Best barcelona teams: Ranked! The 10 best Barcelona sides ever

Ranked! The 10 best Barcelona sides ever

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In 2011, Pep Guardiola won his second Champions League title as Barcelona manager with arguably the greatest performance his side had ever delivered – and what a stage to do it. 

It was a display that had everything you’d associate with Barcelona. Control, dominance and attacking intent throughout as Barca toyed with Manchester United like a cat with a ball of string. Yet when asked whether this side had surpassed the ‘Dream Team’ that Guardiola himself had been a part of under Johan Cruyff, Pep was coy to answer. 

Instead, he said that this side would never have been possible with Cruyff’s team. The way that Guardiola saw it, his philosophy was merely a continuation of his mentor’s and that the Barcelona way – the correct way to play – was the most important thing.

Well, we’re going to pose the questions that Pep himself wouldn’t answer. Which team was the best? There are plenty to choose from… 

Note: For most of these sides, we’re simply looking at one season that defined them, though others were defined by a longer period of time – perhaps they kept winning across that period or didn’t have so much change over a few years.

10. 1982 – 1984

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In an El Classico tie in 1983, Diego Maradona rounded the goalkeeper and was about to score, before a flying tackle came in from Juan Jose. Maradona stood still, waiting for the defender to smack into the post, slotting the ball into the empty net. The Argentine was the first Barcelona player to be given a standing ovation by a Bernabeu audience.

He was an undisputed world-beater and would have won more in Spain, perhaps, had it not been for bad luck and ill-discipline. He suffered hepatitis, before a broken ankle – caused by Andoni “the Butcher of Bilbao” Goikoetxea – though sometimes he was to blame for trouble. 

At one point, Diego trashed the Camp Nou trophy room because he wasn’t allowed his passport – while his Barca career ended with him in the centre of a mass brawl, kicking and punching anyone in an Athletic Bilbao shirt, after an on-pitch argument broke out into a shocking fight. 

Long before Barca execs were trying to offload Maradona to Napoli for his nonsense though, Maradona was the jewel of the side under legendary managers Udo Lattek – who managed Bayern Munich in their glory years – and Cesar Luis Menotti – who won the World Cup with Argentina in 1978. Bernd Schuster was in that side too – a future Real Madrid star.

It was a pleasure to watch the Argentine at the time, given free roam in front of a solid defence and hard-working midfield, often partnering Lobo Carrasco up top for the Blaugrana. It was a great side but not one that won a league trophy. 

9. 1959/60

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Long before Barcelona became wedded to the beautiful Cruyffian ideals that would come to define the club, another kind of philosopher was at the reigns of the club. Helenio Herrera won La Liga in 1950 and 1951 with Atletico Madrid and arrived in Catalonia as the king of “catenaccio”, a style of play that relied on a sweeper-type defender to act as a door lock and keep the defence tight.

Herrera is often likened to Jose Mourinho for his larger-than-life persona and tactics which history has chalked up as dour compared to more “progressive” managers – but that’s not to say that Barca didn’t still play fluid, attacking football at times that later presidents would have been proud of. Hungarian Laszlo Kubala and 1960 Ballon d’Or winner Luis Suarez were the two stars of the side, which won La Liga in 1958/59 and 1959/60.

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Herrera left the club in 1960 after clashing with Kubala one too many times, taking charge of the Spanish national side before going to Inter Milan and winning two European Cups with his talisman Suarez. Barca were the first side to ever knock Real Madrid out of the European Cup, too, during Herrera’s time at the club – it’s a case of maybe what could have been for this phenomenally talented side, despite the domestic dominance. Maybe that first wait for a European title could have come sooner. 

8. 1996/97

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Imagine having Bobby Robson on your bench, Jose Mourinho as his translator and Pep Guardiola as your captain. You should be fine for leadership, right? Now imagine you’ve got Ronaldo up front, too. 

But this was a tough time in Catalonia. Johan Cruyff, the club’s modern founding father, had just left – Robson stepped up though, winning the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, the Copa Del Rey and finishing second in La Liga. “He arrived as if he was in Barcelona for the last 20 years,” former president Joan Gaspart beamed of the once England boss. 

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Robson’s side were tactically flexible, extremely intelligent and had talent in spades. Of course, Ronaldo’s stellar season leading the line was the big talking point of the campaign – he hit an incredible 47 goals in all competitions – but the likes of Luis Figo and Hristo Stoichov were still reliable forces, too.

Both Ronaldo and Robson were at their peak of their powers, here. This was to be a one-season wonder for both, though – Louis van Gaal replaced Sir Bobby, while R9 went to Inter. The memories of that campaign – one in which expectations were sharply adjusted before it began – are still sweet, to this day.

7. 1973/74

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The foundations for the ‘Dream Team’ of 1992 had its foundations laid decades before. Johan Cruyff joining the club as a player in 1973 was a clear catalyst but even before that, Barca geared up for a possession-based style by hiring Vic Buckingham in 1969 – a pioneer Tottenham Hotspur’s push-and-run style before he went to Ajax to work on total football – before replacing Buckingham with Rinus Michels in 1971. 

