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Barcelona’s Team of the Decade

Agree or disagree?

Soccer - UEFA Champions League Finals 2011 - Barcelona FC vs. Manchester United Photo by liewig christian/Corbis via Getty Images

So, here we are at the end of another decade, and what a 10 years it’s been for the Blaugranes!

We really have been spoiled with the quality of the play for the most part, and it’s just a shame that so many club stalwarts have retired in the recent past.

It’s unlikely that we’ll ever experience another period of sustained success like this in our lifetimes.

These lists are always incredibly subjective of course, but let’s see how many of the XI you agree with. For the record, it’s a classic 4-3-3 formation...

Goalkeeper: Victor Valdes

The most difficult decision because Marc-Andre ter Stegen has been out of this world, but Valdes’ Zamora awards tipped the scales for me.

The passage of time, and his ill-judged coaching stint with the U19 side, appears to have sullied his name with many cules, but he was as vital to Barca when between the sticks as ter Stegen is now.

Right-back: Dani Alves

Joyous, exuberant, energetic, funny and brilliant. The clown prince of this Barca XI he may be, but what a player Dani Alves was! There may have been better defenders in his position during the last decade, but not one has had such an all-round influence in the dressing room and on the pitch as the Brazilian.

Centre-Back: Carles Puyol

Everything you wanted from your captain. A no-nonsense warrior who’d go to war with you for 90 minutes and then shake your hand afterwards. Tough, uncompromising and a player who consistently led by example.

Was instrumental in mentoring Gerard Pique and turning him into the colossus he is today, and epitomised - through actions such as getting Eric Abidal to lift the Champions League trophy at Wembley - what it meant to ‘be Barca.’

Centre-Back: Gerard Pique

Gets far too much stick for my liking. A brilliant defender, first and foremost, and one who has come on leaps and bounds since Puyol exited stage left.

Still loves a bit of tomfoolery, but that and his outside business interests shouldn’t detract from his prowess in the centre-back role.

Left-Back: Jordi Alba

Even now, Jordi Alba still needs to rein that spiky temper in a bit, but that shouldn’t detract from his excellence in the left-back role.

Over the past few seasons in particular, his connection with Messi has been almost telepathic, and a real feature of Barca’s play going forward.

Defensively sound if not excellent, his energy is infectious and he’ll be the only one still shuttling up and down the channels during injury time if the game requires it.

Midfield: Andres Iniesta

‘Don’ Andres Iniesta. The title of his biography ‘The Artist’ summed him up in two words. Those elegant midfield brush strokes were a joy to behold and he was a true artisan of his craft.

Loved wherever he went because of his World Cup winning goal for Spain, he was universally admired for the way in which he carried himself on and off the pitch and for the magnificent way in which he interpreted the game of football.

Midfield: Xavi

Still currently Barca’s record appearance holder, and bowed out almost five years ago (!) with the Champions League trophy in his hands. His suitability to the teams he served so well is unquestionable. If Xavi had the ball, all was well. We all knew that something positive would happen with him conducting the orchestra, and though Arthur is trying his best to replicate the former No.6, there’ll never be another Xavi.

Midfield: Sergio Busquets

The water carrier. The one who does the donkey work to make everyone else look good. As much as any other player, Sergio Busquets’ contribution to Barca’s golden era has been impeccable.

With the decade drawing to a close, he’s starting to slow a little, and the instincts aren’t quite as sharp as they once were, but there’s been no better player in his position over the last 10 seasons.

Right Wing: Lionel Messi

No words could ever adequately describe this man’s genius. An incessant desire for goals, assists, and a willingness to make a difference in every single game. A football brain to match, and the skillset to execute whenever he goddam pleases.

He was incredible at the start of the decade, and Messi is ending it as he began it. The best. Ever.

Left Wing: Neymar

Whatever Barca fans think about Neymar at present, there’s little doubt that after a first season that was nothing to write home about, the Brazilian really came into his own.

The flicks, tricks and histrionics weren’t to everyone’s taste, but his goalscoring output and associative play with Messi and Suarez was a big reason why MSN were so successful.

Centre-Forward: Luis Suarez

In the modern era, have Barcelona had a better finisher than Luis Suarez?

An ‘old school’ centre-forward but with a modern twist, the Uruguayan is a nightmare for defenders to play against.

Goals are guaranteed with him on the pitch, from any place and at any time. Give him just a sniff of goal and he’ll punish you.

Coach: Pep Guardiola

What a shame that Pep only had two seasons with Barca out of this past decade. His teams will forever be the barometer by which future coaches and their players are judged. He allowed us all to dream, blessed us with his vision and gave us football of the very highest quality.

Notable omissions: Ivan Rakitic, Frenkie De Jong, Clement Lenglet, Samuel Umtiti, Nelson Semedo, Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele, Cesc Fabregas, David Villa, Alexis Sanchez, Eric Abidal, Sergi Roberto, Javier Mascherano, Gabriel Milito, Seydou Keita, Thiago, Pedro.

The list is practically endless...

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