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FC Barcelona – The best ever?

Many teams have been given the title of ‘best team ever’. Real Madrid sides of the 1950s with Puskas and Di Stefano or the Real Madrid of the early 2000s with Ronaldo, Figo, Zidane, Raul and co. The Manchester United team of 1999 with Giggs, Scholes, Cole, Yorke, Solskjaer, Sheringham, Schmeichel. The Liverpool sides of the 70s and 80s boasting Rush, Dalglish, Keegan and Kennedy. Who could forget the Arsenal invincibles of 2003/2004 with Henry, Vieira, Pires and Ljungberg all hitting their peak simultaneously. But, this Barcelona side is something else. Those teams were all undoubtedly great teams but I think Pep Guardiola’s current Barcelona team would beat them all.

Starting from the back with Victor Valdes. Okay, Valdes is not the greatest goalkeeper the world has ever seen, but, how often does he make a mistake? He is reliable and consistent and that is what every great team needs, a good goalkeeper. The defence is solid. Carles Puyol is the the epitome of a leader, he is passionate, he commands his defence and he is a rock at the back and his partner, Gerard Pique, is in my opinion the best footballing centre half in the world, as his goal against Inter Milan in last season’s Champions League shows. Dani Alves, rivalled only by his compatriot Maicon and Bayern Munich’s Phillipp Lahm for the title of world’s best right back. Alves’ marauding runs down the right, expert crossing and eye for goal make him an excellent addition to a side who love scoring goals. Maxwell or Eric Abidal at Left back, not the most eye-catching names but either would surely get in most other club sides in the world.

The perfect midfield three. Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Sergio Busquets. It’s hard to find fault with any of them. Xavi dictates games, if Xavi plays well, Barca play well. He is creative, he can score goals as well as create them and he can defend for his team. It has been argued that Xavi never winning the Ballon D’or is one of football’s biggest injustices but i feel he has plenty of time left to win it. He has just been unfortunate that he has played in the era of Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho who have rather stolen the show in recent years. Andres Iniesta was described by Wayne Rooney as the ‘best in the world’ after the 2009 Champions League Final and he never fails to show his class. He thrives the Barcelona way of playing football. Short, sharp passing, attacking football and football at the highest tempo possible and he is a master of the art. The third of the trio, the unsung hero, Sergio Busquets. He keeps Javier Mascherano out of the team so he must be well thought of. He breaks up play, much like Mascherano but unlike Mascherano, Busquets has skill and class.

What can you say that hasn’t already been said about Lionel Messi. He is just magnificent to watch. He is the best player of this generation by a country mile and I think by the end of his career, he will be thought of as the best ever, better than Pele, better than Maradona. Any team with Lionel Messi in it is going to win football matches. He is the catalyst to the Catalan success. Samuel Eto’o and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have both been cast in the role of Barcelona’s main striker over the past few years and both did a decent job. Eto’o won the pichichi a couple of times and Ibrahimovic scored goals. However, David Villa is different he is much more of a typical Barca player and will undoubtedly score a lot of goals at the camp nou for years to come. Pedro completes the front three and early on in his career, he looks a class act. Time will tell if he can become as good as Messi and Villa and Xavi and Iniesta.

The manager is loved by the players too, Pep Guardiola, a Barcelona legend as a player and now as a manager. Adored by fans in the way that Frank Rijkaard never was in the days of Ronaldinho, Eto’o and Henry, which I feel held back that Barcelona side from glory.

So, they have a great team and a good manager but why does that make them the greatest?

I think there are two reasons. Firstly, These players are Catalan through and through. Valdes, Puyol, Pique, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro all came through the ranks. Messi came through the ranks too so you could say he is a catalan as he has been at the Camp Nou since he was 10. The Barcelona way of playing does not need to be taught to them when they come into the side. It is imprinted on them, they have been playing like that since they were 8, 9 and 10. They look like they all know what they are going to do before they get the ball. There is something admirable about the way Barcelona go about things. rarely do they splash £30million on a player if they have someone in their youth team in that position. In fact, only David Villa cost them what you would call a big fee, especially by modern standards and the standards of their inferior castillan rivals, Real Madrid. Barca built it, they didn’t buy it.

