The youngsters are coming on strong. That is the common thought among Liga Adelante fans who have been following Real Madrid Castilla and Barcelona B over the past few seasons. Both reserve sides have made a habit of producing world-class talent, and this weekend will come face-to-face to take each other on with all the intensity their first teams save for their own Clásico encounters. Some of the best players Spain has ever produced have been involved in a mini Clásico.
Players like Álvaro Morata (top goal scorer during the UEFA Under-21 European Championship), Nacho Fernández (European champion in 2013 with the Spanish Under-21 team) and Jesé Rodríguez, Real Madrid's revelatory player this season, all began their careers with the White Fábrica (Factory), and have all played in this clash in the past. Now they are called on to start some of the first team’s most important matches.
For others, the experience with the Madrid reserve side has acted as a springboard for other Liga BBVA clubs. Two examples of this are Álex Fernández, who is now with RCD Espanyol, and Denís Chéryshev, currently on loan with Sevilla.
The same is true for la Masía. Rafinha Alcántara went on loan to Celta Vigo and it took him just six months to become an indispensible part of the Sky Blues’ plans. Luis Alberto and Gerard Deulofeu, who both played in the Liga Adelante Clásico last season, are now showing off their skills in the Premier League. Both of them have moved to Liverpool, with the Andalusian joining the Red half of the city, while the striker is playing for Everton.
A lot of players have opted to try their luck outside of Spain, but a decent amount of them have decided to stay on home soil to wait for a chance to make the step up to the team of their dreams. And some have managed to do just that. Five of the eleven players José Manuel Díaz could call on in Valdebebas this weekend have already played for the Real Madrid first team over the last few seasons. The most inspiring story is that of José Rodríguez, who scored on his first team debut when the Whites' former coach José Mourinho called him up during the 2012/13 season for a Cup game against CD Alcoyano.
Tomás Mejías also made his first team debut at a young age, when he played against Getafe in the Liga BBVA during the 2010/11 campaign before he signed for Middlesbrough. Other players like Diego Llorente, Omar Mascarell and Jorge Casado have experienced first team action as well, with Carlo Ancelotti giving them minutes in the Liga BBVA against Osasuna, as well as in the Copa del Rey.
Two names stand out above the rest for Barça B: Adama Traoré and Jean Marie Dongou. Both men have made appearances in the Liga BBVA and the UEFA Champions League, where they came on against Ajax and Celtic respectively. However, if Dongou had to remember just one day it would probably be his first team debut in the Copa del Rey, when he came on for 13th minutes against Cartagena and scored.
Without a doubt the Real Madrid and Barcelona academies are gold mines in terms of producing talented players big clubs and fans alike keep tabs on. And Saturday's clash will be no different.