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. 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Barcelona All-Time Team for Spanish Players

Albert Ferrer and Pep Gaurdolia

This is my selection of a 25 member all-time team for Barcelona's Spanish 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 Foreign Players
Spain without 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.
Iniesta and Xavi

The Team
GK: Andoni Zubizarreta 
Andoni Zubizarreta represented La Roja in 4 World Cup Finals. He was at one point Spain's cap record holder.  He started with Athletic Bilboa.  He also played for Barcelona and Valencia.  He won Barcelona's first ever Champions' League in 1992.  After the 1993–94 UEFA Champions League, where Barça lost 0–4 to A.C. Milan in the final, Zubizarreta was deemed surplus to requirements

GK: Antoni Ramallets 
Antoni Ramallets was the starting keepers of Barcelona in the 1950's.  He played alongside with Laszio Kubalal and Luis Suarez.  He won 6 La liga titles in an era that was known to be dominated by Alfred Di Stefano's Real Madrid.  Ramallets played 35 games for Spain during 11 years, making his debut against Chile on 29 June 1950, during the 1950 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Antoni Ramallets 
Xabi Alonso, Kroos, Modric
GK: Victor Valdes 
Victor Valdes spent most of his career with Barcelona. With them, he won three Champions' league title.  He also had a unsuccessful stint with Manchester United. For the national team, he only managed 20 caps due to playing behind Iker Casillas during the prime of his career. He was part of the Spanish squads that won the 2010 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2012, despite not playing in either tournament.

RB: Albert Ferrer 
Ferrer represented the nation in two World Cups and at the 1992 Olympic Games, winning the latter tournament. He was a part of Barcelona's Dream Team in the 1990's. He won a Champions' League with Barcelona in 1992. After Louis van Gaal took over, Barcelona gradually signed more Dutch players and his places were uncertain.  He left for Chelsea. 

CB/RB: Carlos Puyol 
As an one-club man, Carlos Puyol served as the long-time team captain for his only club Barcelona after taking over from Luis Enrique in August 2004, and went on to appear in 593 official games for the club and win 20 major titles, including  three Champions League: 2005–06, 2008–09, 2010–11. He earned 100 caps for Spain, winning the World Cup in 2014 and the European Championship in 2008.

CB: Ramón Alexanko 
Alexanko made his La Liga debut in 1976 with Athletic Bilbao. In 1980, Alexanko signed for FC Barcelona where he was the captain of the backbone of the legendary Dream Team. He was on the losing of the 1986 European Cup, but was played for 10 minutes in 1992 Final. , which won four consecutive league championships. From 1978 to 1982, he was capped 34 times for Spain. He was a part of Spain's team in Euro 1980 and World Cup 1982 Finals.
Ramón Alexanko 
CB: Migueli
Migueli started his career with Cadiz in 1970.  In 1973, he joined Barcelona, winning the 1979 Cup Winners Cup. Known for his physical power, he was nicknamed Tarzan.  He had 32 caps for Spain.  He went to the World Cup Finals in 1978 as well as Euro 1980 held in Italy.

CB: Joan Segarra 
Joan Segarra played for Barcelona from1949 to 1964.  He was a part of the great Barcelona team of the 1950's. He was the captain of the "Barça of the Five Trophies". They finally reached the 1961 European Cup Final, but losing to Benfica.  It would take Barcelona 31 more years before finally winning the Cup.  For the national team, he had 25 caps.

CB: Ferran Olivella 
Ferran Olivella was capped 18 times for Spain, but better remembered for being the captain of the Spanish national that won the European Championship in 1964. He was also an unused sub at the World Cup Finals in 1966. For club football, he played his entire career with Barcelona, winning the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup three times in the 1960's.

LB: Sergi Barjuan 
Sergi was promoted to Barcelona's first time in 1993. He helped them to win the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1997.  He moved to Atletico Madrid in 2002.  He played there until retiring in 2005. He was capped 56 times for the Spanish national team. He went to two World Cup Finals (1994 and 1998) and two European Championships (1996 and 2000).