Michels had overseen the dominant, multiple Eredivisie-winning Ajax sides of the 1960s and lifted the European Cup in 1971. This was a piece of what Barcelona wanted and so they tempted the Dutchman to the Camp Nou to work his magic. A year later he brought Cruyff – for a record transfer fee – and the jigsaw was complete.

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Cruyff turned down Real Madrid – saying he could never join a club “associated with Franco” – and won La Liga in his first season, beating Real 5-0 on their own patch. Michels weaved his total football masterplan to devastating effect that night, with Cruyff spraying passes from deep for the likes of Carles Rexach and Juan Carlos to run onto, exhausting the opposition defence.

Cruyff picked up the European footballer of the Year awards in 1973 and 1974. Few would successfully mark him until Franz Beckenbauer managed to get one over the Dutchman at the World Cup final of 1974. A European Cup never came but Cruyff excelled in Catalonia as a player.

6. 1998/99

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“[My] philosophy does not correspond with the culture of the country.” Louis van Gaal said when he left Barcelona in the new millenium. As a player, he was a substitute to Cruyff at Ajax; he rebuilt Ajax as a manager after Cruyff left and was the natural successor to him at Barcelona – he loved possession and relied on the academy at his fingertips. So surely his philosophy should’ve corresponded?

Cruyff disagreed – he was said to despise van Gaal’s less enthralling style of play and Bobby Robson even said that he felt he was brought in for one season specifically as a buffer between Cruyff and van Gaal. When he arrived though, van Gaal brought a raft of fellow countrymen, such as Kluivert, the De Boer brothers, Boudewijn Zenden and Ruud Hesp, rebuilding the side in his image.  

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The Dutchman came in just as Ronaldo was packing for Inter and had to implement a rigorous system to compensate – just as he did when Dennis Bergkamp left for I Nerazzurri while he was at Ajax. For sheer talent though, van Gaal’s was still one of the greatest Barca sides ever.

Van Gaal won two La Ligas in Spain so the decision to hire him was somewhat vindicated, at least. After an unconvincing double in his first season – if there is such a thing – Barca began controlling games far more a season later, relying on incredible flair from Ballon d’Or-winning Rivaldo. 

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They did exit the Champions League in the group stage two seasons in a row – quite the blemish – but it was a hell of a squad while it lasted. When cracks began to show in 2000, Louis left to manage the Netherlands’ ill-fated 2002 World Cup qualification campaign. At least there, no one could complain that he picked too many Dutchmen.

“What has Barcelona won in 100 years? How many Champions Leagues?” van Gaal questioned in his post-exit interview. “In six years at Ajax I won more than Barcelona had won in 100 years.” Unbelievable, really, that he had a second spell after that comment.

5. 2004 – 2006

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There were some who were concerned with the idea of Frank Rijkaard managing a club of Barcelona’s stature. He was, to say the least, a volatile character – but the temper he displayed as a player melted away as he became a figure of calm in the dugout. 

Rijkaard ended a trophy drought of six years, making big-name signings in his first season in charge in the form Samuel Eto’o and Deco. The team revolved around the talents of Ronaldinho, as Rijkaard oversaw an exodus of older stars – Dutch trio Philip Cocu, Patrick Kluivert and Michael Reiziger all saw their contracts terminated, while Luis Enrique and Marc Overmars retired.  

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The result was instant. Barcelona won the league playing football with flair, thanks to their exciting attack. A season later, they made very little change but drafted in youth product Lionel Messi a little more – whatever happened to that fella? – producing the first iconic front three that the little genius was a part of, alongside Ronaldinho and Eto’o.

In 2006, Barcelona retained the league title again ahead of Real Madrid before breaking Arsenal hearts in Paris to lift their second Champions League title. Frank Rijkaard had a short spell at Galatasaray but has largely left the picture as far as management is concerned – he’s the second-longest serving Barca boss since Cruyff, either way.

4. 2014/15

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By 2015, Barcelona hadn’t won a Champions League title since Pep Guardiola’s last one in 2011 – astonishing, really, considering the calibre of their players and the contingency plan that Pep himself put in place. But the semi-finals of the competition would pair up one club legend with another, as Pep’s new side, Bayern Munich, took on Luis Enrique’s Barca.

Guardiola’s Camp Nou return was a sour one, with his team tied in knots by that trident. Having Messi, Suarez and Neymar in your team was enough for anyone – they netted an unprecedented 122 goals in all competitions that campaign and beyond that this team didn’t need much more coaching to overcome Pep’s evolving ideals. Players like Pique, Rakitic, Iniesta, Busquets and Alves coached themselves by now. 

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Messi famously folded Jerome Boateng inside out before chipping Manuel Neuer with his right foot. It summed up the season – even against world-class opposition, just a moment of genius was enough. This was proof, too, that there was life without Pep Guardiola. Manchester City – take note.

Barcelona won the treble, obliterating all before them with arguably the most potent attack of all time. It’s not the prettiest side they ever built but it’s probably the most ferocious.

3. 1990 – 1994

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It was said that in British music in the 1990s, everyone was influenced by Oasis whether they wanted to be or not – you either kicked against them or embraced them. Well, Cruyff was the parallel in European football at the time.

