They have been called the greatest team of all-time; a team composed mainly of the Spanish line-up that won the World Cup last year in South Africa; a team which includes a little Argentinian wizard capable of things that most Football players dream about doing; a team which is true to Johan Cruyff’s philosophy on the field and guided by a pupil of his, a man who has the Barcelona colors in his blood – last night’s Champion League success confirms, once more, that this F.C Barcelona side truly are one of the greatest Footballing sides the world has ever seen. "Mes que un club" may be a statement that the Nou Camp faithful are familiar with, but now the men from Catalunia are making it recognizable all around the world.
When Pep Guardiola took over the Barcelona reigns at the start of the 2008-2009 season, he was taking over from an already successful Barcelona team that was triumphant under the tutelage of Frank Riijkaard. Prior to that season, Guardiola successfully led Barcelona’s B team to ‘Tercera Division’ title and was subsequently given the chance by then-president Joan Laporta to take over the first team and shine on the big stage. Since then Guardiola has led the team to unparalleled success both on the domestic and European stage. At the end of only his third season, he can look back proudly at 3 consecutive La Liga titles, 1 Copa Del Rey, 2 Supercopa De Espana, 1 UEFA Super Cup, 1 FIFA Club World Cup, and most importantly 2 Champions league titles. A record to be proud of alongside a team to be proud of, Barcelona have not simply provided the results on the field – they’ve done it with style.
Led by their inspirational captain Carlos Puyol, the team is made up of players whose style has revolutionized the way Football can be played. Keeping the ball on the ground, movements on the ball, movements off the ball, speed and finesse, Barcelona’s players are shaped up in a 4-3-3 formation that defies its customary definition. The defensive line of Alves, Puyol, Pique and Abidal have all got a great control of the ball, but more than that, they are always organized and pushed forward by their ball-playing goalkeeper Victor Valdes; he is always at the start of Barcelona’s plays and is one of their unsung heroes. The midfield 3 of Busquets, Iniesta and Xavi switch play and positions so often during a single passage of play it is difficult to understand where they are actually situated. Xavi and Iniesta dictate the pace of the game almost blindly and they almost telepathically know where each player is heading. The same could be said about the forward 3 of Villa, Messi and Pedro. Barcelona’s players are always interchanging positions and that causes complete chaos to their opponents. At times it looks like we are watching a 4-0-6 formation when Barca are attacking, and a 4-6-0 formation when they are defending. The entire team works for one another going forward and defending. When they lose the ball, they do their utmost to win it back and once in possession of the ball, it is extremely hard for the opposition to get it back. Very rarely can we find a game where Barcelona had less possession of the ball than their opponents (I think it has never happened since Guardiola has taken over - ?)
Just as we’ve seen several times this season, F.C Barcelona made another European giant look small. Teams which under normal circumstances are considered great, are made to look ordinary by Guardiola’s men. This team is being praised as the greatest ever, but it is very difficult to compare different teams in different eras when Football was a different game altogether. This Barcelona side is definitely the greatest team of our generation and will definitely be considered as one the greatest sides ever to play the game. They deserve the credit and the plaudits they get. One thing is for sure, anyone who appreciates beautiful Football and loves the game has to applaud Barcelona’s feats. They play Football the way it should be played. “The ball is round to go round” is a motto that was dominant during the 60s and that’s what Barcelona do with a devastating effect. Congratulations to F.C Barcelona once again!