The Greatest Teams in Football History Week Seven: Barcelona (2008-2012)

The Greatest Teams in Football History Week Seven: Barcelona (2008-2012)

After announcing his decision to leave the club in April of 2012, Pep Guardiola said, “Four years at Barcelona is like an eternity.” 

In those four years, Pep Guardiola and his Barcelona side accomplished what many coaches and players could not achieve in three lifetimes. This Barcelona side are the greatest team of the 21st century. They played the most beautiful football. They had the best players. In future decades, fans of the game will look back at this side with sadness, wishing they could see them play just one more time.

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The Greatest Teams in Football History - Week Six: Spain (2008-2012)

The Greatest Teams in Football History - Week Six: Spain (2008-2012)

Unlike Germany, Argentina, Italy, and Brazil, success has never been synonymous with the Spanish national team. Though they house two of the best clubs in the history of the game, Barcelona and Real Madrid, the country always stuttered to produce results in major tournaments. Before 2008, their only trophy came in the 1964 European Championship – a four-team tournament that took place in Madrid and Barcelona. That year, Spain beat the USSR 2-1 to win their first and only international trophy for the next half-century.

In the late 20th century, as Germany blitzed their way across Europe, Brazil showcased their beautiful play, Argentina unleashed Maradonna, and even England brought football back home to Wembley, Spain sat on the sidelines, struggling to compete. Underachievers for decades, Spain resembled the Charlie Brown of international football.

In the knockout round of the 2006 World Cup, Spain was brushed aside by France in a 3-1 loss. Though their squad included promising talent like Sergio Ramos, Fernando Torres, David Villa, and Cesc Fabregas, Spain had once again been ousted by one of their European big brothers. Everyone believed Spain’s young team was merely a novelty act that would never stand alone at the top of world football – everyone except for Luis Aragones.

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Real Madrid ('56-'60) - The Greatest Teams in Football History: Week 5

Real Madrid ('56-'60) - The Greatest Teams in Football History: Week 5

In the past three seasons, Real Madrid won the Champions League three times in a row. Such an astonishing achievement solidified them as true conquerors of Europe. With players like Luka Modric, Sergio Ramos, and, of course, Cristiano Ronaldo – this was one of the best Madrid sides of all time. In 2016, when Zidane was installed as manager, Madrid now had a galactico on the sidelines directing galacticos on the pitch. Though this Madrid side did not achieve much success domestically, they established a record that will develop into a jaw-dropping legacy in decades to come. 

Though they ruled Europe for three years, a harsh reality underlies their achievements – they aren’t the first Madrid side to do it. And compared with the Madrid side of the late ’50s which first achieved this accomplishment – they aren’t even close. 

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The Greatest Teams in Football History - Week Four: Manchester United ('95-'01)

The Greatest Teams in Football History - Week Four: Manchester United ('95-'01)

In the two-decade purple patch of arguably the greatest club in English history, determining the peak of their success proves challenging. Based on trophies, players, and legacy, the seven years from 1995 to 2001 are tough to beat.

Yes, in 2003, United signed Ronaldo and in 2004 they signed Rooney. The two forwards led the charge for a new United that saw the emergence of club legends Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Nani, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, and Edwin Van der Sar. This new generation, however, came about in an era of Arsenal’s “invincibles” and Abramovich’s Chelsea. Manchester United was no longer alone at the top of English football…

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The Greatest Teams in Football History - Week One: Liverpool (1975-1984)

The Greatest Teams in Football History - Week One: Liverpool (1975-1984)

This is the first in a series of articles, released weekly, counting down the 10 greatest teams in the history of football. The teams were selected based on the trophies they won, the cultures they created, and the effect they had on the game of football.

The team that every English dynasty is compared to, the team whose football inspired a generation of practicality on the field, the team that won twenty trophies in just 9 years – this team was Liverpool.

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