Barcelona equal best start to La Liga with entire team developed at academy

 

As well as equalling the best start to La Liga, Barcelona's 4-0 win at Levante on Sunday was an extra source of pride for the Catalan club as it was achieved playing with an entire team of players developed through their academy for most of the match.

After Martin Montoya replaced injured Brazil fullback Daniel Alves in the 14th minute in Valencia, all 11 team members on the pitch were products of Barca's famed "La Masia" youth academy.

Pearls of the current crop include Argentine World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, Spain playmaker Andres Iniesta and midfielder Cesc Fabregas, who left for a stint at Arsenal before returning to his boyhood club.

Iniesta turned in a sparkling performance, twice setting up Messi, creating another goal for Fabregas and scoring a brilliant effort of his own as the league leaders racked up 37 points from 13 matches this season.

Their tally equalled the record for the best start to a campaign set by Real Madrid in the 1991-92 season.

"It's a fact that should make us proud," Barca coach Tito Vilanova, himself a product of "La Masia", said at a news conference when asked about the 11 academy players in the side on Sunday.

"Because what's more seven or eight of them are from Catalonia," he added.

By contrast, only two of the regular starters in the current Real team are from the club's academy, goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas and fullback Alvaro Arbeloa.

They are coached by Portuguese Jose Mourinho, a former Barca assistant who has been criticised for not giving more playing time to graduates from Real's youth school.

"It's extraordinary, and all the more so for those of us who were trained at the Masia," midfielder Xavi, widely regarded as the finest playmaker of his generation, told reporters.

"It's more proof of the good work that has been done for many years," he added.

"(Former Barca coach Louis) van Gaal said once that his dream was to see 11 academy players together on the pitch and today it became reality."

Defender Gerard Pique, a contemporary of Fabregas and Messi who returned to Barca after a spell at Manchester United, added: "It's a source of pride for all Barca fans that 11 home players were together on the pitch because it shows the academy is in good shape and we are working well."

Reuters

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral