Barcelona La Masia GXFGetty/GOAL

The fall and rise of La Masia: How Barcelona's academy began producing world-class wonderkids once again

Barcelona have been breaking records of late - but not the ones they might have expected. This La Liga-winning team from last year probably hoped that they would once again be in the mix for the title, their core of players in their prime and reliable veterans shepherding Xavi's side to a Spanish top-flight repeat.

Instead, results have gone awry, and this campaign will likely be remembered for the one in which youth became the currency of this Blaugrana setup. In Barca's Champions League round of 16 clash against Napoli in March, Xavi started multiple players under the age of 18 - a first for the competition. Add Fermin Lopez, who came off the bench to score, and it was the Catalan youth that kept their season alive.

Lamine Yamal has certainly been the standout, but this is by no means a solo effort. Pau Cubarsi has impressed, while Hector Fort and Marc Guiu have also been handed opportunities. Piece it all together, and La Masia, the great footballing academy that has seen its talent dry up in recent years, has returned with a bang. And although this Barca side will not win La Liga, and have committed the unspeakable crime of a trophyless campaign, the rebirth of the sport's most well-regarded academy offers hope for the future.

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