DM: Sergio Busquets
Known for his dirty style of play, Sergio Busquets was Spain's unsung hero at winning the 2010 World Cup and the Euro 2012 tournaments. He made his national team debut in 2009.  He has earned 111 caps at the time of writing. At the club lebel, he started his career in 2008 with Barcelona.  He has been an important member of the team ever since.  His father Charles played goalkeeper for Barcelona during the 1990's.
Sergio Busquets
DM: Pep Guardiola 
At the club level, Pep Guardiola won a Champions' League with Barcelona in 1992. It was Barcelona's first ever European Cup. He was their captain from 1997 to 2001.  He also played for Brescia and Roma in Italy, Al-Ahli in Qatar, and Dorados de Sinaloa in Mexico. He was capped 47 times for Spain, winning the Olympic Gold Medal in 1992, and later appeared at the 1994 World Cup and Euro 2000. He also played friendly matches for Catalonia.

CM/RM/UT: Luis Enrique
Luis Enrique started his career with Sporting Gijon in 1989.  From 1991 to 1996, he played for Real Madrid.  In 1996, he moved to Barcelona, where he played for 8 seasons. At the international level, Luis Enrique played for Spain in three World Cups: 1994, 1998 and 2002 as well as UEFA Euro 1996), and scored 12 goals while gaining 62 caps. He was also a member of the gold-winning squad at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

CM: Josep Samitier 
Josep Samitier played for Barcelona between 1919 and 1932. He is the club's all time third top goalscorer.  He joined Real Madrid in 1932 from Barcelona FC and then played for Nice in France from 1936 to 1939.  In 1920, Samitier was also a member of the first ever Spanish national squad. The squad won the silver medal at the 1920 Olympic Games. He subsequently made 21 appearances and scored 2 goals for Spain.  
Josep Samitier 
AM./CM: Xavi 
Xavi was perhaps one of greatest playmakers of his generation.  He won everything in football.  Xavi has won 31 trophies, only surpassed by Andrés Iniesta as the most successful Spanish player in history.  For the national team, he had 133 caps and was a part of  the team that won the  2010 World Cup and two European Championship in between.  He was named Euro 2008's player of the tournament. He was finished third at the Ballon d'Or in 2010 and 2011.

CM: Guillermo Amor
Amor was a product of FC Barcelona's youth ranks, and made his first-team debuts in the 1988–89 season. He was a part Johan Cruyff's Dream Team that the 1992 European Cup. Amor left Barça in 1998, whet he was among the leader in appearance for the club.  He then played for Fiorentina and Villarreal CF. At the international level, he earned 37 caps. He appeared in Euro 1996 and the 1998 World Cup Finals.

CM:  Luis Suarez Miramontes 
Luis Suarez Miramontes was considered to be Spain's greatest player until 1970's, Luis Suarez won Ballon d'Or in 1960.  In 1964, he led La Roja in winning the European Championship.  For club football,  he played as a midfielder for Deportivo de La Coruña, CD España Industrial, FC Barcelona, Inter Milan and Sampdoria. He was a member of "Grande Inter" and won two consecutive European Cups.
Luis Suarez Miramontes
RW: Estanislau Basora 
Estanislau Basora was considered of the Barcelona's greatest players.  He was a member of Barcelona's team in the 1950's, the greatest Spanish club team before the emerge of Alfred Di Stefano's Real Madrid.   He was capped 22 times for Spain between 1949 and 1957. He went to the World Cup Final in 1950. He also represented Catalonia XI on several occasions.

RW: Carlos Rexach 
From 1965 to 1980, Carlos Rexach played for Barcelona.  He won the Pichichi Trophy in 1971.  He also won the Cup Winners' Cup in 1979.  He was also known for his partnership with Johan Cruyff at Barcelona.  He won a combined eight titles both capacities combined, including the La Liga championship in the 1973–74 season and the 1979 Cup Winners' Cup.  For the national team, he was capped 15 times. He went to the 1978 World Cup Finals in Argentina, but only appeared once in the Finals.
Carlos Rexach 
LW/FW: Txiki Begiristain
Toxic began his professional career with Real Sociedad in 1982 at the age of 18.  He became an essential member of the side that was coached by John Toshack. From 1988 and 1995, he played with Barcelona alongside fellow Basque José Mari Bakero, Andoni Zubizarreta, Julio Salinas and Ion Andoni Goikoetxea.  He was a member of the Dream Team. At the international level, he earned 22 caps between 1988 and 1994.

