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Football Cantera

The future of La Roja is now.

Carlo Ancelotti to Instigate Youth Revolution in Madrid

July 4th, 2013
Morata (middle) and Isco (right) will be reuniting under Carlo Ancelotti at Madrid.

Morata (middle) and Isco (right) will be reuniting under Carlo Ancelotti at Madrid.

The Italian manager could be poised to unleash the power of La Fabrica during his time with Real Madrid. Jose Mourinho has all but ignored the burgeoning young Spanish talent in Madrid’s cantera but that is all set to change as Ancelotti has voiced his ambition to bring spectacular football back to Spain’s capital while doing so with their homegrown talent. Not only youngsters out of the club’s own cantera, but bringing Spain’s brightest diamond in Malaga’s Isco Alarcon to the flashing lights of the Bernabeu. The Italian will bring an atmosphere of positivity back to the club that was sorely lacking it for most of the season. The youngsters out of the cantera with the most to gain from his appointment include:

Dani Carvajal – Right Back
The twenty-one year old played all of last season with Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga. At the end of the season he was named one of the league’s best right-backs, behind Phillip Lahm and Schalke 04’s Atsuto Uchida. On June 3rd Madrid wasted no time in exercising the buy-back option on Carvajal and brought the canterano back into the fold. He was a part of the U21 sides European Championship triumph this summer and is set to compete with Arbeloa for a starting spot in Madrid, a competition which could very well spill over into the national team.

Jesé Rodriguez – Forward
The twenty year old led his team in goals with twenty-two this season, helping Real Madrid Castilla finish the season as top scorers in Liga Adelante scoring eighty goals and breaking a team record that had held since the 1983/84 season. The youngster may be best Madrid’s canterano since Casillas. Last summer, Jesé almost single-handedly won the European U19 Championship for Spain, collecting awards for best goal scorer and best player of the tournament and he is on his way to doing the same during the U20 World Cup this summer.

Alvaro Morata – Forward
Twenty year old Alvaro Morata is a complete center forward. His large 6 foot 2 inch frame makes him an aerial threat but he has a change of pace that is not typical of a player his size. He is a tricky dribbler and is not afraid to shoot from any angle, often catching keepers off guard. His scoring record is nothing short of prolific with forty-four goals in eighty-three games with Castilla, two goals in fourteen appearances with the first team, and twenty goals in twenty-six matches with the various youth levels of La Roja.

José Rodríguez – Central Midfielder
José came to prominence in the summer of 2011, when he was voted Most Valuable Player of the Under-17 Club World Cup, where Real Madrid were knocked out by Barcelona on penalties in the semi-final. In a deep midfield position, he stood out above all the rest, really dominating proceedings and showcasing his wide range of talents. Perfect technically, crisp and assured passing, strength and ‘arrogance on the ball’, he is definitely next in line to complement an aging Xabi Alonso.

Vicente del Bosque’s Spain

July 2nd, 2013
An unfamiliar experience for the Spaniards.

An unfamiliar experience for the Spaniards.

Let me preface everything I’m about to say with the fact that Spain had another fantastic tournament. Losing in a final is tough but the fact that La Roja found themselves in another final is a feat that cannot be taken lightly. I am not one of those calling this the end of Tiki Taka and Spain’s dominance but I hope to lay out the issues as I see them as well as a few solutions to Spain’s, and Barcelona’s recent malaise.

There are those of you who are already raging at my last sentence but the fact is that Barcelona were utterly dominated by Bayern Munich in this year’s Champions League Semi-Final and Spain were similarly disposed of by Brazil yesterday. Those who thought that the Champions League was a fluke or just a blip in the success of Spanish football have to be wondering after the Confederation Cup Final where the experience and world class talent of the Spanish side was dominated by a young Brazilian side (albeit with an entire country behind them).

Xavi & Torres are both past their prime yet remain as undisputed starters.

Xavi & Torres are both past their prime yet remain as undisputed starters.

There are two major areas of concern and they are consistent across the national team and FC Barcelona. One is the efficacy of starting Xavi at the end of another marathon season and the other is the questions about Pique’s defensive abilities. No one respects and loves Xavi more than me but the fact is that he is 33 years old now and his body is not what it used to be. In the last three years since his thirtieth birthday, the midfield maestro has played 172 games, that is a game every six days on a body that is past its prime and he is expected to set the pace for Spain and Barcelona’s possession game and high pressure off the ball. Iniesta, his partner in crime, seems to be improving from year to year, leading La Liga in assists this campaign and being honored as the second best player in the Confederations Cup.

It is safe to say that Gerard Pique misses Carles Puyol. The charismatic cave-man leader has been out injured the majority of this season and his absence was felt keenly in both the Champions League Semi-Final and the Confederation Cup Final. Pique’s distribution and ability on the ball is as good as it’s ever been, but when Spain are not at their dynamic, possession-keeping best he and his teammates have been found wanting.

So what to do? My biggest criticism of Vicente del Bosque has been how predictable his squads have been over the last four plus years. His teams have rarely varied further than his group of fourteen favored players which include: Casillas, Arbeloa, Pique, Puyol, Ramos, Alba, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Alonso, Villa, Torres, Navas, and Fabregas. The likes of Silva, Cazorla, Mata and Javi Martinez have been fringe players for a while now. Brazil beat Spain on Sunday with a squad that did not include any of their senior players (Ronaldinho, Kaka, Robinho were not even in the squad).

The next generation of Spaniards are ready to contribute.

The next generation of Spaniards are ready to contribute.

Some new blood is needed in the national team, and luckily no country has more young talent then Spain. Two players that are ready to make the leap to the first team have tasted international success already this summer. Isco Alarcon and Thiago Alcantara led the Spanish U21 side to European Championship glory this summer and look ready to add a new dynamic to the national team. Thiago can provide the metronome passing that Spain have come to expect, taking some of the pressure off of Xavi and brings more flair and creativity to the table than the thirty-three year old. Having Isco and running at opposition defenses will give Iniesta a dynamic threat to work with and create more opportunities for La Roja.

There are more youngsters rocketing through the youth ranks, watch for Martin Montoya and Real Madrid’s Dani Carvajal to challenge Alvaro Arbeloa for his spot, a spot which should have been contested long before now. Alvaro Morata and Jese Rodriguez maybe a few years away but both could provide a nice alternative to Spain’s striking conundrum at the moment. Inigo Martinez could slot in at centre back sooner or later as well, the youngster plays in a similar style to Carles Puyol. Regardless the future is bright for La Roja, hopefully Vicente del Bosque sees this too.

Jesé Rodríguez to Star in 2013/14 Season

June 25th, 2013

Full Name: Jesé Rodríguez Ruiz
Team: Real Madrid
Position: Forward
Age: 20
Birth Date: February 26, 1993
Birth Place: Las Palmas, Spain
Height: 5 feet 10 inches

Jesé Rodríguez has been with the Real Madrid organization since 2007 when he was fourteen. Born in the Canary Islands, the youngster may be best Madrid’s canterano since Casillas. This is no joke. Last summer, Jesé almost single-handedly won the European U19 Championship for Spain, collecting awards for best goal scorer and best player of the tournament. He joins a prolific group of young strikers currently with the Castilla including Álvaro Morata and Raul De Tomas. Jesé has drawn comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo because of his playing style and impressive dribbling ability. He scores many of his goals from distance and his competitive edge and powerful build make him a force to be reckoned with for defenders. Two years ago he was the undisputed star of Madrid’s Juvenil A team; he scored seventeen goals that season and was promoted to the reserve team at the beginning of this season making them odds on favorites in bwin football betting.

Jesé’s talents and form were noticed by Jose Mourinho who called him up to the first team for the 2011 pre-season tour. He played two friendlies over the summer and scored his first goal for the Merengues against Guangzhou Evergrande FC. He started the season with the reserves where he scored in his first appearance. He had a great debut season, scoring ten goals in forty-two appearances and Mourinho had him with the first team again against SD Ponferradina in the first round of the Copa del Rey. Jesé proceeded to make his La Liga debut this March against Real Sociedad with Jose Mourinho showing faith in a young player which we haven’t seen much before.

Capture

The 2012/13 season was a character building one for the youngster. Mourinho seemed determined to snub the 20 year old and his manager at Castilla no matter how good the lad played. Real Madrid Castilla finished the season as top scorers in Liga Adelante scoring eighty goals in the season and breaking a team record that had held since the 1983/84 season. Jesé led his team in goals with twenty-two on the season making a very strong case to whomever takes over the first team that he is ready for top level football.

