Messi, Xavi & Barcelona's best XI of the Champions League era

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The Blaugrana have had some wonderful players since the European Cup was revamped in 1992 but who makes our all-star selection?

  1. GK: Marc-Andre ter Stegen
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    #1 GK: Marc-Andre ter Stegen

    Marc-Andre ter Stegen won the Champions League with Barcelona in 2015 and never looked back, usurping Claudio Bravo as the club’s first-choice goalkeeper.

    Fantastic with the ball at his feet, the German fits the club’s style perfectly and is likely to hold on to his starting spot for years to come – once he finally resolves his contractual situation at Camp Nou.

  2. RB: Dani Alves
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    #2 RB: Dani Alves

    Dani Alves was one of Lionel Messi’s greatest servants at Barcelona, providing the Argentine with countless assists from right-back.

    As well as proving an outstanding attacking outlet, the Brazilian always made it back to his own goal too – at least in the first few years of his Camp Nou career – thanks to his fantastic pace.

    A dynamic, invigorating presence both on the pitch and off of it, Dani Alves will go down as one of the game’s greatest ever full-backs, having won six La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues during an unprecedented era of success for Barca.

  3. CB: Carles Puyol
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    #3 CB: Carles Puyol

    Known as the eternal captain, the defender led by example throughout his captaincy at Camp Nou.

    From letting Eric Abidal lift the Champions League trophy after the Frenchman's liver transplate, to brave blocks, tackles and interceptions, Puyol always gave everything for the Catalan cause.

    He even got the odd goal, including one in the 6-2 win over Real Madrid in 2009 which is regarded as one of Barcelona’s best-ever performances.

  4. CB: Gerard Pique

    #4 CB: Gerard Pique

    Gerard Pique has his critics in Spain but that is more related to what he says and does off the field than how he performs on it.

    Indeed, even those that despise the Catalan would find it difficult to deny that he has been one of the best defenders of the modern era, a pivotal figure ever since he rejoined Barcelona from Manchester United in 2008 thanks to his immaculate timing and astute reading of the game.

  5. LB: Jordi Alba
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    #5 LB: Jordi Alba

    After Dani Alves' departure, Jordi Alba took on the responsibility of providing Messi with a creative foil from a full-back position, with his lightning runs up the pitch a vital weapon in Barcelona’s armoury.

    Alba has also bailed Barca out at the back many times over the past decade and when one considers how difficult it is to impress as a defender at Barca, that is no mean feat.

  6. CM: Sergio Busquets
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    #6 CM: Sergio Busquets

    Even though Barcelona’s timekeeper is showing signs of ageing, it shouldn’t be forgotten how imperious Sergio Busquets was in his pomp.

    The midfielder was particularly influential during the Pep Guardiola era, with his immaculate passing and game-management making the Catalans' Cruyffian football possible.

    Busquets is the prime example of a player who isn't physically imposing but is, mentally, playing a different game to everyone else.

  7. CM: Xavi
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    #7 CM: Xavi

    Xavi is another sensational passer of the ball who helped Barcelona both dominate and change the game during Guardiola’s time in charge.

    The World Cup winner played the game simply but gloriously. Indeed, perhaps no other player better epitomises the ‘tiki-taka’ style of play, so it’s no wonder that Barca would like to bring him back as coach next year.

  8. CM: Andres Iniesta
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    #8 CM: Andres Iniesta

    The final member of arguably the finest midfield trio the game has ever seen, the humble Andres Iniesta boasted outrageous close control, sublime dribbling skills and a keen eye for a defence-splitting pass.

    Iniesta was a creator more than a finisher but he did score one of the most beautiful and most important goals in the club's entire history: the decisive, last-minute equaliser at Chelsea that sent Barca through to the final of the 2009 Champions League.

  9. FW: Lionel Messi
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    #9 FW: Lionel Messi

    The greatest footballer player who ever lived, Lionel Messi has changed our entire perception of what is possible in the world of football.

    Barcelona’s all-time top scorer borders on the indescribable. At his peak, the Argentine was utterly unstoppable, a bewitching mix of pure pace and sensational dribbling skills.

    But perhaps the most impressive thing about Messi is how he has changed his game through the years to keep improving and developing, operating in different positions but always successfully.

     

  10. FW: Luis Suarez
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    #10 FW: Luis Suarez

    Luis Suarez became Barcelona’s third-highest goalscorer of all time in just six years at the club, as well as Lionel Messi's partner in crime.

    The Uruguayan proved as innovative as he was industrious, scoring all sorts of goals from all sorts of distances. There were headers, volleys, back-heels, tap-ins, long-range strikes – you name it, Suarez could do it.

    Suarez also deserves credit for taming the wilder aspects of his character that blighted his pre-Camp Nou career, perhaps because he was just so content playing alongside Messi in Catalunya.

  11. FW: Ronaldinho
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    #11 FW: Ronaldinho

    Ronaldinho’s top-level career may have quickly fizzled out but few players have burned as brightly as the brilliant Brazilian.

    He was a one-man highlight reel at Barca, a player so extravagantly talented that he even drew a standing ovation out of Real Madrid fans at the Santiago Bernabeu.

    Ronaldinho was responsible for reviving Barcelona, inspiring them to what was just their second European Cup success at the time, in 2006, but, more importantly than that, he reminded us of a core truth: that football is a game that is meant to be enjoyed.

  12. Substitutes
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    #12 Substitutes

    If we were choosing a manager for this team, then Pep Guardiola would be a shoo-in for the job, but he makes the bench anyway as one of our reserves, given he was a fine midfielder during his playing days.

    Victor Valdes ran Ter Stegen close for a slot in the team, given his longevity at the top, while defensive bastion Rafa Marquez can also consider himself unlucky not to make the starting line up. Yaya Toure certainly thinks so, claiming the Mexican was 10 times better than Pique.

    Javier Mascherano was a loyal servant to Barcelona and adapted brilliantly to play at centre-back after arriving as a defensive midfielder. The ‘Jefecito’ (little boss) also brings leadership in spades.

    After that comes a world-class front three in its own right: Neymar, Rivaldo and Samuel Eto’o.

    The latter netted 36 goals as Barcelona won the treble in 2009, and only left after a falling out with Guardiola – hopefully they get along together on the bench.

    Neymar’s Barcelona spell was also cut short as he left for PSG but, on raw ability, the forward could oust Ronaldinho from the side.

    Rivaldo, meanwhile, had a penchant for the specular – witness that famous bicycle kick against Valencia as part of a special hat-trick – and regularly finished among the top scorers in Spain.