Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at 00:00
In this period without football intervenes Football zone back to the past. In the section Iconic Confrontations we contrast two teams that are still spoken of with great respect today. Through a poll at the bottom of this article, you determine which team would win if both teams compete against each other. In this edition, two beautiful teams from Barcelona will be discussed: the Barça of Frank Rijkaard, who won the Champions League in 2006, and the team of Josep Guardiola, who amazed the world with the Tiki-taka-football.
Although Barcelona was among the top in Europe, it had been a long time since the club had won a major European prize. After winning the European Cup I in 1992, Barça had not yet managed to win the Champions League. With Joan Laporta at the helm, a different course was started. Txiki Begiristain was appointed as technical director and he was responsible for the arrival of Ronaldinho, Deco and Samuel Eto’o, among others, while Rijkaard was appointed as head coach. The Dutch coach, assisted by Henk ten Cate, was given time to build in the Camp Nou. The 2005/06 season culminated in his coaching career. He led Barcelona not only to the league title, but also to the Champions League overall victory and did so with occasionally stunning football.
The competition in the Rijkaard team was fierce. At the forefront, the then very young Lionel Messi had broken through, but was missing in the main phase of the season due to an injury. Xavi was a fixture and well on his way to become one of the best midfielders in the world, but was injured for part of the season. With Ronaldinho, Barcelona had the best footballer in the world at the time, while Samuel Eto’o was considered one of the best strikers on earth at the time. Barça was brimming with quality, with an impressive mix of experience, talent and a lot of creativity. In the group stage of the Champions League, Barcelona finished in first place, followed by successively in the knockout phase with Chelsea, Benfica and AC Milan.
Arsenal was the opponent in the Champions League final at the Stade de France in Paris. Rijkaard had a base place for Andrés Iniesta in midfield, but decided to bring in the Spaniard after a 1-0 deficit after 45 minutes of play. Arsenal, where Dennis Bergkamp and Robin van Persie stayed on the bench for ninety minutes, had taken the lead via Sol Campbell. Due to goals from Eto’o and Belletti in the second half, the cup with the big ears went to Barcelona. It was a double party in Catalonia, because in LaLiga the Rijkaard team was by far the best. Despite losing the last two league games, Barcelona finished the Spanish league with a 12-point lead.
With Josep Guardiola as trainer, this Barcelona became one of the best teams of all time. No team reached such a high level of football this century as this legendary team. With the now world famous Tiki-taka the largest teams from Europe were played off the mat. Barcelona dominated in Spain and far beyond. The Champions League was already won in the 2008/09 season and this feat would be repeated this season. There was no measure this year of Messi, who played a major role in the success in the billions ball with 12 goals and scored 31 times in LaLiga.
Messi excelled, but it was the entire team that left an unparalleled impression this season. Barcelona was absolutely world-class in every position in the team, and Guardiola made sure it was a well-oiled machine, with Xavi and Iniesta playing the game in midfield. In the Champions League, the group stage was easily survived, but Arsenal proved to be a difficult hurdle in the eighth final. In the first leg, Barcelona lost 2-1, but in the return for their own audience, a 3-1 victory was enough for a place in the quarterfinals. It was convincingly settled with Shakhtar Donetsk, after which Real Madrid was the opponent in the semi-final battle. By two goals from Messi, Barcelona won 0-2 in the Santiago Bernabéu and the job was completed at home: 1-1. The final place was a fact and, as in 2009, Manchester United was the opponent.
Barcelona was Manchester United in charge at Wembley. Wayne Rooney still signed for the 1-1 after Pedro opened the score, but after tea the Spaniards walked away from the Red Devils. Thanks to goals from Messi and David Villa, Barcelona again won the Champions League and the team of Sir Alex Ferguson was again left empty-handed. The Catalans ended that season with two important prizes, because LaLiga was also won. Guardiola saw his team play no less than 96 points, 4 more than Real Madrid. Messi saw his season awarded with the Ballon d’Or. With Dani Alves, Gerard Piqué, Xavi, Iniesta and Messi, the club delivered five players in the UEFA Team of the Year.
Barcelona’s line-up in the final against Manchester United. On the couch: Oier Olazábal, Carles Puyol, Adriano, Seydou Keita, Ibrahim Afellay, Thiago Alcántara and Bojan Krkic.