The summer of 1988 is a pivotal period in the history of FC Barcelona. Club legend Johan Cruyff took over as the manager, and his revolutionary ideas sowed the seeds for the possession-heavy football played at every level these days. In the early 90s Cruyff’s Barcelona dubbed the “dream team” completely dominated Spanish football. After Cruyff left in 1996, Barcelona became an inconsistent side, but several great players continued to wear the Blaugrana shirt. In this article, we will look at the greatest Barcelona XI of the 90’s.
Selection criteria:- A player must have played a minimum of 100 games for Barcelona in the 90’s. Hence, legends such as Romario and Ronaldo Nazario are not eligible for this article.
Honorable mentions :- Luis Enrique, Miguel Nadal, Eusebio, Guillermo Amor.
Goalkeeper – Andoni Zubizarreta
Zubizarreta holds the record for the most appearances in La Liga. He represented Barcelona for eight seasons, starting from 1986 and was Cruyff’s first-choice goalkeeper. He kept 123 clean sheets for Barcelona, and also holds the record for the number of clean sheets in La Liga history.
Defenders – Albert Ferrer, Ronald Koeman, Sergi Barjuan
Johan Cruyff’s dream team lined up in a 3-4-3, with traditional full-backs playing on either side of a central defender. Ronald Koeman was the side’s defensive fulcrum, as he dominated aerial duels and was a smooth passer of the ball. He was also a gifted set-piece taker, and his free-kick resulted in a 1-0 victory for Barcelona in the 1992 European Cup final.
Albert Ferrer deserves a place in the greatest Barcelona XI of the 90’s due to his tremendous work ethic. He was a very popular figure among the fans, and Cruyff often used him to mark the opposition’s best forward. To the left of Ronald Koeman is Sergi Barjuan, another La Masia graduate. He made his debut in the 1993/94 season and went on to make over 350 appearances for Barcelona.
Midfielders – Pep Guardiola, Michael Laudrup, Jose Bakero, Txiki Begiristain
The greatest Barcelona XI of the 90’s has a midfield diamond, at the center of which is Pep Guardiola. Every passing move created by Barcelona’s dream team flowed through Guardiola. He possessed exquisite technique but was also adept at sitting deep and covering spaces.
On either side of Guardiola are Jose Bakero and Begiristain. Begiristain was Cruyff’s go-to player in tough situations. Begiristain thrived in 1v1 situations, thus he was also employed as a left-winger sometimes. On the other hand, Bakero was a workhorse who had an eye for a goal. In 432 appearances for the club, Bakero scored 115 goals.
On top of the diamond, the midfield is Laudrup, a world-class playmaker. He was the master of the through ball, and many of his assists look ridiculous even decades after his retirement. He joined in 1989 from Juventus and left in 1994 to arch-rivals Real Madrid.
Forwards – Rivaldo, Hristo Stoichkov, Luis Figo
Perhaps no other player in the history of FC Barcelona divides fans as much as Luis Figo. There can be absolutely no arguments about his contributions to the pitch. But his much-maligned move to Real Madrid means he will never enjoy the status of a legend at Camp Nou.
Rivaldo was fondly called the “bandy-legged genius” as his wiry frame allowed him to dribble in an explosive fashion. He won the Ballon d’Or in 1999 and in total has 136 goals to his name in a Barcelona shirt. Stoichkov was a versatile forward but nevertheless a consistent goalscorer. He represented Barcelona for 8 seasons in the ’90s and scored 162 goals.