Barcelona B have been living on cloud nine during the last couple of weeks and Atlético Baleares looked very determined to bring them back into reality in a nail-biting 1-1 draw at the Mini Estadi on Saturday.
Garcia Pimienta made only two changes to his side from last week’s win over Olot. The personnel remains the same in defence and midfield, with the dynamic duo of Riqui Puig and Carles Aleña looking to make a reappearance in the away sides nightmares. 19-year-old goalkeeper Iñaki Peña made his Barça B debut, taking over in goal for Carevic who wasn’t in the final matchday squad. Ballou also comes in for Abel Ruiz, who played a full match with Juvenil A in the Uefa Youth League on Wednesday.
Match Rundown and Stand Out Players:
There seems to be a trend or habit of scoring early goals around the camp. The first goal, that being conceded and sadly ending Iñaki’s dream of a debut clean sheet, came ten minutes into play. De La Espada cut past Chumi to score the first of the match. Three minutes later, the home side were given a lifeline. A penalty was awarded to the Catalan side after Riqui Puig was fouled inside the area. Aleña took the responsibility and netted the equaliser. Kike Saverio was forced off with an injury late into the match; he was replaced by Abel Ruiz. More chances were created throughout the match, especially in the dying moments of the second half. Ballou and Aleña both shot wide of the target and Rafa Mujica fell short in a one-v-one with the goalkeeper.
The boys from Majorca were certainly one of the toughest competitors that the Blaugranas have come across in the previous weeks. They pushed for possession and their reactions to our offensive runs were almost instant. But let’s not give them all the credit. Whilst our attacking players were dominating, we were guilty of being wasteful in front of goal. Multiple chances were shot over the crossbar as if they were aiming to land it in the Camp Nou close by. The level of expectations has been set very high based on previous match performances which makes it easy to pick out the unnecessary mistakes made. We have the talent and have proven with the depth of the squad, that no matter who is playing and being substituted, they still maintain the same work rate and are tactically successful. It’s more about analysing the opponent and working our tactics around theirs.
I have to acknowledge the work rate of Miranda, Morer, Chumi, Riqui Puig and Aleña during the match. Not to take away the credibility of teamwork or the other players, but these players stood out. Atlético were attacking more towards the right side of our defence and Morer and Chumi were excellent when dealing with that threat. They were calm and composed. Aleña and Riqui’s talent and understanding on the pitch speaks for itself. Miranda had a number of chances at goal and should be admired for his determination to break the deadlock. He had freedom on the left and used it to his advantage. We can only hope that Ernesto Valverde was watching.
There is always room for improvement, though. In a post-match interview, Iñaki Peña said,
“ The start of the season was difficult, because this is a different category from the Juvenil level, where we came from. But we are in good form now and we have to work to become even better”
Two players head out on the international break, which means the team will have to play their next match without them. Miranda and Abel Ruiz will be representing Spain U19 in their three 2019 EURO qualification games within the next nine days. There is more bad news for Pimienta; due to ongoing bureaucratic processes, new signings Wagué and Araújo are only expected to be eligible to play for Barça B at the end of the month.
Barça B remain unbeaten in their last five league games; with three wins and two draws, seven goals scored and only two conceded. The players make the trip to Ontinyent for their upcoming fixture on Saturday.