2010-2019 is arguably the greatest decade in the history of FC Barcelona. With Lionel Messi in their ranks, Barcelona dominated the Spanish League and also won the Champions League two times. Barcelona was also ranked as the world’s most valuable sporting brand multiple times. In this article, we will take a look at the greatest Barcelona XI of the last decade.
Selection criteria:- Only players who have played a minimum of 100 games for Barcelona from the 2010/11 season to 2019/20 season are considered for this article.
Honorable mentions:- Ivan Rakitic, Cesc Fabregas, Alexis Sanchez, Pedro, David Villa.
Goalkeeper – Marc-André ter Stegen
Ter Stegen joined Barcelona from Borussia Monchengladbach in the summer of 2014 and soon became Barcelona’s first choice between the sticks. A gifted sweeper-keeper known for his passing abilities, ter Stegen often made up for his team’s defensive deficiencies with his acrobatics.
Defenders – Dani Alves, Javier Mascherano, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba
While picking players for greatest Barcelona XI of the last decade, Alves might not be the first name on the list. But his contributions, both in defense and offense, cannot be ignored. Alves’ assists record for Barcelona is staggering, with his best being 14 assists in the 2010/11 La Liga season.
Injuries limited Puyol’s impact from 2010 and Mascherano replaced him with great aplomb. Mascherano played as a midfielder for Liverpool, but Guardiola preferred using him as a center-back. He formed a great partnership with Pique, who was more talented when it came to passing out from the back. Pique continues to serve as one of the club’s captains, while Mascherano left the club in January 2018.
Jordi Alba is a rare blend of extreme pace and passing abilities, who initially had to toil hard to prove his worth. Although he was a La Masia product, he decided to move to Valencia in search of consistent first-team opportunities. In 2012, he returned to Barcelona and since then he has been a regular in the left-back position.
Midfielders – Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta
The greatest midfield trio of all-time deservingly finds a place in the greatest Barcelona XI of the last decade. Xavi was already 30 when the decade began, but he continued to clock more than 2000 minutes per La Liga season. Xavi was ready to leave Barcelona in the summer of 2014, but Enrique convinced him to stay, and the result was a continental treble.
Iniesta continued to weave his own brand of magic until 2018 when he left for Vissel Kobe. He was used in different roles by different managers but oozed class irrespective of his position. Busquets was the glue that held the midfield together, with his unmatched understanding of the game. As Vicente del Bosque once famously said, “If you watch the game, you will never see Busquets. If you watch Busquets, you will see the whole game”.
Forwards – Neymar, Luis Suarez, Messi
The greatest midfield trio of all time is joined by three ridiculously good forwards. Neymar was the most skillful of the lot, but he was also quite productive during his four seasons at Barcelona. Suarez was more than a goalscorer, an elite centre-forward who also provided assists at will.
Messi continued to be Barcelona’s main-man, and by the end of the decade, he owned every record in the book. He was a world-class year after year, but 2012 was a special one even by his standards as he scored 84 goals for his club, a record that will stand the test of time.