The only criticism of this prodigious talent is the fact that he is a little hotblooded. That is his only weakness. He gathers too many cards, and can be immature at times. In February he celebrated his 20th birthday, it may be time to calm down and start maturing. Fortunately, he seems to keep his passion and hot-bloodedness on pitch. In normal life he is a humble, wise and calm person.

With the national team, Jesé is forming a strong chemistry with fellow Spanish starlet Gerard Deulofeu. The two seem to complement each other well and seem to get on considering their two clubs’ massive rivalry. He is already lighting it up at the U20 level and looks destined for greatness with the senior side if he continues on this path.

Preview to the U-20 World Cup: ‘Group of Death’(Group A)

June 11th, 2013

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The U-20 World Cup is upon us. It includes some of the best young talent under or at 20 years of age. This youth World Cup has been held every two years since 1977. Players such as Fernando Morientes, Xavi, Thierry Henry, Ashley Cole, and Michael owen have all played in this tournament.  Since it has come into commencement, only eight different countries have come away with victories—Argentina currently having the most with six titles and Brazil the last team to win the Cup. But astonishingly enough both teams have failed to qualify for this esteemed tourney. This of course leaves more leeway for a more equal tournament with both of the South American powerhouses out.

But alas let us focus on the competition ahead. Group A contains the likes of France, Ghana, USA, and Spain which is also known as ‘the group of death’. This group is consisted of by far the most talented and well-rounded group in the tournament.

 

Spain:

KEEPERS: Dani Sotres (Racing Santander),   Adrián Ortola (Villarreal)

DEFENDERS: Manquillo (Atlético Madrid), Jonny Castro (Celta), Derik and Llorente (Real   Madrid), Isra (Sevilla), Gaya (Valencia)

MIDFIELDERS: Ager Aketxe (Athletic Bilbao), Oliver Torres and Saúl Ñiguez (Atlético Madrid), Ruben García (Levante), Suso   (Liverpool), Denis Suárez (Manchester City), Jairo (Racing Santander),   Campana (Sevilla), Juan Bernat (Valencia)

FORWARDS: Gerard Deulofeu (Barcelona), Jesé (Real Madrid), Paco   Alcácer (Valencia).

Spain arrive at Turkey 2013 as one of the favorites for the title after their successful victory at the UEFA European U-19 Championship 2012. They are under the tutelage of Julen Lopetegui, former goalkeeper for Barcelona and Real Madrid.  The juvenile Spainiards play a style similar to that of the country’s senior team. The heart of their play is focused on short passing and possession combined with technical ability. This is a style which central midfielder Oliver Torres is at the cornerstone and  is the chief orchestrator. He pulls the strings of this young side playing deep as a regista, almost similar to the role of Pirlo at Juventus. The only exception is that Oliver Torres possesses the mobility that Pirlo doesn’t. Oliver Torres is not alone, he has the help of the two influential wingers Gerard Deulofeu from Barcelona B and Jese Rodriguez from Real Madrid Castilla. Jese was the leading scorer of the U19 European Championships last summer with 5 and has scored 22 goals in the Liga Adelante this season. He is a pure winger and has the ability to take on players with his speed, power and intensity.  Deulofeu is a similar player. He makes darting, powerful runs through the center of the pitch. He mainly occupies the left wing as an inverted winger and tends to cut onto his favored right foot. Both players will be eager to prove to their clubs that they are able to play in the first team. The U-20 World Cup could certainly be the door to the future.  This squad will be ambitious to replicate the senior side in attaining more and more silverware. With Brazil out of the tournament they could regain the title they lost two years ago.

 

Ghana:

GOALKEEPERS: Eric Ofori Antwi (Amidaus Professionals), Felix Annan (Asante Kotoko), Michael Sai (Berekum Chelsea)

DEFENDERS: Richmond Nketiah (Medeama FC), Jeremiah Arkorful (Tema Youth), Lawrence  Lartey (Ash Gold), Ahmed Adams (Berekum Chelsea), Ofori Ebenezer (New  Edubiase United), Baba Mensah (Neve Yosef, Israel)

MIDFIELDERS: Seidu Salifu (Wa All Stars), Derrick Mensah (Tema Youth), Michael Anaba  (Asante Kotoko), Clifford Aboagye (Udinese, Italy), Emmanuel Gyamfi (Wa  All Stars), Moses Odjer (Tema Youth), Frank Sarfo-Gyamfi (Maritzburg  United, South Africa), Kwame Boahene (Liberty Professionals), Jacob  Asiedu-Apau (Medeama)

