Monday, January 28, 2019

Barcelona All-Time Team for Foreign Players

Ronald Koeman, Johan Cruyff and Michael Laudrup
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

This is my selection of a 25 member all-time team for Barcelona's Foreign Players.  The number 25 was chosen because it is the official squad size for the Champions' League.
Catalonia All-Time Team
Barcelona All-Time Team
Barcelona All-Time Team for Spanish Players
Barcelona Dutch Best XI
Dutch-German Rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Barcelona "La Masia" Academy Greatest All-Time team

Despite of being one of the best Spanish sides domestically, Barcelona did not win their first European Cup until 1992 when Johan Cruyff's Dream Team beat Sampdoria in the Final.  For a club with such a long and successful record, the victory was long overdue. However, in the 21st Century, Barcelona's luck changed.  They had won four, more titles.
Luis Suarez, Claudio Bravo and Dani Alves
GK: Ruud Hesp (Holland)
Ruud Hesp first got his opportunity with Fortuna Sittard from 1987 and 1994. He then playd for Roda from 1994 to 1997.  However, it was at Barcelona, where he enjoyed the best part of his career. He was their surprise starter over Victor Baia while playing Louis Van Gaal.  He travelled with the Dutch national team to Euro 1996 and the World Cup 1998, but he never earned a single cap for Holland.

GK: Claudio Bravo (Chile)
As of 2018, Claudio Bravo is Chile's most capped player with 119 times.  He was the hero of Chile's two back-to-back Copa America titles in 2015 and 2016, winning penalty shootouts on both Finals.  He also went to two World Cup Finals. He started his professional career playing with Colo-Colo at home.  He also played with Real Sociedad, Barcelona and Manchester City.

GK: Marc-André ter Stegen (Germany)
After four seasons in the Bundesliga with Borussia Mönchengladbach,  Marc-André ter Stegen joined Barcelona in 2014. He won the treble in his first season in Spain, playing for Barcelona in Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League while Claudio Bravo started in La Liga.  At the international level, he has earned 21 caps.  He was a backup at Euro 2016 and the World Cup in 2018.

RB: Dani Alves (Brazil)
Dani Alves spent 6 years with Sevilla, winning two UEFA Cup's before joining Barcelona.  He only played 109 times for Brazil at the time of writing, largely because Maicon was the regular starter during his early career.  In 2016, he joined Juventus, where he played a single season.   He appeared in his fourth Champions League final as Juventus were defeated 4–1 by Real Madrid. In 2017, he joined PSG.

CB/DM: Javier Mascherano (Argentina)
Nicknamed "El Jefecito" ("The Little Chief"), he played for River Plate.  In 2005, he joined Corinthians along with Argentine compatriot, Carlos Tevez.  A year later, he moved to West Ham again with Tevez.  He later played for Liverpool and Barcelona.  He has made over 140 appearances for the Argentina national team, making him the second-most capped player in the country's history. He has represented the nation at five Copa América tournaments, and three World Cups.
Javier Mascherano 
CB:  Rafael Marquez (Mexico)
Rafael Marquez is one of the best players in Mexico's history.  He started his career with Atlas before moving to play in Europe, notably with Monaco and Barcelona.  He was the first Mexican to win the European Champions' League. He is the first player ever to captain his national team in four consecutive World Cup Finals, captaining Mexico in the 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014. He had a total of 146 caps for Mexico between 1997 and 2018.  He won two Gold Cup in 2003 and 2011.

CB:  Ronald Koeman  (Holland)
Ronald Koeman was the rock solid sweeper of Holland's Euro1988 team.  He was capped 78 times. He also won two European Cups, one each for PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona FC.  He scored the winning goal for Barcelona's victory in 1992. The Cup was Barcelona FC's first ever European Cup.  In Holland, he played for all of the "big three" clubs, namely Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord.

CB/LB: Frank De Boer (Holland)
At one point, Frank De Boer was Holland's most capped player. He was a part of Ajax's Champions' League winning team in 1995.  He was an important player in the late 1990's. He captained the Oranje to the semi-finals of both the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2000.  He also played with Barcelona for 6 years. His twin brother Ronald also played with him for Oranje.

LB/DM:  Giovanni Van Bronckhorst (Holland)
Giovanni Van Bronckhorst played for Holland in three World Cups, in 1998, 2006 and 2010, as well as three European Championships, in 2000, 2004 and 2008.  He was the captain of Holland at World Cup 2010, where Holland finished second.  He played 106 times for Holland.  At the club level, he also played with Feyenoord, Barcelona Arsenal and Rangers. 
Giovanni Van Bronckhorst

LB: Éric Abidal (France)
In his career, Abidal played mainly for Lyon and Barcelona, winning 21 major titles the two teams combined, including two Champions League trophies with the latter. His later career was marked by liver disease, resulting in a transplant. A French international across nine years, Abidal represented the nation in two World Cups – finishing second in 2006 – and Euro 2008.

