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Barcelona have two diamonds in Ilkay Gundogan and Lamine Yamal

Ran the show against Sevilla...

FC Barcelona v Sevilla FC - LaLiga EA Sports Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images

Shorn of the talents of Frenkie de Jong, Barca’s midfield took on an unusual look against Sevilla with Raphinha providing some zip to the front three as well as getting forward as often as play would allow.

Until his untimely hamstring injury the Brazilian was quite lively without necessarily looking dangerous.

On balance, Xavi will probably deduce that even if the team selection was forced upon him in some way, it was an experiment that arguably was neither excellent nor awful.

I’d suggest that he’s unlikely to try it again in the near future.

In any event, another midfielder deserves the plaudits for an understated but absolutely brilliant display.

FC Barcelona v Sevilla - LaLiga EA Sports Photo by David S.Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Ilkay Gundogan rarely makes the headlines but nor is he an unsung hero.

He’s a proper footballer’s footballer, in the same manner Paul Scholes was for Manchester United. Game recognises game.

In the first 45 in particular, his transitional play was smooth, quick and accurate and his positional play and understanding was head and shoulders above his team-mates.

The German makes up for the lack of dynamism to his play, with his innate football brain.

It’s a quality that only a few possess, and in Barca’s case, it’s for the benefit of the many.

Whilst he may go about his work quietly, you can be sure that his absence would be noticeable.

It’s worth remembering too he was Pep Guardiola’s treble-winning captain for a reason.

FC Barcelona v Sevilla FC - LaLiga Photo by Jose Hernandez/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A player at the opposite end of his career but who is also continuing to do great things is Lamine Yamal.

Ask yourself… what were you doing at 16 years of age?!

Raphinha’s injury will almost certainly hand the fearless teenager more first-team minutes, and the issue for Xavi is managing his time on the pitch to ensure he doesn’t suffer the same fate as Ansu Fati.

Fortunately, culers have quickly understood that Lamine isn’t going to affect the play every week, particularly when he’s paired against international class defenders.

For a player that will be honing his craft for many years yet, it’s vital that he retains the support from those in the stands.

The effervescence of youth will see him try things that aren’t always going to come off but those mistakes must be embraced as part of the learning process.

On Friday night, especially during the second half, his confidence was there for all to see.

In their own distinctive way, both Gundogan and Lamine will be vital to Barca’s successes in 2023/24.

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