2009 was a classic year for FC Barcelona. As was 2010 (the sextuple). But in 2009 Barca enjoyed a special level of quality. Xavi and Iniesta had properly broken through and established themselves in the first team. Busquets was already a fixture too. Carles Puyol was still in his pomp and Pique had returned from his sojourn in Manchester to cement himself as the first choice centre half partner for the team Captain. A certain young Lional Messi (who is stoppable only with injury) was already hitting the heights in an attack that featured Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto’o. The question is, would this team beat today’s Barcelona? Would today’s mind blowing attack counter the more balanced general quality of 2009’s team?
How do the barcelona defences compare?
2016: Well, today’s defence is solid rather than staggering. Pique remains but drifts in and out of form, Mascherano is a definite asset but strikes me as more comfortable in the defensive midfield role he took at Liverpool, Alba remains one of the best left backs in the world and Umiti seems to be settling very well since his summer move.
2009: Pique’s central defensive partner was Yaya Toure, so not the most ideal defensive mind perhaps, with Puyol playing on the right flank and former Arsenal defender Sylvinho on the left. It seems a kind of flaky set up, probably only held together by the sterling work of Busquets sitting in front of them and cleaning up.
Verdict: 2016 is stronger defensively.
Barcelona Midfield 2009 v midfield 2016
2009: The big difference here is Xavi. If you’re a fan of the diminutive midfield general and his influence on games, then you’ll probably plump for 2009. Added to this you’ve got Iniesta arguably about to hit his best. These guys were key players in Spain’s rise to international grandeur too. In 2009 as today, Busquets sat in front of the defence, effectively cleaning up so the other guys could play. in 2009, as in today, the midfield blended gracefully into attack with Messi and Henry coming from deep.
2016: Essentially, this year they’ve replaced Xavi with Rakitic. That’s your difference. If you want to get into detail about the attack playing deeper then they’ve switched out Henry for Neymar too. To my mind, these aren’t improvements. Rakitic is a fine player but lacks the vision of an inspired Xavi and Neymar is part of the stunning attack we’re just getting to, but is his general game better than Henry (despite that handball…)? I would argue no.
Verdict: Barcelona 2009 had a stronger midfield.
MSN V MEH
2009 v 2016: Yeah, it’s an unfortunate acronym, but Messi, Eto’o and Henry is actually a staggering line up when you think about it. It’s easy to forget just how good a player Samuel Eto’o was in particular, given how he wound down his days at Chelsea and Everton. A career total of 323 goals in 673 games. He scored 129 for barcelona in just 209 games. Which is pretty staggering. Unfortunately, he’s up against Luis Suarez. Suarez has scored an incredible 92 goals in 105 games so far for Barcelona. Which is ridiculous. You could theoretically argue that5 Eto’o offers more playing deeper and providing from midfield but Suarez’s herculean work rate kind of cancels that argument out. Messi today seems to be playing at an even higher level than 2009 so we’ll skip right to Henry v Neymar. Henry scored 49 goals in 121 games for Barca. Neymar, so far, has scored 89 in 147. So there just isn’t a comparison.
Barcelona 2016 wins.
There just isn’t a comparison. I mean, with MSN, you could argue Wigan 2016 could win out against AC Milan 2002. Is this the greatest strikeforce of all time? Maybe a question for another day. In the meantime: