As Barcelona B face Valladolid Promesas at Estadi Ciudad de Malaga, we take a look at the very crucial match-up in this match preview.
Date and kick-off time: Sunday 19 July 2020, 20:00 CET
Stadium: Estadio Ciudad de Málaga
Competition: Segunda División B play-offs for promotion to Segunda, first round
For a team like Barcelona, for whom youth development is one of the core philosophies, the Barcelona B team’s results are highly important as well. After getting relegated to Segunda B, Barcelona B started another quest to get promotion to the Segunda division. After a hard-fought season at Segunda B, the B team under the superb guidance of García Pimienta, has reached the playoffs. These playoffs are the stepping stones towards the Segunda. This is a very important match for the Blaugrana youngsters as they face Valladolid’s B team, the Valladolid Promesas and in this preview, we’ll take a look at this match-up.
Due to the unfortunate pandemic this year, the playoffs have had a few changes made to them. The qualifying criteria are still the same. The top four teams of each B league are drawn into the playoffs. From here, the usual final between the two winners to decide the overall Segunda B winners was removed. Instead, the losing semi-finalists will enter the play-off round for the remaining two promotion spots.
The four group runners-up will be drawn against one of the three fourth-placed teams outside their group. Whereas the four third-placed teams will be drawn against each other in a single game matchup. The six winners will advance along with the two losing semi-finalists to determine the four teams that play for the last two promotion spots.
Basically, the Barcelona B team will need to do their best in the next three rounds to gain promotion.
For Barcelona B, this match-up has gotten tougher than expected. Firstly, Ansu Fati, Riqui Puig and Ronald Araújo won’t be allowed to play in the playoffs. Barcelona coach Quique Setién clarified this in a recent press conference.
Barça B will have many key absences in the playoffs | Photo by Aflosport via Imago
The fact that some of the strongest players that Barcelona B had throughout the season along with Ansu Fati, who made the jump to the first team from Juvenil A, won’t be present to help them win promotion is a major setback. Along with this, Álex Collado won’t be able to play as he recently suffered an injury. For Valladoid, this is a major advantage. The reason for their absence was specified so as to not avoid any complications in the Champions League.
“I would have liked the circumstances to be different, I’m sorry but it will not be possible for them to play with the B team”
Players such as Kike Saverio, Guillem Jaime, Chumi, and Hiroki Abe who were important parts of the team won’t be able to play as well due to their contracts not being renewed. This should mean that we see a lot of Juvenil A players get a chance to play. Especially since 9 of them have been announced in the squad.
The silver lining
Many people are of the opinion that since getting promotion to Segunda would mean that our La Masía players get more playtime at a better level next season. This is a very valid argument. The fact that Ansu Fati, Riqui Puig, and Ronald Araújo have still been restricted from going for the play-offs is quite controversial. But there is a silver lining.
With their absence and the many expired contracts, we see that 9 Juvenil A keepers have been called up. These players will get an opportunity to play for the B team in an important match, which will definitely help them as they rarely get to play at a match this important. Players such as Monchu, Ilaix, Jandro will get to prove that they are capable of filling up the massive personalities that Puig and Collado provided. It’s a good chance for them to display their abilities. For players like Konrad, Peque, Nico it’s a good chance to show that regardless of the result, the B team will be in safe hands next season.
And if they do get promoted, it would be a major boost for all the La Masia graduates looking at their seniors and looking up at the players who made it into the first team from La Masia. The players at Barcelona B would next season have an excellent opportunity to develop in the Segunda against the more experienced teams.
Winning this match would of course be an achievement for Pimienta. But if he were to win the playoffs in such difficult circumstances, Pimienta’s status as an excellent manager and a youth-development expert would only be solidified even more. This should make him a real contender, and not a plan B, in case Setien has to leave Barcelona in the near future. Pimienta definitely deserves it and this would be a great opportunity for him to show that he is ready.
Barcelona B face a very challenging match-up now. It certainly is a daunting challenge. Even though they don’t have the services of many of their players, they still have their greatest weapon in Garcia Pimienta. He is more capable than almost anyone to lead this group of youngsters with whom he has worked closely for such a long time.
Pimi, along with his players are a capable team. This match however, is much more than just a win-lose moment. Winning this match would signify that another generation of promising players such as Alena, Puig, Miranda, Oriol is coming through. Not only this, but it would provide the juniors, especially the Juvenil A and Juvenil B with hope that there is a way to get close to the first team and that the Barcelona B team is still a capable force that they should strive towards aiming for. The match against Valladolid Promeses is important not just for Barcelona B but for La Masia itself.
