​Greatest Barcelona Team - 2011 or 2015?

In-depth analysis of the Catalan giant , we compare the legendary 2010/2011 team verus the team heading to the latest Champions league final

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As Barcelona reach their eighth Champions League final and continue marching towards a treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League, we can’t help but question if this is the best Barcelona team we’ve seen. Pep Guardiola made a widely recognized dominant force in European football, winning La Liga, Supercopa de España, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, and most importantly, Champions League of 2010/11 with just one match lost. Many people believe this to be the greatest football side the World has ever seen.

Luis Enrique’s side has great potential and despite a rocky first half of the 2014/15 season, are coming in to excellent form. With occasional changes, the formation has pretty much stayed the same (4-3-3) with one defensive midfielder and two running, creative central midfielders employing wide wingers and a sole striker. There are a few starting XI changes though, obviously affecting the style and overall performance.

2011: Víctor Valdés vs 2015: Marc-André ter Stegen

Victor Valdés is a product of Barcelona youth academy and was one of the best goalkeepers in the world back in 2010. However, being just 6-foot-tall, he was often criticized for not coming off the line, catching or punching the ball clear. Marc-André ter Stegen is a very young goalkeeper and Barcelona hope they have a keeper for the next 10 years. He is good with the ball at his feet and excellent coming off his line, significantly taller than Valdés at 6'3 which is very important for the defensive line.

2011: Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Abidal vs 2015: Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Jordi Alba

Barcelona obviously lost greatly with Puyol retiring and there was a need to pull back Mascherano from a defensive midfielder to a centre-back. Carles Puyol was a captain and a commander, and obviously an irreplaceable figure in the team. However, Mascherano fit in perfectly in the back line with Piqué and although the lack of his presence is felt in the midfield, the defense is well-organized and dominant.

2011: Xavi, Iniesta, Mascherano vs 2015: Rakitić, Iniesta, Busquets

Iniesta has kept his key role in Barcelona midfield, and is still one of the best passers in the world. Xavi has moved to bench and is most probable to retire this season, being mostly replaced by the quick and furious Ivan Rakitić bought from Sevilla last summer. Busquets has also become an integral part of the midfield and enjoyed the space Mascherano left moving back to the defensive line. They work well to employ the feared trio up front, and move perfectly box-to-box, with fast Alba and Alves making attacking runs and opening opponent’s defense.

2011: Messi, Villa, Pedro vs 2015: Messi, Suárez, Neymar

The Barcelona’s wizard Leo Messi is as phenomenal as ever (with Guardiola recently saying he's as good as Pele), perfectly fitting with the world-class acquisitions Neymar and Suárez. Winning four consecutive Ballon d’Or awards, he at the top of the Champions League all-time top goal-scorers together with Cristiano Ronaldo. David Villa and Pedro’s qualities are undeniable, where the duo alone scored 66 goals in 2010-11. However, it seems that Messi has clicked even better with Suárez and Neymar as they receive the worldwide praise as one of the best trios in the history. They scored more than 110 goals and shared 39 assists among themselves. It seems that apart from his individual brilliance the trio is pulling the best team-player out of Messi too.

Are we seeing history in the making? We believe that this Barça team can outdo all the previous generations and in doing so break many records. If you share this opinion, and enjoy football betting, the bookies are offering some great odds on Barcelona's 8th champions league fixture against Juventus on 6th June 2015.

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    Senad Trtak
    Senad Trtak

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