Camp Nou attendances were at 40,000 spectators just a decade prior. Barcelona weren’t winning trophies around this time, of course, but they weren’t winning plaudits either: Terry Venables and Luis Aragones had both deployed pragmatic tactics and the Cules were growing tired of their team.

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Enter Johan Cruyff. A Cup Winners’ Cup winner with Ajax, Catalonia’s favourite adopted son brought in his 4-3-3/3-4-3 hybrid, drawing from the La Masia academy and teaching Barcelona a new way to play. He moved Guardiola from the wing to become the tempo-setter in midfield, while Ronald Koeman would step out from being a centre-back to start play at the base of midfield.

Barcelona had won two La Liga titles in a 30-year stretch before Cruyff arrived. Under the Dutchman’s free-flowing philosophy, they lifted four in a row and completed their first European Cup triumph in 1992 – thanks to a rocket from the gallivanting Koeman. 

He didn’t just put together a successful team, he created a style of play, celebrated the world over, that would become ingrained into the DNA of a club. He’s arguably the most influential man in the game ever – and this was his managerial masterpiece. 

2. 2008/09

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It’s sometimes levelled at Pep Guardiola that he never gives himself a challenge – he always manages the big guns. People forget though that when he took over Barcelona, they hadn’t won anything for two seasons – they were a shadow of their former Rijkaard-led side and in one of his first missions at the club, he went to war with his bosses. 

Lionel Messi wanted to represent Argentina at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, something Barcelona weren’t keen on him risking himself for. Pep argued his case, stating what a strong learning opportunity it was for him as a player, winning gold in Barcelona in 1992. 

Pep won the battle, Messi followed in his mentor’s footsteps and brought home gold. It was the first real sign of this young player showing he was a winner – Guardiola had such faith in him that he sold Ronaldinho and Deco to clear space for Messi to play.

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It was a bold move at the time and it could have backfired so easily – yet it proved to be a masterstroke. The early faith in Messi paid dividends, as Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry combined with the little genius to devastating effect. Xavi and Andres Iniesta become generals of Pep’s philosophy – the same positional play that he’d been educated in – as Barcelona swept to a magnificent treble. 

It showed a glimpse of what this incredible young manager – and his unbelievable protege – could deliver. Guardiola became the youngest manager of all time to ever win the Champions League in 2009.  

1. 2010/11

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Plenty happened between Pep Guardiola’s two Champions League titles. Eto’o was swapped for Zlatan Ibrahimovic – disastrously – as Zlatan left 12 months later, spitting feathers at Pep, while Eto’o lifted a consecutive treble with Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan. Mourinho, still angry at not getting Guardiola’s job in 2008, made sure to make a beast of himself when he knocked his adversary out of the Champions League semi-final.

Henry, Marquez, Toure, Hleb, Gudjohnsen and Sylvinho were out – David Villa now led the line, Pedro had burst through the academy, Sergio Busquets was the No.6 and Javier Mascherano was Gerard Pique’s pitbull alongside him. Pep’s first Barcelona team was good – but this really felt like his own side, moulded in his image. By now, Lionel Messi had reached god level, netting 53 times in 55 games of this campaign. 

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This was the season that perhaps Pep Guardiola still has to match up to. The football was absolutely exquisite. The team was otherworldly. They won 16 La Liga matches in a row, including the Clasico 5-0 and then dismantled Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United in the Champions League final at Wembley. 

There has perhaps never been a team this good in world football. A beaten Ferguson admitted that Messi was the finest player he’d ever seen. Football perfection is something that Barca have been searching for, throughout their history. They’ve come so very near so very many times – but this is definitely their best case for it. 

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Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson’s season at Barcelona to Robinho’s career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo. 

Barcelona’s 11 Greatest Sides of All Time | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors

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Stefan Vasilev@ LogoAnalyst IMay 30, 2011

Barcelona’s 11 Greatest Sides of All Time

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    “More Than a Club” is the slogan for Barcelona FC.

    Since its founding, Barcelona has been on a road of self-discovery. Some time along the way, the people of Catalonia started to envisage Barcelona as a symbol of their country—more than a club.

    To some, especially in times of oppression under Fransisco Franco’s long dictatorship in Spain, Barcelona FC was envisaged as the club who expressed the rights and freedom of the Catalonian people.

    In history, the club has done its best to not disappoint the people who support it.

    Through many faces, many sides of footballers led by managers with visions for the game as different as every sunrise, the L’equip blaugrana has always found a way to convey the concerns and believes of its supporters.

    Some have managed to do it better than others.

    Who are they?

    Here are the 11 Greatest Sides in Barcelona’s history:

11. The Cesar Menotti Transition to Terry Venables, 1982-85

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    How can I not mention the tenure of one of football’s greatest in the Catalan club, Diego Maradona?

    He joined in 1982 after the World Cup, and a year later, he donned three medals on his neck. But his tenure in Barcelona was not an easy one. He suffered a broken leg and got infected with hepatitis. He left in 1984 for Napoli.

    After the 1983 success, with the inauguration of Terry Venables as the new managers, midfielder Bernd Schuster grabbed the opportunity to shine. In 1985, Barca won the Spanish League for the first time in 11 years. Two years later, they snatched the Spanish League cup.

