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FC Barcelona's Historic Dream Team: Picking an All-Time Barça XI

Andres EhrliCorrespondent IIIJuly 26, 2011

FC Barcelona's Historic Dream Team: Picking an All-Time Barça XI

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    Barcelona has had some fantastic players throughout their history, but which of them would start on an all-time best XI?

    That question's answer might not be as easy to decide as it seems, because unless you take the cheap option out and decide to present 11 players that wouldn't work well together or that play out of their positions, the forwards will be heavily fought for, while some places in the defense will not be fought for at all. 

    And like all lists, this one proved to have some hard choices in them. I'll tell you this: Expect some of the best players ever to be left out.

    While someone else would have preferred to go by names, I went with the players who meant more to Barcelona historically, and the XI who I thought would play better as a whole. 

    It took some imagination on my part, but here's my All-Time Barça XI.

    Formation? 4-3-3, of course!

Goalkeeper: 1. Andoni Zubizarreta

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    Seasons at the club: 1986-94 

    Games played: 490 

    Goals conceded: 435 

    Titles: one European Cup (1991/92), one Cup Winners Cup (1988/89), one European Super Cup (1992), four Leagues (1990/91, 91/92, 92/93 and 93/94), two Copa del Rey (1987/88 and 89/90), two Spanish Super Cups (1991 and 1992).

    Do you like Iker Casillas today? Well, Zubizarreta was just as much of a household name in the late 80s and 90s, with the exception he was a Barcelona player. 

    Andoni was absolutely dominant in his time on goal at Barcelona, and his 435 goals conceded in 490 games (less than a goal per match played) is certainly a stat to call home for. 

     

    Sub: Victor Valdés: just might take Zubi's spot eventually if he keeps it on. Not as dominant or as skilled as Andoni, though. 

Right Back: 2. Dani Alves

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    Seasons at the club: 2008-? 

    Games played: 156 

    Goals scored: 12 

    Titles: two Champions Leagues (2008/09 and 10/11), one European Supercup (2009), three Leagues (2008/09, 09/10 and 10/11), one Copa del Rey (2008/09), two Spanish Super Cups (2009, 2010).

    Yes, Dani Alves is the best-right back to ever play for Barcelona. 

    I personally consider him to be in the same league as Cafú.

    That said, Alves is an invaluable piece for the Catalans in the right flank. Some might argue his defending might be suspect at best, but his contribution to Barça's offensive style is simply overwhelming to opposing defenses. 

    He has two Champions Leagues to back that last argument. 

     

    Sub: Albert Ferrer and Belletti: not much talent here to fight with Alves. 

Right Centre-Back: 3. Ronald Koeman

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    Seasons at the club: 1989-95 

    Games played: 345 

    Goals scored: 102 

    Titles: one European Cup (1991/92), one European Super Cup (1992), four Leagues (1990/91, 91/92, 92/93, 93/94), one Copa del Rey (1989/90), two Spanish Super Cups (1991 and 1992).

     

    Koeman will always be remembered for his goal against Sampdoria, and that could be enough to put him on this list. But he was also much more than that. 

    The Dutch was a true playmaker from the back, and he lead the 1992 Dream-Team from the back onward, almost never losing the ball while rallying Barça from the back line. 

    When you add his fantastic free-kick taking and his superb defending to the list, it's hard to take him out of this spot. 

     

    Sub: Gerard Piqué: a premier playmaker from the back in his own right, but not even close to Koeman in goals scored.

Left Centre-Back: 5. Carles Puyol (Captain)

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    Seasons at the club: 1999-?

    Games played: 457 

    Goals scored: 10 

    Titles: three Champions Leagues (2005/06, 08/09 and 10/11), one European Supercup (2009), five Leagues (2004/05, 05/06, 08/09, 09/10 and 10/11), one Copa del Rey (2008/09), three Spanish Super Cups (2007, 2009, 2010).

    Carles Puyol has become a trademark for Barça. 

    He's not the most technical back ever, and he's not the strongest or tallest, either.

    But what "Tarzan" lacks in born talents, he exudes in heart. He shows how much he wants to win every match. And his leadership is unquestioned thanks to his lead by example attitude. 

    Not only is he on this list, he's the team's captain as well. 

     

    Sub: Migueli: another defender nicknamed "Tarzan" (for good measure)

Left Back: 22. Eric Abidal

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    Seasons at the club: 2007-?

    Games played: 150 

    Goals scored: 1

    Titles: two Champions Leagues (2008/09 and 10/11), one European Supercup (2009), three Leagues (2008/09, 09/10 and 10/11), one Copa del Rey (2008/09), two Spanish Super Cups (2009, 2010).

     

    Eric Abidal would've taken this by default just with his two Champions League wins, but what gives him an extra-edge in the Barça lore is his fight (and win) against Cancer. 

    Now he's reached the mythical status and is even more loved than ever. 

    Expect his transition to centre-back to add even more to his legend.

     

    Sub: Giovani van Bronckhorst: not much competition here either, trust me. 

Defensive Midfielder: 4 Josep Guardiola

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    Seasons at the club: 1990-2001 

    Games played: 472 

    Goals scored: 10 

    Titles: one European Cup (1991/92), one Cup Winners Cup (1996/97), two European Super Cups (1992 and 1997), six Leagues (1990/91, 91/92, 92/93, 93/94, 97/98 and 98/99), two Copa del Rey (1996/97 and 97/98), four Spanish Super Cups (1991, 1992, 1994 and 1996).

     

    Perhaps Barça's most talented midfielder ever, Josep Guardiola earns the spot as Barça's No. 4. 