Secondly, Barcelona don’t just win football matches, they play the most beautiful football. Sometimes Barcelona’s football is just breathtaking. In almost every game they have 60-70% of the possession, even away from home. Even when they lose, they still have the lion’s share of possession and they never lose their cool. Underneath this beautiful passing play, they are tough, they can take bad fouls upon them, something which Messi has to do every game and although they play neat, intricate football, they are made of steal.

I don’t think any other club I have ever seen has such an amazing team that plays such splendid football whilst maintaining a squad of homegrown players. One thing that can be said for Barcelona is that they always look after the young Catalan players and more often than not, they aren’t let down. Just look at the list.

Obviously, this is just my personal opinion and I might be wrong, Brazil of 1970 or Liverpool of 1977 might be the best but I think this Barcelona side has everything that a team needs to be great. Great players, great fans, an incredible stadium and a manager who loves the club. Barcelona beat Real Madrid 5-0 tonight and look set to retain the La Liga title this year. Who would bet against them winning the Champions League and Copa Del Rey and cementing themselves as one of, if not the greatest side of all time?

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Lenno

    30 November, 2010 at 13:42

    what else can be said, mate? you got it all right. some people might prefer more direct football but most of the people I know (even most of R Madrid’s fans) love Barça’s football. What they do, tiki taka, it looks simple but you put any squad in front of them and they keep the same style (sometimes with more luck than others, as they are humans). I am nearly 50 (lived in UK and Paris for 16 yrs) and I ve seen many squads but nothing like this. Definetively the best team ever for me.

  2. Gaga

    30 November, 2010 at 16:06

    …:) – great – nothing to add really – except that what Barca does is like a world heritage – should be protected by UNESCO or something 🙂 – no really, I think many do not appreciate (blinded by the rivalry, hate, envy) how good they are – and what they all are giving to the world, honestly – it’s art, it’s something to sit and enjoy, makes you feel special as a human, ‘like them’ :), cheers

  3. qwerty

    1 December, 2010 at 01:01

    is this a joke?man utd and no sacchi’s milan?i think that is the best team ever.ah…michel’s ajax?

  4. Liam

    1 December, 2010 at 13:15

    i’m not saying they are definitely the best. just my opinion. i have never seen Michel’s ajax play so can’t really comment on them and Sacchi’s Milan that’s a good shout, can’t believe i didn’t think of them but i think this Barca is just as good, if not better.

  5. matt

    29 December, 2010 at 01:20

    If this team wins the treble again this season it is undoubtedly the greatest of all time. They are out of this worlD at the moment. And I do agree with you on most parts of this article However they are in a top heavy league at the moment. Only Barcelona and Real Madrid have the financial muscle to compete anymore. Teams like Seville, Valencia, Villareal and Athletico Madrid simply can’t compete. These teams were actually quite competitive when Madrid regained the title in 2007. But all these teams are now a shadow of what they once were (apart from Athletico Madrid who’s consistency gives me nightmares). La Liga and the Bundesliga are far more competitive. Messi is no Maradona, yet. He was a captain and led Napoli to glory in the years when Serie A was the most competitive league in the world with the likes of Zico playing for Fiorentina a small club at the time. And Messi never shone at his two world cups thus far. Pele won his first at 17 and won three with Brazil. Messi will be up their with the greatest of all time, but he will be behind Pele and Maradona unless he is tested on his own without iNIESTA AND XAVI.

    What about Man United 1990s-2010s Giggs, Scholes, Neville have been the backbone of United’s success for 2 decades almost. The Ferguson era is almost unmatchable in success. Gurdiola’s has only lasted three years so far! and United maintained almost consistent success in a very competitive league. Okay teams have had to be alternated and changed, but we have seen outstanding teams from United in the last two decades.

    But this Barcelona decade is different in that they could win three European Cups since 2006. That is a remarkable stat. But Real Madrid won 5 consecutively in the 50s.

    But this Barcelona team has swept aside the best United side of the last decade in 2008 final who were steam rolling pretty much all teams in Europe before they met Barcelona 2007-, they swept aside arsenal (but with a weakened backline silvestre etc) and were VERY fortunate against a chelsea side who we all know should have been in that final.