Álex Collado, injured: Massive blow for the young talent, Barça and the B
A very unfortunate injury will keep Barça B talent Álex Collado sidelined for around three months
On Thursday Barça B have announced the injury of 21-year-old prospect Álex Collado, who will be out for 12 weeks and will miss the play-offs for promotion to the Second Division.
Some of the worst possible news for Barcelona and Barcelona B have been revealed by the club this morning. Álex Collado, the reserves’ highly promising midfielder, picked an injury in yesterday’s training session with Barça B that will rule him out for the next 12 weeks. In particular, he suffered a stress fracture of the metatarsal of his left foot. His golden and exquisite left foot.
A left foot that he usually uses to produce moments of magic through games, to pull the strings with his delightful and pinpoint technique, and to exhibit all his quality and potential. Álex Collado is a natural midfielder or interior, but his outstanding creative output, ability to carry the ball, playmaking and even shooting skills, and also acute positional expertise have allowed him to move to the wing position often during the past two seasons for Barça B.
García Pimienta’s Barça B has greatly stood out this season through the full and effective implementation of all the concepts of the positional play. For Barcelona’s trademark style, extreme intelligence and technique to operate in tight spaces is required in all areas of the pitch. Particularly, Jandro Orellana, being promoted from the Juvenil A, has established himself as the team’s pivot, while Riqui Puig and Monchu Rodríguez have taken up the central midfield spots. Therefore, Collado has been frequently deployed on the right wing this campaign.
“Álex Collado is pure talent”
Barça B coach
This does by no means that Álex is not capable of standing out in midfield. In fact, that is his best position and he feels veritably comfortable there. But for the squad’s needs and structure, Collado has displayed his versatility and ability to seamlessly move to the right flank as if he was a natural winger. Making the accurate off-ball movements, providing his touch of class and inventiveness on the ball, and cutting inside to create, the La Masía product has been truly fundamental for Barça B.
Like in the 18/19 term, in which he was superb already, in the present season he has made just another step forward in terms of maturity and may well have been coach Pimienta’s most valuable player. It is true that his partner in crime Riqui Puig grabs most of the attention and may have a brighter future in the first team. But if Pimienta was to be asked who he considers most irreplaceable and invaluable, he would possibly mention Álex Collado.
“If he continues with his progression, the one he must have, we hope that he can be in the first team in the near future”
in September 2019 on Álex Collado
Sadly, such an indispensable piece of the B’s tactics will miss the most important part of the season. In terms of performances and results, it has been an excellent course for the young blaugranas so far. Barça B stood in the second position of the Group 3 of the Segunda B once the coronavirus pandemic caused the football activity to be halted. Thus, this has allowed them to guarantee a spot in the upcoming play-offs for promotion to the Second Division. Taking place in neutral grounds behind closed doors in Malaga, Barcelona B will have to beat Valladolid Promesas on Sunday and then advance two more single-legged rounds to achieve promotion to the second tier of Spanish football.
However, Barça B will have to take on such massive challenge with the absence of Álex Collado, whose injury is a very hard blow for his team and manager. Despite being crucial with five goals and five assists in almost 2,000 minutes with the B this term, the Catalan had only got a single appearance with the senior side this season. It was five minutes in January against Valencia, in a 2–0 loss at Mestalla. Since football returned, Collado had made most of Quique Setién’s first team squad lists, but Álex hadn’t got a single minute of action.
Still, he was undoubtedly going to be key for the reserves in the play-offs, and the club should clearly look to protect one of their brightest academy gems. This injury, though, will not only influence Barça B’s chances of promotion to Segunda, but it will also force Álex Collado to miss the start of the 2020/21 season. A season in which he completely deserved to be promoted to the first team, despite the inclusion of talents like Ansu Fati or the incoming Francisco Trincão and Pedri.
What will Barcelona do with Collado now? Since he will be injured for three months, the chances of him leaving on loan are almost completely ruled out. An option would be to promote him anyway, but he would need to be guaranteed minutes in his return from injury, which is not so certain in the A side.
Álex Collado, in spite of his most recent injury, has done more than enough to earn a spot in the first team of Barça | Photo by Imago
Thus, what is most likely is that Barcelona will repeat the same formula applied to Carles Aleñá after his serious injury at the end of the 17/18: Álex Collado will continue to be a Barça B player at the start of the upcoming campaign, but if he starts getting playtime in the first team he will be permanently promoted. This depends on who the senior coach is, whether the five substitutions are allowed…But Álex deserves a spot in the senior squad.
Álex Collado, García Pimienta, Barça B and Barcelona fans all cry in pain after such unfortunate injury just three days before the play-offs for promotion to Segunda. But now, Collado must start preparing for his recovery, while the club must make sure that they treat him and his potential in the best possible way. Such delightful talent must not be wasted, neither for misfortune nor for bad decisions.