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In a match where Paris Saint Germain's starlet Warren Zaire-Emrey began the match on the bench, Barcelona yet again showed the importance of youth in a 3-2 victory Wednesday at Parc des Princes. Lamine Yamal, 16, and 17-year-old Pau Cubarsi started for Xavi Hernandez in what was Barcelona's biggest game so far this season and looked ready for the moment. 

The duo were both involved in Barcelona's opening goal as Cubarsi began the play from deep with an excellent pass and Yamal's cross was palmed by Gianluigi Donnarumma to the feet of Raphinha who didn't miss with his finish. 

Under Xavi, they've gotten time to make mistakes and grow into their own as players so that didn't feel out of place when it mattered most. Even for Barcelona's equalizer, Pedri -- who has also had some of his best form under the Barcelona legend -- had the assist on another excellent Raphinha finish. 

Looking at Barcelona marching into Paris and leaving with a point, it's understandable why they may prefer if Xavi reconsiders his decision to step down at the end of the season. He has been an excellent steward for preparing the next generation of Barcelona's youth as letting them take their lumps in league play has them prepared for the biggest moments. 

Yamal already has registered an assist for Spain at his young age and that confidence shows in his game. When Lewandowski got the ball, he looked to Yamal to make something happen and the Spaniard didn't disappoint. For Curbasi, his best moment of the game won't show up on the stat sheet but he made an excellent recovery run to contain Kylian Mbappe, kicking the ball away. The flag was raised as the play was judged to be offside but that makes it even more impressive that he followed through even if it was a clear call. 

With Mbappe set to leave PSG at the end of the season -- likely for Real Madrid -- this could be the beginning of a new rivalry between Curbasi in defense and Mbappe through the middle of the Real Madrid attack. If it's something that's foreshadowing the future, it's quite bright for Barcelona. 

Mbappe didn't get any space in the box being tracked by Curbasi and Ronald Araujo as no one got a shot through the center in the box for PSG during the game. He also had the fewest touches of any PSG outfielder effectively being marked out of the match. It's easier for a goalkeeper if shots are coming from wide angles, and outside of a three-minute spell, Marc-Andre ter Stegen wasn't called into action in what is a make-or-break tie for the Parisians. 

Barcelona won the xG battle 1.73 to 1.24 while taking fewer shots and eight of the top 10 biggest chances of the match by xG were also registered by Barcelona. Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski collected most of those but the space created by Yamal allowed it to happen while Barcelona looked like a coherent team outside of the beginning of the second half.

Utilizing so many youth players, there will be wobbles where Barcelona lose control of the match but in 2024, that has been happening less than in the past as they're building confidence and the team has become more cohesive. In 2023, Barcelona allowed 33 goals in 23 matches during league play and Champions League but so far in 2024 that has been cut to 13 goals in 12 matches. The sample size may be smaller but an improvement of 0.35 goals per game will add up quickly. 

Margins are thin at this level of Champions League but thanks both to ter Stegen getting healthy and the marked improvement of his youth players, Xavi will have every chance to lead this Barcelona team to glory that seemed unlikely only months ago.