Rafinha with Guardiola. PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ (FCB).

Pep Guardiola isn’t afraid of giving the youth players from the reserve sides a chance at the first team. The latest players to make the leap, this Wednesday, were Cristian Tello and Rafinha, at the away leg of the round of 32 in the King’s Cup against Hospitalet. Just 10 days ago Gerard Deulofeu was donning the first team shirt as well. In total, Guardiola has seen 21 reserve players make their debuts for the first team.

Passing the test

Tello played from the start and he was one of the most active players on the pitch, specifically in the first half with his destabilizing runs down the right. He tried his luck with 5 crosses and he was involved in 69 plays. Rafinha came on the pitch at the 75th minute mark, replacing Cesc. He was involved in 11 plays.

Two future strikers

Cristian Tello (20 years old) is striker with a lot of pace that usually plays wide, but he can also perform the traditional duties of a number ‘9.’ He was integral to the reserve side’s good second half of the season last year, thanks to his goalscoring instinct and his ability to assist.

Rafinha (18 years old), Thiago Alcántara’s younger brother, is a left footed offensive player that has made a spot for himself in the Barça B squad after having a great year with the Under-17’s. He’s strong and technically gifted. Eusebio usually positions him as a fake center forward.

The 21 debutants under Pep

2008/09: Busquets, Thiago, Xavi Torres, Muniesa, Botía and Abraham

2009/10: Fontàs, Dos Santos, Soriano, Gai Assulin and Bartra

2010/11: Oriol Romeu, Sergi Gómez, Miño, Nolito, Montoya and Sergi Roberto

2011/12: Cuenca, Deulofeu, Rafinha and Tello