When Valencia and Barcelona played out a dead rubber Copa del Rey semi-final second leg, it was obvious before start of play that we would see a “second string” for the visitors.
With a seven goal cushion from the first leg that was never likely to be overturned, it gave Luis Enrique the chance to rest his major stars before a taxing La Liga game against Celta Vigo.
It also gave a number of fringe players a decent chance to impress.
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A chance that many of them failed to take quite frankly.
Although much of the post-match comment will centre around the fact that Barca snatched a draw to preserve a club-record unbeaten run, scratch the surface and it was a very different picture.
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For example, for some time now, Marc Bartra has been waiting in the wings ready, willing and we thought able, to ease into the back four as though he’d been there all of his working life.
However, his performance once again showed that, unfortunately, Bartra just isn’t up to it.
When a calm approach was needed, Bartra ran around like a headless chicken.
His distribution was abysmal and one clearance even went backwards and found itself at the feet of a Valencia attacker.
As a standalone centre back, Bartra is far from the finished article and despite arguments to the contrary from the locals, this was another performance from the youngster that completely justifies Enrique’s judgment.
Ditto Sergi Samper.
Although no Busquets, Samper has always been talked up as the next Barca B player to make the leap. An old head on young shoulders they said.
Whilst there’s no doubting the player has quality, we have to remember that Valencia had far from a full first team squad out too, and Samper was regularly dispossessed and knocked off of the ball.
Exactly what he needs to be doing to the opposition.
It’s now becoming blindingly obvious to the man in the street that the gap between Barca B and the first team is a cavernous one.
Looking like a world beater in the third division, with respect, doesn’t give you a guaranteed entry into the big league.
The real issue for Barca is where La Masia fits into things moving forward. Always a pillar of the club, it’s arguable that the academy is now nothing more than a by-product.
Sergi Roberto is the only player in the last eight years to have made any impact and even then that only came this season.
That’s nowhere near good enough for a team of Barcelona’s stature.
What has gone wrong at Barcelona at youth level? Have YOUR say in the comment box below!