FC Barcelona: The Best Starting 11 for the 2010-11 Soccer Season
After a glorious 2008/2009 season with Guardiola at the helm, most Barcelona fans were a little disappointed with the outcome of the 2009/2010 season. Maybe not disappointed, but they sure wanted (and felt they could have obtained) more.
For the 2010/2011 season, the goal is to repeat the success of the 2008/2009 season, as Barcelona want to win every competition in which they're involved.
In his quest to win as many trophies as possible, Guardiola will have an incredibly strong squad at his disposal, led by Lionel Messi and the players who recently won the World Cup with Spain.
The season is long and everyone will have to get their minutes and help the team at one time or another, but this is, in my opinion, Barcelona's strongest lineup:
Goalkeeper: Victor Valdés
Valdés is a very reliable goalkeeper. Last season, he only conceded 24 goals over the course of 38 matches.
He played an important role; it's true that, with the way Barcelona plays, Valdés doesn't have much work to do, but whenever he was tested, he rose to the occasion and passed with flying colors.
Left Back: Eric Abidal
The left-back position is, in my opinion, Barcelona's weakest position. Both Abidal and Maxwell are quality players, but they're no match to Daniel Alves on the right.
Maxwell attacks much better than he defends while Abidal has excellent defending skills but doesn't really scare opponents as an attacking weapon.
That said, I'd pick Abidal. With Daniel Alves running the show on the right, Barcelona can afford to have a player who doesn't go forward as much on the left. With Abidal, defensive safety is assured.
Centre Back: Carles Puyol
The legendary captain of FC Barcelona
The legendary captain and one of the symbols of FC Barcelona. Plus, one of the best centre backs in the world.
Having recently won the World Cup with Spain, Puyol is still hungry for more success with the club he loves.
Centre Back: Gerard Piqué
Some call him "Piquenbauer" and they're right to do so. Piqué is as efficient in defense as he is talented with the ball on his feet, having scored some really great goals.
Piqué is on his way to become the best centre-back in the world and one of the best in history,
His partnership with Puyol has been a successful one, having been one of the key factors in Spain's World Cup success (as well as Barcelona's success in the last two seasons).
Right Back: Daniel Alves
Arguably the best wing back in the world. Solid in defense, fantastic in offense, excellent crossing skills, great free-kick taker... Daniel Alves has the whole package.
One of the best signings in recent years for Barcelona. He will, once again, play a vital part in Barcelona's quest to add new pieces of silverware to their museum.
Defensive Midfielder: Sergio Busquets
The 22-year-old was a bit of a surprise on Spain's lineup at the World Cup. But the truth is that Del Bosque has no reason to regret his decision, as Busquets showed that he is a world-class player and played his part in helping Spain going all the way.
Busquets is still a work in progress and can still get a lot better. That's what's expected from him this season.
Center Midfielder: Xavi Hernandez
The best midfielder in the world
Xavi is a Barcelona legend. More than that, he's a Spanish football legend. The man who finally led Spain to international success after decades of failure will certainly be back again and lead Barcelona to success.
Xavi's vision and passing accuracy (among other attributes) will be absolutely vital for Barcelona's success.
He is the leader of this team and the man who connects everything on the field.
Center Midfielder: Andrés Iniesta
Xavi's partner in crime.
With Xavi, he forms the best midfield duo in the world. Besides, Iniesta still has excellent dribbling and shooting skills and a tendency to score when it matters the most. And, of course, his passing accuracy is also incredible.
Let's just hope Iniesta remains injury-free for the whole season. The end of last season showed Barcelona are simply not the same team without Iniesta's genius.
Left Winger: Pedro Rodriguez
In just one year, Pedro went from an unknown for most football fans to a starter in the Spanish team that won the World Cup.
Pedro's 2010 season was absolutely fantastic; he was Barcelona's second best scorer (behind Lionel Messi) and became the first player in history to score in six different competitions during the same season.
At the age of 23, Pedro is already a world-class player, but he can only get better.
Right Winger: Lionel Messi
Simply the best
This was really a no-brainer.
Lionel Messi is by far the most talented player of this generation and he'll keep challenging the all-time greats and breaking records in this new season.
After an absolutely brilliant individual season where he scored 47 goals in all competitions, Messi is still looking to improve (as scary as it might seem, Messi is only 23 and can only improve) and is eager to get the Champions League trophy back.
With Xavi and Iniesta behind him, Messi should continue rewritting history books in the 2010-2011 season.
Striker: David "Mara" Villa
David "Mara" Villa
Barcelona's biggest signing during the summer.
After years of topping the scoring charts, Villa will now finally be in a team that actually contends for trophies.
With Villa, Barcelona fans know what they can expect: goals, and a lot of them.
Villa's partnership with Messi up front might be one of the keys for Barcelona's success during this season.
The next big thing?
The season is long and everyone will have to contribute. Lucky for Barcelona, they have great depth in their sqaud and a lot of quality substitutes. Here are the ones who I think will play vital roles in the upcoming season:
Zlatan Ibrahimovic - after a disappointing first season, Ibrahimovic is looking to improve his performances. It is my belief that he might be very useful, even if Villa's arrival will reduce his minutes. Having a world-class substitute always ready to come into the game is a major advantage for Barcelona. Plus, if Ibrahimovic manages to find his best form, he might very well gain a spot in the starting 11.
Bojan Krkić - 2010/2011 might finally be the breakthrough season for this immensely talented player. Just like in previous seasons, he will be given opportunities by Guardiola. If he manages to grab those opportunites, he might very well earn a spot in the lineup eventually.
Maxwell - An alternative for Abidal. Maxwell might not be the best defender in the world, but he's very efficient going forward and might be useful at times.
Adriano - Another new player. Adriano can play both as left back and as a midfielder. He won't be a regular starter (supposedly), but his versitality might come in handy for the team.
Jeffren Suárez - He will probably be given more opportunities this season. The 22-year-old winger is fast and has excellent dribbling and crossing skills. He is the future of Barcelona (just like Bojan) and has every chance to shine this season.
Throughout the season, Guardiola might also promote some youth players, like Thiago Alcantara and Jonathan Dos Santos, two incredibly talented players.