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Grudge Match: Euro Edition

How past and present Barca players compare with their rivals on the international stage

Clive Mason/Getty Images

With less than 30 days to go until the Euro 2016 fixtures are upon us, excitement around the continent is ramping up. National rivalries are soon to be re-ignited and the great spirit of the game will be unleashed for the world to see. Germany face Poland on Thursday the 16th of June - the same day that England go up against Wales. An amazing day of football is surely guaranteed then. Barcelona will have a fair few players featuring in the tournament, but who from the club has been a standout performer for their country in terms of their rival club counterpart?

Jordi Alba is one man who will be hoping to start for Spain. The left-back has a total of 41 appearances and six goals for his country, winning four games in six appearances at the Euros, scoring once. La Furia Roja will be looking to defend their 2012 victory, which Alba played a huge part in. The Spaniard scored the opening goal in his side’s 4-0 win over Italy, in the final.

Luke Shaw is another left-back who may be making the journey to Euro 2016, but how does the Manchester United man compare to Alba? The youngster’s England qualifiers campaign was undoubtedly cut short by his tibia fracture, but after bouncing back from the horror injury, Shaw is ready to represent his country in France. The left-back has made six appearances for his country, playing in two of England’s qualifiers. Shaw helped England to keep a clean sheet against Switzerland and San Marino but overall the better player has got to be Alba. Shaw has been injured too much recently to give a fair comparison, despite having bags of potential. 1-0 to Barcelona.

Elsewhere in defence, the retired Carlos Puyol was a huge player for Barcelona and his native Spain. The centre-back won 100 international caps, with eight of them coming in the Euros. His Euro journey would have been longer for sure, had he not suffered heartbreak in 2012, missing the Championships through a knee injury. The now agent played in the 2008 final guiding Spain to Euro glory.

The main man likely to line up at the back for Spain this summer is Sergio Ramos. Ramos has made slightly more appearances for Spain than Puyol, with his current tally at 131, 11 of those coming at the Euros. The Real Madrid man also starred in the 2008 final, and the 2012 final. He helped his side sail to the final, in the last tournament, with a cheeky 'Panenka' penalty against Portugal. It is a close call between the two, as Ramos is indeed a talented player, however he often lacks consistency over matches and as such the winner here is Puyol – 2-0.

Some of the greatest ever players have pulled on the famous red and blue of Barcelona, and not least some remarkable strikers. Thierry Henry is assuredly one of the greatest forwards in history. The former Barcelona man has 11 Euro appearances under his belt, with a total of six goals. The Frenchman bagged three goals and one assist in the 2000 tournament, helping his team secure the trophy. He was part of a disappointing 2008 campaign though, scoring just once.

The modern rival to Henry has got to be Robert Lewandowski. After going a rampage in 2015, scoring 12 goals in four appearances and single handedly dragging his country Poland to this year’s championships, he is one of the most renowned strikers on the planet right now, if not the greatest European one. Only Muller, Ibrahimovic and Griezmann come to close to the Bayern Munich number 9.  A contest too close to call, on this occasion a draw between the two is a fair result. Final tally 3-1 to the Catalonians!

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