La Masia boys lead Barca

AS well as equalling the best start to La Liga, Barcelona's 4-0 win at Levante yesterday was an extra source of pride for the Catalan club as it was achieved playing with an entire team of players developed through their academy for most of the match.

After Martin Montoya replaced Brazil fullback Daniel Alves in the 14th minute, all 11 team members on the pitch were products of Barca's famed "La Masia" youth academy.

Pearls of the current crop include Argentine World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, Spain playmaker Andres Iniesta and midfielder Cesc Fabregas.

Iniesta turned in a sparkling performance, twice setting up Messi, creating another goal for Fabregas and scoring a brilliant effort of his own as the league leaders racked up 37 points from 13 matches this season.

Their tally equalled the record for the best start to a campaign set by Real Madrid in the 1991-92 season.

"It's extraordinary, and all the more so for those of us who were trained at the Masia," midfielder Xavi, widely regarded as the finest playmaker of his generation, said. "It's more proof of the good work that has been done for many years," he added.