The future is white

Real Madrid may have won the Primera Division title and partied hard in Cibeles, but not long after, another team at the club had something to celebrate. Real Madrid Castilla, in effect the club’s B team, secured promotion to La Segunda with a 8-1 aggregate win over Cadiz in the Segunda B play-offs.

The rise of Castilla is an important part of Madrid’s future on many levels. In recent weeks, Jose Mourinho and Aitor Karanka have emphasized the importance of the kids being promoted as it causes a ripple effect throughout the club from the Pre-Benjamin category and upwards. Now, there is something huge for young prospects to strive for. With Castilla located in Segunda it offers the chance to play at a level significantly higher than previously, one in which they can test themselves in Spain’s most physically demanding stage.

Segunda B has been a tough test of endurance itself, but Castilla passed the test with flying colours and finished with a record points haul of 78. That’s two more than the previous record of 2004-05 when the Castilla side featured a few names you’ll be familiar with now like Alvaro Arbeloa, Roberto Soldado and Borja Valero. The current side, coached by Alberto Toril, might have a few names we are discussing more frequently in a few years, such as Dani Carvajal, Jese Rodriguez, Alvaro Morata and Joselu to list just a few.

Toril’s young pups have been outstanding defensively and composed in midfield, but the real magic has occurred in the final third with the Morata, Joselu and Jese trio doing similar damage at this level that Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain have done at senior level.

Morata is a versatile character who can play the role of a lone front man, but also has the ability to drop into the channels if the team needs extra width. Jese is the flair player of the side, ghosting across central and wide areas with the confidence to beat his man, create, or use his pace and change of direction to take things on himself. Then there is Joselu, the star of this year’s group. He’s also the most improved, and after fading from games and looking disinterested last season, he’s become a forceful presence at Castilla for his hard work, intelligent running, positional play and of course goalscoring – 22 goals to be exact.

Carvajal is an interesting player too. Mourinho’s team are currently scouring the market for the ideal right-back, but he needn’t look too far because the answer is under his nose. The marauding young Castilla full-back is an outstanding talent showing strength, leadership and technical qualities. He gallops up and down the right flank, with the ability to shut out attacks and support those of his own side. It would be a tragedy if he was somehow frozen out at the club.

Given the complex structure of Segunda B, despite winning the regular season convincingly they had to play Cadiz in the play-offs. Toril’s young side were up to the task though, winning emphatically with few questions asked. It was a test of physical and mental strength in a high pressure environment that was passed swiftly and effectively.

The next chapter of Castilla is clear. With Mourinho creating a stronger bond at Madrid with his new deal until 2016, he wishes to wield his power by bringing about periodisation of all categories at the club. It means having a unified tactical approach and set plan for all the youth categories, similar to that in operation at the likes of Barcelona and Ajax. It means organisation and the chance for the players who go through the system to become more tactically affluent with strategies at the club with a clear long-term aim – for Madrid to produce their own quality players, and utilise them. The club will also look to bring in talented young players from around Spain to boost the ranks, with Sporting Gijon’s Juan Muniz set to be the first to arrive.

Madrid’s much derided and forgotten cantera has something to be proud of, a future that is a brilliant white.