Twenty-two year old center-back Marc Bartra gave a press conference on Thursday, responding to questions on his possible involvement in next week’s Champions League match against Bayern Munich. With Mascherano out for six weeks and Puyol doubtful, Bartra is looking increasingly likely to partner Gerard Piqué in central defense. His main competition lies in two makeshift center-backs, Adriano and Sergio Busquets – the former he outplayed against Paris Saint-Germain, and the latter is more urgently needed in midfield. But can Bartra rise to the occasion? Read on after the jump for the young man’s thoughts.
The Catalan defender has struggled to get playing time throughout the season, but injuries and the fatigue of a grueling Champions League run have given Bartra a starting position in recent Liga matches. The youngster has jumped at the chance to prove himself and get settled into good form, saying, “I feel very comfortable with my team-mates. I’m getting better, I’m more into my rhythm.” Like a true La Masia product, Bartra showed only humility and patience at his lack of minutes up until this point and the need to prove himself: “I am aware what kind of team I’m in and I have never felt demoralised. I have taken things with ambition, thinking that my time will eventually come. I think I’m gradually getting better and that’s very important.”
Questions have been raised of whether Tito Vilanova made a mistake by not playing Bartra until now, and if the young defender will be up to the trial of fire that a start in the Champions League semifinals would be. But while he may still be a mostly unproven rookie, Bartra’s attitude is unmistakably that of a big-game veteran: “If they trust in me to play in Munich, I won’t disappoint … The greater the difficulty, the keener I am to give it a go … I have been preparing all season for my big moment to arrive.” This unshrinking approach to great challenges is rare and inspiring to see in such a young player. Then again, it’s not common place for 22-year-old defenders to start against the likes of Franck Ribéry, Arjen Robben, and Thomas Müller. Should he start the match in Munich next Wednesday, Marc Bartra will likely be the most scrutinized player on a pitch full of superstars – and he’ll be looking forward to it.
Image Credit: MIGUEL RUIZ – FCB