Real Madrid Castilla were left with their heads in their hands after suffering a second late defeat in a row, having led against Rayo Majadahonda before eventually surrendering to goals in the 87th and 95th minutes to lose 2-1 at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano.
With striking similarities to the 3-2 defeat to San Fernando last weekend, where the team led 2-0 but lost to an 85th minute equaliser and an 87th minute winner, Raúl was far from happy on the touchline.
Here are three takeaways from this game, including where it all went wrong.
Castilla have to kill games off
Castilla certainly had plenty of the ball in the final third, but turning that into substantial chances was where they were let down. The final ball always seemed to be just a little wayward.
With Álvaro Rodríguez moving to join the first team in the last few weeks, it has opened up a vacancy in the frontline for Castilla. The man to occupy it has been Noel López, who started this game superbly, but lacks that edge of elite finishing that makes the difference, particularly at this level.
López is intelligent in his movement, a hard worker and has the right physical characteristics, but is too often let down by his final ball. In this game, he had more opportunities to create than to score himself, looking to feed in Peter or Arribas, but his pass was often short or heavy and fed right into the path of Lucho in the Rayo Majadahonda goal.
Having started the season as first choice and lost his place to Álvaro, the absence of the Uruguayan has made a difference. With Castilla going all out in the hunt for promotion, the difference between Noel and Álvaro could be a decisive margin.
When Rayo Majadahonda scored, the third goal to be conceded in the final 10 minutes of a match in the past week, Castilla were left to suffer again. Conceding so late on is a frustrating blow to a team who deserved more.
Rafa Marín’s own goal was the harshest of endings
One of the leaders of this Castilla team was once again central defender Rafa Marín. With strength and aerial prowess, he looked almost unbeatable at the back for Castilla and was by far the most assured of Real Madrid’s defenders for much of this tie.
As Rayo Majadahonda looked to get back into the game, particularly in the later stages of the first half, it primarily came through set pieces and a very direct approach which challenged Castilla. It wasn’t until late in the game that there was a change, and it seemed to be as Marín tired and lost concentration.
The physicality of Jeisson and David Rodríguez was something that Castilla handled well, but in particular Rafa Marín. He is one of the few more experienced players in this Castilla side not to be called up to train with Carlo Ancelotti’s first team, and at 20 years of age, a decision is needed on his future.
His current contract is up in 2024 and the club are said to be reluctant to involve him in the first team unless that deal is extended. Chelsea and RB Leipzig have both been linked with a move for the dominant centre-back, and it was clear to see why after seeing how he organised his backline for Castilla against Rayo Majadahonda. That said, his late loss of focus may show why Real Madrid are not willing to give in at any price.
Castilla is getting fans excited again
In total, there were 1,800 fans at the Estadio Alfredo di Stéfano. Attendances at Castilla games, this time on a rainy Sunday evening, continue to rise, despite the limitations meaning that only club socios can buy tickets.
Among them was former Castilla and first team coach Santiago Solari among them. Now back at the club in an ambassadorial role, Solari’s experience is useful. The step up from Castilla to the first team is one that it looks increasingly likely that Raúl could one day take, and his
The support of Real Madrid’s fans made an impact, too. Referee Carlos Calderiña Pavón gave two controversial decisions in Castilla’s favour, first ruling out Nando’s goal and then not sending off goalkeeper De Luis when he clattered Jeisson on the edge of the box after knocking the ball past him in a one-on-one. Those decisions may well have gone another way with empty stands.
This cruel ending may have put some off returning again, but with the team still well in the promotion fight, there’s reason to believe that Raúl has not inspired only his players, but also Real Madrid fans.