    This team isn’t the best ever. It is the best one I have ever seen. But I do not think it could have beaten Brazil’s team in the 70s or the Busby Babes had they fufilled they’re potential had the Munich Air Disaster occurred. And Liverpool would have cut Barcelona to shreds literally with proper footballing tackles. I believe you can never name the the best team ever because football has changed so much e.g fitness, pay, boots, the ball, pitches. WHO KNOWS. THERE CAN BE NO BEST TEAM EVER.

  6. Jamie

    3 February, 2011 at 23:08

    Yea i have to agree that Barcelona right now are the best team ive ever seen but im only 19. It’s basically Spain (world cup winners) with Lionel Messi added. Xavi and Iniesta make Barcelona so good, their ability to control the midfield with fluid passing triangles is mesmerising, certainily the understanding between Xavi and Inesta is paramount to Barcelonas ability to control games and continuously dominate possession of the ball. Messi is the best player ive ever seen literally maradona reborn but with superior attitude and professionalism. What makes Barcelona so impressive for me is the way they steamroll the opposition week in week out like a juggernaut yet their players posses no physical prowess. This shows us that on the ball Barcelona are almost untouchable.

  7. carlos alonso

    23 February, 2011 at 20:27

    Excuse my english. Barcelona is the best team ever because it is the only team in the history who has created a permanent philosophy for this sport… and it remains with different generations of players. I mean, in my opinion just 3 teams in the modern football (since 70’s) have created a beautiful and innovative way of playing: Ajax wiht Rinus Mitchel (their excelent way of playing was finished when Cruyff flyed to Barcelona), Milan with Sachi (finished after Van Basten, Baressi…etc), and 3 Barcelona teams: Dream Team (Laudrup, Stoichkov, Koeman, Romario…and Guardiola), Rijkard team (Ronaldinho,Etoo,Henry…and Xavi), and actual barça (Messi, Iniesta, Villa…and Xavi again). The key is the Xavi position. Barça has demonstrated to the worls that it is possible to create this type of player (Milla,Guardiola,Xavi, De la peña,Arteta,Cesc,Thiago)…and some others are coming. This type of player produces a dinamism, a type of passing game at an speed of the ball never seen before. I do not think possible to play better that midfield of Barça in last classic agains Real madrid. Because you have Xavi, you have Iniesta, you have Busquets…and you have Messi who is the best scorer in the world, the best offensive midfield in the world, the best left foot in the world, just a Play Station player.
    Barça is the best ever, playing the best football ever, getting the most impressive % of ball possesion ever…and able to remain as the best with different generations, Who has elliminated to barça playing better than them in the last 10 years?…

  8. IVAN

    6 June, 2011 at 23:31

    Hi Liam,

    this is Ivan from Barcelona. I mostly agree to what you have written but I
    disagree a bit with you with regard to your evaluation of Barcelona’s
    goalkeeper Victor Valdés.

    May I ask you what do you mean exactly for the best goalkeeper in the world ?? Which skills do you think a goalkeeper should have in order to provide with a good service to the team where he/she plays ??

    I mean, don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t vote for him in a contest
    of the best goalkeeper of the football history. But he is very very good.
    Much more than people can imagine.

    Do you know how many times has he managed to win 1-1 against experienced
    forwards like Thierry Henry or Shevshenko for example ?? He has avoided Barcelona lots of embarrasing situations and I think people just don’t realise of it and I simply don’t understand why not. He’s capable of handling the pressure like nobody else, albeit he’s acostumed to playing many games watching the ball most part of time in the opponent’s side of the pitch.

    And he never gets bored or tired of it. He’s always ready like an orca waiting for its prey waiting for the occasion to come up and do a good service. He nerver doubts. He can either get it right of he can fail but he never doubts. Many goalkeepers just can’t help doubting when crossroads come up. They just panic, get paralised and remain quiet as spectators watching the ball trespassing the goal line.

    Instead of that, Valdés has always a plan and I insist on the fact that Barça owes him much of its recent successful history.

    Why doesn’t he play more often for the national team ?? It’s very simple.
    He contemporary of other good spanish goalkeepers. And maybe that’s the reason why he’s noy widely known out of Spain.

    But I’d like to ask you, people, to watch more videos of him and take a deeper look of Valdes performances.

    Thank you
    Best Regards,

    Ivan

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