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Thursday 10. December 2020 - 09:21

Sergio Arribas joins exclusive club with Champions League debut

Only five other players have made their Champions League and Castilla debuts in the same season.

Many canteras have made their Champions League debuts with Real Madrid. Across just the last 10 years, Real Madrid have blooded at least 30 canteranos in Europe with Javi Sanchez, Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo Goes and Fede Valverde recent examples of players going from Castilla to wearing the royal white in Europe’s premier competition.

However, in making his Castilla and European debut in the same season, Sergio Arribas has joined an exclusive club of just five other players since the inception of the Champions League in 1992.

Naturally, Javier Portillo paved the way for the other four to follow. The famed wonderchild joined Real Madrid when he was 12 and scored a record 150 goals during his cantera days. Portillo made his Castilla bow in November 2001. His European and first team debut came in the same game, a 2-2 draw against Panathinaikos in which he scored the 80th minute equalizer.

Portillo would make his LaLiga debut the following season against Alaves though he never reached his predicted potential, leaving the club in 2003-04 to lead out a rather underwhelming career.

Right winger Javier Balbao is also on this exclusive list, however, unlike Arribas and Portillo, Balbao had been playing professional football with Real Madrid’s C team before getting promoted to Castilla in 2005-06. He made his debut in August away to Xerez. Two months later, he came off the bench in a LaLiga defeat to Deportivo La Coruna. His European bow came in December against Olympiacos, the same game Sergio Ramos scored the first of his century of Real Madrid goals.

Balbao never scored the Real Madrid first team, though he did walk away with a LaLiga’s winner medal when he left the club for Benfica in 2008.

The final two players on this list, and the last time Castilla debutants played in Europe was in 2006-07 with the two Miguels, full back Miguel Torres and midfielder Miguel Nieto. Like Balbao, both had played professional football before with Real Madrid C. Torres Castilla debut came in the opening game against Castellon while Nieto had to wait until matchday 15, coming off the bench against Malaga. Nieto started the game Dynamo Kiev while Torres came on as a substitute, though neither could help Real Madrid win the game.

Nieto played twice more for Real Madrid that season and never appeared for the club again. He retired in 2018-19. Torres is unarguably the most successful player on this list so far. After making his LaLiga debut a few months later, the flexible full back managed to establish himself as a dependable option for Real Madrid. He played a crucial role in the club’s back to back league titles between 2006 and 2008 and played top flight football for all but one season of his professional career.

It seems worthwhile mentioning some the near misses as it certainly glamours up a rather unexciting crop so far. Real Madrid’s weren’t in the Champions League when Raul and Guti made their first team and Castilla debuts, hence denying them a Champions League debut. Iker Casillas is the answer to probably the greatest Real Madrid pub question of all time. The legendary goalkeeper made his European debut before playing for Castilla having been selected for first team squads from the time he was 16.

Provided by: Frank Henriksen
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