CM: Phillip Cocu (Holland)
Cocu played for AZ and Vitesse Arnhem before joining PSV Eindhoven. He played for FC Barcelona between 1998 and 2004. During Cocu’s second stint at PSV, he won another three Eredivisie titles and reached the Champions League semi-finals. With 101 caps, Cocu is fifth on the list of most Dutch international appearances.  He also played at the 1998 and 2006 World Cup, as well as the 1996, 2000 and 2004 European Championships.

CM: Bernd Schuster (Germany)
Schuster was the star of West Germany's Euro 1980 winning team, but disagreed with the German Football Association and seldom played for West Germany after the tournament.  He started with FC Koln in 1978. He was a star at La Liga in the 1980's, playing for Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. He was the first player to have won the Spanish Cup for the big three in Spain. He later played for Bayer Leverkusen.

CM: Johan Neeskens (Holland)
Johan Neeskens was considered to be one of the greatest Dutch midfielders. He had 49 caps for Holland.  Her led Holland to two second place finishes at the World Cup Finals in 1974 and 1978.  He was Holland's top scorer at the 1974 World Cup Finals.  At the club level, he also won three straight European Cups with Ajax: 1971, 1972, 1973. He also played with Barcelona FC and New York Cosmos.
Johan Neesken
AM/FW: Rivaldo (Brazil)
Rivaldo was a part of the attacking trio known as "Three R's" with Ronaldo and Ronaldinho at the 2002 World Cup Finals.  He scored 5 goals in 5 games as Brazil took its 5th World Cup. He also went to the WC Finals in 1998. He won the 1999 Ballon d' Or. He played for many clubs in his career.  He spent five years with Spanish club Barcelona.

RW: Luis Figo (Portugal)
Figo is one of Portugal's greatest players.  He was the 2000 European Footballer of the Year, the 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year., He is one of the few football players to have played for both Spanish rival clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid. His controversial 2000 transfer from Barcelona to Real Madrid set a world record fee of €62 million.  With Real Madrid, he was the first member of the Galacticos. He won the Champions' League title in 2002.

LM: Ronaldinho (Brazil)
Ronaldinho was a member of tyhe "Three R's" with Rivaldo and Ronaldo that helped Brazil winning the World Cup in 2002.  He started his career with Gemio before moving to Europe. He played with Paris St Germaine and Barcelona before his form started to drop. He formed the REM line with Etoo and Messi before fighting among them destroyed the team. 

AM/FW: Michael Laudrup  (Denmark)
Michael Laudrup was the Golden Boy of the "Dynamite" Denmark at the 1986 World Cup Finals in Mexico.  He is regarded as Denmark's greatest offensive players.  He played 104 times for Denmark. In 1999, he was voted the Best Foreign Player in Spanish Football over the preceding 25-year period.  He won five straight La Liga titles 4 with Barcelona and then, one more with Real Madrid. He also played with Brondby, Lazio, Juventus, Kobe Vessels and Ajax.

FW: Johan Cruyff (Holland)
Johan Cruyff is the greatest Dutch player ever.  He won the Ballon d'Or three times, in 1971, 1973 and 1974.  He was considered one of the best players in history.  He was noted for his brilliant performance at the World Cup in 1974.  He also won three straight European Cups with Ajax in the 1970's.  He moved to Barcelona in 1973 for a world record transfer fees, where he became a legend.  He also played in the NASL.
Johan Cruyff

FW: Laszlo Kubala (Slovakia/Hungary)
Born in Hungary of a multi-cultural background, Laszlo Kubala  was known as one of the greatest Barcelona players ever.  He still managed to win 4 Li Liga titles in the 1950's in an era dominated by Real Madrid.  In 1961, Barcelona eliminated Real Madrid from the European Cup, the first ever loss by Real Madrid at the tournament. He was capped by Hungry, Spain and Czechoslovakia. He was a guest player for Catalonia national football team.
 Laszlo Kubala
RW/FW:  Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Born and raised in central Argentina, Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency as a child. At age 13, he relocated to Spain to join Barcelona. At time of writing, he won 4 World Player of the Year and 5 Ballon d'Or.  For Argentina, he has played over 130 times.  At the time of writing, he has not won an international trophy for the national team, but reached three Finals in his career.
Leo Messi
ST: Sandor Kocsis (Hungary)
Sandor Kocsis was a prolific goalscorer for the Mighty Magyars in the 1950's.   He scored 75 goals in 68 appearances for Hungary.  He scored 11 goals at the WC in 1954, the second highest for a single tournament.  He played for Honved at home before he went to play for Barcelona after the Soviet invasion in 1956.  With fellow Hungarian exiles Ladislao Kubala and Zoltan Czibor, Barcelona became a force in Europe.

ST:  Luis Suarez (Uruguay)
Luis Suarez both the 2013-2014 FWA and the PFA Player of the Year while playing for Liverpool in England.  He was also the European Golden Shoe winner that year. Unfortunately, he was known for biting an opponent at a few occasions.  With Barcelona, he was a part of the MSN line. For Uruguay, he helped them to win the Copa America in 2011 and controversially a 4th place finish at 2010 WC Finals.

