Roberto and Rafinha: Flying the La Masia flag high

La Masia graduates Rafinha Alcantara and Sergi Roberto have kept alive Barcelona's tradition of producing quality youth players, with their performances against Real Madrid.

La Masia graduate Sergi Roberto has made the right-back position.   -  Getty Images

Sergi Roberto and Rafinha became the latest La Masia graduates — players from Barcelona's youth academy —  to impress in the El Clasico.

Roberto, who started in the right-back position, assisted Luis Suarez twice as Barcelona routed rival Real Madrid 5-1 on Sunday.

The 26-year-old Spaniard is capable of playing across various positions in the pitch and in recent times, has made the right-back position his own. Roberto's energetic displays on the right flank allowed Lionel Messi to express himself in the attacking third.

Rafinha, who started on the right wing, impressed in the first half by combining well with Suarez and Roberto. The attacking midfielder has been unlucky with a spate of injuries between 2015 and 2017 which halted his progression with the club.

Read: Match report - Barcelona 5-1 Real Madrid

In January this year, the 25-year-old moved to Inter Milan on loan where he helped the club return to the Champions League. It was Messi's injury last week that allowed Rafinha to come back in the Barca fold and he has vindicated Ernesto Valverde's decision to play him ahead of the wunderkid Ousmane Dembele.

While it may need more than the combined qualities of Roberto and Rafinha to replace the void left by Messi's absence, who himself is a La Masia graduate, the duo did stand up to the occasion as Barcelona put in a five-star performance against Madrid.

In Roberto and Rafinha, Barcelona has the next generation of footballers who will keep the La Masia flag flying high for the next few years. 

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