Castilla’s first game, a 1-1 draw against Las Rozas was a big disappointment. That result was rectified slightly when the team pulled off an expected 3-1 win over Marino De Luanco. Both of those sides had been promoted from the fourth tier of Spanish football last season, and today’s opponents were no different. Despite winning their first two games (both against B teams), the most experienced player Peña Deportiva’s possessed was Marc de Val, a 29 year old who managed a small string of games in the English Championship with Doncaster Rovers once upon a time. With plenty of Real Madrid first team experience on hand, Castilla were the favourites going into this one if not only on paper...
Castilla XI against Peña Deportiva: Altube, Rodríguez Martínez, Hernando, Chust, Hernández, Blanco, Fidalgo(C), Baeza, García, Jordi & Pedro Ruiz.— Managing Madrid (@managingmadrid) September 8, 2019
Bench: Belman, De la Fuente, López, Abou, Bravo, Park & Latasa.#MMCastillaLive pic.twitter.com/w4SJtNv3S8
On the actual pitch however, they fell short of anything bar a ten minute spell of control. The first half performance consisted of nothing but defending the odd Peña attack. The home side took an early lead through an avoidable header, that somehow found it’s way into the corner of Altube’s net. Castilla began to improve just before half time, and went on a good spell after coming back out. This growth was put to a halt when Peña Deportiva doubled their lead through another untidy goal. A low cross came in and it bounced off of the oncoming attacker and past Altube. After this Peña took complete control of the game, and Castilla were barely seen again. The match finished at 2-0 to Peña Deportiva, confirming another unsatisfying result for Castilla.
FULL TIME!— Managing Madrid (@managingmadrid) September 8, 2019
Peña Deportiva 2-0 Real Madrid Castilla!
Another very disappointing result, as Castilla deservedly lose without scoring. That’s a start of 4/9 points against the newly promoted teams.
This has been @CastillaStats! The match report will be up later..#MMCastillaLive
It is still a ridiculously early stage of the season, so there is nothing much to say in the grand scheme of things. It does have to be said though, that there are more negative things to that spring to mind regarding Raúl and his interactions, than positive so far. Whilst he does not hold complete power over certain player decisions such as the grand incompetence shown with Javier Belman in favour of inferior goalkeepers, his input towards the construction of his squad and the starting line-up’s continues to be highly questionable. Castilla are missing Rodrygo, Franchu, Rodrigo and Gelabert through injury and others are still on the road to recovery - so the last thing a coach wants to be doing is restricting his squad even more. So far Raúl has done just that every week, playing players out of position, and excluding others. Jeopardising the individual and team performance during specific games is just the tip of the iceberg.
Bad decisions have a domino effect of negativity at Castilla, making every single thought process count. A seemingly harmless choice can end up being catastrophic for multiple parties. Of course having Fran García as a winger dilutes the Castilla front line, but more importantly - Fran has the potential to be a La Liga standard left-back and maybe more. As a winger, Fran’s possibilities stray no further than a shaky second division career at best. This is something that all of the worst managers at Castilla have tried, and it has never worked (Luismi Quezada being the most recent example). It’s worrying to see Raúl try and walk that same path even so early on in his career. Hopefully when Rodrygo and Franchu return this experiment is rescinded, but with the exciting Marvin Park currently being benched for Fran, who knows? Likewise, making Álvaro Fidalgo captain and handing him the number ten shirt does nothing to alter the fact that he should not have been held back from graduating in the first place. This decision also sealed the highly rated Moha’s fate, and will stand in the way of the other midfielders at Castilla this season...
Next week brings an end to the trail of newly promoted teams on the fixture list. However, UP Langreo are not a standard Segunda División B side, and after just about surviving immediate relegation last year after getting promoted, they have began this season in the same fashion. They currently sit joint bottom on zero points, and Castilla will be expected to easily dismantle them further. Anything but a comfortable win will be enough to further raise my currently unconvinced eyebrow. As stated many times, Raúl demonstrated signs of effective promise and competence at times, but only signs. It is bizarre to me that despite his negative start and next to no experience in the field of coaching, he has received more praise than all of the past few genuinely great managers to come through Castilla combined. His name will of course naturally bring that dedicated traffic, but should a great playing name alone be enough to often prematurely or even incorrectly shoehorn anyone towards the front of the coaching queue? I suppose that question warrants a different type of discussion over an entire article, meant for another time. For now - my biggest fear as an avid Castilla follower is uncovering another Santiago Solari. Raúl is one of the biggest icons out there surrounding Real Madrid. Adored by everyone, and rightly so. Solari was a living nightmare with his seemingly “unsackable” stance within the club, but If Raúl’s position was to deteriorate, then that term could take a whole new meaning. The next few weeks will result in either colossal relief or monumental agony.
MOTM: Antonio Blanco