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Xavi made a brave call, and youngster Pau Cubarsí responded

Rarely is a player so young deployed in the center of defense

Unionistas v FC Barcelona - Copa del Rey Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Xavi was brave in a moment where his job may have been, for the first time, truly on the line. FC Barcelona needed a win following an embarrassing 4-1 loss to Real Madrid in the Spanish Supercup.

Facing injuries in the middle of defense, he trusted 16-year-old Pau Cubarsí with a start against Real Betis. He could’ve gone with Jules Koundé and Ronald Araujo at centerback, with Sergi Roberto at right-back. But he opted for the youngster following a good showing in the Copa del Rey against lower-league opposition.

Young defenders are rarely given starts in pressure matches, and 16 is basically as young as it gets at the top level. It’s one position in which you can’t make mistakes, and you need a very strong mentality to overcome the pressure.

Cubarsí delivered, playing very solidly in the 4-2 win.

Xavi may still have problems to solve but he made a very bold call and it paid off. His trust in Lamine Yamal, also 16, and other young academy players, has borne fruit so far.

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