For La Fabrica’s biggest starlets, the 2019/20 campaign was a stale one. Despite winning the league, the toll of said title race combined with the restructured cup schedule meant that for the first time in years, no direct Castilla player featured for the first team. Rodyrgo Goes arguably defies this statistic, and Diego Altube and Javier Hernández made the bench on multiple occasions - but it remained difficult to envisage any Castilla player genuinely making the cut any time soon. With the cup sticking with the new system, and Real Madrid looking to defend the league title, it looked like it could have been a long wait for the next academy breakthrough...
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Castilla season has been rehashed and set for a late October start. As CastillaCorner’s Kristofer McCormack pointed out, the young players have very little to do whilst waiting for that start date. This has seen a large contingent called into first team training over pre-season, with many rumours suggesting that players such as Antonio Blanco and Sergio Arribas have really caught Zinedine Zidane’s eye. Multiple factors including the recent UEFA Youth League win, the extensive absentee list and the non-existent summer signings have opened up the door for these young players, and they had the chance to really cement their names in Zizou’s mind against Getafe in Madrid’s only pre-season game. Los Blancos triumphed 6-0 against La Liga opposition, with Sergio Arribas even scoring a goal.
Sergio Arribas makes his Real Madrid first team debut before he has even had the chance to make his Castilla debut! That’s mad. Congratulations to both Sergio and Marvin! #AnotherOne pic.twitter.com/5laUBACRIh— Real Madrid Castilla Stats (@CastillaStats) September 20, 2020
All of these summer opportunities made it no less surprising when the first La Liga squad of the season was announced and Diego Altube, Sergio Arribas and Marvin Park were all called into action against Real Sociedad, the latter two for the first time. Making the squad is one thing, but both Marvin and Arribas were handed their first team debuts in a controlled but tame game at Anoeta. CastillaCorner favourite Marvin was understandably nervy, but still had chances that would have sealed the win with a cooler head. Arribas achieved the very rare feat of making his Real Madrid debut before his Castilla debut, which will do little to stop the hype around him from snowballing further. Whether or not Zidane should have turned to such inexperienced youngsters during a reasonably big outing is a question on fan’s minds, but this is unquestionably fantastic news for Castilla and academy hopefuls ahead of this season. After day one, the club already has a better record for youth than the entirety of last season. With around a month left until Castilla return to action, will there be any more surprise call ups on the way?