    The English manager also took L’equip blaugrana to their second European Cup final, but after a dramatic penalty shoot-out in which six out of eight penalties were squandered, Romanian side Steaua Bucuresti lifted the cup in front of dispirited Catalan faces.

10. Bobby Robson’s Short but Fruitful Stint, 1996-1997

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    Bobby Robson’s surprising arrival to Barcelona in 1996 brought two other branded-to-become-famous faces: Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho, who he previously worked with at Porto.

    Although considered as a temporary solution to Barca’s managerial aspirations, Bobby Robson’s tactical acumen and Ronaldo’s best year of his career quickly paid off.

    Three more cups were won: the Spanish Supercup in 1996 and Copa Del Rey and the European Cup Winners cup in 1997.

    Bobby Robson was just the temporary man for the job until Louis van Gaal became available, but the results his side achieved in such a short period of time left many wondering what would have been his football side if he had more time to build it.

    Nonetheless, Bobby Robson marked Barcelona history.

9. The Laszlo Kubala Influence, Part Two, 1958-61

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    Laszlo Kubala is the man in the middle

    In 1958, Laszlo Kubala persuaded two of his compatriots, Hungarian refugees, to come and play with him at Barcelona. The three Hungarians would form the nucleus of the team with Luis Suarez and Evaristo.

    The Catalans’ success from the previous seasons poured uninterrupted. They won the double in 1959 and yet again the Spanish League and Inter-Cities Fair Cup in 1960.

    With the beginning of the next decade, Kubala found himself fallen out of favor in the eyes of manager Helenio Herrera. Like Sauron without his ring of power, Barcelona suffered defeat at the hand of arch-rivals Real Madrid in the 1960 semifinals of the European Cup.

    Herrero fired; Kubala restored to first team: revenge was served in the next year. Barcelona became the first club to beat Real Madrid in the European Cup competition.

     Laszlo Kubala’s rein of Barcelona affairs ended soon after.

    PS: Part One is higher on the list.

8. Louis Van Gaal’s Side, 1997-2000

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    With the arrival of Louis van Gaal from Ajax in 1997, a true Dutch colonization was instigated at Barcelona.

    Slowly but surely, the Ajax stars that had taken over the world under Van Gaal started to rejoin him one by one. Reiziger, the brothers Frank and Ronald De Boer, Philip Cocu, Jari Litmanen, Patrick Kluivert and Boedewijn Zenden were among the army of colonizers led by Van Gaal.

    From a Blaugurana perspective, the new Dutch manager might have seemed as one preaching a fundamentally different philosophy from theirs.  This was bound to cause clashes, and it did.

    Despite winning the La Liga twice and the Copa Del Rey once in his first two seasons of tenure, the failures of Barcelona on the European stage were enough to elevate the buried discontent of the fans to the surface.

    He was not liked by the fans and by the media despite winning three trophies. Players often contradicted him. Brazilian star Rivaldo was one of those players. Overall, Van Gaal couldn’t brag with living through the best of times in his Barcelona tenure.

    His positives were often overlooked, but in truth, Van Gaal’s side reaped some success, and most importantly, provided the favorable environment for players to emerge from the youth ranks. Xavi Hernandez, Victor Valdes and Carles Puyol were some of those players who were given the chance.

7. The Laszlo Kubala Influence, Part One, 1951-58

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    On June 15, 1950, two Hungarians joined Barcelona to signify the beginning of yet another transformation: Laszlo Kubala and new manager Ferdinand Daucik. They were the masterminds of the success to come.

    In 1951, Kubala scored 26 goals in 19 games, breaking the La Liga’s record for most scored in a single match with seven against Sporting de Gijon. Along with his manager and the help of his teammates, Emilio Aldecoa, Juan Zambudio Velasco, Joan Segarra and Antoni Ramallets, Kubala won five medals this season—one of the most successful seasons in Barcelona history.

    That side won eight trophies from 1951 to 1958: twice the Spanish League, four times the Spanish Cup and twice the Supercope de Espana.

6. Rinus Michels’ Side, 1973-78

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    “It is an art in itself to compose a starting team, finding the balance between creative players and those with destructive powers, and between defence, construction and attacknever forgetting the quality of the opposition and the specific pressures of each match.”, Rinus Michels wrote about every manager’s fundamentals task.

    It’s an art that he had perfected. He was the mastermind behind the Netherlands side of the 1974.

    Michels had already been well-known for his successful employment of total football with Ajax and the Netherlands national side before he sat at the managerial stool of Barcelona.

    He managed the club between 1971 and 75 and then from 1976 to 78. He had the time to build the side he wanted, and with his brilliant mind, he dove deep into the total football style to explore it.

    Most of all, Johan Cruyff stood up from all the rest. He was the man who could make Michels’ ideas materialize on the field. The team revolved around him. The two Dutchmen made things click for the Catalans. The Dutch connection had started. And it brought success.

    Although the side won only two trophies, they ended the club’s 13-year trophy drought through the tactical ingenuity of Rinus Michels, skill and vision of Johan Cruyff and the support of quality players like Juan Manuel Asensi, Carles Recach and Hugo Sotil.

    This makes them a historical football side and one of the best Barcelona has had.

