There have been many great teams—the Dutch national team and their "Total Football", the all conquering "Fergie's Fledglings" of the 90's and the invincible Arsenal team of 2005 —to name but a few.
The Barcelona clubs of the last three years, though, eclipse these and all the rest.
I try not to throw the term "great" around too often. I feel it is a word which has lost much of it's weight in the beautiful game—much the same as "legend" and "genius" has.
This Barcelona team is truly great, though.
I'm aware that the measure of greatness is how much a team wins and as of yet, Barca have won nothing (this season anyway—a Champions League and two league wins in the past two seasons may say otherwise).
I agree with this...but I must say, the way this team plays the game, results aside (and they have been looking unbeatable this year), I have seen nothing like it. Their style in itself allows them, in my book, to be called "great".
Now, Arsenal fans may claim that they have played a similar style of football without winning a trophy, so does that mean they are great?
Well no, it doesn't
The reason? Arsenal do not, and have not, ever played at the same level.
I watched El Clásico a few months ago, which ended with Barcelona winning 5-0.
Hand on heart, I have honestly never seen anything like that.
The passing was breathtaking, yet shockingly simple.
It was such schoolboy stuff- but Real could not live with it.
Kids, when your teacher tells you to play in triangles—listen, and do it. It works, believe me.
The closing down was fantastic—Cristiano Ronaldo and company didn't have a second on the ball the whole game, and the score-line reflected his. Once again, simple schoolboy stuff.
Lionel Messi was quiet.
Those four words are a testament of how good a squad Barcelona have. All suggestions that they are a "one man team" were dismissed at the final whistle.
It was a game which announced how truly great a team Barca are.
Sure, two years ago, they won the Champions League, and they've won La Liga the last two seasons in a row while running away with it this season...but never have they played like that, against a club the caliber of Madrid.
There is a common thought that Barcelona's weakness is their defense.
However, that too is world-class, only compared to the incredible attack, it has no choice but to be weaker. Compared to other big teams, it is still top tier.
Xavi in midfield is the linchpin. All the plays go through him and without him they look like a different team. Certainly the best central midfield player in the world at this moment.
Messi is sublime. His play is from a level normal people simply cannot fathom. How he improvises and comes up with touches and finishes like he does is completely beyond me.
There are nine other players worthy of a few lines, but I don't have the willpower or time.
La Liga is arguably not as good as the Premier League.
Without a doubt it is nowhere near as competitive.
That has lead to people saying Barcelona only look good because of the standard of their weekly opposition.
Insert the second leg performance vs. Arsenal (both in 2010 and 2011)
We saw here that the pressing, passing and sheer genius (yeah, I said it) of Lionel Messi we see every week in La Liga, applied to one of the best teams the best league in the world has to offer.
In short, they made Arsenal look like the reserve team of a League Two club (no disrespect intended).
The possession throughout was hanging around the 70%-30% mark.
I don't want to get hung up on stats though, so watch the game and decide for yourself.
Arsenal did well, they hung on until the 48th minute and got Robin Van Persie wrongly sent off. Cesc Fabregas too looked decidedly off colour.
Even the most biased Arsenal fan has to admit that Barcelona showed a level of football that they can only hope to achieve.
Even before Van Persie was dismissed, Arsenal barely had a touch.
I honestly believe Arsenal can get to a similar level to this. They have the potential to be great. But not as great as this Barcelona team, surely.
Arsenal have been knocked out, which could prove crucial to their title run in.
Barcelona though, will likely win their league without much effort and could well win the Champions League too, I certainly won't be betting against them.
Even if they don't though, their style of football is worthy of the "great" tag.
They are a team of truly breathtaking passing, pressing and individual skill.
Anyone who watch them will see football played on a different level to any other team in any other era.
It is all so simple.
I'm sure some will disagree and hey will have their own "great" teams.
I'd like to hear them, or if you agree with me, let me know.
Thanks for reading.
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