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Real v Barca: teams of the century

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Jonathan Stevenson | 13:37 UK time, Tuesday, 19 April 2011

"I've got an idea," I said to my colleague the morning after Barcelona's 5-1 thumping of Shakhtar Donestk in the Champions League semi-final first leg. "When Barca and Real Madrid reach the semis, let's do a Greatest XIs blog. That'll get the punters talking."

We came up with only two problems: firstly, that it might look a bit silly to include players from the days of yore like Alfredo di Stefano and Ladislao Kubala alongside a picture (top right) of the blogger looking about 14-years-old; and secondly, have you seen how many world-class players have represented these teams down the years?

In the end, it was quite simple. We decided to take the entire last millennium out of the equation and pretend the world began in 2000. At least, I consoled myself while I crossed out the names of Diego Maradona and Michael Laudrup, 99% of you taking part in this debate will have seen the contenders in action.

So, what better way to celebrate four Clasicos in 18 days - with the second installment the Spanish Cup final on Wednesday in Valencia - than to choose your favourite Real Madrid and Barcelona teams from the past 11-and-a-bit years?

Increasingly at ease with the risk of looking foolish, here's my turn - complete with stats and facts brought to you by Infostrada Sports:

Real Madrid XI:

The author's best Real Madrid XI from 2000-present

Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas.
Easy enough to pick Spain's World Cup-winning captain, not least because he's worn Real's number one jersey with distinction since 1999, thus rendering anyone else pretty much irrelevant. Super reflexes, quick off his line and brave too.
Did you know? Despite not turning 30 until May, Casillas has played more than 400 league and 100 Champions League games for Real, and has more than 100 caps for Spain.

Right-back: Michel Salgado.
Salgado or Sergio Ramos - arguably the hardest choice in the Real XI. Salgado nicks it because of his superior defensive ability, needed in such an attack-minded side. If you want to know what he makes of Clasicos, read his column in this month's FourFourTwo. "Hate is a strong word, but Madrid want Barcelona to lose everything," he says.
Did you know? Salgado is married to former Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz's daughter.

Left-back: Roberto Carlos.
Save for Paolo Maldini, if there has been a better left-back in the past 20 years I haven't seen him. Carlos gave the team energy, pace and attacking threat down that flank - and could you ever take your eyes off that stuttering run-up and thunderous free-kick?
Did you know? Carlos is the only non-European player with more than 100 Champions League appearances.

Centre-back: Fernando Hierro.
Real's skipper and inspiration, Hierro's never-say-die attitude made him the perfect foil for the creative whizz-kids at the other end of the pitch. He won La Liga five times and the Champions League three more in a stellar spell at the Bernabeu. "He was the captain of captains," said Raul.
Did you know? Hierro played in Real's Champions League final wins in 1998, 2000 and 2002. They have not been in the final since his departure.

Centre-back: Fabio Cannavaro.
Perhaps joined Real a shade after the best part of his career, but nonetheless a wonderful defender - and still the only one to be named Fifa Player of the Year. Cannavaro filled Zidane's vacant number five shirt with relish and won the league in his first two seasons in Madrid.
Did you know? On 12 August, 2009, Cannavaro won his 127th Italy cap - taking him ahead of the previous record holder, Paolo Maldini.

Centre-midfield: Claude Makelele.
Selling Makelele was perhaps the biggest mistake Real have made this century. With him, their phalanx of attacking players were free to create carnage; without him, they were rudderless. "We won't miss Makelele, his technique is average," said president Florentino Perez in 2003. After the signing of David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane begged to differ: "Why put another layer of gold paint on the Bentley when you are losing the entire engine?"
Did you know? Makelele has appeared in a record eight Champions League semi-finals.

Centre-midfield: Zinedine Zidane.
A player of more astounding technical skills it is hard to imagine. Joined for a world record £46m in 2001 and blessed Spanish football with his captivating class until retiring after that World Cup final in 2006. The three-time Fifa Player of the Year's goal in the 2002 Champions League final will live long in the memory.
Did you know? In April 2002, Zidane became the first Real player since Canario in November 1960 to score a European goal at Barcelona's Camp Nou.

Right midfield: Luis Figo.
Gets the nod ahead of David Beckham because on his day the Portuguese winger was unstoppable. Joined from Barca in 2000 in one of the most controversial transfers of all time and enjoyed a wonderful seven years in Madrid, being named the world's finest footballer in 2001 and going on to win a record 127 caps for his country.
Did you know? In the last 50 years, eight players have moved from Barca to Real. Only one - Figo - has had a pig's head thrown at him as a result.

Left midfield: Cristiano Ronaldo.
The sheer volume of goals he has scored in almost two seasons at the Bernabeu almost beggars belief. He bagged 33 last season and already has 41 this time around - if it was not for Lionel Messi, he would be comfortably the most talked-about player on Earth. Finally got through a Clasico without defeat on Saturday, too.
Did you know? Ronaldo's buy-out clause is reportedly worth €1bn.