FORWARDS: Kennedy Ashia (Liberty Professionals), Ebenezer Assifuah (Liberty Professionals), Francis Narh (Tema Youth)

Foreign-based players to join later: Alfred Duncan (Inter Milan, Italy), Richmond Boakye Yiadom (Sassuolo, Italy) Baba Rahman (Greuther Fürth, Germany)

The Ghana U-20 team known as ‘Black Satellites’ are one of the teams in favor of winning this tournament. They are the former victors of the U-20 World Cup as well as the African Youth Championship. They are the only African nation that have challenged the footballing giants of Europe and South America and have had success. The Ghanian team is filled with young talented players who blend their technique and skill on the ball with their sheer pace and determination. Their coach is Sellas Tetteh, who was in charge of the 2009 side that won both the African U-20 title as well as the World Cup. He has opted for mainly locally based players even with some options in Europe including Inter Milan’s Alfred Duncan. The Black Satellites will be without star players Andre Ayew, and Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu. Will key players such as Lawrence Lartey, Ebenezer Assifuah, and Eric Ofori Antwi be able to stand out such as their predecessors did not so long ago?

 

USA:

GOALKEEPERS: Cody Cropper (Southampton FC; Maple Grove, Minn.), Kendall McIntosh (Santa Clara; Santa Rosa, Calif.), Zach Steffen (FC DELCO; Downington, Pa.)

DEFENDERS: Eric Miller (Creighton; Woodbury, Minn.), Juan Pablo Ocegueda (Guadalajara; Riverside, Calif.), Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids; Boulder, Colo.), Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.), Caleb Stanko (SC Freiburg; Holly, Mich.), Javan Torre (UCLA; Santa Monica, Calif.), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders; Seattle, Wash.)

MIDFIELDERS: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; Plano, Texas), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake; Garden Grove, Calif.), Benji Joya (Santos Laguna; San Jose, Calif.), Mikey Lopez (Sporting Kansas City; Mission, Texas), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew; Gahanna, Ohio)

FORWARDS: Daniel Cuevas (Santos Laguna; Sacramento, Calif.), Danny Garcia (North Carolina; Dallas, Texas), Victor Pineda (Chicago Fire; Bolingbrook, Ill.), Alonso Hernandez (C.F. Monterrey; El Paso, Texas), Mario Rodriguez (1. FC Kaiserslautern; North Hollywood, Calif.), Jose Villarreal (LA Galaxy; Inglewood, Calif.)

The ‘Stars and Stripes’ will be making their 13th appearance since this competition.  After missing out on the last finals in Colombia they have come more prepared than ever. They may not be one of the favorites to win this competition but they are currently at their pinnacle. The U.S.A are led by their engine and powerful force Benji Joya, an attacking midfielder who is naturally right-footed but he scores most of his goals with shots off his left.  His orchestrations and link up play with Jose Villareal will be a vital part of this group. This squad is led by their coach Tab Ramos, who represented the States at the 1983 U-20 World Cup. This team will continue to prosper as the development of U.S. Soccer continues.

 

France:

GOALKEEPERS: Alphonse Areola (París SG/L1), Paul Charruau (Valenciennes), Maxime Dupe (Nantes/L2)

 DEFENDERS: Lucas Digne (Lille), Dimitri Foulquier (Rennes), Christopher Jullien (Auxerre), Jérôme Roussillon (Sochaux), Youssouf Sabaly (PSG), Mouhamadou Naby Sarr (Lyon), Samuel Umtiti (Lyon), Kurt Zouma (Saint-Etienne)

MIDFIELDERS: Geoffrey Kondogbia (Sevilla), Mario Lemina (Lorient), Axel Ngando Elessa (Rennes), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Jordan Veretout (Nantes)

FORWARDS: Jean-Christophe Bahebeck (Troyes), Alexy Bosetti (Nice), Yaya Sanogo (Auxerre), Florian Thauvin (Bastia), Thibaut Vion (Porto).

Last but not least we have the nucleus of youth football, France, also known as Les Bleuets. The French have never lacked talent. The recent uprisings of Pogba, Sevilla’s Kondogbia, Thauvin, Zouma and others have sparked a new age for French football. This is the first time that France have qualified for two consecutive FIFA U-20 World Cups. Having participated in the first-ever event, they had to endure a 20-year wait for their second appearance, and then another four for their third, followed by a decade-long gap before their fourth and most recent qualification, in 2011.(Fifa.com)They are led by Pierre Mankowski former assistant coach of the France National team. These group of players have experience and most have already played at the highest level. They play a 4-2-3-1 formation, designed to be compact and competitive in midfield with the tenacious partnerships of Kondogbia and Pogba, as well as the pace of the young 20-year old maestro/forward Florian Thauvin.  A  new renaissance and evolution has come to France and this team is at the center of it.

