FC Barcelona

Barcelona starlets show there are better things to come in commanding display

Max Cooper
The young boys got the job done
The young boys got the job done / David Ramos/Getty Images
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'Good days' have been few and far between for Barcelona fans over the past couple of years, but Sunday's 3-0 victory over Levante can certainly be put down on the calendar as a 'good day'.

Two consecutive La Liga draws with a total of one goal scored over those 180 minutes made for grim reading for Blaugrana supporters - especially when you factor in that defenders Gerard Pique and Ronald Araujo played as centre-forwards for a good chunk of that first stalemate.

Ronald Koeman's sending off spoke to a manager under serious pressure, and his decision to throw on teenagers Gavi and Yusuf Demir in the 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Bayern suggested he was trying to deflect away from a horrific Champions League result.

But among the volcanic eruption of ash and misery that has covered Camp Nou, a few green shoots have sprouted from the heart of the club's La Masia academy setup. One of those promising prodigies is Gavi, who was given a start against Levante in Catalonia.

He sat across from the similarly inexperienced Nico Gonzalez in the midfield, while grandad Sergio Busquets was deployed to separate them and hold their hands through this learning curve in their careers.

Gavi Paez
A top performance / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

It was the perfect blend of energy, youthful exuberance and canny knowhow, as the trio dominated their visitors from start to finish. Nico began the game a touch more cautiously than his companion, whose rapid adaptation to the professional game was even more noticeable next to another newbie.

But once Barça had raced into a two-goal lead inside a quarter of an hour, there was no looking back for Nico or Gavi. The duo, along with Busquets, controlled the game, to the point that Levante didn't even manage a single shot until the final ten minutes. It was complete and utter dominance.

The frightening thing was how familiar they appeared to us onlookers - not that we'd seen much of them before.

But the way they moved, the way they glided across the pitch, the way they manoeuvred out of tight spaces to find a waiting teammate and keep the game ticking over - it was so Barcelona.

La Masia is capable of producing these talents, as it famously did with the likes of Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Lionel Messi. There is no reason that either of these starlets can't go on to cement their place in Barça's midfield - especially during a time of financial crisis when signings may prove to be in short supply.

And it's not just these two newcomers who should provide hope for Blaugrana supporters. Riqui Puig came on and looked the part in an instant, slaloming through a series of challenges and almost scoring an Iniesta-esque beauty.

Ansu Fati then came on with the minutes running down, proudly donning the legendary number 10 jersey - a direct message to Barça fans that they boast a man worthy of sporting the shirt worn by their greatest ever player only a few months ago.

Ansu Fati
The future is here / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Within minutes, he'd proven exactly why he had been handed that responsibility. The teenager beat his marker, cut inside and fired a ruthless strike into the bottom corner of the Levante net, sending supporters wild.

He raced into the stands to be surrounded by his loved ones who'd helped him on his journey back to fitness, and all of a sudden, the natural order was beginning to be restored.

The likes of Sergino Dest, Eric Garcia, Oscar Mingueza and Memphis Depay all turned in top performances too, showing a solidity and a strength that has been missing in recent weeks. All of this without Pedri, too.

All in all, it was a good day.

Barcelona supporters are under no illusions that this team remains in crisis, even with the commanding victory over Levante in the bag. But there is no point dwelling on their shortcomings, especially when the future is bright, and it's only around the corner.

Sit tight, Culers, better days than 'good' are coming.

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