LM/CM/AM:  Andres Iniesta 
Andres Iniesta scored the World Cup winning goal in 2010 that gave Spain its first ever World Cup title. At Euro 2012, Iniesta led Spain to their second consecutive continental crown, again being chosen as the Man of the Match of the final against Italy, and was named the Player of the Tournament. He also won Champion' league trophies with Barcelona. He had over 130 caps for Spain from 2006 to 2018.

AM: José Mari Bakero
José Mari Bakero made his debut with Real Sociedad in 1980 when only 17. He was a part of the Basque sides which won back-to-back La Liga titles.  In 1988, Bakero signed for FC Barcelona.  He won the 1992 European Cup with the team known as the Dream Team. He earned 30 caps for Spain at the international level. He was a member of the Euro 1988 team as well as the World Cup team in both 1990 and 1994.
 José Mari Bakero
ST: Mariano Martín
Martín joined FC Barcelona in 1939, proceeding to become one of the club's most prolific scorers. During his nine seasons at the Camp Nou, he netted 128 times in only 150 matches, including 30 in 23 contests in his fourth season, although Barça finished in third place. Martín closed out his career in 1952, after playing for Gimnàstic de Tarragona, Real Zaragoza and UE Sant Andreu.  For Spain, he was capped 3 times.

ST:  Paulino Alcántara 
Born in the Philippines of a half-Spanish, half-Filipino, he made his debut for Barcelona at the age of 15 and remains the youngest player to play or score for the club. He also scored 100 goals in 69 matches, making him the club's highest goalscorer He was selected for the Philippine national football team in 1917 and represented his country at the Far Eastern Championship Games.  In 1921. he was selected to play for Spain.  He scored 6 goals in 5 games for Spain.

ST/FW: Cesar Rodriguez
During his career, Cesar played mainly for Barcelona, appearing in 351 official matches and scoring 232 goals, making him the highest goalscorer in the club's history until he was passed by Lionel Messi.  He won the Pichichi Trophy for the 1948–49 season. He won five La Liga championships with the team in a total of 13 major trophies.  At the international level, César had 12 caps. He represented Spain at the 1950 World Cup. 

Honorable Mention
Julio Salinas, Miguel Ángel Nadal, Agustín Sancho, Josep Valle, Pedro, Lobo Carrasco, Mariano Gonzalvo III, Quini, David Villa, Joaquim Rife, Gallego, Josep Fuste, Ricardo Zamora, Ramon Torralba, Cesc Fabregas, Ion Andoni Goikoetxea, Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique. 

Squad Explanation
-- Andoni Zubizarreta, Antoni Ramallets, Carlos Puyol, Victor Valdes, Albert Ferrer, Migueli, Joan Segarra, Ferran Olivella, Sergi Barjuan, Pep Guardiola, Samitier, Xavi, Luis Suarez Miramontes, Andres Iniesta and  Paulino Alcántara are on my all-time team for Barcelona.
-- Ramón Alexanko, Guillerimo Amor, Josep Escolà, Mariano Martín, Carlos Rexach, Estanislau Basora, Luis Enrique, Jose Mari Bakero, Sergio Busquets, Cesar Rodriguez and Txiki were not on the original all-time team.
-- Johan Cruyff as the manager led Barcelona to win the European Cup in 1992.  I selected the following players from the 1992 Dream Team members: Andoni Zubizarreta, Pep Guardiola, Albert Ferrer, Txiki Begiristain, Ramón Alexanko and Jose Mari Bakero.
-- Spain dominated club football from 2008 to 2012.  Players from the era selected for this team included Xavi, Andreas Iniesta, Carlos Puyol, Victor Valdes, and Segio Busquets,
-- Since all three goalkeepers were on the all-time team, I only added Ricardo Zamora to honourable mention.  He needed no introduction.  Actually, he is considered one of the greatest goalkeepers in Europe's history.  He should be on the team, but I rewarded three goalkeepers who had longer career here than Ricardo Zamora.  Furthermore, Zamora had issues with Barcelona's management.
-- Josep Samitier was a big star with Barcelona before heading to Real Madrid. He also made my Real Madrid All-Time for Spanish Players.  He is the only player to made both team.  
-- Luis Suarez Miramontes 
-- Most of the defenders are on the all-time team. Only one defender's spot is avaliable(Ronald Koeman's position). Ramón Alexanko, Gerard Pique and fullback Jordi Alba are considered.  In the end, I took Alexanko because he was a part of the 1986 team as well as the captain of the Dream Team.  Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique might get their chance at the end of their career.
-- I selected Luis Suarez Miramontes of Spain, not Luis Suarez Diaz of Uruguay. Luis Suarez Miramontes was the first ever Barcelona player to win the ballon D'or.  He was probably the greatest Barcelona player until Johan Cruyff joined the club in 1973.
-- Fabregas was very famous due to his time with Arsenal and the Spanish national team.  For Barcelona, he only played three seasons.  He was not seriously considered by this team.
-- Joan Segarra was  captain of the Barca of the "Five Cups". 
-- I only took three strikers because I wanted to select Guillermo Amor.  He stood for many things about Barcelona. He was considered for the last spot. The other option was the striker, Josep Escolà. 
-- Not many Spanish attackers made the original all-time Barcelona team. Barcelona lacked good Spanish goal scorers. Josep Escolà and Mariano Martín are among the highest goal scorers for the team. I took Martin over Escola because he had a longer career. David Villa's career was short with Barcelona.  Pedro was a part of Barcelona's great teams in the 2010's, but he was mainly used as a sub in his career.  I only put him on honorable mention.
-- César was Barcelona's all-time leading scorer until Messi broke it.
-- I normally put naturalised players as foreign players if they had previously capped by his native national team.  Paulino Alcántara has played for the Philippines before he represented Spain. Normally, I would consider him to be a Filipino player, but he has also represented the Catalonian representative team before that.  Thus, he is not a naturalised Spanish players.