Striker: Raul.
A goalscoring machine whose heart belongs to Real Madrid. He left the club last summer after 16 trophy-laden years and 323 goals in 741 matches. Raul was a creator and a predator all rolled into one. "Real buy these big players like Figo, Zidane and Ronaldo but I think the best player in the world is Raul," said Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson in 2003.
Did you know? Raul moved to Real after Atletico Madrid chairman Jesus Gil shut down their youth academy where he was training.

Striker: Ronaldo.
The best thing about Il Fenomeno's retirement from football in February was the spate of highlights reels flying around showcasing the Brazilian in his magnificent prime. A striker of unparalleled physical power combined with an oft-overlooked finesse, before he was left ravaged by injury Ronaldo was unplayable.
Did you know? Ronaldo scored 47 goals in 49 games for Barcelona in the 1996-97 season, aged 20.

Manager: Vicente del Bosque.
A Real man through and through. He won La Liga five times in a fine playing career at the Bernabeu and remains the last man to lead Real to the Champions League trophy, in 2002. Was bizarrely sacked a year later, one day after the club had won their 29th league title.
Did you know? Del Bosque was awarded the honorary title of Marquis by King Juan Carlos after leading Spain to World Cup victory in South Africa.

Barcelona XI:

The author's Barcelona XI from 2000-present

Goalkeeper: Victor Valdes.
Almost as easy a choice as Casillas - it's easy to forget the 29-year-old Valdes has been Barca's first-choice keeper since midway through the 2003-04 season. After some shaky displays in the early days he has improved year after year and has won the Zamora Trophy for best keeper in Spain three times to Casillas's one.
Did you know? Since the 2001-02 season, Valdes leads La Liga in clean sheets - he has 131, Casillas 129.

Right-back: Dani Alves.
A man who tends to divide football fans in half. On the plus side he is a destructive force down Barca's right, starting attacks and creating goals and defying science with his boundless energy. But his play-acting and argumentative nature sometimes deflect from what a good player he is. Labelled his "natural successor" for Brazil by the great Cafu - no mean feat when Alves is competing with Maicon for the right-back privilege.
Did you know? Alves has assisted 13 goals in La Liga this season - second only to Lionel Messi.

Left-back: Gio van Bronckhorst.
Arguably under-rated as a full-back having started his career in midfield, 'Gio' was unwanted by Arsenal, 28 and on his way back from a year out with a cruciate knee ligament injury when he arrived at the Camp Nou in 2003. But he forged a superb alliance with Ronaldinho down the Barca left and helped them to two league titles and the Champions League in 2006.
Did you know? When Van Bronckhorst left Barca in 2007, it ended a 10-year period in which the Catalan club had employed at least one Dutchman.

Centre-back: Carles Puyol.
The heart and soul of Barcelona since he pulled on the famous Blaugrana shirt in October 1999. Puyol, a born and bred Catalan, has been club captain since 2004 and puts his body on the line every time he wears the armband. "Barca are the team every Catalan child wants to play for... I am living the dream," he once said.
Did you know? Puyol's surprise appearance after injury on Saturday was his 23rd in Clasicos. He hasn't missed a league match against Real since March 2001.

Centre-back: Gerard Pique.
Puyol's partner in crime since returning to the Camp Nou in May 2008 after a four-year spell at Manchester United. Tall, elegant, a masterful reader of the game despite only being 24, and with the ability to step out of defence and start attacks, Pique could turn into one of the great defenders of any era. Already has 13 major trophies to his name.
Did you know? Real Madrid have banned the 2010 World Cup song 'Waka Waka' since it emerged singer Shakira is in a relationship with Pique.

Centre-midfield: Xavi.
Arguably the world's best midfield player, it took Xavi a while to get the plaudits his perfect passing deserves, despite making his Barca debut all the way back in 1998. Unerringly accurate, he regularly completes more than 100 passes in a game, set up four goals in Barca's 6-2 win at Real a year ago, and was man of the match in the 2009 Champions League final against Man United.
Did you know? Xavi, who this season surpassed Migueli as Barca's record appearance maker, bought his mum a toaster with his first paycheck.

Centre-midfield: Deco.
Combative and skilful, Deco had one eye for a tackle and the other one for goal and the Brazilian-born Portuguese was a crucial component in the Frank Rijkaard era. His terrific work-rate made him the perfect foil for Ronaldinho - Luiz Felipe Scolari once said their partnership could "make rain fall".
Did you know? Along with Paulo Sousa and Secretario, one of only three Portuguese players to win the Champions League with two different clubs.

Centre-midfield: Andres Iniesta.
Another, like Xavi, who had to wait his turn to be appreciated. Iniesta's astonishing technical skills and reading of the game might have endeared him to the Barca fans, but his lack of goals was regularly highlighted as a major weakness for an attacking midfielder. Winners against Chelsea in the 2009 Champions League semi-final and the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup final appear to have changed that.
Did you know? Iniesta's name has been applauded at every Spanish ground this season because of his winner in Johannesburg last summer.

Left forward: Ronaldinho.
How many other Barca players have ever been given a standing ovation in the Bernabeu? Ronaldinho was signed in 2003 after Barca missed out on David Beckham - perhaps the biggest slice of luck in the Catalan club's recent history. For three years he was out of this world; with that galloping stride, those mesmerising feet and a smile that charmed us all, in full flow he was truly a sight to behold.
Did you know? Ronaldinho scored five Clasico goals in the space of 18 months from November 2004 to April 2006.

Right forward: Lionel Messi.
The heir to Diego Maradona's throne in an Argentina shirt and Ronaldinho's in a Barca one - and he may yet go on to be better than them both. Messi is only 23, yet has been named the best player on Earth twice and this season already has 49 goals, breaking the Spanish record he already held with the Brazilian Ronaldo and Ferenc Puskas. Electric feet, clinical finishing, implausible balance... where will it all end?
Did you know? After watching a 16-year-old Messi against his Juventus side in a friendly in 2003, Fabio Capello asked: "Who is this little devil?"

Striker: Samuel Eto'o.
Goals, goals, goals. Eto'o, mind-bogglingly cast away by Real Madrid, was a guaranteed 25-a-season man and with the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Deco, Ronaldinho and Messi teeing him up, he never disappointed. Eto'o scored in the 2006 and 2009 Champions League finals and left the club with Barca's first Treble as his legacy.
Did you know? Aged 15, Eto'o arrived at Madrid airport in 1996 to find Real had forgotten to send a representative to pick him up.

Manager: Pep Guardiola.
Could have made it into the team; after all, midfield general Guardiola only left Barca in 2001 after a successful 11-year spell. Returned to coach Barcelona B in 2007 and was - riskily - made first-team boss only a year later, winning the Treble in his first season as a coach. His contract runs out at the end of next season and Guardiola has hinted he may call it a day, but no-one in Catalonia will want him to leave.
Did you know? Guardiola counts Manuel Estiarte, apparently one of the finest water polo exponents of all time, as one of his closest friends.

I know - seven players from this season's Barcelona team. Is it too many, or does that reflect just what a top team this is? Only two from Real's current crop, but there is plenty of time for the likes of Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira and Karim Benzema to make their mark.

Maybe one day, when I'm old and grey, I'll get away with doing all-time XIs. Wonder how many of these boys would make it...


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  • Comment number 1.

    Can't really argue with that to be honest... although where are owen, beckham and *ahem* woodgate? :-p

  • Comment number 2.

    I think Real Madrid would win.
    Even over a tie of two games, I'd fancy them to go through.

    That Barca team there is awseome, but I'll go with gut feeling on this one.

  • Comment number 3.

    Henrik Larsson without a shadow of a doubt

    Arsenal fans will know about him very well!

  • Comment number 4.

    Arguably you could have just used Barca's current 1st choice 11 (with maybe exception of the current left back). I think it would have more balance than the team shown above with Busquets in the holding role and Pedro and Villa up front with Messi. Although it would be very hard to leave out Ronaldinho, Deco and Eto'o at the peak of their powers. I just think with the current side you get the most out of 3 of the best Barca players ever in Messi, Xavi and Iniesta.

    Your right about the left back slot though, since Gio Van Bronckhorst Barca have struggled in that area. Abidal, Maxwell etc haven't quite cut it!!

  • Comment number 5.

    No Lineker or Maradona?

  • Comment number 6.

    For the Real side, the only gripe I have is Cannavaro. For this reason i'd put in Ivan Helguera.

    Cannavaro in his prime was a far better player, however Helguera was a real leader and achieved a lot more in his time with the club than Fabio, so in he comes.

    For Barcelona, i'd possibly remove Deco and have Toure Yaya in there.

    Fascinating though

  • Comment number 7.

    Real without a shadow of a doubt. Barcelona may have a great team at the moment but Real have been a top force for the whole of the century. Not long ago Barca finished outside of the European places while Real have always challenged at the top. Zidane is possibly the best midfielder to ever live while a strike force of Ronaldo and Raul at their prime must be the best pairing ever along with one of the greatest keepers to ever play and a sublime Hierro and Roberto Carlos. Barcelona may have had outstanding players but only now have they come to better Real

  • Comment number 8.

    Dani Alves isn't a right back either, so I don't know why you've put him there.

  • Comment number 9.

    I would have to say that the current barca starting 11 would surely be right up there in the "teams of all time" list so why not have the current team?

    Ok better individuals maybe but better team than the current? I've only been watching football about 25 years but I've never seen anything like this Barca team... it's like football pornography!

  • Comment number 10.

    Looking at both teams, I would have to say Madrid would have the strongest defence. Both look awesome going forward so the team with the strongest defence would win.

  • Comment number 11.

    no-one to hold for Barca in midfield? A Real style selection for both teams, I'd fancy the current Barca XI to trounce them both to be honest

  • Comment number 12.

    I didn't mention the Real side, which is mega. Would have been amazing to see Cristiano Ronaldo play with Ronaldo, Figo and Zidane. Plus with Makelele holding it all together and Hierro and Cannavaro at the back.

    This team would definitely give the Barca side a run for the money, in fact going forward I think they may even top the Barca side.

  • Comment number 13.

    I'm just gonna go ahead and make a straight-forward statement:

    Barcelona > Real Madrid


  • Comment number 14.

    Good choices for positions. Only notable omission from Real's team is Guti, but I suppose C. Ronaldo has been a bit too good over these two years. Glad to see people remember how good Deco was pre-Chelsea days. Anyone got any ideas for these teams without their current crop (Barcelona's particularly challenging!)

  • Comment number 15.

    Gotta plump for Ramos over Salgado for Madrid's Right Back

  • Comment number 16.

    Yep, that's pretty much spot on the money that one.

    Pity really, I was looking forward to partaking in one of those rants in which I would suggest that I had been to some extent mortally offended. Offended to such a degree, off the back of what would have been in truth nothing more than the simple exclusion of a player I rated higher than one you did and in making my argument digress further and further in to lunacy until finally I was expressing views that were not only incoherent but also views that suggested a much greater summised personal dismay that you, despite your role as football correspondent (or whatever) were clearly a cretin and were a shininng example of just how low the BBC's quality of journalism had shrunk and that I would vow from this day forward to never pay the license fee.

    But, yeah, I pretty much agree with your teams so lets just let sleeping dogs lie, eh.

  • Comment number 17.

    Hard to argue but I would put Seydou Keita somewhere in the Barca midfield. That man is the most underrated player in football.

  • Comment number 18.

    Why not Luis Figo for Barcelona as well? Pretty sure he qualifies becasue he left in 2000.

  • Comment number 19.

    Would have been more interesting to have the all-time greatest teams, including the likes of Alfredo di Stefano, Johan Cruyff and Ferenc Puskás.

  • Comment number 20.

    One player missing from the Barcelona squad is Rivaldo.

  • Comment number 21.

    Alfredo Di Stéfano?????? Where is he? He won the European cup five times, scored 216 goals in 282 league matches making him Real's 2nd highest goal scorer, won Ballon d'Or twice, and is widely regarded as one of the most complete footballers to have ever graced the game. Truly shocking that he is not in this line up...

  • Comment number 22.

    Pretty much perfect... but. RIVALDO FOR BARCA?

  • Comment number 23.

    JimPuffin, did you not read the whole blog, it is for players from 2000 onwards, Di Stefano is a tad old now!

  • Comment number 24.

    I would just have todays Barcelona team rather than the one above. Firstly I don't beleive Samuel Eto has the technical keep the ball ability which the lintch pin to how Barcelona destroy teams. He would be week. In some ways Aleves is week in that area however he does enough running up and down the wing to get away with it overall. Second I wouldn't have Rhonadino as I'm just not sure he would be able to play second fiddle to the team work they currently employe and would do too many flicks and no-looks which would go against the clinical passing nature they have. I might be wrong mind as he was a turely awesome player but he is no Messi.

  • Comment number 25.

    Good post but what about a the best team made up of the two teams

  • Comment number 26.

    i agree schop, then i would put the real ronaldo beside messi, oh my word..........would that even be allowed? not to mention diego. deary me

  • Comment number 27.

    Agree with most of it but surely there has to be a place in the Barca side for Rivaldo? A true legend who is often remembered for his play acting at World Cup 2002, rather than (Amongst other things of course) his destruction of England in World Cup 2002. 36 goals in 2000/1 and almost single handedly hauled them into the champions league. This is one of the best individual performances of a player i can think of...

  • Comment number 28.

    Yes JimPuffin, it is truly shocking that Stefano wasn't included in the team of the current century... Like you, I don't care what anyone says, with 74 years of experience both on the field and in a management role it is a disgrace worthy of ceasing to pay ones licensing fee that this old man was not included.

    The country's gone to the dogs I tell ya.

  • Comment number 29.

    Where is Henrik Larsson ? Must be some sort of mistake.

  • Comment number 30.

    Those calling for Barca missing a holding midfielder in this team....really? They don't lose the ball!

  • Comment number 31.

    I couldn't really disagree with either side, they're just awesome, not merely 'really good', or even 'great', but truly AWESOME.

    Who kows who'd win in a match between those two giants, but I'm 99.99% certain that they'd beat ANY other team of the millennium quite easily, with the possible exception of AC Milan.

  • Comment number 32.

    Pique a greatest ever defender? I really cannot get my head around the hype that surrounds him

  • Comment number 33.

    bob tart, did you ever watch the barca team with eto'o messi(very young and still as good) and ronaldinho. to me they were still playing then like they do today but for some reason people are only starting to notice now.

  • Comment number 34.

    Well done the BBC, ok'ing another pointless blog!! A whole feature dedicated to a pointless exercise!!! PLEASE can someone who works for the Beeb write about something interesting and relevant?! I know you have had cutbacks and cannot afford decent journalists anymore but for the love of God surely you can do better then this?

  • Comment number 35.

    Zindane is the best player I have ever seen play....simply incredible. Without a doubt the best player of a generation. Any team with him in it will probably win whatever they're playing in!

  • Comment number 36.

    would have been interesting if you included the best real/barcelona players of the last twenty years, since 2000 i think the teams you have chosen i cant really argue with. If it was the last twenty years i would probably include hugo sanchez, seedorf, redondo and . Barcelona probably have alot more players that would be included with romario, stoichkov, koeman, laudrup, the de-boer brother, luis enrique, guardiola, rivaldo, kluivert, cocu.

  • Comment number 37.

    If he hadn't played for Barca before the turn of the century I'd have had Ronaldo as the striker in both dream teams - which demonstrates just how good he was. In fact, if the period we were allowed to draw from was just a couple of seasons longer, I would have had Figo in both teams as well!

  • Comment number 38.


    Iker Casillas

    Sergio Ramos
    Ricardo Carvalho

    Xabi Alonso
    Sami Khedira

    Angel Di Maria
    Mesut Ozil
    Cristiano Ronaldo

    Gonzalo Higuain


    Victor Valdes

    Dani Alves
    Gerard Pique
    Carles Puyol
    Eric Abidal

    Sergio Busquets
    Andres Iniesta

    Lionel Messi
    David Villa
    Rodriguez Pedro

  • Comment number 39.

    Both the teams are pretty much what I would choose and I think what a large percentage of other people would choose. Good selections and actually enjoyed a blog going into more detail about why that player should be there, top stuff!

    For Barcelona, I would perhaps have Kluivert or Rivaldo (depending on position) instead of Eto'o, certainly Guardiola instead of Deco (not a fan at all of the greatest diver the game has seen, rivaled by Robert Pires) and I know not many would agree, but personally Robert Enke instead of Valdes. I don't think Valdes is very good and it's mainly as a tribute to the German keeper. I would keep Guardiola as coach though, despite him playing! However, we still have no idea what he can do with a less talented group of players so perhaps Rijkaard would be in the same boat as him. Thinking about it, I've always had a soft spot for Henrik Larsson so he may even edge the strikers mentioned above!

    For Madrid, I would be close to putting Carvalho in for Cannavaro but the Italian may just edge it. Also a personal choice would be Steve Mcmanaman instead of Figo, he may not have been up to the same standards of some of the Madrid greats but I could not help but marvel at his dribbling ability and despite being a Man United fan he remains a favorite player of mine. Can't really argue with the rest. I don't like Makelele at all but he did his job to perfection. He was a filthy player though.

  • Comment number 40.

    Also Pep Guardiola gets all the credit for the work Frank Rijkard started

  • Comment number 41.

    I think if the two teams you've selected were to play against each other tomorrow (whilst all the players mentioned were in their prime) Real Madrid would eat that Barcelona team for breakfast.

  • Comment number 42.


    With this blog getting more than 35 replies in the first ten minutes of it being up, I would suggest that the enough people here find this interesting to warrant it's inclusion on the site.

  • Comment number 43.

    Great read. It would be interesting to see your all time XIs for the likes of Liverpool, Man Utd and Arsenal.

  • Comment number 44.


    best 11 of this century,

    couldnt argue any of them selections would be a fascinating game, i think madrid would win it with zidane figo ronaldo c.ronaldo and raul attacking and makalele holding,

  • Comment number 45.

    Jonathan guess you're right. The Barca team now is arguably the best they've ever had. Can you give us your 7 subs from both teams comprising 1 GK, 2 DFs, 2 MDs and 2 FWs? Can't really decide which team will win but Barca's chemistry with majority current players might just give them an edge.

  • Comment number 46.

    No Romario or Stoichkov?

    No Redondo?


  • Comment number 47.

    totally agree with the real madrid side but i would change the barca side slightly with luis enrique instead of deco and find a place for rivaldo in there

  • Comment number 48.

    When you see the Barcelona back four and keeper written down like that you realise how laughable it is to suggest the current side is one of the best ever.

    They are distinctly average.

  • Comment number 49.

    as much as I like Cannavaro -probably one of the all-times best defenders- I think he played poorly for Real Madrid esp. after the high standard he set in World Cup 2006.

    What I could envision was there would be plenty of goals between these 2 selections. Bring the match on :)

  • Comment number 50.

    Where is Romario for Barcelona?

    Sorry folks, beckham, owen, woodgate, even macmanaman were simply not good enough to be included.

  • Comment number 51.

    Sorry but having the cut off at 2000 makes this Blog an automatic FAIL of the highest order.

  • Comment number 52.

    2 unbelievable teams. Surely no other club could come close with their respective 'team of the centuries'.

  • Comment number 53.

    Also, Ronaldo played best when he was in a Barca shirt, forget about the time when he was in Real.

  • Comment number 54.

    Why can't people read a blog before posting? Why is everyone complaining that players who finished playing way before the year 2000 aren't included, despite the author stating that the yare only picking players since the year 2000. If it was a "greatest ever" then Valdes clearly wouldn't be in the Barca team, would he?


  • Comment number 55.

    Only Deco is a dodgy pick.

  • Comment number 56.

    I think that is pretty much spot on. I think as good as Deco was pre-Chelsea, I think Yaya Toure was better - plus that would give the team more balance. Sergio Busquests and Seydou Keita who miss out are also excellent, along with of course David Villa. Obviously too Beckham and Owen were excellent for Madrid, along with Guti.

  • Comment number 57.

    Chygrynsky in place of Puyol. He is a giant of a player. Puyol is like a mouse in front of him.

  • Comment number 58.

    Oh and Real would win should these teams meet purely down to the fact they have Zidane!

  • Comment number 59.

    "...Luis Figo gets the nod ahead of David Beckham because on his day the Portuguese winger was unstoppable."


    Figo gets the nod ahead of Beckham? You make it sound like it a was close decision. Beckham had a great right foot for crosses and freekicks, but that's about it. Comparing them both at their best, Beckham wasn't even remotely close to Figo as an all round player.

    I know that we're talking about the Real's top team from 2000 onwards, but if we included the last century, no way could the likes of Di Stefano and Puskás be left out.

  • Comment number 60.

    Do some people not read the blog before commenting? You would think it was simple enough to understand that these teams are made from players after the year 2000. Contribute something useful to the discussion rather than stating players who were clearly before the year 2000.

  • Comment number 61.

    There are some strange ones on here.

    Firstly we have people who clearly can't read the title of the blog.

    Secondly, we have people advocating Steve McManaman in the Real team ahead of European and World Player of the year winner Luis Figo.

    Thirdly, we have Robert Enke being proposed as Barca goalie, despite playing twice for the first team.

    Then we have a joker claiming that the current Barca team is "distinctly average". A team who has cleaned up all in front of them for the past 4 years.

    Deary me.

    Step away from the keyboard folks!

  • Comment number 62.

    Is it only United fans who would argue that
    Schmeichel, Neville, Staam, Vidic, Evra, Giggs, Keane, Scholes, Beckham, Ronaldo & Rooney,
    could beat/rival those teams? Or would they need Eric Djemba Djemba as well?

  • Comment number 63.

    Plus if there was any way in which this game could be played, I'd predict -

    Real Madrid 4-2 Barcelona

    Madrid goals - Raul (2), Zidane, C.Ronaldo

    Barca goals - Eto'o, Messi.

  • Comment number 64.

    who the hell is fernando hierro? Never heard of him. Pepe would come in as a CB anyday

  • Comment number 65.

    @The Good Dr_M so would "who is better, Ronaldo or Messi?", does prevent this blog from being lazy and lacking in substance! My post has been removed too which to me would suggest I hit a nerve. Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of the BBC website (and have been for years!) which is why it is frustrating to see it become so weak! Spelling errors, grammar errors, 2nd hand news etc etc. I would like to read something that actually gets me thinking This is a WEAK blog!

  • Comment number 66.

    What a silly blog!

    The major problem with these BEST players of the past DECADE is that the teams they played in were never really truly dominant in European or World football. They were sporadic winners of the major trophies and regularly fell at the final hurdle.

    This Barcelona team is one of the truly great teams that I have seen in over sixty years of watching football...good, if not better, than Brazil's 1970 team, although it would have been some match...... especially given the Brazilians current ages!

    In my opinion, George Best would have been the most memorable player of all time had he not lost his way and wasted half of his career years but Zidane is by some margin the most gifted all round player of the past 25 years. I just wish pundits would judge such comparisons over a longer period than two or three 'flash' seasons. If they did, the judgements they make might be a bit more sound, since the longevity of current day 'great' forwards is usually fleeting.

  • Comment number 67.

    Right, so under a bit of pressure, here's the best team from both XIs - with a 4-3-3 formation, because frankly Barca have rocked that for most of the century.

    GK - Casillas

    RB - Dani Alves
    LB - Roberto Carlos
    CB - Fernando Hierro
    CB - Carles Puyol

    DMC - Claude Makelele
    MC - Zinedine Zidane
    MC - Xavi

    LW - Ronaldinho
    RW - Messi
    ST - Ronaldo

    No place for Pique, Iniesta, Raul or Cristiano Ronaldo. Brutal.

  • Comment number 68.

    @Daniel Thomas

    I think United's defence there is better than Barca's and up there with Madrids. I think they'd competer but I don't know if Keane and Scholes could stop Zidane and Figo or Xavi & Iniesta, or if Evra and G.Neville would cope with C.Ronaldo or Messi of Barca. Plus anyside with C. Ronaldo in has a chance of competing.

    Compete? Yes, definitely. Win? I can't see it I'm afraid.

  • Comment number 69.

    Zidane is sheer class and a proposition that the current Barca team will unfortunately never face. The way he inspires his team mates is testament to his talents.

    He simplifies the game for his team mates by making himself available and taking on the creative duties. I think it was Lizarazu who said `If we don't know what to do, we just pass it to Zizou'.

    His skill and technique was simply peerless. He coupled that with immense mental toughness and self confidence to produce consistently breathtaking performances and usually on the biggest of occasions.

    I miss him so much. I hope we see another player like him although it's very unlikely.

  • Comment number 70.

    Is it just me, or is this adulation of Spanish football getting a bit over the top?

    There is a duopoly (leaning towards a monopoly) and both of those clubs are massively in debt.

    Yet time and again, they are given free advertising on the BBC. Perhaps if the BBC spent as much time promoting the League Cup in this country, that competition would be in better health.

  • Comment number 71.

    Isn't Redondo better than Makelele? Or is he before the 2000's (1999-2000 does not count, only half a season)? A very good list, although I agree with one commenter who said that the Barca team is not balanced enough since they dont have the enforcer Real have in Makelele. Somehow Busquets (first choice),Van Bommel or Mascherano need to fit in the team to create the balance(replacing deco, although as you mentioned, deco-ronnie combination was irressistible). Busquets and Senna's role in ensuring Spain atlast become champions should not be underestimated. Just for the sake of argument, if we are judging on quality and not performance for their respective team, I would also say riquelme can put up a fight with them as he is absurdly talented.

  • Comment number 72.

    You most definitely can't pick Ronaldo for a Real 11 when you consider what he achieved at Barcelona. Again demonstrating why having the cutoff at 200 is a FAIL. Visca El Barca.

  • Comment number 73.

    A Change in the Barca Side for sure i think is Ronaldinho out and Histo Stoichkov in!!!!
    Also Deco i don't think he was up there with Barca's best!!!

  • Comment number 74.

    I clearly stated the choice of Mcmanaman and Enke were for personal reasons. The fact that one is a player I personally enjoyed watching a lot in his time and the other a tribute to a man who was killed by a severe illness many football fans wouldn't care about. That is why I would choose those two players.

    And why the lack of people mentioning Pep Guardiola in Midfield? Anyone who watched him play knows that he was absolutely brilliant. Many of the current Barcelona team and youth team state him as the reason they play football.

  • Comment number 75.


    Would Xavi be as good alongside Zidane as he is with Iniesta, given their knowledge of each other? Figo in for Xavi simply because Zidane has to replace one of Xavi and Iniesta, and I dont know if either could work as well alongside Zidane. Otherwise, fair play spot on :)

  • Comment number 76.

    @67 Jonathan, Please give up. Raul in place of Ronaldo firstly because he is spanish, and secondly, he is spanish. same goes for Iniesta in place of Zidane.

  • Comment number 77.

    Can't really argue with the Madrid line-up, but I might have added Luis Enrique, Rivaldo or Kluivert to the Barca side

  • Comment number 78.

    if your memory is not too short: Butragueño, Redondo, Hugo Sanchéz, Maradona, Cruyff

  • Comment number 79.


    I think I'd agree. Certainly Valencia, At.Madrid and Deportivo aren't the forces they once were - and the gap at the top between Barca/Madrid and everyone else is massive. So what happens when one of Barca and Madrid collapse because of the sheer volume of debt?

  • Comment number 80.

    Right, so under a bit of pressure, here's the best team from both XIs - with a 4-3-3 formation, because frankly Barca have rocked that for most of the century.

    Iker Casillas

    Dani Alves
    Carles Puyol

    Mesut Ozil
    Andres Iniesta

    Lionel Messi
    David Villa
    Cristiano Ronaldo

  • Comment number 81.

    Now there's a game of football! Can't really argue with the teams although maybe Rivaldo would get a place in the Barca line up.

  • Comment number 82.

    That Madrid side would get smashed. No balance in midfield, you can't even pretend C. Ronaldo is a midfielder.

    I'd put Fernando Redondo in for C. Ronaldo, even if he did only play half of 2000 with Real before going to Milan.

  • Comment number 83.

    I can not believe this man has hardly been mentioned........RIVALDO! He carried that Barca season when they were struggling to qualify for Champions league. In 2001 Barca had to beat Valencia to qualify......Rivaldo scored the most stunning hat trick at the Nou camp, including the winner in the final minute - the most audacious overhead kick when he flicked it up to himself 20 yards out and rifled it into the top corner.

    Ask any barca fan about that moment and they will tell you that Rivaldo is a GOD to them!!!

  • Comment number 84.

    A very good idea for promoting Spanish football.
    My first thought was "what about Ajax and AC Milan as best teams of the century?".

    What's this about best in the world / best in the century, in England?
    You lot make it sound like a disease kind of thing.

  • Comment number 85.


    I agree, and thank you - I didn't expect anyone to take it seriously.

  • Comment number 86.