5. Frank Rijkaard’s Side, 2003-2006

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    Having lastly won a trophy in 1999, Barcelona fans were desperate to see the dry period end. Their hopes focused on Dutch hero Frank Rijkaard, who assumed the position of Barcelona manager in 2003.

    Times were ones of change, as the club had gone through a change in administration: Joan Laporta had seized control from his unsuccessful predecessor, Joan Gaspart.

    With the new president focused on reviving the glory years of the past, Rijkaard had a strong backing and was allowed the freedom to implement his ideas to the squad.

    Not much was changed initially. Relying on the inherited team, and with one new signing in Ronaldinho, Rijkaard pushed the Catalan team to the second position in Premiera Division. In the next year, the refurbishment of the team began. Ronaldinho was given a more central role and previously promoted from the youth division players like Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Victor Valdes and Carles Puyol re-established themselves.

    Two back-to-back La Liga titles followed; a Supercopa the Espana and a Champions League trophy after beating Arsenal 2-1 in the final.

    Rijkaard’s philosophy was in the mould of Johan Cruyff’s—a thing reminiscent of great times for Barcelona fans. The team played attacking and beautiful football, which proved to be successful.

    The Dutchman stayed for two more years, but failed to win more trophies. Despite that, he gave Barcelona the glory they sought after six years of drought and an emerging player, Lionel Messi, the foundation for development he needed.

4. The 1944-49 Barcelona Side, a Snowdrop Finds Its Way Through the Snow

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    Dictator Francisco Franco

    In those difficult times for Spain—it was under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco—the Catalan club suffered repressions. Football was not as important as what it could relay.

    And that’s exactly what Barcelona did for the Catalan people.

    In 1943, Barcelona played Real Madrid in the Copa del Generalisimo (yes, there were football tournaments in George Orwell’s 1984; can you believe it?). They won with a result of 3-0 in the first match. Before the second leg, they had a visit from Franco’s head of state to remind them they were only playing due of the “generosity of the regime.”

    Real won that match 11-1.

    Despite the endured oppression, having players like Cesar, Antoni Ramallets and Juan Zambudio Velasco coached by Barca legend Josep Samitier meant Barcelona would inevitably succeed on the meadow.

    From 1945 to 49 the Catalans added their second, third and fourth Spanish League titles.

    What makes this side special was they played football and won during dangerous of times for everyone with a slightly different mindset than Franco’s—the Catalans had one and demonstrated it on the field.

    They were on the rise.

3. The Sides of the 1920s, the End of the Club’s First Golden Age

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    The 1920s were times of self-discovery for Barcelona. It was by that time the club started to recognize its symbolic meaning to the Catalan people.

    It was at the time the club began to become more than a club. Jack Greenwell, the then manager, was the one who laid the foundation for success on the field.

    In the team he built, the Barcelona all-time top goal-scorer played alongside the club’s second best top goal-scorer, Paulino Alcantara and Josep Samitier respectively.

    The Catalans also boasted players like Ricardo Zamora, Emilio Sagi, Felix Sesumaga and Franz Platko.

    The period marked the embarking of Barcelona on a long journey of success.

    They won the Spanish Cup six times, the Catalan Championship five times and the club’s first Spanish League title in 1929.

2. Pep Guardiola’s Side, 2008-Now

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    In 2008, an ex-Barca player who had played under Johan Cruyff was appointed the new manager of the club. Pep Guardiola’s opinions diverged from those of previous manager Frank Rijkaard. He was quick to act by offloading three of the club’s stars: Ronaldinho, Sammuel Eto’o and Deco to Milan, Inter-Milan and Chelsea respectively, to add to the list of players not included in his plans.

    On that list, the names of Giovani Dos Santos, Edmilson and Lilian Thuram were already written.

    The voids were filled by Daniel Alves and Seudou Keita from Sevilla, Martin Caseres from Villarreal, Gerrard Pique from Manchester United and Alexander Hleb from Arsenal. Three players were promoted from the youth ranks: Sergio Busquets, Pedro Rodriguez and Jeffren Suarez.

    Pep’s own version of Johan Cruyff’s “tiki-taka” initiated.

    He won an amazing of six trophies that year. Johan Cruyff might have stirred in his sleep: Maybe the disciple is better than the master?

    The success story continued up to a few days ago when Pep Guardiola added another Champions League trophy to raise the number of trophies he has won to 10 so far.

    Pep, however, was very lucky to have a real gem already in the squad prior to his arrival—the short Argentinean boy Lionel Messi.

    Lionel Messi, targeted by midfield generals Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, has made sure Pep Guardiola’s tactics would work like a charm.

    For that reason, Pep Guardiola remains second after the man who inspired him in his coaching ways—Johan Cruyff.

    Undeniably, Guardiola’s Barcelona are on their way to become the best one the club has ever had.

1. Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team, 1990-1994

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    Following a difficult period for Barcelona football club, in 1988, a man who had provided inspiration in the past, by being the footballer he was, was burdened with the responsibility of bringing about positive change.

    That man was no other than the Flying Dutchman, Johan Cruyff.

    On the field, Cruyff was the reason the Netherlands’ national team played “total football.” He would often move freely on the field, and total football allowed for his teammates to adjust to his movements. And he would always yell orders on where a player is supposed to be positioned and when to move.

