The injuries to Afellay, Villa, Fontas, Iniesta and Pedro, plus Keita, on international duty with Mali, means that FC Barcelona only has 15 first-team game-ready players. However, there is a silver lining to Barça’s depleted numbers: Guardiola has had the opportunity (and taken it on a regular basis) to give Barça B players a chance with the first team. Most recently, it was Tello and Dos Santos that donned the the Barça colours in the Spanish top flight.

Praise from Guardiola

Both the Barça B players started against Real Sociedad which allowed Xavi, Busquets and Alexis a much needed rest. Tello, who played at El Madrigal and Mestalla, played the whole 90 minutes against the Basque side, he also scored the first goal of the match. Dos Santos, a player who has appeared more frequently for the first team in recent years, played 77 minutes. The Mexican came off for Busquets in the 77th minute.

Guardiola praised the youngsters after the match: “the two lads, Dos Santos and Tello, put in a very responsible performance and they’re a bit wiser for it. They will be some of the best players and footballers that the Club will have and if it works out it won’t cost the Club anything.”

Zubizarreta: “the credit goes to the manager and the players”

The Tello and Dos Santos situation isn’t anything new at Can Barça. A couple of years ago, Guardiola called up Busquets and Pedro when both the players were sill playing for the B side, last year it was Fontas and Thiago, all of whom are now full-time first-team players. This year, Cuenca is another example of a B-side player making room for himself in the first team. “That’s the idea [to bring up reserve players] and the Liga gives us the opportunity to give them a shot, they return the gesture ten-fold,” said Zubizarreta this Saturday on Tello and Dos Santos.

“We’ve said it many times. We have to be aware of the work that’s being done in the reserve side, but in the end the credit goes to the manager that gives them a chance and the players that play in a stadium like this one,” said Zubizarreta.

Fewer rotations due to injuries

This season some of the first-team players have spent more time on the pitch compared to last year. The multiple injures to the first-team squad have hampered Gaurdiola’s routine of resting key players. Players like Xavi, Messi, Busquets or Abidal are a few of the men that have played minutes this year compared to last:

2010/11: 2378 minutes
2011/12: 2599 minutes

2010/11: 2763 minutes
2011/12: 3061 minutes

2010/11: 2252 minutes
2011/12: 2335 minutes

2010/11: 2243 minutes
2011/12: 2666 minutes

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