The Most Beautiful Team On Earth!

9 04 2009

Eto wheels away after ANOTHER goalBarcelona haven’t won the Champions League just yet, but there is little doubt, in my mind, that whether they do or not, they are still the best team in the world at the moment. A four-nil demolition of Bayern Munich last night merely confirmed it. A jaw dropping, attacking team performance, it genuinely felt like a privilege to be watching them.

Of course some will counter that Barca have yet to be tested – that that Bayern team isn’t good enough anyway.

Well at the back perhaps. But you’d still think a team with Ribery, Toni, Schweinsteiger, Ze Roberto and so on would create a few things going forward, wouldn’t you?

But they couldn’t. Because not only is the football played at Camp Nou beautiful, its effective as well.

The key lies in possession. Barca have averaged over 60% in the Champions League this season, an incredible stat. However unlike Arsenal or Villarreal who play a similar brand of beautiful passing, but with no cutting edge, Barca score goals.

In fact with 126 goals in all competitions, it really becomes hard to argue against them being the best team on earth. Indeed, the front three of Messi, Henry and Eto’o have scored more goals between them than any team in the rest of Europe.

The front three naturally then, get their fair share of the glory, and Leo Messi will almost certainly end the year as the World Player of the Year. But they couldn’t be as effective without that midfield sat behind them.

Xavi, the undoubted star of Euro 2008, was quite quiet last night (It’d be impossible for everyone to have an outstanding game, I suppose), but his ability is undoubted. His vision and passing is peerless, he can hit a not-bad free kick and unlike say Fabregas, his supposed heir, he is not afraid to hit the ball.

Iniesta meanwhile was brilliant. Vastly underrated, he can play literally anywhere in the midfield. He started off in the middle somewhere, seemingly constantly in contact with the ball. When Henry went off, he moved out wide, and somehow played even better than he did before, the one Barca player still pushing forward after the job was evidently already done.

Yaya Toure too has really blossomed under manager Pep Guardiola. Playing the thankless defensive-midfield role, he does the dirty work Pep would once have made his own.

And its true that alot of credit has to go to Guardiola. Remember the Barca of last season? The in-fighting, the lack of punch. Well, Pep hasn’t bought anyone in as such. He got rid of Ronaldinho and Deco, too undoubtedly world class talents. He told Eto’o he could get out as well.

Clearly he got rid of the players who were causing in house fighting. Eto’o though took it to heart and realised that hell, he wasn’t bigger than the club afterall. He’s become one of the most formiddable strikers in the world since, in a season he’s sure to remember.

Football is a cruel game, and the best team does not always win. Holland didn’t win the World Cup in 1974, just for the first example that comes to mind. But let us savour the fact that, for now, Barcelona are the best team in the world. Not that you’d catch Messi saying so:

“I think from one to 11, each of our players put in an excellent performance against Bayern. But to be considered the best team in Europe, it’s not about playing like this, it is about winning the Champions League and regaining the Spanish title. That’s something we can only achieve by taking things calmly and a game at a time.”

Smart kid.

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