ST: Romario (Brazil)
Romario helped the Seleção to win the 1994 FIFA World Cup, receiving the Golden Ball as player of the tournament. He was named FIFA World Player of the Year the same year. He missed the 1998 WC Finals because of an injury. One of very few strikers to surpass the mark of 1,000 goals. He was best remembered for his stint with Barcelona.

ST/FW: Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria)
Hristo Stoichkov is Bulgaria's greatest player. At the 1994 World Cup, Stoichkov was awarded the Golden Boot as the joint top goal scorer of the tournament with six goals, as well as earning the Bronze Ball award. Bulgaria reached the semifinal before losing to Italy. At Barcelona, he was part of Johan Cruyff's "dream team" that won four consecutive La Liga titles and one UEFA Champions League.  He also won the Ballon d'Or in 1994.

ST: Ronaldo (Brazil)
Ronaldo was the greatest player of his generation. He led Brazil to two World Cup Finals match, winning the one in 2002.  He scored 8 goals in 2002.  He was a  youngster at the 1994 World Cup winning team.  He was the winner of Ballon d'Or twice and the FIFA World Player of the Year three times.  He is the second top-scorer in World Cup history.  He played for both Barcelona and Real Madrid, and for both AC Milan and Inter Milan. 

Honorable Mention
Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon), Evaristo (Brazil), Diego Maradona (Argentina), Neymar (Brazil), Deco (Portugal), Allan Simonsen (Denmark), Michael Reiziger (Holland), Patrick Kluivert (Holland), Hans Krankl (Austria), Steve Archibald (Scotland), Gary Lineker (England), Fernando Couto (Portugal), Zoltán Czibor (Hungary).

Squad Explanation -
- Laszlo Kubala(Slovakia), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Romario (Brazil), Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria), Dani Alves (Brazil), Ronald Koeman  (Holland),  Johan Neeskens (Holland), Rivaldo (Brazil), Ronaldinho (Brazil) and Johan Cruyff (Holland) were on my all-time for Barcelona.
-- Ruud Hesp (Holland), Claudio Bravo (Chile, Marc-André ter Stegen (Germany), Éric Abidal (France), Javier Mascherano (Argentina), Rafael Marquez (Mexico), Frank De Boer (Holand), Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Holland), Phillip Cocu (Holland), Luis Figo (Portugal), Luis Suarez Diaz (Uruguay), Sandor Kocsis (Hungary), Michael Laudrup (Denmark), Bernd Schuster (Germany) and Ronaldo (Brazil) were not on my all-time Barcelona team.
-- Only 4 foreign goalkeepers earned significant playing time with  Barcelona: Ruud Hesp, Vitor Baia, Claudio Bravo and Marc-André ter Stegen.  I dropped Vitor Baia, despite the fact he had better international reputation than the other three.  Ruud Hesp and Marc-André ter Stegen had longer spells than him in Barcelona.  In fact, Hesp took over the starting position from Vitor Baia during their career here.
--Paulino Alcántara (the Philippines/Spain) has represented both the Philippines and Spain. Normally, I would put the first country for oriundo players.  Alfredo Di Stéfano, José Santamaría and Héctor Rial had represented for Spain, but they were considered to be foreign players. However, Paulino Alcántara had played for Catalonia before he played for the Philippines.  So I put him as a domestic player. He is not considered to be a foreign player.
-- Phillip Cocu held one of the highest appearance record for a foreigner at the club. Besides, the team needs a midfielder. 
-- I chose to take Giovanni van Bronckhorst over Michael Reiziger.  I probably do not need an extra left back because Frank De Boer can also play there.
-- Luis Figo was added to the team because this team needed a right winger. He was controversial, but he was also great at Barcelona. He was never a serious consideration for the all-time team because of his "deflection". For the foreign only team, I would overlook the transfer move.  Michael Laudrup also left Barcelona for Real Madrid.
-- Ronaldo, Luis Suarez Diaz and Sandor Kocsis edged out Neymar, Samuel Eto'o and Evaristo. Luis Suarez's stats and numbers speak for himself. He has scored over 180 goals for the club.  Patrick Kluivert was not seriously considered as compared to the players I just mentioned, but he still earned honourable mention. 
-- Ronaldo scored 34 goals in 37 games for his only season with Barcelona.  No one in Barcelona's history had a better season than he did in 1996-1997.  In fact, that might be the greatest single season performance by any player in Europe. 
-- Samuel Eto'o deserved to be on this team.  For some fans, he deserved it more than Ronaldo.
-- Neymar's move to PSG basically killed his chance to be on this team.
-- Diego Maradona's spell with Barcelona was cut short by a serious injury.  I seriously considered him. In the end, Michael Laudrup edged him out.

Hesp was more steady while playing for Barcelona. 

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