FC Barcelona had an unlikely hero come to the rescue during their 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao on Sunday night in the form of 17-year-old Marc Guiu. However, his late impact is the latest in a succession of academy products helping out the injury-hit Catalans.
Just seconds after coming on, Guiu produced the decisive goal that allowed Barca to take a crucial win in La Liga. Their three points see Xavi’s side remain third, just a point behind the two leaders of Real Madrid and Girona.
The young forward also broke a record with his key contribution. Marc Guiu became the youngest player to ever score on their Barcelona debut, netting his first goal at just 17 years and 291 days of age.
But he is not alone when it comes to youngsters having to make an impact in the Barca first team. The Catalan giants are dealing with a bit of an injury crisis; per Football Espana, Xavi has only 13 fit first-team players to choose from right now.
The likes of Jules Kounde, Pedri, Frenkie de Jong, and Robert Lewandowski are all notable absentees. This is particularly worrisome for the Blaugrana, as next weekend is El Clasico.
All these injuries mean that Xavi has been relying heavily on the products of Barca’s famed “La Masia” academy. And, so far in 2023/24, it has proven useful.
Marc Guiu among La Masia prospects stepping up for Barcelona
Barcelona manager Xavi hailed the impact of Marc Guiu following the win over Bilbao.
“He can score goals, he has spark,” said the Barca legend (via the club website). “He’s a player I personally like a lot, and I have no qualms about using home-bred players because we have loads of talent here.
“They [Barcelona] put the same kind of trust in me in my day.”
The trust that Xavi felt during his playing career is now something that he is passing on to the next generation.
There were six players from the current Barcelona youth sides involved in their most recent La Liga matchday squad. Even then, Gavi and Alejandro Balde – both established starters – are still very young, too.
Among the youthful squad was Fermin Lopez, an electric player who actually started against Bilbao. He has already proven his worth to the first team in 2023/24. During Barca’s 2-2 draw with Mallorca, Fermin scored the goal that brought the Blaugrana level in the game.
And yet he is not the only youngster to come in clutch for the injury-hit Catalans.
Lamine Yamal earns praise from David Villa
16-year-old Lamine Yamal has been nothing short of a revelation since Xavi handed him a first-team opportunity. Another explosive forward, Yamal became the youngest scorer in La Liga history with his effort in a 2-2 draw at Granada.
Yamal has since broken into the Spanish national team, scoring once for them, too. His rapid rise in 2023/24 has earned him widespread praise, including from Spain icon David Villa.
“We’re talking about someone who is clearly a special talent,” said Villa, via La Liga. “He’s different to other players, he’s not a clone. He’s a special talent.
“It’s obvious, just from looking at how he’s burst on the scene at such a young age. He’s a genuinely unique talent who’s here to stay – we’ll enjoy him for many years to come.”
Considering the Barcelona injury woes, Marc Guiu, Yamal, and Fermin may all be in contention to feature during El Clasico. This will definitely be the youngsters’ toughest tests of their emerging careers so far.
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