A new crop of fresh young talent will be at this respected tournament with the squads from the ‘Group of Death’ being at the quintessence of it. Its only a matter of time before they become world class players.

Follow on twitter: @PureCatenaccio

 

Asier Illarramendi

June 10th, 2013

Full Name: Asier Illarramendi Andonegi
Team: Real Sociedad
Position: Midfielder
Age: 23
Birth Date: March 8, 1990
Birth Place: Mutriku, Spain
Height: 5 feet 9 inches

The Basque youngster continues a rich tradition of great talent coming out of this particular region of Spain. Athletic Bilbao often get the plaudits for their development of players like Iker Muniain but this time it is their fierce rivals, Real Sociedad that are bringing youngsters up through their ranks. Illarramendi is another defensive midfielder that seems destined for the senior national side, a side that already boasts, Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso and Javi Martinez as world class midfield anchors.

Illarramendi is a small town lad, who still lives in his hometown of Mutriku, a coastal town in the Basque Country in Northern Spain. Despite the fact that his performances for La Real this season will have drawn the gaze of clubs from all over Europe, he maintains that he is happy in Spain.

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“I go to train every day with Real Sociedad and then come home,” he told UEFA.com. “I’ve got everything I need there – family, friends, my girlfriend. I’m happier there than anywhere else.”

Despite this, he looks to be a key cog in Julen Lopetegui’s side in Isreal for the U21 European Championship and for the senior side moving forward.

The twenty-three year old is a one club man so far in his career, having been brought up through La Real’s cantera and then spending three seasons with the B side, learning his trade and helping them gain promotion back to the Segunda Division B. There are few players who can dictate the tempo of a game in such a way that it looks effortless and Illarramendi is one of those. Everything starts with him when he is on the pitch, whether for club or country, he begins attacks playing on his more creative teammates with clever passes. Defensively his positioning is sound, allowing for those same creative players to commit forward, knowing that Asier is behind them ready to win the ball back and start the cycle all over again.

Illarramendi anchored Real Sociedad to an impressive campaign which saw the club finish fourth in La Liga, lining them up for a UEFA Champions League qualification spot over the summer. His summer with the U21 Spanish side could be a great finish to a stellar season for a youngster who we have not finished hearing about.

Thiago Alcantara

June 9th, 2013

Full Name: Thiago Alcantara
Team: FC Barcelona
Position: Center Midfielder
Age: 22
Birth Date: April 11, 1991
Birth Place: San Pietro Vernotico, Italy
Height: 5 ft 7 in

The Italian, born to a Brazilian father (Brazilian 1994 World Cup winner Mazinho), that chose to play for Spain, is a genius in the making. He started playing at the age of five in the youth system of Flamengo in Brazil before moving to Spain to continue his footballing education. At the age of ten he returned to the Brazilian club where he stayed for four years before signing for FC Barcelona.

His patience at FC Barcelona, having worked all the way through the youth ranks at La Masia has begun to pay off as he has combined his innate Brazilian flair for the audacious with a Spanish appreciation for the simple play. This unique combination has created a dynamic player who can play in a deep lying playmaker position, or right behind the center forward. He is a playmaker first, but is not afraid to shoot from distance, his vision for through balls is exquisite and his work rate off of the ball is something that he has learned over the years from his colleagues.

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The twenty-two year old has earned comparisons to Xavi with his accuracy and eye for the killer pass. But in truth, his play is one part Xavi’s reliability and another part Iniesta’s creativity and dribbling, a truly exciting prospect for fans of La Roja and FC Barcelona. He is a U17 and U21 European Champion and is the captain of the current U21 side. Thiago has already been capped for the senior national side and will likely be the next midfield general for Vicente del Bosque’s side when Xavi chooses to retire from international play. With FC Barcelona he has two UEFA Champions League titles and four La Liga titles, a trophy cabinet that will only get bigger as this young star continues to develop as a player.

