpless. Pontevedra used their physical advantage very intelligently, and that combined with Castilla’s lack of focus and interest gave the hosts complete control. And they made that control count when their striker headed in a dangerous cross into the box. Augusto Galván came on and provided a small spark, but it wasn’t enough as Pontevedra scored a third in stoppage time - directly from a Castilla corner... The game ended a well deserved 3-0 to Pontevedra.
FULL TIME!— Real Madrid Castilla Stats (@CastillaStats) January 6, 2019
Pontevedra 3-0 Real Madrid Castilla!
A horrible, horrible performance to begin the year with! Castilla were outclassed in every single area by a strong home side. Man of the match of course goes to Luca Zidane!#MMCastillaLive
Here are some of my notes on the game:
For the first time this season, a team besides Castilla themselves has really impressed me. Pontevedra were strong (perhaps a little too aggressive at times), technically sound and had a lot of good team chemistry - all gelled together with a good tactical game plan. Considering the abysmal standard of this group I’m surprised that this team are not clean sailing at the top of the table. They are I suppose only four points off the top, but still remain behind Castilla in fifth place. Good luck to them.
The hosts do deserve some praise, but perhaps they are not top because Castilla made them look so good today after bringing no effort whatsoever to the party. They were genuinely so bad, and this was their worst performance of the season so far. The only two players to come away from this game with any positives were Luca Zidane and substitute Augusto Galván. Of course, you have to remember that a significant amount of players are currently unable to play, and the fact that this was the first game back from the holiday’s. Here’s to hoping that this was just a blip!
Manolo Díaz really doesn’t bring much to the team. Starting the very raw Baeza over the desperate for minutes Augusto today was just a recent example of some of the questionable decisions he has made. I’ve kept pretty quiet about this because I’ve done my fair share of managerial moaning over the past two years, but the appointment of former Castilla manager Díaz in reality was an incredibly lazy choice. After waiting for two years to get rid of Santiago Solari, this was a beautiful opportunity to bring in some fresh passionate young blood that could implement new ideas and actually enhance this group of young talented individual's developmental experience. Instead, the club wasted literally no time to appoint someone already working within the club, who had actually gotten Castilla relegated in the past. He’s an improvement on Solari, but barely. I’m hoping more than anything that his caretaker role expires in the summer and the club can finally go after someone suitable for the job...
Away from this game, a couple of things have happened:
Real Madrid signed 18 year old forward Mohamed Mizzian from Melilla, after the youngster impressed at the Bernabéu during the cup game earlier this month. Contrary to reports, it is hugely unlikely that he will have anything to do with the first team. For now, he’s not even going to be placed with Castilla - as he has begun life in Madrid training with Juvenil A. Melilla announced that the deal is actually a loan deal, with the option to purchase at the end of the season. Keep an eye out for his progress.
Mere moments ago, Real Madrid announced that they had signed Brahim Díaz from Manchester City. This gives me very conflicting opinions. Of course he is an incredible talent, but I’m really not sure he is a necessary one. After playing barely any games during his career so far, perhaps he’d be well off playing with Castilla, but if the rumours that he will go straight into the first team are true, then I just do not understand. We have further developed players who can’t get a look in, and Brahim himself will be lucky to get any relevant game time for a side that even the likes of Isco can’t break into. Handing a first team place on the back of nothing would serve as a huge disrespect to those other youngsters that deserve a chance. The transfer itself signifies that Madrid are by no means looking to slow the wheels down on their youth policy despite accumulating a mass amount of young players now. Depending on the number he will wear, it is only logical that he gets some professional game time under his belt with Castilla until the summer. Watch this space.
Brahim Díaz (15) has played just 9% of the senior games that Martin Ødegaard has (163), despite the Norwegian being only 7 months older— Real Madrid Castilla Stats (@CastillaStats) January 6, 2019
At this moment in time Brahim is categorically a typical Castilla player by nature if I’ve ever seen one!
We will see pic.twitter.com/veXzSB3X22
Somehow, Castilla remain in the play-off spots, sat in fourth place. To reiterate for the hundredth time, as soon as they reach the 40 point mark none of it matter much, as at least then they will be completely safe from any relegation threats. Promotion is impossible, but with a miracle this side can at least make they play-offs. Luca Zidane was the man of the match today, after making numerous saves to keep the score-line as low as possible. It’s back to playing against B teams next week, as Castilla take on Las Palmas B. The next few weeks will be very telling of Castilla’s chances for success.