    As a manager, the very same vision he possessed was to give birth to a football side of Barcelona that was branded “The Dream Team”—a side that would forever change the direction the club would go.

    Under Cruyff, Barcelona became a hugely successful blend of home-grown and proven international players dancing under the tune of their visionary manager.

    The tune would later be called “tiki-taka,” a branch of the “total football” school.

    Players like Josep Guardiola, Albert Ferrer, Txiki Begiristain, Hristo Stoichkov, Romario, Michael Laudrup and Ronald Koeman seized their fortune to gain the status of club heroes.

    Between 1990 and 1994, four consecutive La Liga titles were won. Pillage in the form of three trophies from European conquests also travelled to adorn the Barcelona trophy halls. The Copa Del Rey was won in 1990 and the European Supercup in 1992, along with three Supercopa de Espana between 1990 and 1994.

    Eleven trophies in total stretched over an eight-year long period of Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona tenure (but the accomplishments were really achieved inside five years; in the other three, Cruyff didn’t win anything). The Dutchman broke the records for the club’s longest serving and most-successful manager.

    In the later part of his career, past glory could not cancel out two years of trophy-drought, and in 1996, the club’s president relieved Johan Cruyff from his position.

    His legacy though would have a much longer effect than expected. His “Dream Team” had already done what it was supposed to do: shape the mentality of the club to one of winners.


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7 of the best teams in the history of Barcelona – Spanish Cuisine – Blogs

Stanislav Rynkevich talks about the greatest teams in the history of the Catalan club.

Selecting the best teams when the number of trophies won is not the criterion is not an easy task. Sometimes it’s hard to even separate eras – by coaches, by major stars, by dominant football ideas?

This list did not include the native and well-known Barcelona of the first coming of Louis van Gaal, the so-called BarsAjax. She was charismatic and successful, but in the humble opinion of the author, this is only a transitional period between two truly great teams. Van Gaal continued to develop Xavi’s talent, he discovered Iniesta for Barcelona, ​​but there was no collective discovery.

Bobby Robson’s absolutely enchanting Barça, with Ronaldo at the forefront, won everything except the Spanish championship. The reason is even more trivial – it was only one season, a flash in the night. In the end, human memory is the main place where teams of various convocations should be, and not at all some kind of list.

And one more small disclaimer on the subject of approximate team positions. This is all extremely conditional, because sometimes it is difficult to choose the optimal scheme within one season, to say nothing when we take intervals of several years, when different players play for the club.

7. Barcelona 2004-2006

Achievements: 2 La Liga, Champions League, Spanish Super Cup .
Frank Rijkaard .
Main stars:
Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto’o, Carles Puyol, Deco, Xavi.

In the second half of the 2003/04 season, the new president Joan Laporta’s colossal trust by Spanish standards in the coaching ideas of Frank Rijkaard and Henk ten Cat began to be justified. Barcelona went up sharply and, having strongly strengthened in the summer of 2004, completed the period of “troubled times.” The Dutch herringbone with hyperactive full-backs, a creative midfield center and the magician Ronaldinho on the left flank (and beyond) once again lifted Barça to the European heights, where they had already begun to forget about it.

A truly historic encounter between Barcelona and Chelsea in the 2004/05 Champions League play-offs saw the two new powerhouses of European football clash in spectacular fashion. Losing then, the Catalans won the Champions League against Arsenal the following year and entered their names in history. Rijkaard’s Barça’s term was short – the team leaders thought less and less about football, and new stars did not strengthen the team. But until now, fans remember with nostalgia the “warm, lamp” Barcelona, ​​which was both beautiful and vulnerable, and most of all associated with the incredible style of play of Ronaldinho.


6. Barcelona 1984-1986

Achievements: La Liga, Copa del Rey final, European Cup final.
Coach: Terry Venables.
Main stars: Bernd Schuster (pictured), Gerardo, Migueli, Julio Alberto, José Ramon Alesanco

English specialist Venables is valued in the club’s history thanks to the end of the trophy drought. After the work of Michels in the seventies, Barcelona no longer felt like a hopeless province, but the potential of the team demonstrated under Latteca and Menotti could not be realized in any way. In Catalonia, as in the Basque Country, the English have always been loved as opposed to the Spanish crown. Venables did not study the yellowed pages of Michels’ notes, but built an island 4-4-2, adjusted for local specifics.

The midfield four, whose cover face was “Architect” Bernd Schuster, managed not only to win the Spanish title for the first time in 11 years, but also to reach the European Cup final, something that has not happened since 1961. Moreover, in the return semi-final of the tournament, Barça had to win back the difference of 3 goals conceded in the first match. With Venables gone, his legacy will continue for years to come in forward Gary Lineker.


5. Barcelona 1951-1953

Achievements: 2 La Liga, 2 King’s Cups, Latin Cup, Eva Duarte Cup.
Ferdinand Dauchik.
Main stars:
Ladislao Kubala (pictured), Cesar, Basora, Eduardo Manchon, Joan Segarra, Anthony Ramallets.

