We’re talking about legends, absolute legends. FC Barcelona won 289 times in the last decade, 16 times more than Real Madrid, their arch-rivals and closest competitor. Winning isn’t their only habit. The team has also topped the scoring charts, plundering 1060 goals in the last 10 years. Real Madrid could only manage 1016.
2 Champions League titles, 2 Club World Cups, 6 La Liga titles, 5 Copa Del Reys, 4 Supercopa de España, and 2 UEFA Super Cups filled the cabinet, blowing away competition from any other team on the globe.
Here, we take a look at the 11 players that made the team that became world-beaters by habit.
1. Goalkeeper: Marc Andre Ter Stegen
Signed in 2014 from Borussia Monchengladbach, this German was a beast for his age when he arrived at Camp Nou. His growth and prowess showed why he was already recognized as one of the world’s best talents. MATS, as he is fondly called, is set to dethrone Manuel Nueur as Germany’s custodian when the Bayern Munich goalkeeper hangs his boots.
2. Defence: Dani Alves, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, and Jordi Alba
With 42 trophies, he’s the footballer with the most number of medals throughout his career. And Dani, himself, has contributed significantly to each one of them. A right-back who is as capable of playing at right-wing, Alves left Barca in 2016 and was one of the leading lights in helping Leo Messi break all records with innumerable assists. An entertainer, the 36-year-old currently plays for Sao Paulo in Brazil.
Carles Puyol was everything one wants from a captain. A no-nonsense warrior who’d go to war with you for 90 minutes and then shake your hand afterward, Puyol was tough, uncompromising, and led by example. He’s passed on some of it to Gerard Pique, who’s already called ‘Él Presidente’ by the fans. He may be fun off the field, but on it, he’s one of the best defenders this decade has seen.
Leo Messi has a thing for full-backs. After signing for the club in 2012, Jordi Alba has struck a surreal relationship with the Argentine wizard, finding him regularly from the left side of the pitch.
He makes it to the team of the decade, with really no competition whatsoever as he continues to perform beside Pique.
3. Midfield: Xavi Hernandez, Sergio Busquets, and Andres Iniesta
Can there be any guesses about this? This troika ruled world football for about two-three years on the run, with no midfield ever coming close to usurping them. Sir Alex Ferguson explained them in the best way.
“They get you on that carousel, and they make you dizzy with their passing,” Fergie had said shortly after the final whistle had been blown on Barca’s 3-1 win over Manchester United at Wembley. Alongside the two nimble-footed visionaries, Sergio Busquets played his role of being the water carrier impeccably. He’s the pivot without who FC Barcelona and the Spanish National side looks naked, even today.
Ivan Rakitic came in close consideration but didn’t make the cut.
4. Forwards: Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar
MSN, as this fearful forward line was named, notched an unfathomable 364 goals in 450 games while playing some of the best-attacking football the world has ever seen. Neymar may have left for Ligue 1, but continues to flirt with a return to Nou Camp regularly. For some, he was expected to take the baton from Messi once the Argentine moves on from his home club.
Luis Suarez may have got a four-month ban when he arrived at Barcelona, but when he started scoring goals by the bucket, he swiftly made his way into the hearts of the fans. Arguably the best No. 9 to have played for the Catalan club, the Uruguayan has scored 141 times in 179 games.
The greatest player to have graced the pitch for many, is there anything new that can be written about Lionel Messi? Most no. of goals and assists in a decade, he’s won everything that is there to be won at the club level. He’s made trophies his own and still continues to perform at an out-worldly level even after so many years of magic. Sit back, relax, and enjoy him, because players like him don’t come regularly.
This superstar-laden team deserves a superstar coach, and thus, Pep Guardiola fills our bracket. It’s a shame that the current Man City manager had only two seasons at FC Barca in this decade, but his teams will forever be the barometer by which future coaches and their players are judged. He allowed fans to dream and continued the philosophy of total football that was given birth at La Masia by Ajax legend Johan Cryuff.
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