Barcelona’s best starting XI of all-time
FC Barcelona have been truly blessed with some quality, quality players in their history. Rivaldo, Romario, Ronaldinho, Michael Laudrup, Hristo Stoichkov, Miguel Nadal, Sergio Busquets, Andoni Zubizarreta … and these are just some of the names who DID NOT make XI!
This side has players from different eras of Barcelona’s illustrious history, from the side that dominated La Liga in the post-war years to Johan Cruyff’s dream team and Guardiola’s all-conquering stars.
The formation I chose isn’t exactly traditional as I opted for a very narrow 3-3-3-1 formation. What’s lacking in wing-play however is more than made up for in the skill and creativity centrally.
Here are 11 soccer legends.
Goalkeeper – The Winged Cat
Dubbed as the “Winged Cat” during the World Cup in 1950, Antoni Ramallets protected the Blaugrana goal for 15 years, winning the Zamora Trophy (for the best goalkeeper in Spain) five times, a record he shares with Victor Valdes. The peak of his career had to be the Champions’ Cup final against Benfica in 1961, but alas, that night in Bern ended up being his downfall, as he was heavily criticized for his performance in a 3-2 loss. Yet, his contribution to the first dominating Barcelona side was immense. After his departure, Barcelona went through a relatively barren run in the 1960’s until the arrival of a certain Dutch wizard in the 1970s swung the pendulum back.
Defense – Trio of Captains
You really can’t look beyond these three when mentioning great Barcelona defenders. Carles Puyol and his curly locks were a frequent sight to soccer fans all over the globe up until his retirement a couple of years ago as we saw him lift trophy after trophy for both club and country. Not blessed with the silkiest of skills, Puyol more than made up for it with his commitment and defensive awareness. At one point it seemed that he was only one in a Blaugrana shirt who knew how to defend, and every suspension or injury lay-off that he suffered was deeply felt.
On the other hand, there’s Ronald Koeman, the defender with the boots of a true goalscorer. Eighty-eight goals over six seasons in Spain is a truly remarkable feat for the center back, with his winning strike in the 1992 Champions’ Cup final still fondly remembered in Catalonia.
Completing this back three is Joan Segarra, who, along with Ramallets, was integral to the Barcelona side that won five trophies in the 1951-52 season. Segarra also had an eye for goal and, being left footed, slots in perfectly in this side.