FC Barcelona: Team of the Decade
Despite a shaky start, the first decade of the noughties was a very successful decade for Barcelona. They won four Spanish Leagues, two Champions Leagues and, in 2009, they become the first club in history to win the sextuple.
Many great players wore the blaugrana shirt in the past decade, which made it really difficult to pick the lineup of the decade. As it should be expected, the majority of the players belong to the 2008-09 dream team that won the sextuple.
Without further ado, here's Barcelona's team of the decade (4-3-3 formation):
Goalkeeper: Victor Valdés
A no-brainer. Victor Valdés was a key player in every trophy Barcelona won in the past decade. This great goalkeeper is underrated by many, but he's definitely the unsung hero of FC Barcelona, and is one of the top goalkeepers in the world.
Left-Back: Giovanni Van Bronckhorst
The left-back position has always been a weakness in Barcelona, but Gio was clearly the best in the past decade.
He is by no means a brilliant player, but he was always reliable. Besides, he was the only player who participated in all Champions League matches in 2005-06, having played a vital role in Barcelona's conquest of Europe.
Centre-Back: Carles Puyol
A Barcelona legend and, after this year's World Cup, a football legend.
The Barcelona captain is a symbol of everything Barcelona stand for as a club. His commitment is an example to every youth player coming through the ranks. He might not be the most skilled defender on the planet, but he makes up for that with his intensity and ruggedness.
Puyol is undoubtedly the heart of Barcelona and he had to be included here.
Centre-Back: Gerard Piqué
Another fine La Masia product. Gerard Piqué makes a fantastic duo with Puyol (both in Barcelona and in Spain), and he has everything it takes to become the best centre-back in the world.
In fact, many tap him to be the best defender since Beckenbauer, including the German legend himself. The similarities between the two are apparent. Some of his fans call him "Piquenbauer."
Piqué will certainly be a Barcelona legend and, once Puyol retires, the armband will probably be his.
Right-Back: Daniel Alves
Arguably the best signing of recent years. Daniel Alves is probably the best fullback in the world right now. He provides defensive safety, he's a formidable attacking threat, and he is dangerous from free-kicks. He basically has the full package.
Signing Alves in the summer of 2008 was a decisive move; Alves played a major role in Barcelona's sextuple-winning 2009 year.
Centre Midfielder: Xavi Hernandez
The leader on the pitch. Xavi is the player who makes everything work.
Xavi is a football legend. Many in Spain consider him the best Spanish player ever, since he was the one who finally led their nation to international glory after decades of failure.
Xavi's vision, passing accuracy, and ability to provide passing lines are key to the tiki-taka style, and make him the most important player in both Barcelona and Spain. He's the one making the likes of Messi and David Villa shine so bright.
Centre Midfielder: Andrés Iniesta
Xavi's partner in crime. Xavi and Iniesta form the best midfield duo in the world, and their partnership is absolutely decisive for Barcelona and Spain.
However, Iniesta also has some amazing skills of his own. He's also a great passer, he has amazing technique and close control, and he's one of the best dribblers in the game. He's pure class. Besides, even though he doesn't score a lot, he has a tendency to score when it matters the most: The goal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and the goal against Holland in the World Cup final made him a legend of the game, and will forever define his career.
Attacking Midfielder: Rivaldo
In the beginning of the decade, Rivaldo had to carry Barcelona almost single-handedly. He did so brilliantly and delighted the Camp Nou with several one-man shows. His most famous individual performance was against Valencia in 2000-01; it was the last match of the season and Barcelona needed to beat Valencia to secure a Champions League spot. Rivaldo stepped up and scored an incredible hat trick, with three fabulous goals; his third goal is certainly one of the best goals ever as far as skill and importance are concerned.
He left Barcelona in 2002, but he is still missed by the blaugrana fans.
In the 2002 World Cup, he, along with Ronaldo, led Brazil to the title. Many, including Luis Filipe Scolari, believed that Rivaldo should have been given the best player award (it went to Oliver Kahn).
Left Winger: Ronaldinho
After Rivaldo left Barcelona, Ronaldinho was signed and he quickly became the leader of the team. Surrounded with much more talent than his countryman, Ronaldinho managed to lead Barcelona to two incredibly successful seasons.
His performances from 2004 to 2006 were absolutely inspiring. During this time, he was by far the best player in the world.
He lost his magic after 2006, but still Barcelona owe him a great deal.
Right Winger: Lionel Messi
A pretty obvious choice. Messi is the most talented player of this generation and, at only 23, he's already considered by many pundits as one of the best players of all time.
He combines otherworldly scoring skills with a fantastic playmaking ability, and he's practically unstoppable.
He has already won every individual and collective trophy in football (except the World Cup), and he's on his way to become one of the best, if not the best, football player of all time.
Centre Forward: Samuel Eto'o
An underrated legend, unfortunately. Along with Ronaldinho, Eto'o brought glory back to Camp Nou in the middle of the decade.
In 2009, he was a key player in Guardiola's dream team, scoring 36 goals overall and linking up perfectly with Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry.
In one of the worst deals in Barcelona's history, he was traded with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the summer of 2009, and Barcelona haven't been the same team ever since. It's safe to assume that every Barcelona fan misses Samuel.
For all he did, Eto'o is a Barcelona legend.