It is curious to note that Thiago’s cousin, Rodrigo, played with Real Madrid’s youth system and now is a prolific scorer for La Rojita and with Portuguese club Benfica, his brother, Rafinha is currently a member of FC Barcelona B and will likely be with the first team starting in the 2013/14 season.

Canteranos in Exile: Roman Golobart

June 4th, 2013

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Roman Golobart joined Wigan Athletic from Espanyol’s Juvenil B team in 2009, aged 17, having been identified as one for the future by Roberto Martinez.

He spent the next couple of seasons playing for the Wigan youth teams and at the start of the 2011/2012 season he was sent out on loan to Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Scottish league to gain some first team experience. Culture shocked by the physicality and high tempo nature of the SPL, he made a disastrous start to life in Scotland as his mistake on his debut led to Aberdeen’s 2nd goal as Inverness lost 2-1. He soon settled, putting in consistent top notch performances. He made a total of 25 appearances, scoring two goals as Inverness finished 10th. He was voted player of the season and won a gobsmacking total of 9 man of the match awards during the course of the season.

At the expiration of his loan with Inverness, he returned to Wigan and was again sent out on loan, this time to League One side, Tranmere Rovers on a one month loan deal. He made just one appearance before returning to the Latics.

Roman is a ball-playing centre-back in the mould of Gerard Pique – comfortable with the ball at his feet and good at moving the ball out of defence. Standing at 6 ft, 4″, he is physically, very imposing and also good in the air.

Roman made 9 appearances for Wigan this just concluded season, 6 of them coming in the F.A Cup which Wigan won. He played a key part in Wigan’s run to the final as Martinez used it as an opportunity to give his youngsters a run out. Martinez was full of praise for his display against Bournemouth in January in the third round of the F.A Cup, his first ever match for Wigan, describing his performance as “faultess”. Later that month, he made his league debut at the Britannia Stadium, playing all 90 minutes in a 2-2 draw against Stoke. He made two further appearances in the league – one, as a substitute for Stam in a 3-2 win over West Brom at The Hawthorns and a full 90 minutes in the 2-2 draw against Villa at Villa Park, Wigan’s last game of the season.

With Wigan’s campaign ending in relegation and Roberto Martinez resigning his position as manager, it’s quite unclear what the future holds for Roman. A mass exodus of players could result in more game time in the championship or he could yet be sent on loan once again. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he’s signed once again by Martinez as he is a player that embodies his footballing philosophy.

Whatever it is, the future is definitely bright for this immensely talented youngster.

Article contributed by Uyi Ogbebor
Twitter: @goody2_boots

A yellow MiniEstadi sees Villarreal’s men put three past Barça’s kids (0-3)

June 3rd, 2013

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“Benviendos al Madrigal” (Welcome to Madrigal) read a banner at MiniEstadi and this afternoon the Barça B-teams home stadium did feel more like El Madrigal, the home stadium of Villarreal. Over 10,000 Villarreal fans had travelled to Barcelona and MiniEstadi, who normally sees around 4,000 spectators a game, to see their team fight for promotion to the first division. As the teams walked out it was more or less impossible to hear the Barça hymn that was played as the cheers from the Villarreal fans was louder. A strange feeling for the Barça boys, playing at home but surrounded by opponents fans. However the Catalans wouldn’t give up just because of that and would create the first chance of the game. In a first half that saw very entertaining football with the ball going back and forth with both teams getting close to take the lead. Standing out was Barça defender Edgar lé who time after time interrupted Villarreal’s chances with a fantastic defensive work. Deulofeu on the other side of the pitch made a few runs into the box and was only millimeters from giving his team the lead. For Villarreal it was Pereira who stood for most of the chances and he would also be the one putting the visitors ahead just before halftime.

In the second half Villarreal started to take over just as much as they had in the stands, and it was mostly thanks to Edgar lé and Oier that the numbers on the score-board in the end didn’t get bigger than 3-0. The 2-0 goal saw Perbet with a fantastic cross finding Bruno in the penalty box who easy could put the ball past a chance less Oier. Shortly after that it was Perbet himself who put the ball past Oier but not after the Barça keeper had made a great save on his first attempt. With Oier down Perbet put the ball in the goal on the rebound and let MiniEstadi, which for this special afternoon was renamed the El Madrigal. Barça B couldn’t find their way back after that even if Edgar lé kept on impressing in the Catalan defense. In the later part of the game Villarreal brought on Olof Mellberg and Marcos Senna and the game was now literately between men and kids. Especially when Barça put on Dongou who went up against Mellberg, a battle with 18 years age difference. And this evening the kids were just not good enough to prevent the men from winning relatively easily 3-0. For Barça B the loss mean that they drop in the table to a 9th spot as RM Castilla passes them. For Villarreal the win means that next home game vs Almeria, who also won, will decide which of the two wins direct promotion to the first division

