FC Barcelona recently celebrated their 113th birthday and in that time, an number of the legendary players have passed through the doors of the Camp Nou, and the Catalan club has enjoyed constant success since it was first formed in 1899. Barcelona has won an outstanding 82 major trophies in their time as a club, and look to continue their winning ways for many years to come.
- By Tre` Atkinson Follow @Treatkinson
With all of the success, I found it necessary to take a look back at the greats of Barcelona. Here is assembled an iconic starting XI from the inception of the club until the current date. With a lineup such as this, it is no wonder Barcelona is considered one of the greatest clubs in the history of football.
GoalKeeper: Andoni Zubizarreta
The Basque-born keeper is arguably the greatest keeper to have ever put on the jersey for both Barcelona and Spain. “Zubi” as some have affectionately called him, played a tremendous 8 seasons for Barcelona. The keeper extraordinaire was on the first Barcelona team to ever win the European Cup in 1992. Among his talented resume, Zubi is now the director of football for FC Barcelona.
Right Back: Albert Ferrer
Though the argument can certainly be made for current right back Dani Alves, Ferrer seems a more fitting performer. Johan Cruyff coached in an era known as the dream team for Barcelona. In those years, Barcelona won an amazing four straight La Liga titles and Albert Ferrer was a staple for that team. He was also a member of Barcelona when keeper, Zubizarreta, played and thus was a part of Eurpean championship team. Ferrer brought new skill to his position and was always considered “The right back” in the history books for La Blaugrana.
Left Back: Sergi Barjuan
Barjuan was yet another member of the fabled dream team of Johan Cruyff. He regularly lined up opposite of Ferrer as the two created a formidable defense on the wings for Barcelona. Obviously, Barjuan won major trophies with the club as well and was often revered for his strength and intelligence in defense. The dynamic duo of Ferrer and Barjuan will forever be remembered as one of the world’s best ever pairings.
Center Back: Ronald Koeman
Ronald Koeman can be easily described as the greatest defender in Barcelona history. Yet another member of Johan Cruyff’s team, Koeman innovated his position. He took the defender position and made it a weapon. Many times could you see Koeman taking shots and free kicks for Barcelona, sometimes not even appearing to be a defender. He scored over 67 goals for Barcelona, including the winning free kick to seal the European trophy in 1992. Koeman was lovingly given the nickname Tintin at Barcelona for his tenacity on the pitch.
Center Back: Carles Puyol
Many may argue that Carles Puyol is the most prolific player to ever wear a Barcelona jersey. The staunch defender is a La Masia graduate and captained the Barcelona team that first won the Spanish treble and six trophies in one year. Puyol’s defense has always been remarkable. His leadership and composure has led the current squad. The captain has routinely given his body for the club and will always be one of the most memorable players in the history of La Blaugrana.
If Puyol is the heart of the current Barcelona squad, Xavi is the engine. The La Masia graduate has also been a member of the recent successes of Barcelona and has been dubbed “El Maestro”. He has recently been thought of as one of the greatest midfielders to ever play the game of football. His vision and passing are second to none, as each and every game is run through his eyes and brain. A full Barcelona squad would not be complete without the current second captain of Barcelona.
Midfielder: Pep Guardiola
Many will remember Pep Guardiola as the beloved Barcelona coach who won an outstanding 14 trophies in just four years at the club. However, the Barcelona legend got his start by playing for the Catalan giants. He received his education at La Masia and was coached by the great Johan Cruyff. Even Xavi has stated that Pep was his idol growing up. Pep was very similar to Xavi, yet he was more gifted in attacking himself. Guardiola will also go down as an iconic midfield general for Barcelona.
Midfielder: Johan Cruyff
For all the world famous coach did for Barcelona, it all began in his playing days. Cruyff was known as a football master mind. This was of course demonstrated in his coaching. But the likes of Xavi and Guardiola all came about because of the ground breaking steps of Cruyff. Sadly, the Dutch magician did not win much with the club. But, he ushered in a new era for Barcelona and coached it to perfection.
Right Wing: Paulino Alcantara
Alcantara set a record for Barcelona that only Lionel Messi has the chance of reaching. The striker scored 369 goals in his time at Barcelona and is widely regarded as the greatest scorer in the history of the club. Yet again, only Messi is able to be listed in the same discussion as the Spanish-Philippino player. Although Alcantara ended his career before 1930, he made an impression on the club as their first ever star player.
Left Wing: Ronaldinho/Andres Iniesta
The hardest position to place a starter for is left wing. Both Ronaldinho and Andres Iniesta have played the role even though their major position was located in midfield. Ronaldinho rescued Barcelona in the early 2000s when he made the surprise move the Catalonia. After winning the world player of the year and a Champions League trophy, Ronaldinho was seen as the savior of Barcelona.
Likewise, Iniesta has been seen as a godsend for the club. He has never received the world player of the year award, though he has been constantly in the running for many years. A graduate of La Masia, Iniesta is regarded as one of the best to ever play the game. He has always featured as a midfielder for Barcelona. Yet he won the world cup with Spain as a wing player, and has recently been playing the same for Barcelona. In this lineup, Iniesta could flourish on the wing. Picking one of these two to start is nearly impossible, so I will leave for you to decide.
Center Forward: Lionel Messi
Messi has won three straight World Player of the Year awards and is on track to break the record for most goals scored in a calendar year, currently 85 set by Gerd Muller. There is not much to be said as Messi’s resume speaks for itself. Arguably THE greatest footballer of all time, Messi has rightfully earned his starting spot in the all-time XI for Barcelona. Messi is only 25, and is constantly improving. Only the coming years will show just how great he becomes.
Here we have just a sample of the history of Barcelona. Though some players may be more deserving than others, the history is rich with talent. This particular lineup is full of stars at every position that could work well together.
We would like to personally wish a happy birthday to Barcelona as we have looked back on its 113 years as a world leader in football. Only time will tell how many other greats come through the ranks and academy of Barcelona. But for now, we must appreciate all the club has given to the sport over its many years.