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Address: Avenida Aristides Maillol 8020 Spain
Phone: (+34) 93 496 36 00
Fax: (+34) 93 496 37 67
Official URL: http://www.fcbarcelona.com
Chairman: Sandro Rosell
Club Director: Antoni Rossich
Stadium: Camp Nou, Barcelona
FC Barcelona is thought of as more than a club and is seen as the flag-bearer of the Catalunya region with its mix of sport, politics and symbolism. Founded on November 29, 1899 by Swiss enthusiast Joan Gamper, who changed his name from Hans, Barça are seen as one of the biggest names in world football.
The club have won virtually every major honour and the list of past and present players reads like a list of a who's who in the sport. Josep Guardiola, Antoni Ramallets, Josep Samitier, Andoni Zubizarreta, Hans Krankl, Diego Maradona, Rivaldo, Romario, Ronaldo, Hristo Stoichkov, Michael Laudrup, Gary Lineker, Ladislao Kuabala, Johan Cruyff, Ronald Koeman and Johan Neeskens have all graced the shirt throughout the years.
Golden eras have brought unprecedented success, most notably in the 1950's and 1990's, and in recent seasons the club has entered another successful period under coach Frank Rijkaard and president Joan Laporta. Events on the pitch are well known, but so too are the politics surrounding the club and the importance it held during the years of General Franco's rule.
While the club was founded by Gamper, there was a strong English influence that remained right up until the 1990's, as several f the early players and managers heralded from England. After winning the league championship for the first time in 1928, following the exile of Gamper by dictator Primo de Rivera, it was not until the end of the Spanish Civil War that the Blaugrana would clinch the title again winning it under Samitier in 1945, 1948 and 1949.
In the early 1950's it became clear that the club was growing too big for its Les Corts ground as the success of the team began to draw in more and more fans and work on the Camp Nou, which opened in 1957, began. With Kubala, who was named as the club's greatest ever player during Barça's centenary celebrations, leading the way Barcelona won the Spanish Cup in 1951, before completing two league and cup doubles in '52 and '53.
The 51-52 campaign became known as 'the season of five cups' as a side containing Estanislao Basora, César, Kubala,Tomás Moreno and Eduardo Manchón won the Spanish League, the Spanish Cup, the Latin Cup and the Eva Duarte and Martin Rossi trophies. After winning the league once more in 1958-59, the team enjoyed success in Europe as they won the Fairs Cup in 57-58 and 59-60, before the following decade brought only three success, all in the Spanish Cup.
It was not until the arrival in the early 1970's of Cruyff that Barça had stark upturn in fortunes. The Dutch legend's influence on the club and the region was to be huge. The title was clinched at the end of Cruyff's first season, 1973-74, and Real Madrid were beaten 5-0 by the Blaugrana in the Santiago Bernabéu. The following years were only highlighted by victory in the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1979, before the arrival of Terry Venables as head coach.
The Dream Team
After 11 seasons without winning the championship the Englishman steered the club to the top and only missed out on winning the European Cup the following year on penalties against Steaua Bucharest. As Venables stepped down, Cruyff made a return and imprinted his name in annals of Barça's history forever from the bench.
A favourite during his playing days, the Dutchman became a hero for a second time when he led the Blaugrana to four consecutive titles (1991-94), but the highlight of his tenure came at Wembley in 1992.
Koeman's extra-time free-kick against Sampdoria gave Barça their first ever European Cup and earned the side of the era the label of the Dream Team. The English connection was resumed when Bobby Robson coached the club to success in the Spanish Cup, the European Cup Winners Cup and Spanish Super Cup, as well as second-place in the league, in 1996-97.
Despite that incredible haul he was replaced by Louis Van Gaal the following summer and the Dutch trainer continued the trophy haul by winning the following two league championships and the Spanish Cup in 1998. A lean spell at the start of current century ended when Laporta was installed as president and Rijkaard arrived as the coach.
A New Era
The duo have helped to lift the club back to the pinnacle of world football with two league titles, in 2005 and 2006, and the club's second European Cup, now under the guise of the Champions League, against Arsenal in Paris in 2006. Having won Europe's elite club competition, Barça were accused of taking their foot off the pedal during the 2006-07 campaign as they failed to win a major trophy, despite Laporta's prediction that the team would win seven pots.
The next campaign was even more disappointing as Barca could only finish fourth and that brought Rijkaard's reign to an end. Laporta survived a confidence vote and, on Cruyff's advice, brought in Pep Guardiola as coach following the former captain's success with Barca B.
Guardiola sold Ronaldinho and Deco, but kept Eto'o and Barca went on to enjoy their best ever season, claiming an historic treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League titles. And Pep made it six trophies in a year as he led the side to a Spanish Supercopa, a Uefa Super Cup and a Fifa World Club Cup later in 2009.
Eto'o then departed as part of the deal which brought Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Camp Nou, but after a promising start, relations soured between player and coach, and the Scandinavian left to join Inter's fierce rivals AC Milan in the summer.
By that time, though, Barca had picked up another Primera Division title. A Spanish Supercopa subsequently arrived as well, before another hugely impressive campaign in 2010-11.
Messi hit 53 goals in a central role as summer signing David Villa adapted to a left-forward slot. Both scored fine goals as Barca won the Champions League with a sensational showing in the 3-1 final win over Manchester United, while Guardiola's side - who lost the Copa del Rey showpiece to Real Madrid - also claimed their third successive league title.
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