Line ups

Barça B:

Oier, Balliu, Ilie, Lombán (Joan Román ’60), Deulofeu (Agostinho ’82), Espinosa, Sergio Roberto, Rafinha, Edgar lé, Muniesa and Araujo (Dongou ’72)

Bench: Masip, S.Gómez, Patric, Agostinho, Gus Ledes, Joan Román and Dongou

Villarreal: Juan Carlos, Mario, Musacchio, Perbet (Senna ’77), Uche (Gómez ’19), Cani, Manu Trigueros, Juame Costa, Bruno, Pereira and Íñiguez (Mellberg ’65)

Bench: Mariño, Joan Oriol, Mellberg, Javi Venta, Marcos Senna, Moi Gómez and Gerard Moreno

Cards:

Yellow
Barça B: Araujo ’59
Villarreal: Mussacchio ’19, Mario ’37, Gómez ’67, Costa ’82, Mellberg ’84 and Senna ’86

Goals: (0-3)

Barça B: -
Villarreal: Pereira ’45, Bruno ’52 and Perbet ’56.

Spectators: 13, 826 (Best of the season at MiniEstadi)

Results – Fútbol Draft 2013

May 22nd, 2013

The 8th edition of the prestigious Futbol Draft award was decided on Tuesday, with the top 33 young talents in Spain being honoured by an independent panel of experts from the RFEF, LFP, AFE and more. Players born after 1992 were voted into three teams, Gold, Silver and Bronze, based on who the panel think are the most promising at this moment in time.

In recent years the likes of Thiago, De Gea, Fabregas, Pique, Mata, Javi Martinez and Busquets have all been honoured with places in the Gold XI, but who are the next generation of stars that could be unconvered by Futbol Draft? We take a look at the three teams.

Gold

ORO

In goal is for me the obvious choice, Athletic Bilbao ‘keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga having had a great year in particular with Spain’s U19 side, where he kept goal for their European triumph and earned a promotion to the U21’s.

In defence, Bayer Leverkusen’s Dani Carvajal has taken the regular Bundesliga action with ease and is wanted back at Real Madrid, with Sevilla’s breakthrough star Alberto Moreno on the other flank. Catalan pairing Jordi Amat and Sergi Gómez make up the central pairing, the latter enjoying another solid campaign for Barca B, and Espanyol’s Amat having reminded us again of his quality on loan at Rayo.

Atlético Madrid duo Koke and Saúl Ñíguez are chosen in the heart of midfield. As an undisputed starter for the rojiblancos Koke picks himself and keeps his place from last year’s Gold XI, although 18 year-old Saúl is a little more surprising, but not undeserved nonetheless. Málaga’s Isco Alarcón is of course the playmaker, and is arguably the biggest talent in the team.

Despite an underwhelming campaign, Basque wonderkid Iker Muniain is included for a third successive year, with teenage star Gerard Deulofeu (Barcelona) and Álvaro Morata (Real Madrid) unsurprisingly making up the attack.

Silver

PLATA

A regular for struggling Racing Santander, Dani Sotres is chosen as goalkeeper for the Silver team. The youngster is likely to keep goal in the U20 World Cup for Spain next month.

Two more of last year’s Under-19 heroes are in defence, tough centre-half Derik Osede of Real Madrid, and Celta Vigo’s 19 year-old utility man Joni Castro, who has enjoyed a solid first campaign in La Liga this year. They are joined by Pablo Iñiguez, another teenager who is now a regular in Segunda with Villarreal, and Athletic Bilbao left-back Jon Aurtenetxe, who provides experience to the team.

The midfield is made up of three young talents who all debuted for Spain’s Under-21’s last February, Real Sociedad’s playmaking prodigy Rubén Pardo, tough tackling Pedro Obiang of Sampdoria, and the pearl of Atlético Madrid’s cantera, young Óliver Torres.

Ahead of them, another of this year’s La Liga breakthrough stars in Rubén García (Levante) makes the team, as does ex-Real Madrid wing wizard Pablo Sarabia. Now at Getafe, he is not their only representative in this team, with Paco Alcácer, the prolific centre-forward on loan from Valencia, the main striker.

