Triomf al camp del Llevant. FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.

Valdés, Montoya, Piqué, Jordi Alba, Busquets, Xavi, Cesc, Pedro, Messi and Iniesta. These were the 11 players for Barça on the pitch from the 13th minute to the 75th against Levante this Sunday. Dani Alves picked up an injury within the first quarter-hour which prompted Tito Vilanova to send in Montoya, thus completing an all-homegrown team for the first time in recent history for Barça. Later on, when Adriano came in for Alba, the number of homegrown players on the pitch dropped to 10.

Tito Vilanova’s line-ups, and Pep Guardiola’s for that matter, always include a high number of La Masia graduates, but this is the first time that Barça has fielded 11 youth academy players.

The Barça brand

16 of Barça’s 24 first team players (and the whole coaching staff) were formed at La Masia. This also includes the team’s four captains, Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta and Valdés. In addition, the team’s star player, Leo Messi, started playing for the Blaugrana when he was only 13, and he’s currently the winner of three Ballon d’Ors. All of the Barça players employ a recognizable style of play; they are all technically gifted and they’re well trained at retaining possession and going on the attack.

Consolidated model

Barça’s philosophy is admired throughout the world. The Blaugrana have been able to showcase the quality of their youth system on some of the most hallowed stages of world football. For example, in the Champions League final in Rome in 2009 (7 youth team graduates were named to the starting line-up, the final in Wembley in 2011 (7) and the Club World Cup final in 2011 (9).