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Real Madrid All-Time Team for Foreign players

Luka Modric, Cristano Ronaldo and Pepe

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index

This is my selection of a 25 member all-time team for Real Madrid's foreign players only.  The number 25 was chosen because it is the official squad size for the Champions' League.
Real Madrid
Real Madrid All-Time Team Under Florentina Perez
Real Madrid All-Time Team Under Miguel Munoz
Real Madrid Argentine Best XI
Real Madrid Castilla Greatest All-Time
Real Madrid All-Time Team for Spanish Players
Atletico Madrid All-Time Team for Foreign Players

This is my selection of a 25 member all-time team for Real Madrid.  The number 25 was chosen because it is the official squad size for the Champions' League.  

Real Madrid is the most successful club in soccer's history.  They have won more titles in Europe than any other clubs. Led by President Santiago Bernabeu, the club began to dominate European football during the 1950's.  They won five straight European Cup between 1956 and 1960.  The team that beat Eintracht Frankfurt in 1960 was widely considered to be greatest club in history.  At the time of writing, they won a record of 13 European Cups/Champions' league titles.  They won a record 6 European Cups, and after the European Champions League became the Champions' League, they won 7 more, also a record for the competition.

Di Stefano and Puskas
GK: Bodo Illgner (Germany)
Bodo Illgner played for Köln in Bundesliga between 1986 and 1996.  He joined Real Madrid in 1996, winning the Champions league in 1998. His starting position was succeeded by Iker Casillas. He was capped 54 times between 1987 and 1994.  He helped West Germany to the 1990 World Cup, where he became the first goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet in a World Cup final. He also played in 1994 World Cups Finals and two other European Championship.
Bodo Illgner 
GK: Keylor Navas (Costa Rica)
After starting out at Saprissa he moved to Albacete, and then to Levante in La Liga.  After a great performance With Levante, he won the La Liga Keeper of the Year award for 2014 with Levante.  Then, he led Costa Rica to the quarter-final of the WC in Brazil.  After the WC Finals, he earned a transfer to Real Madrid.  With Real Madrid, he won 3 Champions League titles as their starting keeper.

GK: Rogelio Dominguez (Argentina)
Rogelio Dominguez played around the same time as Carrizo.  He earned 59 caps.  He missed the 1958 World Cup Finals because he moved to Real Madrid in 1957, and Argentina did not select overseas players.  He was Argentina's 1962 World Cup team. With Real Madrid, he won two European Cups.  Before Real Madrid, he played for Racing Club in Argentina.

