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Ansu and Riqui stake their claims for Sevilla

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Youngsters earn their chance

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA-LEVANTE Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images

The fixtures come thick and fast now, and no sooner have Leganes been dispatched than Sevilla are on the immediate horizon.

One of the most difficult fixtures that Barca have left this season comes at the Sanchez Pizjuan on Friday night.

Make no mistake, three points there would really set the Catalans up for the final run-in.

To that end, the pressure really is on Quique Setien to pick the right team. Does he continue rotating to keep everyone fresh, or does he go with what would be an expected starting XI?

We’ve often been told he’s a brave coach, and sometimes risk brings reward, but we’ve seen precious little of that in his tenure so far.

FC Barcelona v CD Leganes - La Liga Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Clearly, the match against the Andalusians isn’t one for the faint-hearted, however, if Setien wants to be true to his word - that he will give youngsters a chance if they prove themselves - then he can’t look beyond Ansu Fati and Riqui Puig in the next match.

The temptation to go with more experienced personnel will be strong, but it’s about time this La Masia pair were given an extended run in the side.

They both proved beyond doubt again, versus Leganes, that they are ready.

Ansu’s goal showed a real striker’s instinct, whilst Riqui’s silky smooth passing and transitions were a joy to watch.

With Antoine Griezmann continuing to struggle to find any sort of form, and Luis Suarez still not up to full speed fitness wise, this is the perfect opportunity for both young players to stake a claim for a more permanent residency.

FC Barcelona v CD Leganes - La Liga Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Martin Braithwaite, a strange omission from the Leganes game, will surely have something to say about that, as he too has impressed both before and after lockdown, and it means that Setien at least has options from which to choose.

But what’s interesting to note about both Puig and Fati is the ease with which both slot into the side. Their understanding of their roles is instant, their individual movements telepathic.

With constant background noise regarding Neymar and Lautaro Martinez, it’s high time that Barcelona blocked that out and focused on what they already have in situ - players that haven’t cost the club a dime and who could help save their season.

The pathway to the first team from the academy is beginning to be paved with gold again, and one can only hope that the club seize the moment.