MADRID - With Barcelona already through
to the Champions League last 16 as Group D winners, Pep
Guardiola gave several young players from the club's academy a
chance against Rubin Kazan on Tuesday and they did not
Andreu Fontas (21) and Victor Vazquez (23) scored in a 2-0
success at the Nou Camp, and fine performances from fellow B
team players Thiago Alcantara (19), Marc Bartra (19) and
Jonathan dos Santos (20) also caught the eye.
Barca's Ballon d'Or nominees Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta
and Xavi honed their skills at the club's "La Masia" academy,
known in Spanish as the "cantera", or "quarry", and Tuesday
was further proof that it continues to churn out exciting
"As an outsider I see things differently but Barca's
cantera is historic," Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano,
who joined from Liverpool in the close season, told reporters.
Defender Fontas struck in the 51st minute when his
left-foot shot was deflected into the net and forward Vazquez,
who had replaced the injured Jeffren, added a second with a
fine curled effort in the 83rd.
Vazquez came through the academy at the same time as
Messi, Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique, who
captained the side for the first time on Tuesday, but has been
held back by a number of injuries.
"I played with Pique and Messi a while ago and I was very
excited to be with them tonight," Vazquez said.
"I was only thinking about playing well during the match
and above all I am pleased with the goal.
"Guardiola said he was very happy for me and that I was
very good on the pitch."
Pique added: "It's a pleasure to see Victor in the first
team as we have been playing in the same side since we were
very little and he deserves this chance."
Ten players from the youth academy featured against Rubin
and the success of the club's policy contrasts that of their
great rivals Real Madrid.
Goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas is the only
representative of their youth school in Jose Mourinho's
first-choice starting 11, the club opting instead to buy in
most of its talent at massive cost.
Josep Maria Bartomeu, a Barca vice president, said the
fact that all three players on the shortlist for the Ballon
d'Or were products of "La Masia" was recognition of the work
that had been done there over the years.
"We have a new responsibility," he said. "We have to work
harder to improve the Masia."
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