Bronze

BRONCE

For the bronze team, stopper Rubén Blanco, another of the sublime generation coming up at Celta Vigo, is included and is the youngest representative of all three teams.

Atlético right-back Javi Manquillo makes the team, with two of his Spain U20 teammates alongside him in edefence. Sevilla’s Israel Puerto scored in the recent friendly win over Paraguay and partners Jonas Ramalho of Athletic in the centre, with another La Masia graduate in Marc Muniesa at left-back.

Two of Barcelona B and Real Madrid Castilla’s main midfielders are in this team, Álex Fernández and Sergi Roberto, who despite being rivals at club level have played many times for Spain’s youth sides and have had impressive seasons respectively in the Liga Adelante. Liverpool’s supremely talented playmaker Suso makes up the midfield in the #10 role.

Surprisingly, the star of Real Madrid’s La Fabrica academy and ‘pichichi’ of the Under-19 Euro’s, Jesé Rodríguez, only makes the bronze team as a left-forward, with clubmate Raúl de Tomas (18) the striker. Making up the line-up is Betis winger Álvaro Vadillo, another in the long line of talented widemen from the 1994 generation in Spain.

There were a few perhaps surprising omissions, for example Barcelona’s fabulous young left-back Alejandro Grimaldo didn’t make the cut, although he has suffered a lot from injuries lately. The same can apply to Sevilla’s José Campaña who had an excellent tournament in the U19 Euro’s last year, and to a lesser extent Manchester City youngster Denis Suárez, although other players from that team were overlooked on a different basis. For example, Juanmi (Racing, on loan from Málaga), who has sadly regressed a lot in the last 18 months, and the very impressive Juan Bernat of Valencia were also not included.

Of course though, with the huge amount of talent coming through in Spain right now, it is always going to be difficult to make decisions like this, and there will always be quality left out. Looking at the three teams though, you can be sure that the current generation have a line of successors that have the potential to match their success and knows, maybe even emulate it. Two of the Golden XI, Isco and Muniain, have already represented La Roja at the highest level, but you can be certain they will bet the first of many of the names you see on this page.

What next for Arsenal’s young Spaniards?

May 21st, 2013

hector-bellerin

It’s been a season of mixed emotions for Arsenal’s three young Spaniards – Jon Toral, Ignasi Miquel and Hector Bellerin. First team debuts, cup runs in the NextGen series, injuries, match-winning goals, last ditch tackles. The trio has had their highs and lows. While they may head off now on summer holiday and to sunny climes, they will all probably be thinking about what’s next. So what do we think?

Ignasi Miquel: Made 4 appearances in the Premier League in the 2011/12 season and was probably looking to push on this term but has found his opportunities limited. Able to operate as at centre back or left back, he scored his first career goal in Arsenal’s 6-1 win over Coventry City in the League Cup.

The arrival of Nacho Monreal as competition for Kieran Gibbs meant the Gunners had sufficient cover at left back, while opportunities in the first team squad have been hindered by the continued fine form of more senior players such as Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny.

Johann Djourou was shipped off for a temporary spell in Germany in the January transfer window. Should he leave the club permanently, Miquel may well find himself in and around the first team squad next year as back up.  Probably needs a season out on loan at a Championship or Premier League club to get more regular football and prove he can make it at this level.

Hector Bellerin: Has made the right back spot his own in the Arsenal reserve side and has impressed all season long with his rampaging runs forward. Scored a brilliant late winner against Manchester United in April and Wolves earlier this month. Bellerin was also a key part of the NextGen side that went all the way to the semi finals of the competition.

The 18-year-old experienced being in the first team squad for the Carling Cup fixtures against Coventry and Reading, although he’s yet to make his full debut for the Gunners.

Despite his young age, next season may be the time to promote him to first team duties to compete with Carl Jenkinson for the right back spot, particularly if Bacary Sagna leaves.

Jon Toral: Signed from Barcelona at the same time as Bellerin, Toral made a promising start to his Arsenal career with some impressive displays in midfield last season and in the early part of this campaign.

The second half of the season has been frustrating, as he’s had to watch events from the sidelines due to injury.

Will most likely have another season in the Reserves next year to find his form and fitness again, while a loan spell somewhere may also help his development.

Football Cantera

The future of La Roja is now.