RB: Christian Panucci (Italy)
Christian Panucci's breakout season was the season 1993-1994, when he played 19 games for AC Milan and won the 1994 UEFA Champions' League.  The highlight of his career was perhaps his three seasons with Real Madrid.  He helped them to win the UEFA Champions' League in 1998.  His longest stint was, however, with AS Roma.  At the international level, he had 57 caps with Italy, but his career was very rocky.  He never secured a regular place with the team.

CB: Pepe (Portugal)
Born in Brazil, Pepe moved to Portugal playing for Maritimo.  In 2004, he moved to Porto while he established himself as one of the best defender in Portugal.  In 2007, he earned a dream move to Real Madrid.  At the time of writing, he won two Champions' league with them.  Although born in Brazil, he chose to represent Portugal.  At Euro 2016, he emerged as one of Portugal's best player as Portugal won their first ever international trophy.  He earned the Man of the Match in the Final against France.
CB: Fabio Cannavaro (Italy)
Fabio Cannavaro was capped 138 times between 1997 and 2010. He was the captain and perhaps, the best Italian player of the 2006 World Cup winning team.  He was named the 2006 FIFA World Player of the Year, and won the Ballon d'Or award in 2006 which made him the third defender to win the award. He started his career with Napoli and had spells with Parma, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid.

CB/SW: Ulrich Stielike (Germany)
Ulrich Stielike is one of a small handful of players to have played in all 3 European club finals, the World Cup Final and the European Championship Final.  He was part of the Mönchengladbach team that won three Bundesliga titles, the UEFA Cup in 1975 and gained a runner-up medal in the European Cup in 1977.  He joined Real Madrid in 1977, where he won the UEFA Cup.  He was capped 42 times, winning Euro 1980.  He also played in the 1982 World Cup Finals.

CB: Jose Santamaria (Uruguay)
Jose Santamaria was a member of Real Madrid's all-conquering team of the late 1950's.  He spent his 18-year career with Nacional and Real Madrid, winning 17 major titles the two teams combined, Between 1957 and 1966, Santamaria won four European Cups with Real Madrid playing alongside Alfredo Di Stefano.  He was considered one of the best ever center-backs. He played for Uruguay at the 1954 World Cup Finals, but played for Spain 4 years later in Sweden.
Jose Santamaria 
LB: Roberto Carlos (Brazil)
Roberto Carlos was regarded one of the best leftbacks in history.  He had 125 caps for Brazil playing in three WC Finals. He won 3 Champions League titles with Real Madrid and one WC title with Brazil in 2002.  In 1997 he was runner-up in the World Player of the Year.  He is especially famous for a free kick from 35m out against France in the  Tournoi de France 1997. The goal is considered one of the greatest goals ever scored.

LB: Marcelo (Brazil)
Marcelo started his career with Fluminense before making a dream move to Real Madrid in 2007.  He spent several years in and out of the lineup before establishing himself as one of the star of the team.  With them, he won four Champions' League titles in from 2014 to 2018.  At the time of writing, he has over 50 caps for Brazil and played at the 2014 and 2018 World Cup in Brazil.

DM: Casemiro (Brazil)
Casemiro started with Sao Paulo, where he played for three seasons.  In 2013, he joined Real Madrid B team(Castilla), where he would be eventually called to the first team.  For the 2014-2015, he was sent to Porto on a loan.  After a year, he returned to Real Madrid and quickly established as a major contributor as the club won three straight Champions' League.  At the time of writing, he earned 32 caps.  He played in the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia.
CM: Fernando Redondo (Argentina)
Fernando Redondo played his first game in the Primera División at only 16 for Argentinos Juniors, and remained five years with the team before moving abroad to CD Tenerife in Spain.  He joined Real Madrid in 1994, where he would become one of the best central midfielders in Real Madrid's history.  He won two Champions' League with them. For the national team, he only picked up 29 caps because he had issues with various managers.

CM: Paul Breitner (Germany)
Breitner was the first player to score a goal at two different WC Final match.  From 1971 to 1982, he had 48 caps for West Germany. He won the European Championship in 1972 and then, a the World Cup in 1974. During his club career, Breitner won seven National Championships with Bayern Munich (1972, 1973, 1974, 1980, 1981) and Real Madrid (1975, 1976), the Champions' Cup (1974) as well as the German (1971, 1982) and Spanish Cups (1975). 