    He set the bar on how to breed Barcelona players, and the fact that we see the Xavis, Fabregas, Iniestas, Thiagos, Busquets and Sergi Robertos of today is all thanks to Pep.

    And with his recent success as a coach, there's just no way to keep him off the field. 

     

    Sub: Sergio Busquets is a capable sub for Guardiola, but isn't even close to starting in his stead. 

Right Central Midfielder: 6. Xavi

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    Seasons at the club: 1998-?

    Games played: 490 

    Goals scored: 52 

    Titles: three Champions Leagues (2005/06, 08/09 and 10/11), one European Supercup (2009), six Leagues (1998/99, 2004/05, 05/06, 08/09, 09/10 and 10/11), one Copa del Rey (2008/09), three Spanish Super Cups (2007, 2009, 2010).

     

    Xavi Hernández is one of the best midfielders, and not only for Barça, but to EVER play in a football match. 

    Just like Guardiola before him, Xavi sets the example for future generations on what Barcelona want and need in midfield. 

    You might have heard he's won three Champions Leagues too. 

     

    Sub: Luis Enrique and Guillermo Amor: Capable subs, but wouldn't start instead of Xavi ever. 

Left Central Midfielder: 8. Michael Laudrup

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    Seasons with club: 1989-1994 

    Games played: 288 

    Goals scored: 93  

    Titles: one European Cup (91/92), one European Super Cup (1992), four Leagues (90/91, 91/92, 92/93, 93/94), one Copa Del Rey (89/90), two Spanish Super Cups (1991 and 1992).

     

    Very hard choice here, but I went with Laudrup on a coin-flip.

    The Dane was a magician on the pitch, and I'm sure he's a big influence on what Iniesta is today. So I give him the edge as the starter.

    I personally love his style, and some of the things he could do on short space were simply breath-taking. 

    And the player I'm leaving on the bench just might be as good or better. 

    The toughest choice on this list by far. 

     

    Sub (and co-starter): Andrés Iniesta: With Don Andrés, we'd have all the magic in the world in case Laudrup's goes missing. Quite a luxury to have either warming the bench, though. 

Right Winger: 19. Lionel Messi

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    Seasons at the club: 2004-?

    Games played: 264 

    Goals scored: 177 

    Titles: three Champions Leagues (2005/06, 08/09 and 10/11), one European Supercup (2009), five Leagues (2004/05, 05/06, 08/09, 09/10 and 10/11), one Copa del Rey (2008/09), three Spanish Super Cup (2007, 2009, 2010).

     

    Messi is already a legend for Barcelona. 

    I really don't have much to say except that I took him over Maradona and Stoichkov. 

    If that doesn't say it, nothing ever will.

     

    Sub: Hristo Stoichkov and Maradona: Capable subs, no doubt, but now as close to Lio as one might originally think after reading the names.

Centre Forward: 9 Eto'o

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    Seasons at club: 2004-2009 

    Games played: 232 

    Goals scored: 152 

    Titles: two Champions League (2005/06 and 08/09), three Leagues (2004/05, 05/06 and 08/09), one Copa del Rey (2008/09), two Spanish Super Cups (2005/06 and 06/07).

     

    The Indomitable Lion himself is my striker on this list.

    Some of you might have expected Romario. Some might choose Ronaldo.

    But Eto'o won two Champions Leagues and scored on them both. 

    I hope I could say the talented Brazilians did either/or.

     

    Sub: Ronaldo and Romario: Way more talented than Eto'o, but with half the heart (and the success). 

Left Winger: 10. Ronaldinho

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    Seasons at the club: 2003-2008 

    Games: 250 

    Goals: 110 

    Titles: two Leagues (2004/05 and 05/06), one Champions League (2005/06), two Spanish Super Cups (2005/06 and 06/07) 

     

    The second hardest choice on this list leaves me with Dinho (circa 2004/05 version, not the horrible post-2006 one) as my starter on the left wing.

    Ronaldinho had it all to be one of the best players ever, let alone on Barça. 

    Remember when Barcelona depended on Saviola, Zenden, Overmars and the likes? Well, thanks to Ronaldinho, the Blaugrana took it up a notch and returned to their former glory.

    Fact is, they owe it to Dinho to stand where they are today.

    Because of all of this, he beats Rivaldo and Cruyff on this spot. 

    If only we could've seen him in his primer for two or three more years.

    Pity. 

     

    Subs: Rivaldo and Cruyff: Extremely talented subs, but had nowhere near the impact Ronaldinho had by reviving a dying franchise to the heights it has today. You will see Cruyff on it, though.  

Coach: Johan Cruyff

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    Seasons at the club: 1988-96 

    Titles: one European Cup (1991/92), one European Super Cup (1992), four Leagues (1990/91, 91/92, 92/93, 93/94), one Copa del Rey (1989/90), three Spanish Super Cups (1991, 1992 and 1994).

     

    While as a player, Cruyff didn't succeed as much at Barça, as a coach, there's before Cruyff and after Cruyff. 

    Simply put, he built what Barça is today from the ground up and led them to their elusive first glory in Europe against Sampdoria in 1992.

    He built the Dream Team, and since then, he gave the team its offensive and pro-youth philosophy it follows today.

    Because of all that, and so much more, he's the coach for my All-Time Barça XI. 

     

    Assistant Coaches: Pep Guaridola: a fantastic coach in his own right, and a man that could become a bigger figure for Barça than Johan if he keeps it up.

     

    Follow me on Twitter @ehrli

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