Was Cryuff's "Dream Team" better?
This current Barcelona team is one that will undoubtedly go down as one of the best ever. The “tiki-taka” style of play has won plaudits for not only making football entertaining, but also for its effectiveness in winning trophies. However, many forget that this tactic was first employed by Johan Cryuff, and with it he led the team that became known as the “Dream Team”.
I wondered who would make an all time “Dream Team” XI that would include anyone who has played under Cryuff or Guardiola at Barcelona of course!
Using a 4-3-3 formation, this was the team I came up with. Enjoy!
Zubizarreta was the first choice goalkeeper under Cryuff, and he was a member of the XI that won the Champions League in 1992. During his time at Barcelona he barely ever missed a match and was key to the success of the “Dream Team”. You can argue these points for Valdes too, but he has never quite gained the recognition that Zubizarreta did. Zubizarreta also managed to represent Spain 126 times and that is the reason why he is my choice in goal.
Dani Alves was one of the first signings that Guardiola made, but was arguably the best. Since his move from Sevilla, he has played in 118 games for Barcelona, scoring 10 and assisting 32 in those appearances. His role at right-back under Guardiola is one of the most important in the team. The attacking positions he undertakes gives the attackers—like Messi—the space they need to thrive. Alves is perhaps one of the best players in world football today and possibly the best attacking full back ever.
Pique was another one of Guardiola’s first signings and it could also be argued to be his best. Guardiola has put faith in Pique, despite him never really getting a game at Manchester United. However, that faith has paid off spectacularly as Pique has quickly established himself as one of the best defenders in the game. “Piquenbaeur” as he has been called is equally adept in attacking positions which he proved last season against Inter Milan. I believe Pique would’ve fit right in as part of the original “Dream Team”.
What a player! Koeman was the goal scorer in that Champions League final success with a trademark free-kick. He will not be remembered as the best defenders to ever play for Barcelona but no-one in world football can match his goal scoring record as a defender. Koeman was the scorer of a staggering 97 goals in 256 games while at Barcelona. The current Barcelona would love someone like him to take free-kicks, although I’m not sure where he would fit in! In my XI, he would form one of the most attacking CB partnerships ever seen with Pique.
How could anyone forget Puyol? Even now, he is an automatic selection in any all-time Barca XI or Spain XI for that matter. Puyol would be the captain of my team, purely because he is the best captain that I believe Barcelona have had and maybe will have. He would put his life on the line to defend for the team, and I’m sure wouldn’t mind playing left back!
This was an easy choice! Pep was by far the best holding midfield player that Barcelona have ever had, and he could well become the best coach too. Not only did he anchor the midfield, but he would be the playmaker too, threading through passes to the likes of Romario, Ronaldo and Stoickhov throughout his illustrious career at Barca. Without him, the “Dream Team” were not as good and when he left, it marked the start of a decline at Barcelona.
Xavi is the metronome of today’s “Dream Team” and is in my opinion, the best central midfielder ever. Despite all of the talent in Barcelona’s team, they struggle to find openings without him. If there was no Xavi, there would’ve been no 6-2 win at the Bernabeu, no Champions League success and for Spain, no World Cup. The importance of the man is indescribable.
While some may think this choice was easy, for me it was very difficult. Iniesta was up against players like Michael Laudrup, after all. However, I then put each player’s importance into context. While Michael Laudrup was a fantastic player and scored more often than Iniesta, I feel that Iniesta was/is more important to his team. Iniesta was the scorer of that goal against Chelsea, and it’s almost certain that without that goal, there would’ve been no Champions League.
Everyone has heard his story before, so I’ll cut to the chase. Messi has been the star of this “Dream Team” and has shone brighter than anyone could’ve possibly imagined. When Guardiola arrived he ditched Ronaldinho, Deco and others to build the team around Messi. Now he is recognised as the best player in the world, and rightly so.
While Messi was the star of today’s “Dream Team”, it can be argued that Stoickhov was the star of his. One of only three foreign players that were allowed in the XI, he was a fantastic player and under Cryuff he managed 108 goals in 212 games. Hristo was also the scorer of important goals, and in the 1992 Champions League he scored 4 important goals. I believe that Stoichkov is one of the few players from the original “Dream Team” who would walk into today’s team.
Why did we get rid of him? He scored for fun—36 in 52 under Guardiola—linked well with Messi, pressurised defences and could even hold the ball up. Eto’o was the scorer in the Champions League final against Manchester United, and he also scored in the Champions League final against Arsenal under Rijkaard. I hope that in David Villa we have a striker who can finally replace Eto’o, who must be one of the best ever African players.
While Pep may have won more trophies in a shorter space of time, he has not yet won the League four years on the trot. While it would probably be more difficult now, with Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho there to stop him, Cryuff has done it. Cryuff was also the creator of the “tiki-taka” method of play. Guardiola may employ that tactic too; it means that without Cryuff, there would be not be that style of play. Cryuff was an exceptional player, but I believe he was an even better manager, something I don’t think we can attribute to Guardiola…yet!
DF—Miguel Angel Nadal
Number of Cryuff players in my team: 9 (including Cryuff)
Number of Guardiola players in my team: 9.
Make sure to tell me below if you disagree with any of my selections.