Barcelona; greatest team ever?

by Daniel Blazer

A bold statement but a team that consists of the majority of Spain’s 2010 World Cup winning team with the likes of Messi and Dani Alves thrown in for good measure, was always going to be close at defining perfection, but so were Pele’s Brazil, the Dutch team that brought us ‘Total Football’, Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ and Manchester United’s Treble Winning team, to name but a few. There are plenty of worthy rivals for the greatest team ever but Barcelona are certainly raising the stakes.

Barcelona’s players regularly scoop all the individual awards-most recently with Messi pipping Xavi and Iniesta to the 2010 Ballon D’Or- to add to players player, leading goalscorer and, well, the list goes on; but the real ‘x-factor’ about Barcelona is even if you take those players out of the equation, they can be replaced by Pedro, Mascherano and Bojan, a tactical headache any manager would dream of.

Pep Guardiola, a man who cuts a stern yet icy cool exterior on the touchline, is the ‘mastermind’ behind the team that continues to ‘wow’ the world of sport week in week out; and it’s been suggested that Pep Guardiola’s success has a lot to do with him being a product of Barcelona’s very successful youth academy (which has given us such talents as Pique, Xavi and Francesc Fabregas) and thus being in ‘in sync’ with the nature of what FC Barcelona really is: Més que un club (More than a club).

I’m running out of superlatives to describe the talent and achievements of the Catalan Giants, so I now have the ‘impossible’ task of finding flaws in an almost perfect working machine with the aesthetics to go with it; enter Inter Milan who surprised everyone when they convincingly dispatched of the ‘Champions’ League winners elect’ in last season’s semi final. It was a tactical victory for José Mourinho that gave a glimmer of hope to the chasing pack; the signs that Barcelona were beatable continued in this seasons Champions’ League when Russian minnows Rubin Kazan earnt a valuable point against Xavi and co and probably most surprising of all when Barcelona suffered a 2-0 defeat in their second game of the new La Liga campaign, to the newly promoted Hercules. These results prompted predictable responses from the world of football, ‘Barcelona are no longer unbeatable’, but fast forward to now, and Barcelona are five points clear of their main rivals, Real Madrid (who along the way, they thumped 5-0 in one of the greatest exhibitions of football ever) and have broken numerous records along the way, such as having the most points halfway through the season (52) and earning the most consecutive league wins with 16 victories (after their defeat of Atlético Madrid 3–0 at the Camp Nou). Overall, when you take everything into account, it seems to be a truly marvellous response from the supposed ‘fallen giants’ after a few dropped points early in the season.

And so the age old question once again rears its controversial head: ‘Is La Liga really as testing as the Premier League?’ With the Real Madrid era of ‘Galacticos’ appearing to be over and Valencia, while in third, are 17 points off Barca, perhaps it could be argued Barcelona are ‘a big fish in a small pond’, especially when you see stats that Lionel Messi has only scored once in nine games against English teams away from the Camp Nou; the same man who has over 100 La Liga goals in only six full seasons.

I suppose, like most things in football, it all comes down to opinion; are Barcelona the greatest attacking team ever? In this humble writer’s opinion: yes. I can’t even begin to consider swapping the likes of Messi, Xavi and Iniesta for Zidane, Ronaldo or even George Best, but defensively, the likes of Cafu, Malidini or even Carlos Alberto would oust Alves, Pique and Maxwell without much trouble.

Defensively, a work in progress, offensively a work of art.

5 Responses

  1. Ad says:

    I’ve not seen a better side in my life time.

    Barcelona just seem to have the perfect balance. Gone are the days where football is about having a bone crunching ball winner in the middle of the park with a big lump and a whippet up top.

    This current Barcelona side just have a great mix of pace, techincal ability and players with the invention to create something out of nothing.

    Not only that, they work the ball so well both in possession and chasing possession. Every Barca player hunts the ball down and give their opposition little time to use the ball effectively.

    On the ball, the likes of Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets can keep possession for long periods which must be knackering for opposing teams.

    It’s rare that one club possesses three of the best players in the World at any one time, but Barcelona have exactly that in Messi, Xavi and Iniesta.

    Throw in arguably the most clincal striker in the World in David Villa, the most talented young prospects in Pedro, Bojan and Sergio Busquets and with the solid defensive partnership of Puyol and Pique, it is no wonder that this Barcelona side creative so much positive energy.

    Like a snake, they practically suffocate teams by holding possession for long periods and they swallow teams whole in attack, usually in the form of an intricate passage of play involving Lionel Messi, David Villa and a pin point Xavi pass via Iniesta.

  2. kirk blazer says:

    with such narrative and knowledge you could probably make a case for Hereford United!

  3. Luca says:

    The writer has forgotten Ac Milan of Arrigo Sacchi , the fantastic team with Baresi, Maldini, Van Basten, Gullit, Rijkaard etc.
    Another great Italian team was juventus of Del Piero and Zinedine Zidane, unfortunely they won only champion’s league but they came in the finals three times consecutively.
    Barcelona is perhaps better than that Juventus but Ac Milan was greater.

  4. Well, I think you are correct. Barcelona could be one of the finest teams. Players have different forte when it comes to their play and that’s what makes them so popular.

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