CM: Gunther Netzer (Germany)
Netzer was the star of the great Borussia Mönchengladbach of the 1970's.  He won the European Championship in 1972 and then, the World Cup in 1974.  His best performance, however, was in 1972, where he was the star at the quarterfinal against England.  He later joined Real Madrid in 1973 and outperformed Johan Cruyff's Barcelona in the early 1970's in a period dominated by Real Madrid.
Gunther Netzer and Paul Breitner 

AM/RW: Raymond Kopa  (France)
Kopa was considered to be "Les Bleus"'s greatest player before the emerge of Michel Platini. In 1970, he became the first football player to receive the Légion d'honneur. He helped France to finish third at the WC Finals in 1958. He won the the European Footballer of the Year in 1958 and won three European Cups with Real Madrid in the 1950's.  He also played with Stade de Reims before joining the legendary Real Madrid team of the 1950's. He won the 1953 Latin Cup with Reims.

AM: Zinedine Zidane (France)
He was named the best European footballer of the past 50 years in the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll, and has been described as one of the greatest players in the history of the game.  He won the FIFA World Player of the Year award three times.  He led France to victory at  the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championship in 2000.  With Real Madrid, he also won the Champions League in 2002, where he scored one of the greatest goals in history at the Final. 

AM/CM: Luka Modric (Croatia)
Modric is one of the greatest playmakers of his generation. He earned more 90 caps for Croatia.  He currently plays for Real Madrid and won the Champions' League for the 2013-2014,  2015-2016, 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons.  He also played with Dinamo Zagreb and Tottenham Hotspurs.  He played in the World Cup Finals of 2006 and 2014, as well as the European Championship of 2008, 2012 and 2016.

CM/AM/FW:  Alfredo Di Stefano (Argentina)
The best player in the world before the emerge of Pele and Maradona. He was one of the younger member of the great River Plate in the 1940's.  In 1949, he moved to play in Colombia before moving to Europe in 1953.  He won 5 straight European Cups with Real Madrid. He was credited in turning Real Madrid into a legendary club. His international career was limited to the fact that Argentina did not select overseas players.  He played for Argentina, Colombia and Spain.
Alfredo Di Stefano 
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.
Luis Figo 
RW/LW:  Gareth Bale (Wales)
Bale began his professional career at Southampton. Bale moved to Tottenham Hotspur in 2007. In 2011 and 2013, he was named PFA Players' Player of the Year.  His transfer to Real Madrid in 2013 was believed to be the most expensive in history.  He won three Champions League title with Real Madrid.  He scored the winning goal in the 2014 version. In 2016, he led Wales to reach the semifinal of Euro 2016. 

FW/LW: Cristano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Ronaldo is one of the greatest forward of his generation.  He is the most expensive players in history from 2009-2013 when he moved from Manchester United to Real Madrid.  At the time of writing, he won the Ballon d'Or winner three times and won Champions' League titles with both Manchester United and Real Madrid.  In 2016, he helped Portugal to win the European Championship, a month after winning the Champions' League with Real Madrid.
Cristano Ronaldo
ST: Karim Benzema (France)

Benzema was billed as one of the best young players in Europe when he played for Lyon.  In 2009, he made a dream move to Real Madrid on the same summer that Kaka and Cristano Ronaldo joined the club.  He won the Champions' League in 2014, where he formed the BBC line with Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.  For the national team, he played in the 2014 WC Finals.

ST: Ronaldo (Brazil)
Ronaldo was widely considered among the greatest ever to have play the game.  He led Brazil to two World Cup Finals match, winning the one in 2002.  He scored 8 goals in 2002.  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 WC history.  He played for both Barcelona and Real Madrid, and for both AC Milan and Inter Milan. 

ST/FW: Ferenc Puskas  (Hungary)
He was one of the greatest footballers in history.  He scored 84 goals in 85 international matches for Hungary. He became Olympic champion in 1952 and led his nation to the final of the 1954 World Cup where he was named the tournament's best player.  He played with Honved at home and went to Real Madrid after the Soviet invasion.  With Alfredo Di Stefano, Raymond Kapo, etc, Real Madrid became the greatest club team in history.

