Barcelona's best ever XI ... The team in full 👑 | OneFootball

Barcelona's best ever XI ... The team in full 👑

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OneFootball

Lewis Ambrose

Goalkeeper: Andoni Zubizarreta

The man with the most clean sheets in LaLiga history, Zubizarreta is a legend.

His longevity is incredible and he spent his peak years playing under Johan Cruyff at Camp Nou. The first Barcelona goalkeeper to win the Champions League, Zubizarreta was captain of the ‘Dream Team’ that finally ended Barcelona’s wait for the biggest prize in European football.

With 126 Spain caps and 235 clean sheets in 622 career LaLiga appearances, he’s a worthy number one.


Right-back: Dani Alves

But Dani Alves simply had to come out on top, didn’t he? On his day, and it usually was his day during his Barcelona career, he was probably the best right-back to ever play the game.

All the pace in the world, dribbling ability like no defender has ever had before or since, a dogged determination, and an incredible understanding of the game.

He could’ve been – and sometimes was – a winger. He could’ve been one of the game’s best midfielders, too.

No, Dani Alves was a wing-back like no other, with a partnership like no other when Lionel Messi played ahead of him. The most decorated man in world football, and deservedly so.

Centre-back: Carles Puyol

We couldn’t look past Puyol. A man who inherited Migueli’s ‘Tarzan’ moniker, Puyol’s recognisable scruffy look (he refused to cut his hair when told to at La Masia) undersold how talented he actually was.

A true hero of the modern game and one of the best defenders to ever grace the game. Puyol broke into the side at right-back and was told to mark Luis Figo, a world class player hated in Barcelona for leaving for Real Madrid, in his first Clásico. He never looked back.

Though it took until he was 27 for Puyol to win his first trophy with the club, he would retire with 17 winners’ medals, including three Champions League titles.

His time under Pep Guardiola proved the tough centre-half wasn’t half bad on the ball, either. The perfect physique, brain, and mentality all came together to form one of the most dominant and passionate defenders football has ever seen.

Centre-back: Ronald Koeman

Probably a worse defender than Gerard Piqué, Koeman was still absolutely integral to Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team. The Dutchman ‘only’ spent six seasons with Barcelona but quickly established himself as a player capable of deciding any game, and that’s why he’s in.

One of the most skilled defenders in possession ever, Koeman was equally good in midfield and had a knack for goals, scoring an unbelievable 88 times in 264 Barcelona appearances. Including perhaps the most important goal in the club’s history to win their first European Cup.

History like that holds a lot of weight and it just gets Koeman into the XI.

Left-back: Sigfrid Gràcia

Yes, that’s right, we’re going all the way back to the 1950s and 1960s and choosing a somewhat-forgotten man outside of Barcelona circles. But every team needs a Mr Reliable and Gràcia was precisely that. Especially necessary when we have Dani Alves on the other flank.

Gràcia was the model professional. Brilliant positioning, full commitment. A gritty defender, he played almost 50 games in every season from 1955 to 1963, proving irreplaceable on the left of the defence.

During that time he played 536 times, scored 23 goals, and helped Barcelona to three league titles and eight different cups along the way.


Defensive midfield: Sergio Busquets

Pep Guardiola was the prototype, Busquets is the finished article.

The current Barcelona man has been one of the best midfielders in the world for a decade now. Always picking the right pass and almost impossible to press, the Spaniard has everything to play this role at the very highest level. And he’s done just that at Camp Nou for the last 12 years.

His body feints are legendary, his trademark drag-back to evade oncoming opposition players is sublime. And he’s a superb defender too, capable of playing centre-back and reading the game like almost nobody else. There’s no need to be flashy when you can do everything this well.

We won’t go into his trophy cabinet, what’s the point? Let’s just say there isn’t much space left in it.

Centre-midfield: Xavi

The one-man passing machine. Have you ever seen another player so capable of calmly controlling a football match on his own?

Xavi was the player who set the tempo for perhaps the greatest club side to ever play the game. The perfect passing midfielder, Xavi was also an exceptional dribbler, avoiding pressing and springing into space with outrageous ease.

On the ball he always made the right choice, and that is what set him apart. Go short, go long. Play it square, break lines. Take a touch and slow the game down, play a one-two to speed it up. That trademark 360 degree turn.

And, defensively, he was a crucial cog in Guardiola’s intense pressing machine. All while, on occasion, finding the perfect moment to break out of position and surge into the box to score.

The perfect midfielder, the club’s record appearance holder and 25 trophies in 17 years with the first team. Captain fantastic.

Attacking midfielder: Johan Cruyff

Well Cruyff just had to make the XI, didn’t he? He often played up front for Barcelona, sometimes from the left, and sometimes as an attacking midfielder. That’s where we’re sticking him.

Cruyff the player was deceptively quick, using his long legs to stride away from defenders. He always played with incredible imagination, creating chances and delighting spectators. And along the way he breathed life back into Barcelona when the club had gone 14 years without a LaLiga title. On top of all that, he inspired the team to a 5-0 win at the Bernabéu in his debut season.

That was his only league title in five seasons with the club, but that hardly matters. He inspired the entire city during a bleak political period.

He moved like an acrobat, he strode as an entertainer. He is renowned as the architect as the ‘Barcelona style’ of play, as a player and then as a manager. Cruyff was fearless, unshakeable, and without an equal on the footballing stage.


Forward: László Kubala

Where Barcelona have documented their history on the club’s official website, 1950-1961 is titled “The Kubala era”. And that says it all.

The Hungarian refugee joined the club before any of their great successes and went on to win 14 trophies (including four LaLiga titles) during his decade there.

Body feints, backheels, the ability to play with both feet. Kubala was simply mesmerising, playing 2000s football in the 1950s. And doing so to great effect, scoring 194 goals for the club.

Barcelona had 26,300 members in 1950 but by 1961 the figure was 52,971. People were flocking to see Kubala and when, in 1957, Barcelona moved into Camp Nou, they were more or less forced by the demand from people who wanted to see Kubala play.

In 1999, Kubala was voted the club’s best ever player and, until the death of Johan Cruyff in 2016, was the only man to be honoured with statue outside the club’s stadium. A genuine club icon and one of the all-time greats.

Forward: Lionel Messi

Well we’ve already got a right-winger, so who else did you think we’d stick up front? Of course it’s Lionel Messi.

He may have spent a majority of his Barcelona career on the wing, but Messi’s absolute peak came centrally under Pep Guardiola.

From the first season he played down the middle regularly (2009/10) until the arrival of Suárez (2014), Messi scored 274 goals in 264 appearances for the club. And just the 77 LaLiga and Champions League assists in that time.

There’s nothing to say about Messi that hasn’t been said. We’ve all seen him play, we’ve all been left with our jaws on the floor or smiles on our faces. Let’s, for once, stop talking about how good he is and just let him entertain us.

Forward: Ronaldinho

Ronaldinho simply had to make our best Barcelona XI.

He didn’t always look like he cared. He didn’t always work that hard. He wasn’t the most professional player. But at his peak, he was the best on the planet. In terms of entertainment, in terms of excitement, in terms of end product.

How many Barcelona players leave the Bernabéu to a standing ovation?

His 94 goals for the club, his Champions League win in 2006, his two LaLiga titles only tell part of the story. Ronaldinho was a genius and we love him.

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