Slovak coach Ferdinand Daucik arrived at the club with his brother-in-law Ladislao Kubala. Kubala, due to the flight from Hungary to Spain, for some time did not have the right to play in the new championship, but as soon as the suspension period expired, he turned Barça into a trophy car. At 19In 1952, the Catalan club was referred to as the “Five Cup Barça”, because in addition to the championship and the King’s Cup (then called the Generalissimo Cup), the team won the analogue of the Champions League for clubs in Southwestern Europe, the prototype of the Spanish Super Cup and another more modest trophy.

The famous Catalan performer Joan Manuel Serrat sang to the glory of the Catalan quintet of strikers, and during this period Barcelona itself became a symbol of the struggle for freedom and independence of the region from the dictatorship of the Franco regime. Despite the phenomenal scattering of trophies and the invitation of one of the best players in the history of Barca, Dauchik did not stay at the club for a long time due to a conflict with the players.


4. Barcelona 1958-1960

Achievements: 2 La Liga, Copa del Rey, European Champions Fair Cup
Helenio Herrera (pictured).
Main stars:
Ladislao Kubala, Luis Suarez, Zoltan Cibor, Sandor Kocsis, Anthony Ramallets.

To stop the hegemony of Real Madrid, who had won 3 European Cups in a row with Di Stéfano – that was the task of Argentine Elenio Herrera in Barcelona. Herrera’s period in Catalonia is best characterized by the concept of “breaking patterns”. The Argentinean was the first in the history of the club to decide that the attack is not everything, and it would be time for the “blue garnet” to learn how to play defense. He was the first to introduce monetary disciplinary sanctions, which he applied even in relation to the god-like Ladislao Kubala.

The rigid management system in the club caused a constant flow of criticism against the specialist, but he responded to everything with results. The record of 96 goals scored in a league season stood for over 30 years. For two years, the indestructible Real Madrid remained without a trophy in the domestic championship. But faced with a principled enemy in the European Cup arena, Herrera remained true to himself, removed the team leaders for the sake of a tactical idea and lost, actually signing a letter of resignation.


3. Barcelona 1973-1978

Achievements: La Liga, Copa del Rey, semi-finals of the European Cup.
Trainer: Rinus Michels, Hennes Weisweiler.
Major stars: Johan Cruyff, Carles Reschac, Johan Neeskens, Juan Manuel Asensi

When it comes to team greatness, not everything is measured by the number of trophies won. The era of Michels’s work did not bring a hail of significant cutlery to Barcelona fans, but it was during these years that the Barcelona of the future was forged. The one we know today. First, it was the revolutionary Michels who was responsible for the creation of Dutch total football. He planted the successful Ajax model on Catalan soil, and not only in a theoretical sense. Cruyff and Neeskens brought by him became living prophets of a new football idea, and Reshak and Asensi became their capable students.

The year Cruyff arrived, Barça won the Spanish title for the first time since 1960, beating Real Madrid 5-0 along the way. Leaving the club for the Dutch national team, Michels returned to finalize his own a year later. Barça will spend this year on internal feuds between the team’s main star and the reactionary coach Weisswaler. At a record pace, the catalanized Cruyff would name his son Jordi in the local manner and forever connect his fate with the “Blaugrana”.


2. Barcelona 1990-1994

Achievements: 4 La Liga, European Cup, Cup Winners Cup final, Champions League final, 2 Spanish Super Cups, UEFA Super Cup.
Trainer: Johan Cruyff.
Main stars: Mikael Laudrup, Hristo Stoichkov, Josep Guardiola, Ronald Koeman, Andoni Zubizarreta.

A direct continuation of the Barcelona of the seventies. Cruyff the coach has been just as successful in Catalonia as the player Cruyff. The team he created in the late eighties was called “Dream Team” and won 4 Spanish championships in a row and the first European Cup in history. From time to time there are conversations whether it is possible to rank Barcelona among the real European giants, and if so, since when. The Catalan club really remained an original province for a long time and jumped onto the podium of the greats quite late, but this happened not in the 21st century, but in the early nineties of the last century.

The dream team ended up in the Champions League final in Athens, destroyed by AC Milan. Cruyff tried to assemble a new generation of La Masia graduates, but failed to secure the support of President Nunez. Leaving an unfading legacy, Cruyff remained the “gray eminence” in the Catalan palaces, expressing his opinion with or without. And the nineties were the most successful decade in the history of the club.


1. Barcelona 2008-2011

Achievements: 3 La Liga, Copa del Rey, 2 Champions Leagues, 2 Spanish Super Cups, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup.
Coach: Pep Guardiola .
Main stars:
Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Carles Puyol, Dani Alves.

Even the weight of time, which makes everything old more weighty, cannot outweigh the success of modern Barcelona. The ideas taken over by Guardiola from Cruyff received their maximum development after the death of Rijkaard’s Barcelona. In parallel with the progress of the Spanish national team, the term “tiki-taka” was established, which at that time did not yet have a contemptuous analogy with hypertrophied aimless ball control. The backbone of the Barcelona players won 2 European Championships and the World Cup as part of the Spanish national team, and Lionel Messi won 4 Golden Balls in a row.