ST: Hugo Sanchez (Mexico)
Hugo Sanchez was considered to be the best Mexican player of all-time. He is remembered for his career in Spain where he played for both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.  He won 5 straight Pichichi title in Spain.  With Real Madrid, he won five consecutive league titles (from 1985-86 to 1989-90), the Copa del Rey in 1989, and the UEFA Cup in 1986.  The team was the dominant team in Spain during the 1980's.
Hugo Sanchez 

Honorable Mention
Michael Laudrup, Ivan Zamorano, Claude Makelele, James Rodríguez, Davor Šuker, Laurie Cunningham, David Beckham, René Petit, Karim Benzema, Raphaël Varane, Bernd Schuster, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Arjen Robben, Ricardo Carvalho, Predrag Mijatovi, Jorge Valdano, Angel Di Maria, Toni Kroos, Clarence Seedorf.

Squad Explanation
-- Alfredo Di Steafno and Cristano Ronaldo are two greatest ever players for the club.  They are the first two players selected for this team. Hugo Sanchez, Zinedine Zidane, Ferenc Puskas, Raymond Kopa, Luka Modric, Fernando Redondo and Roberto Carlos are close to being automatic selections.
-- Apart from the three keepers selected, Real Madrid did not have many foreign goalkeepers. Jerzy Dudek who was a popular backup. He was the only other foreign goalkeeper.  At the time of writing, Thibaut Courtois just arrived.
-- Christian Panucci is the only candidate for the rightback position.  Cicinho had an injury-plagued career here.  He is not considered.
-- The last centerback is difficult to select.  Both Ricardo Carvalho and Fabio Cannavaro only spent short time here, but I cannot think of another foreign center back. Raphaël Varane has been backing up Pepe and Sergio Ramos.  He probably would be on this team one day, but he still needs time. In the end, I took Cannavaro only because he was the most famous player.  Carvalho's numbers here are very close. Oscar Ruggeri spent a single season with Real Madrid, but I did not seriously consider him.
-- Paul Breitner and Gunter Netzer appeared in many all-time list for Real Madrid.  Toni Kroos might have suppressed them in Madrid. 
-- Ronaldo (Brazil) is a controversial selection.  Many attackers might have done more than him for the club.  However, Ronaldo won the Pichichi award and he is still one of the greatest ever players in the game. His first two seasons in Madrid was also amazing.
-- Gareth Bale is also a controversial selection. His career here has been injury-plagued, but he was the hero for two Champions' League Finals.  He has scored more goals than Predrag Mijatovi. Ivan Zamorano, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Davor Suker had short careers with Real Madrid, and they did not have a "Gareth Bale" moment with the club.
-- Chu Alonso played for Spain and never played for Cuba, making him not a foreign player under FIFA rules. Hector Rial also did not play for Argentina and was capped by Spain.  Does it make him a domestic player? Rial would have made the team as Alfredo Di Stefano's loyal teammate as well as to the club. There is something very nostalgic about Rial and Real Madrid. 
-- The last two position were a midfielder and a forward.
-- For forward, I had Michael Laudrup, Predrag Mijatovi, Ivan Zamorano, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Gonzalo Higuain. Liked Ronaldo(Brazil), Laudrup is simply one of the greatest ever players, but he only had a single good reason here.  His teammate Ivan Zamorano played longer and contributed more. Mijatovi scored the historical goal in the 1998 Champions' League, but his overall stats is much less than Zamorano and Higuain. Higuain had the more goals than everyone else I just mentioned, but he did not win enough titles here.  Oh well, Ivan Zamorano also did not win. 
-- In December, 2019, I did a review of the team.  Since Cristano Romaldo's departure, Karim Benzema has carried the team.  He has played for the club since 2008, which made him a long serving player.  He deserved a place on the team.  So he replaced Higuain on the team.
-- Claude Makelele has been mentioned, but he only played three seasons here.  Casemiro already suppressed that and he also won three Champions' League as a key player. Toni Kroos is one of the best midfielders of his generation.  He has better international reputation than Casemiro at the time of writing.
-- In the end, I took Casemiro because the team needed a defensive presene.  The player also won 4 Champions League in his first 4 seasons(he was loan for the season when Real Madrid did not win).  At the time of writing, he won it every season when he was a part of the team.

Modric has surpassed Raymond Kopa at Real Madrid, but Kopa played on the right side while at the club. He might have outdone Zidane at Real Madrid.  He contributed to 4 Champions League titles while Zidane only won once. Di Stefano is so versatile that he moved to the right side so that I can field Zidane.  All three keepers could easily start.