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'La Masia Magic' Sets Barca Above the Rest

The tradition at FC Barcelona is "the sort of tale that historians love, the sort that spans centuries and weaves together past, present and future," dotes the LA Times' Grahame Jones, as the European champion is midway through its U.S. tour and meets the Seattle Sounders FC tonight at 10:30 pm ET on ESPN.

Jones recounts that the foundation for the club's success, which includes the Spanish and European treble in 2009, "was set 307 years ago, in 1702 ... when workmen in Barcelona completed a two-story stone farmhouse that still stands today. La Masia, they call it, and it is nothing less than the soul of FC Barcelona."

In 1979, the building "began a new incarnation" as "the primary residence for young players being groomed by Barcelona for future success," who points out that the Barcelona team that beat Manchester United in the Champions League final included not only the team's coach, Pep Guardiola, but a stunning seven players - defender Carles Puyol, who joined in 1995 at age 17; midfielder Sergi Busquets, who joined in 2005 at age 17; goalkeeper Victor Valdes, who joined in 1995 at age 13; forward Lionel Messi, who joined in 2000 at age 13; midfielder Andres Iniesta, who joined in 1996 at age 12; midfielder Xavi, who joined in 1991 at age 11; and defender Gerard Pique, who joined in 1997 at age 10 - who passed through the youth academy on their way to international stardom.

Read the whole story at Los Angeles Times »

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