“If you tell me that you love football and you don’t love Barcelona, you have a problem.”
Those were the words of Thierry Henry as he reflected on Barcelona’s glory years under Pep Guardiola.
For a period under Guardiola, the Spanish giants - with Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi all at their peak - were unstoppable.
The finest team in the history of football? Quite possibly.
They won three La Liga titles on the bounce from 2009 to 2011 and a historic sextuple in 2009.
Copa del Rey, La Liga, Champions League, Spanish Super Cup, European Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup. Serial winners.
It was all torn apart when Guardiola left Barcelona in 2012, and we haven’t seen football played with just brilliance and guile since.
Their intricate passes, dazzling dribbles and close-quarters finesse have now been compiled into a video that will remind you just why it’s called the beautiful game.
Having three magicians all on the pitch at the same time was just unfair on the opposition.
One single match that stands out is the 2011 Champions League final against Manchester United.
Barcelona won 3-1, with Messi on the scoresheet, but Xavi and Iniesta were just as influential that night at Wembley Stadium.
Xavi completed 148 passes, finishing with a completion rate of 95%.
There were 60 passes between Xavi and Iniesta, the most common pass journey on the pitch. Man United’s most frequent combination was the 16 passes centre-backs Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic completed to each other.
Messi, meanwhile, was successful with 10 of his 15 dribbles.
There was simply nothing that Man United, who completed 357 passes to Barcelona’s 777, could do.
“In my time as a manager, it’s the best team we’ve faced,” Man United boss Sir Alex Ferguson admitted at full-time, per the Telegraph.
They deserve it because they play the right way and enjoy their football.
Indeed. The era of Messi, Xavi and Iniesta will never be forgotten.
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