Frank Rijkaard vs. Pep Guardiola: Gio van Bronckhorst vs. Éric Abidal

With Guardiola’s men currently setting the pace with a commanding 4-0 lead over Frank Rijkaard, it is now the turn of the left-backs, Giovanni Van Bronckhorst and Eric Abidal.

This match-up was one I looked forward to writing, as I thought it was one of the closest. On one side you had the Dutch captain who captained his side to the 2010 World Cup final, and the other there’s one of the most decorated defenders of his generation.

By any means, Abidal is not the best player I’ve seen, but surely one with the most trophies at his house.

Signed by Frank Rijkaard at the start of the disastrous 2007/2008 campaign, he continues to increase his trophy cabinet with FC Barcelona after leaving French serial-champions Olympique Lyon.

Now that’s not all, he is also a tremendous all-round footballer and one that Barcelona cannot afford to lose. He is a great passer of the ball, a prerequisite quality that many other Barcelona defenders brought in from abroad didn’t have. Abidal is also very adept going forward which tends to be overlooked since he is teammates with Dani Alves, perhaps the best attacking full-back in football.

His versatility has also been evident as of late, with numerous appearances at the heart of the defence as opposed to his usual left-back position. He even joked that after his goal against Bilbao in the cup, he could be played as a forward. If you ask me, anyone but Ibrahimovic!

Above all, one must admire Abidal’s consistency. He has always performed to a high level and correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m inclined say that he has never had a bad appearance for the Catalans.

However, the same could be said of Gio. He was a beacon of consistency for the Blaugrana, and a vital player too, as he proved in the 2006 season, where he was the only member of the squad to feature in all of the Champions League fixtures.

He also boasts fantastic versatility, as you would expect from a Dutch player, and filled in at the holding midfield role from time to time.

Gio is also the recipient of a lot of winner medals/trophies, but unfortunately for him (not the rest of the disgraceful Dutch side) could not add a World Cup medal to his collection in his final ever professional game.

Ever the model pro, he remains a favourite of many Barca fans (me included) and some have even called for him to be installed as a coach at La Masia. However, he has never displayed Abidal’s level of performance, and given Abidal’s aerial presence, one must feel that if 2006 Gio would be placed into the current Barcelona set-up, he would not improve it. So for that reason, I am giving the advantage to Guardiola again.

Winner: Eric Abidal

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