Having earned his first senior team call-up, Monchu Rodríguez now looks to complete a special day with a debut for Barça against former side Mallorca.
If we relied on the media attention one receives to judge a player’s quality, we would be overlooking a long list of talented footballers who do not generally receive the praise they deserve. However, these people have often learned how to live away from the spotlight, which is frequently stolen by more marketable and flashy figures. Being in the background can help in feeling less pressure and not losing focus, though it can be a problem when those in charge of the club are many times moved by non-sporting reasons.
Barça B’s central midfielder Monchu Rodríguez is his team’s top goalscorer this season, with eight goals, which already highlights his huge importance to the side. But his scoring ability is just one of the many virtues that define a youngster that is surprisingly still waiting for his official debut with the first team. He has the most goals and most minutes for Barcelona B this campaign, as well as being coach García Pimienta’s most trusted midfield general and possibly the hungriest and most mature of all the gems in the squad.
Álex Collado and Riqui Puig have all been getting occasional minutes in the senior side, but their best partner on the field is yet to get his first appearance despite reuniting all the qualities for it. 20-year-old Monchu is tenacious, tireless, aggressive and extremely focused, but, at the same time, this should not hide his outstanding intelligence and technical ability. While not the most traditional La Masía midfielder, he does possess all the strengths that such products should have, as well as other attributes that differentiate him from the rest.
A few friendlies is all what Monchu Rodríguez has been given with the first team so far | Photo credit should read Frederic J. Brown / AFP via Getty Images
With a pinpoint long and short distribution, apart from the quality to be a threat from set pieces, long shots and with arrivals into the box, Monchu is an all-round and flexible midfielder. He can act at the base of the midfield, but, after the introduction of holding midfielder Jandro Orellana at Barça B, he has been playing as an interior with a lot of ground to cover. He can drop deep to generate superiorities in build-ups, or push forward to contribute in the final third. Very mobile, but smart and positional nonetheless.
He holds all the technical and tactical concepts that can be taught at La Masía, which he joined in 2012 aged almost 13. He arrived, in point of fact, from the academy of RCD Mallorca. Ramón Rodríguez, or Monchu, was born in the Balearic island of Mallorca, but joined Barcelona’s youth set-up as a youngster. He already started exhibiting his ball-playing abilities, as well as his huge competitiveness, character and personality. His progression in recent years has been even more stellar, though, especially under the tutelage of García Pimienta.
So much so that it now is safe to say that Monchu undoubtedly is one of Barça B’s most prepared players for the leap to the First Division – and to Barcelona’s first team too. In fact, last night he received his first La Liga call-up as Quique Setién included him in the 23-man squad list to travel to, precisely, Mallorca. In spite of having featured in a few friendlies, Monchu is waiting to be handed his first game with the blaugranas. His former Mallorca could not be a more appropriate team to do that against.
With five substitutions allowed, the La Masía graduates could be having more minutes in the upcoming weeks. Even so, the first team players seem to be higher in the pecking order, so Monchu may have to wait to get his debut. With that considered, and while getting some playing time would be optimal, the mere fact of getting called up against his hometown club Mallorca already makes of this a very special day for Monchu. A reward to his dedication and great potential.
Barcelona B vs Valladolid Promesas: Match preview – First step towards promotion
Everything you need to know ahead of the match between Barcelona B and Valladolid Promeses at Malaga
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.