The very word “Barcelona” for this period became a household word around the world, meaning the most difficult opponent possible. Guardiola’s Barcelona played not only spectacularly, like its predecessors from different decades, but also produced amazing results. Having taken two Champions Leagues in 3 years, Barca became a hostage of its own model, sugared and lost ground. “When the team cycle ends, it is necessary to change either the coach or the players,” Guardiola remembered this commandment from working with Cruyff. From the moment when it became clear that the players will not be changed, the Blaugrana continues to search for a new coach, ready to launch a new generation of winners.


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Photo: REUTERS/Henry Romero; fcbarcelona. com; Fotobank/Getty Images/Gianni Ferrari, VI Images; REUTERS/Albert Gea

From Cruyff to Guardiola. The best Barcelona teams of all time 12/25/2020 read the blog on SOCCER.RU

The current Barcelona is considered by many to be one of the worst in decades. And recalls the best versions of this team, collected by the authoritative portal FourFourTwo.

7. Barcelona 1973/74. Mora – Olmo, Costas, De la Cruz, Torres – Juan Carlos, Rexach, Neeskens – Cruyff, Sotil, Pina.

During these years, a key aspect of Barcelona’s style was laid down – a penchant for possession of the ball. Its symbol was Rinus Michels, who a year after joining the team brought Johan Cruyff there. This was the key to success. Cruyff won La Liga with Barcelona in his first season, defeating Real Madrid 5-0 during the championship. Cruyff received awards for the best player in Europe at 1973 and 1974.

6. Barcelona 1998/99. Hesp – Ferrer, Reiziger, Nadal, Bogarde – Cocu, Guardiola, Luis Enrique – Figo, Kluivert, Rivaldo.

Cruyff’s natural heir at Barcelona at the time was Louis van Gaal, although he himself, when he left the club, claimed that his philosophy did not suit Spain. Nevertheless, van Gaal had to follow Cruyff before – in the same Ajax. When van Gaal arrived at Barcelona, ​​he brought many Dutch players to the club, creating a team for himself. He won La Liga twice with this team. Barcelona’s game looked impressive. But in 2000, there was a discord, and van Gaal was forced to leave the club.

5. Barcelona 2004-06. Valdes – Oleger, Marquez, Puyol, van Bronkhorst – Deco, Edmilson, van Bommel – Julie, Eto’o, Ronaldinho.

There were concerns about how Frank Rijkaard could handle Barcelona. But the Dutchman broke Barcelona’s trophy drought and was able to attract new stars to the team, and also built a game around the phenomenal Ronaldinho. The result came instantly. Barcelona took the title with spectacular style, won the Champions League by beating Arsenal in the final.

4. Barcelona 2014/15. Ter Stegen – Alves, Mascherano, Pique, Alba – Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta – Messi, Suarez, Neymar.

By 2015, Barcelona had come up with a title drought in the Champions League since Guardiola and his 2011. In the same season, Guardiola met with Barcelona while in charge of Bayern. The meeting was not the most pleasant for the Spaniard. His team stumbled upon a phenomenal attacking bunch, a trident in the best shape: Messi, Suarez and Neymar scored 122 goals for three in all competitions in that campaign. The Catalans, led by Luis Enrique, literally endured everyone in their path. This is probably one of the most ferocious teams.

3. Barcelona 1990-94. Subisaretta – Ferrer, Nando, Juan Carlos – Eusebio, Koeman, Guardiola, Bakero – Salinas, Stoichkov, Laudrup.

This “Barcelona” has become a real legend. Cruyff, who built a great team as a player, returned to Catalonia as a coach to again revolutionize and teach the team how to play in a hybrid way. He taught Barcelona how to play in a new way, moved Guardiola and Koeman, giving new efficiency to the game.

And it had the effect of an exploding bomb – titles fell after a stretch of instability. Cruyff didn’t just put together a successful team – he created a style of play that made him famous all over the world and became an integral part of the club’s DNA. The Dutchman and this Barcelona have had a huge impact on the entire football community.

2. Barcelona 2008/09. Valdes – Puyol, Toure, Piqué, Silvinho – Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta – Messi, Eto’o, Henry.

Sometimes Guardiola is reproached for never challenging himself and always managing ready-made powerful teams. However, when he took Barcelona, ​​they did not win anything for two seasons and were a shadow of the strength that was under Rijkaard in the best shape. One of Guardiola’s first missions was to battle the club’s bosses for a chance for Messi to play in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The coach and the player won this battle. Guardiola believed even more in Lionel, who became the Olympic champion.

He believed so much that he went to part ways with Ronaldinho and Deco to make room for Messi. It was a very bold move then, but it paid off. The Argentinean young genius, combined with masters like Eto’o and Henri, destroyed any defense. And Xavi and Iniesta became the generals of Guardiola’s army. The team was doomed to success. Josep became the youngest coach to win the Champions League. It happened in 2009.

1. Barcelona 2010/11. Valdes – Alves, Mascherano, Pique, Abidal – Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta – Messi, Villa, Pedro.

A lot happened at Barcelona between those two Champions League titles, in 2009 and 2011. Eto’o was traded for Ibrahimovic and it was a disaster. Henri, Marquez, Toure, Gleb, Gudjohnsen, Silvinho left. Now Villa was leading the attack on the edge, Pedro broke into the squad through the academy. Mascherano settled into the center of defence, while Busquets took his place in central midfield.