Lionel Messi and Barcelona Can Break the English Big Four

Craig EmmersonContributor IOctober 25, 2008

Last season's UEFA Champion's League was very much an English affair, with three of the semifinalists coming from the Premier League before the first all-English Champion's League Final.

The strength of English club football was projected fiercely on that blustery day in Moscow as Chelsea and Manchester United put on one of the most evenly matched and open finals in recent history.

Will it be any different this time around? The signs look ominous.

The summer transfer window further highlighted the attraction that the top four in England have around the world. Big money was spent on a mix of established stars and the next generation of talent.

Despite Manchester United scoring more goals than anyone else, they decided they needed to boost their attacking lineup, so in came Dimitar Berbatov for £30 million.

The inevitable Portuguese invasion followed "Big" Phil Scolari to Stamford Bridge in the form of Deco and Jose Boswinga.

Arsenal once again spent on up-and-coming talent in the form of one of French football's hottest prospects: Samir Nasri.

And lastly, Liverpool spread their transfer kitty over Spain for the third successive summer and caught Riera from Espanyol on deadline day.

The power English clubs currently have in the transfer market makes it hard for the giants of European football to compete. So the question bears repeating: Will it be another all-English final in Rome come May?

I believe the only team that can come between the Premier League and European domination for another season is FC Barcelona.

Guardiola came into the hot seat in the summer with three objectives: to regain the Spanish title, to break the English grip on the Champions League, and of course to win with traditional Catalan flair.

So far, both the style and the flair are present. Barcelona is the form team in Europe, with the Camp Nou being the hottest ticket on the continent.

Barcelona have six players in their team that would be automatic choices in any of the English big four's starting lineups: Eto, Xavi, Iniesta, Toure, Puyol, and, the best player on the planet, Leo Messi.

This makes Barcelona as strong if not stronger than any of the English clubs on paper.

I know what you're thinking—teams on paper do not win trophies. You would be right in that statement, but you just have to watch this team play. The balance is perfect, they can score from anywhere on the pitch and the players on the bench are not too bad, either.

The signs look good for Barcelona, but it is only October and far too early to get carried away. However, sometimes as a fan of football that proves to be difficult, especially when a team this good comes along.

The key is keeping Messi fit. With him in the squad Barcelona can beat anyone home or away.

The lad, at just 19, is already the best player in the world and the key man for Barcelona. At such a young age, the expectations placed on him are crazy, but every time he plays he does things that make you realise why those expectations are there.

The bottom line is with Messi, Barcelona are the team to break up the English monopoly. 

From a football fan's point of view the final for the purists must be Arsenal v. Barcelona. 


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