Bish's Briefs - Barcelona rightly crowned team of the year
Published: 22 Dec 2009 - 14:41:20
On Saturday afternoon in Abu Dhabi, Barcelona were officially crowned Club World Champions when they defeated Argentina's Estudiantes by two goals to one. The winner, scored by the man named on Monday evening as the FIFA World Player of the Year for 2009 - Lionel Messi.
Barcelona are the best team on earth right now, ending 2009 where they began it - top of La Liga. In the meantime, along with their domestic league title, they've picked up the European Cup, the Copa Del Rey, the Spanish Super Cup, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup.
Real Madrid have won more games in La Liga in the calendar year than their Catalan rivals, the difference is, Real Madrid have won no trophies this year, Barcelona have won six.
Monday's FIFA World Player of the Year gala saw the five stars nominated all representing La Liga - Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi from Barcelona and Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid. Barcelona are littered with stars but what has stood them out as the stellar team of 2009 is that they are stars that dovetail together to make them the team that set the standard.
Xavi is at his best when he has Andres Iniesta alongside him in midfield and vice-versa. Lionel Messi is at his best roaming in off the right flank, pulling defenders out of position, creating space to be exploited by the darting runs of his team-mates and of course, scoring spell-binding goals.
Pep Guardiola has moulded Barcelona into a side that brings out the unique talents of his string of stars in a form that has made his side the most potent around. At one point in 2008-09 it looked as if Barca would be the first side in Spanish history to break the 100 point barrier. Their ruthless and joyful accumulation of points only slowed by their thirst to add a third European Cup to their haul of trophies.
Juande Ramos' Real Madrid gamely challenged Barca for the La Liga crown and managed to pull their New Year lead back to a reachable distance. They went into a title showdown at the Bernabeu on May 2 on the back of 17 League games unbeaten, having won 16.
But as Barcelona demonstrated throughout 2009 - they deliver when the heat is at it's highest. They walked out of the Bernabeu that night with 3 points, having demolished and dismantled their great rivals 6-2. They could have scored twice as many.
Think back to the 93rd minute of Barcelona's Champions League semi-final 2nd leg at Stamford Bridge. One-nil down and one minute away from elimination at the cruellest of stages. Step forward Andres Iniesta to score a goal of incredible majesty, given the constraints of time, as he caressed Lionel Messi's measured pass with the outside of his right boot and into the top right-hand corner of the net to seal their passage to Rome.
When in Rome they embarrassed Manchester United - reigning champions of England and defending champions of Europe. The majority in this country had dismissed Barcelona, including many paid to know a lot better. It was only on that night that the majority of this country woke up to what had been created on the east coast of Spain.
How good are this Barcelona side?
How do you compare them with the other great sides of the decade? The match anyone would want to see from sides from the start of this century would surely be Pep Guardiola's side against Arsene Wenger's 'Invincibles'. Barca's dexterity, diligence and artistry against Arsenal's speed, power and panache.
How about Real Madrid's 'Galatico' side that won the European Cup in 2002, that boasted Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Raul, Roberto Carlos and Claude Makelele?
The AC Milan side between 2003-2005 that reached two European Cup Finals, winning one with the likes of Kaka, Andrei Shevchenko, Paolo Maldini, Andrea Pirlo and Gennaro Gattuso at his growling, gruesome best.
I'll leave that one for you to decide. But I would fancy this Barca side against any of them.
One things for sure though, Real Madrid's threat is growing in Spain after their demolition of Real Zaragoza at the weekend. If Barca are to stay at the top of the tree, they'll have to be better than ever.
- FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:andy bishop
- Having worked in radio, newspapers, magazines, internet and television I hope to now bring my passion for the game to your computer screens with analysis, comment and tongue-in-cheek humour on all things global in the world of football - from Barcelona to Boca and from Blatter to Berlusconi...enjoy!
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