    I agree that these two line ups are destructive on paper, 7 world player of the years on show, 5 on the Madrid side. Though I would say the current Barca side provides more balance and the current player attributes (Pedro,Busquests,etc) fit perfectly into the Barca way of playing, really completing and bringing the best out of Messi and Iniesta.
    Rivaldo definitely should on the list, his 00-01 season was phenomenal, though if the list is really concerned with 2000 onwards then 1 season won't cut it.

  • Comment number 87.

  • Comment number 88.

    Those teams are very formidable but would echo a few others sentiments that perhaps Rivaldo deserved a spot?

    He was awesome although my remaining memory of him was when he play acted to to get a Turkish player sent off in the 2002 WC.

    Also i think if this was done in 2 years time Villa would probably overtake Etoo as the goal machine.

    As an Arsenal fan i would have liked Henry to make more of an impact than he did but he arrived a bit late.

    Great blog and very refreshing from other senior writers controversial, divisive and sometimes simply rubbish blogs designed to provoke angst amongst at least one set of fans.

  • Comment number 89.

    If that Madrid team were around today, it would be a guaranteed champions league winner every year. Absolute footballing prime right there. The attacking finesse of that team would be outstanding to watch.

  • Comment number 90.

    66. At 17:08pm 19th Apr 2011, gadfly wrote:

    What a silly blog!

    The major problem with these BEST players of the past DECADE is that the teams they played in were never really truly dominant in European or World football. They were sporadic winners of the major trophies and regularly fell at the final hurdle.

    This Barcelona team is one of the truly great teams that I have seen in over sixty years of watching football...good, if not better, than Brazil's 1970 team, although it would have been some match...... especially given the Brazilians current ages!

    In my opinion, George Best would have been the most memorable player of all time had he not lost his way and wasted half of his career years but Zidane is by some margin the most gifted all round player of the past 25 years. I just wish pundits would judge such comparisons over a longer period than two or three 'flash' seasons. If they did, the judgements they make might be a bit more sound, since the longevity of current day 'great' forwards is usually fleeting.


    What a silly post.

    You state that players from this article were in teams that didn't dominate world or european football? You then go on to say that this Barca team are one of the best you have ever seen? I would like to mention that they infact have appeared in 1 champions league final in the last 3 years, and may well make it to 2 finals in 4 years if they dispose of Madrid in the Semis. Hardly European domination? Come back to me when they've won 2 back to back Champions Leagues.

    Just thought I'd throw in that if Manchester United get past Schalke, we will have appeared in 3 finals in 4 years, including 2 back to back champions league finals. Not to mention winning 3 premier leagues in the last 4 years, losing out on the 4th by 1 point, and looking likely to make it 4 premierships in 5 years if the league stays as it is.

  • Comment number 91.

    Oh god, here you go again with your best XI combos...

    First thoughts, Messi (worlds greatestest player eva if you believe the pundits) surely has to be ahead of Raul. I know he's a living legend, but I don't think you can compare, especially if you're including Cristiano.

    Then you have Cannavaro instead of Puyol. Sorry, but Puyol has been at the club for at least a decade rather than a couple of seasons after running away from a scandal at Juventus.

    Other than those two clangers, i'd say Xavi ahead of Makelele, who is a far more complete player, if fundamentally different; and i'd prefer either of Alves or Ramos at right back.

    At least you had Ronaldo up front!

  • Comment number 92.

    Come on! An all time Real Madrid side without Ferenc Puskas? A goal machine alongside Di Stefano and that was in old money! Fat Ronaldo in in the Real side? Dream on!

  • Comment number 93.

    That Real team is majestic. I think they'd overcome the Barca of today.

  • Comment number 94.

    You might find there another best team of the century.
    Sometimes these blogs are really funny :-)

  • Comment number 95.

    what about luis enrique

  • Comment number 96.

    I'll probably be shouted down for this given how good Ronaldo was as an individual... But what about pairing Fernando Morientes with Raul? Together they formed the most formidable strike force in Europe. While Ronaldo is unquestionably a better player, in my opinion Morientes was a much better partner for Raul.
    Additionally, I have to agree with many others, the Barca team looks too unbalanced. It's missing a Yaya Toure or a Busquets. While Deco had an eye for a tackle, he was never a player in the same mould as Toure or Busquets.

  • Comment number 97.

    1. Read Blog
    2. Comment

    Otherwise you just seem like twa...

    Good blog I thought, not news-ey but not pretending to be! Also you've made me wistful for Ronaldo, he was class wasn't he!

  • Comment number 98.

    Then we have a joker claiming that the current Barca team is "distinctly average". A team who has cleaned up all in front of them for the past 4 years.


    Except that they haven't!! Stop ignoring the occasions when Barcelona have lost!

  • Comment number 99.

    Surely Rivaldo in for probably Deco... I personally preferred Rivaldo in his prime to Ronaldinho. Otherwise, hard to argue with.

  • Comment number 100.

    As good as it can be and a great choice in picking Salgado instead of Ramos who is hugely over rated. I can not wait for tomorrow!!!


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