Barcelona’s 11 Greatest Sides of All Time, Part 3 of 3

by Stefan Vasilev

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011
 

The Sides of the 1920s, the End of the Club’s First Golden Age

The 1920s were times of self-discovery for Barcelona. It was by that time the club started to recognize its symbolic meaning to the Catalan people.

It was at the time the club began to become more than a club. Jack Greenwell, the then manager, was the one who laid the foundation for success on the field.

In the team he built, the Barcelona all-time top goal-scorer played alongside the club’s second best top goal-scorer, Paulino Alcantara and Josep Samitier respectively.

The Catalans also boasted players like Ricardo Zamora, Emilio Sagi, Felix Sesumaga and Franz Platko.

The period marked the embarking of Barcelona on a long journey of success.

They won the Spanish Cup six times, the Catalan Championship five times and the club’s first Spanish League title in 1929.

Pep Guardiola’s Side, 2008-Now

In 2008, an ex-Barca player who had played under Johan Cruyff was appointed the new manager of the club. Pep Guardiola’s opinions diverged from those of previous manager Frank Rijkaard. He was quick to act by offloading three of the club’s stars: Ronaldinho, Sammuel Eto’o and Deco to Milan, Inter-Milan and Chelsea respectively, to add to the list of players not included in his plans.

On that list, the names of Giovani Dos Santos, Edmilson and Lilian Thuram were already written.

The voids were filled by Daniel Alves and Seudou Keita from Sevilla, Martin Caseres from Villarreal, Gerrard Pique from Manchester United and Alexander Hleb from Arsenal. Three players were promoted from the youth ranks: Sergio Busquets, Pedro Rodriguez and Jeffren Suarez.

Pep’s own version of Johan Cruyff’s “tiki-taka” initiated.

He won an amazing of six trophies that year. Johan Cruyff might have stirred in his sleep: Maybe the disciple is better than the master?

The success story continued up to a few days ago when Pep Guardiola added another Champions League trophy to raise the number of trophies he has won to 10 so far.

Pep, however, was very lucky to have a real gem already in the squad prior to his arrival—the short Argentinean boy Lionel Messi.

Lionel Messi, targeted by midfield generals Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, has made sure Pep Guardiola’s tactics would work like a charm.

For that reason, Pep Guardiola remains second after the man who inspired him in his coaching ways—Johan Cruyff.

Undeniably, Guardiola’s Barcelona are on their way to become the best one the club has ever had.

Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team, 1990-1994

Following a difficult period for Barcelona football club, in 1988, a man who had provided inspiration in the past, by being the footballer he was, was burdened with the responsibility of bringing about positive change.

That man was no other than the Flying Dutchman, Johan Cruyff.

On the field, Cruyff was the reason the Netherlands’ national team played “total football.” He would often move freely on the field, and total football allowed for his teammates to adjust to his movements. And he would always yell orders on where a player is supposed to be positioned and when to move.

As a manager, the very same vision he possessed was to give birth to a football side of Barcelona that was branded “The Dream Team”—a side that would forever change the direction the club would go.

Under Cruyff, Barcelona became a hugely successful blend of home-grown and proven international players dancing under the tune of their visionary manager.

The tune would later be called “tiki-taka,” a branch of the “total football” school.

Players like Josep Guardiola, Albert Ferrer, Txiki Begiristain, Hristo Stoichkov, Romario, Michael Laudrup and Ronald Koeman seized their fortune to gain the status of club heroes.

Between 1990 and 1994, four consecutive La Liga titles were won. Pillage in the form of three trophies from European conquests also travelled to adorn the Barcelona trophy halls. The Copa Del Rey was won in 1990 and the European Supercup in 1992, along with three Supercopa de Espana between 1990 and 1994.

Eleven trophies in total stretched over an eight-year long period of Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona tenure (but the accomplishments were really achieved inside five years; in the other three, Cruyff didn’t win anything). The Dutchman broke the records for the club’s longest serving and most-successful manager.

In the later part of his career, past glory could not cancel out two years of trophy-drought, and in 1996, the club’s president relieved Johan Cruyff from his position.

His legacy though would have a much longer effect than expected. His “Dream Team” had already done what it was supposed to do: shape the mentality of the club to one of winners.

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