Yet another late goal cost Castilla three points against mid-table rivals, Internacional Madrid, at the Alfredo Di Stefano on Sunday. Here are some thoughts from another difficult result for Raul’s team.
A costly draw
As myself and Sam discussed on the last Castilla Corner podcast, this was a big match for Castilla. Though they were, and remain, two points clear of their opponents, seventh place Inter have a game in hand over Castilla. If Castilla had won their game against Inter, it would have negated their game in hand and given Castilla a buffer between themselves and relegation. The draw means that all of the teams below Castilla now have at least one game in hand (Getafe B and Atletico Madrid B have two) over them and can send them shuttling down the table if results go against Raul’s team.
The best the reserves can hope for at this stage is to be hovering above the relegation spots. It’s miles away from where this side was expected to be. The table is tight which means nothing can be taken off the table just yet, but with so much to solve in just 10 games, promotion is quickly beginning to slip away. Castilla simply have to win next weekend Madrid’s derby or risk falling into further trouble.
Castilla’s “pacing” problems
If you read or watch movie critics, one of the common points of praise/criticism is a film’s pacing. It’s a little intangible and, as a result, difficult to define, however, pacing often refers to the flow of a story’s events. A well paced film will have multiple gears that it shifts through across the entire film, ensuring that you get a healthy dollop of action and story without being bored to death.
Football matches often have a pacing and Castilla are awful at controlling that pace. They conceded early here but managed to make a comeback before halftime. Heading into the dressing room, they had lost a little bit of control, but could easily take this game by the scruff of the neck in the second half and limit Inter’s control of the ball. They had the tools to do this and yet largely failed to do it. Sure, Castilla had chances to seal the result with a third goal, however, Inter were largely running the show in the second half and Castilla were mostly camped in their own half waiting for a counter attack. There is nothing wrong with this strategy 10 minutes from time, however, Castilla had adopted in with over 20 minutes left to play. A fact that is made even more frustrating given how unnecessary it is.
This has been a common feature of recent Castilla games, Raul’s team seem only to have one gear in which to play a football match and although that one gear is a fantastic way to approach the game, it is not sustainable across 90 minutes. The manager has players who are only too happy to slow things down, but its quite clear that Raul isn’t asking his team to play passive possession even though it could have sealed three points here and probably against Balearas last Wednesday.
Raul has largely avoid criticism since taking over the reserve job last season, however, he seriously needs to adapt his strategy so its better paced. Be it through periods of slow possession or asking his team to press a little more sporadically so as to conserve energy.
It’s hard to know where to start with Peter, he has been such a massive surprise to all Castilla watchers this season and after playing a vital role in the first half comeback on Sunday, he seems like a sure fire starter for the reserve team this season. The winger only turned 18 this July and was playing Juvenil B football last season, its a meteoric rise that has so far gone overlooked by the larger Madrid fanbase.
Outside of Hugo Duro, Peter has been been Castilla’s lone offensive spark. He has an uncanny ability to make something happen when the ball comes into his vicinity, an example of this came in the first half when an Inter player came charging at Peter out wide. It seemed like a big ask for the wiry winger to win the ball back and yet he somehow, not only competed, but won a foul and regained possession. He was Castilla’s foot in the door at 1-0 down and its impossible to see how they would have gotten back into this game without him, a fact that has been true since he impressed in pre-season.
There is a bright future for Peter if he continues in this form and he’s well worth watching before the excitement inevitably begins to kick in.