Barcelona To Showcase Next Generation in Spanish Supercup

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Barcelona To Showcase Next Generation in Spanish Supercup
Xavier Laine/Getty Images

"Every cloud has a silver lining," the saying goes.

In the case of F.C. Barcelona, this week's cloud has been the Spanish Federation, whose poor planning is preventing defending Spanish Champions Barcelona from calling on any it's Spanish Internationals in Saturday's first leg of the Spanish Supercup against Spanish Cup holders Sevilla.

Early in 2010, the Spanish Football Federation, or RFEF, arranged a friendly between the Spanish and Mexican nation sides for last Wednesday. The same RFEF scheduled the first leg of the Spanish Supercup three days later.

Perhaps not counting on winning the World Cup, Barcelona's contribution of eight players to that effort, or Barcelona's winning of the league, the RFEF did not foresee a conflict.

In the end, the situation was farcical. The seven healthy players that Barcelona contributed to the WC winners were called up, before finishing their vacations, to fly halfway across the world in order to play a friendly at 2,000 meters above sea level without a single training session under their belts.

As a result, none of them were able to begin preseason training with their club and will miss the first official match of the season tomorrow.

Never mind that half of the starting line-up of the Catalans will not be able to compete for the first trophy of the season. Sevilla, in contrast, will be missing just Jesus Navas.

Worse than the fact that the RFEF has handicapped one of the competitors, they have essentially sent a message to the world that the Supercup means less to them than a friendly, albeit a lucrative one.

The resulting scandal is just of the two most recent of the long line of episodes of incompetence shown by the RFEF. The other incident being the revelation that newly promoted Hércules bought four games on the way to win promotion to the top division.

The silver lining is, that having only nine first team players available for tomorrow's game will force coach Pep Guardiola to turn to Barcelona's world famous youth academy for reinforcements.

This same youth academy is responsible for producing six of the Spanish starters in the World Cup final, not to mention the reigning World Player of the Year, Lionel Messi, and premiership standout Cesc Fabregas.

With predecessors like these, the current generation is, unsurprisingly, creating lots of expectation.

They are:

Young goalkeepers Oier Olazábel and Rubén Miño, who have shared responsibility in Barcelona's B-side's promotion to the Spanish Second Division last year. With Valdes and Pinto out, one of the two is guaranteed a place in the starting 11.

Defenders Maicle,rc Muniesa and Sergio Gómez, who are expected to cover for the loss of Rafa Marquez and Dmitro Chigrinsky over the course of the season. Guardiola's comfort with just three first team center backs shows the confidence he has in these youngsters

Defensive midfielder Oriol Romeu, who, after a standout performance in the U19 European Championship, is causing doubt in the Camp Nou offices over the wisdom of signing a cut-rate Javier Mascherano to replace Touré Yaya.

Creative Midfielders Jonathan dos Santos, and Sergi Roberto, both of whom eclipsed all others in the preseason tour of Asia. They, along with absent Thiago Alcántara, who will have to make up for the failure to sign Cesc Fabregas. Given the academy's track record of turning out world class players at this position, one of these youngsters could be the one to definitively close the door on the Arsenal captain's return.

Winger Nolito was the goalscorer in the B-side's crucial promotion playoff last season. He tormented opposition defenses this preseason with dribbling and change of pace. The Canarian could still use some polish, but is one to watch.

They are the perfect antidote to the RFEF. These relatively unknown youngsters may go on to form the backbone of the Blaugrana in years to come, and by spiriting off their elders in search of sponser's dollars, the federation may actually be doing Barcelona a favor by giving these kids a chance to break out.

Unlike the charade in Mexico City, this is a game that real football fans will be watching.

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