At this point in time, the only FC Barcelona I acknowledge is FC Barcelona B. After a very eventful Saturday afternoon of football in the city, Barça B showed the 1,555 spectators in the Mini Estadi who the real threats are, completing a 2-1 win over UE Olot.
MATCH RUNDOWN AND TEAM IMPROVEMENTS:
Based on player availability due to injuries and upcoming mid-week Uefa Youth League fixtures, there were five changes to the starting lineup from last week’s win at Conquense. Morer, Miranda, Monchu, Abel Ruiz and Aleña came in for Guillem, Mingueza, Sarsanedas, Ballou and Collado respectively. Garcia Pimienta showcased a very strong side with the obvious difference being the fact that we had a certified left-back on the pitch this week.
The game started strong with the home side showing improvements in pressing and aggression when fighting for possession. Early possession meant early chances with the team scoring both goals within the first ten minutes. There was a lot of confusion as Chumi’s header crossed the line but was cleared into the path of Kike Saverio who netted it. The goal was given to Chumi. Following shortly came an Olot goalkeeping error; Ginard cleared the back-pass directly to Abel Ruiz, who scored the second. More chances came in the first half with Kike’s attempt having rolled along the goal-line as well as the FCB crossbar curse coming into play when Rafa Mujica’s chip hit the woodwork.
Olot grasped their opportunity before the end of the half through a set piece; Alan Baró’s header brought them back into the game. The second half saw for more possession and frustration from the away side. Our youngsters were on the wrong side of a few nasty challenges resulting in a red card and Olot were forced to end the game one man short.
The team looked physically stronger throughout the match and it took a lot for the opposition to ‘bully’ them. There is a huge gain in confidence on and off the ball. Our goalkeeper and defence don’t receive enough credit. I’ve had my doubts about Carevic being the first choice keeper but he has proven himself and it seems that the coach, team and fans trust him. Chumi has undoubtedly been the best defender for the side in the past weeks. With the many defensive changes per game, our backline looks incredibly stable and strong. Moving into midfield there is so much creativity, especially in this fixture. The duo of Aleña and Riqui Puig is all types of magical. Their brilliance matched up with our goal-seeking forwards have the team looking near to perfection.
PLAYER AVAILABILITY AND FIRST TEAM CALL-UPS:
Saturday brought fans a lot of anxiety, coming from the first team and the B team. It’s not the most ideal notification to receive, stating that your captain has picked up and injury just hours before kick-off. As reported, Sarsanedas has suffered an adductor muscle injury and further tests will reveal how long our captain will be sidelined. The squad are tag-teaming between the pitch and the physiotherapy room.
With regards to the first team, I think we’re all frustrated with Ernesto Valverde in one way or the other. After he promised to include B team players, specifically Miranda, the boss thought it was best to play Vermaelen as a left back against last-placed Leganés on Wednesday. The keyword was ‘thought’. We all know how that match ended, I’ll spare the misery. Would the result have been different with the inclusion of Miranda? We’ll never know if we never give our youth a chance and that’s my personal issue with Valverde. To add to this, Miranda declined his U19 Spain call-up after Valverde voiced his confidence in the young defender. It’s all talk and no play, literally. So far, Miranda, Aleña and Samper all await their first team call-ups.
Barça B are now unbeaten in their last four league games. The team has three wins, one draw and two losses to their name this season. A total of six goals scored and only one conceded. An impressive turn of events after a shaky start. A visit from Atletico Baleares awaits them in their first October fixture.