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Greatest FC Barcelona Eras
Established in 1899, FC Barcelona (also known as Barça), has a rich history of contrasting fortunes before reaching the top of the footballing universe. Camp Nou, the massive stadium of FC Barcelona, sits near to a 100,000 audience, making it the largest stadium in Europe. It is also the pride of the Spanish city of 1.6 million people, where soccer (or football) is live and breathe every day. Below are some of the finest Barcelona generations to have ever grace La Liga (Spanish top football league division).
The Dawn (1944-1953)
Although not the team that won the first trophy for Barcelona, it was the one which made a hugely significant mark on Spanish football and the club. This era was also the period where Barça had unprecedented success while it stamped its authority in La Liga as the king of Spain.
César’s arrival in 1943, together with Basora (legendary winger), Ramallets (five times winner of Zamora Trophy for being the best goalkeeper in La Liga) and Joan Segarra (defender captain of one of the best Barcelona team), formed the spine of a new look Barça. He scored an astonishing 294 goals in 433 official matches.
During this period, they won 5 La Liga trophies, 3 Copa del Rey and 3 Copa Eva Duarte, even if they narrowly missed out by a point to Sevilla in the 1945-46 season and finish 4th in the 1947.
Barcelona also won its first European title – the Latin cup in 1949 when they beat Sporting from Portugal 2-1 in the final, and again in 1952, as they narrowly won Nice football club of France by a goal.
The arrival of Hungarian forward László Kubala in 1950, whom Barcelona named as Star of the Decade, propelled the club to even greater heights. During the 1951-1952 season, not only did they reclaimed back their La Liga Crown, which they surrendered to Atlético Madrid for 2 years, they also won a whopping 5 cups, with Kubala forming part of the legendary attack line with César and Mariano Martín.
The era came to an end with the formation of Real Madrid’s own legendary team led by one of the greatest player of all time, Alfredo di Stéfano. Barcelona could only add 2 more La Liga Championship in 1959 and 1960 after their 1953 league title as they saw bitter rival Real Madrid monopolized the Spanish league.
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Dream Team Era (1988 - 1996)
Johan Cruff, a legendary player for Barcelona in his younger days, took over as manager in 1988, established “The Dream Team” of that time, and the rest is history. He broke Real Madrid’s dominance and won four consecutive trophies from 1991-1994 with a total of 11 trophies in 8 years, making him perhaps the second most successful manager after Guardiola.
During that period, they reached the peak of European football when they won the European Cup (which is now known as the UEFA Champions League) as well as the European Super Cup (a contest between the winners of the 2 main European club competitions) in 1992.
He had managed to successfully combine both local and foreign talents to build a formidable and cohesive unit. Amongst them were Miguel Angel Nadal, uncle of tennis superstar Rafael Nadal, Josep Guardiola, one of the first graduate from Barcelona’s famed youth academy La Masia who later created his own footballing dynasty, as well as the enigmatic Romario, who eventually scored 53 goals in 83 games in the famous scarlet and blue stripe jersey.
Other superstars that completed the Dream Team lineup were Ronald Koeman, Michael Laudrup and Hristo Stoichkov.
Cruff was eventually sacked in 1996 with 2 matches remaining after a two years barren run.
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Ronaldino & the raise of the La Masia (2004-2006)
After a period of wilderness which saw the champions of La Liga rotate amongst Real Madrid, Valencia and Deportivo, the combination of a new president, manager and group of superstars, brought the trophies back to Barcelona. President Joan Laporta ushered a new generation by bringing in Ronaldinho from French Club PSG, Deco, Henrik Larsson, Rafael Marquez as well as Samuel Eto’o, who subsequently went on to score 130 goals in 200 club appearances.
This massively talented group was managed by Dutch Frank Rijkaard, who in his heydays was heralded as one of the best defensive midfielder and part of the AC Milan’s Dutch trio with Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten during one of AC Milan’s greatest period of success.
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This period also saw the development of the current crop of Barcelona superstars cum La Masia graduates such as Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol and Valdes. Although winning “only” 2 La Liga championships and a Champions League title during this period, it was an especially important turning point as the La Masia players eventually turned out to form the core of the greatest ever Barça team in history.
The pinnacle came when Barcelona beat Arsenal 2-1 in a thrilling 2006 Champions League final at Stade De France. Falling by 1-0, they managed to claw their way to a 2-1 finish with Eto’o and right-back Juliano Belletti bringing the club’s first European Cup victory in 14 years.
During this period, Ronaldinho won 2 consecutive FIFA World Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005, cementing his status as one of the greatest in Barcelona history.
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Do you know that each team will have at least 2 jerseys per season? Its known as the home and away kit. This is to ensure that both home and visiting teams will have different color jerseys.
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The Guardiola Era (2008-2012)
A consecutive hat-trick of La Liga Championship trophies, 2 Copa Del Rey (Barcelona is the record holder of 26), 2 Champions League title, 2 UEFA Super Cup and a FIFA World Club Cup in 5 years cemented Guardiola’s place as one of the greatest manager ever and Barcelona as the best ever team in footballing history (if I may say so).
The team practically broke every record there is. Spearheaded by the irresistible Lional Messi, they crushed Ronaldo-led Real Madrid 6-2, the largest margin of victory over their fiercest rival since 1970s. For good measures, Barcelona was also the first ever team to have achieved a sextuple by winning 6 titles in 2009 as well as producing the first top 3 finalist for Ballon d’Or in 2010 when Messi, Xavi and Iniesta formed the 3 musketeers, rivaling that of AC Milan’s trio of van Basten, Franco Baresi and Frank Rijkaard in 1989.
Messi even has his own game cover on FIFA 2014
Messi himself became the first ever player in world history to win four Ballon d’Or, the award given to previous greats such as Zidane and former alumni Ronaldinho. He also smashed several other records by becoming Barcelona’s all-time top scorer at age 24 and the youngest player to score 200 La Liga goals by 25. He created many “the-first-to” records too by becoming the first to score 5 goals in a single Champions League game and the first to score in consecutive matches against every team in La Liga. His solo run from the halfway line and beating four players before scoring against Getafe is a sight to behold.
This Guardiola era concluded when he stepped down as Barcelona’s coach at the end of the 2012 season, stating tiredness as the key reason behind his decision.