That Barcelona team has been ushered into the pantheon of great teams
Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona side has had books written about it. These were not simply based on the winning that the Spaniard’s squad did from 2008-2011, but also the way in which they reinvented concept of passing and offense in the modern game. That Barcelona team has been ushered into the pantheon of great teams, alongside Pele’s Brazil of 1970, the Liverpool sides of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Real Madrid of the late 50s with Alfredo Di Stefano and Arsenal’s “Invincibles” from the 2003-2004 campaign, to name a few.
There have been plenty of other sensational teams that dominated across all competitions, and these are the teams with the records that Luis Enrique’s current Barcelona and their current 36-match unbeaten streak are trying to chase. Having just passed Leo Beenhakker’s Real Madrid from 1988-1989 and their 34 game record, they now have the record in Spain.
After equalizing Sacchi’s Milan record with win vs Eibar, Barcelona are 90 minutes against Getafe CF away from surpassing it and moving on to their next challenge, which is where things will get increasingly difficult. To reach Nottingham Forest, who won or drew 40 straight games between 1977 and 1978, Luis Enrique will need to lead his team past Arsenal in the return leg of the Champions League, Villarreal at the Estadio El Madrigal, a vengeful Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid in the second El Clasico of the season and finally Real Sociedad down in the Basque Country.
This will be a tough test, but Lionel Messi and company have so far this season been up to every challenge, and have been able to get a result even when they weren’t playing at their best, as evidenced by the narrow victory against Las Palmas a few weeks ago. If Barcelona is to find a way to get to 41 games unbeaten, they would be just three wins away from toppling the all-time record in Europe. That record was set by Antonio Conte’s Juventus from 2011 to 2012, which did not lose in 43 consecutive games.
As mentioned earlier, Pep Guardiola’s side is lauded for both their winning and the way in which they captured their victories. Luis Enrique’s unit has already won a Champions League trophy, but their current unbeaten streak shows their true dominance. Since losing to Sevilla 2-1 on October 3, 2015, the Blaugrana have won 30 games and drawn six.
While the Catalans' defense may have been seen as a liability at the start of the season, Gerard Pique and co. have conceded just 20 goals in the last five months. The front three of Luis Enrique’s Barcelona has been as good as advertised, scoring 110 goals, or 3.79 goals per game, since their unbeaten game began.
The only man in the attack to have been a part of both Luis Enrique and Guardiola’s Barcelona is of course Lionel Messi. Although Luis Suarez and Neymar are statistically leading the team due to Messi’s early-season injury, La Pulga has still contributed three hat-tricks this season and has taken over games when Barcelona needed a result. A dominating 7-0 victory against Valencia in the Copa del Rey and a recent 5-1 drudging of Rayo Vallecano reminded us of what he has been doing for more than a decade at the senior level. Though for all of his goals and 35 hat-tricks, Messi has always said that team trophies are the most important thing, and he would love to continue to cement his place in history with another treble.
Speaking of history, some of his Spanish teammates could soon be honored for their achievements in the international game, particularly the European Championships. To coincide with the Euro 2016 in France beginning on June 10th, UEFA is looking to announce a best XI from the history of the competition.
Current Barcelona superstars Andrés Iniesta and Jordi Alba have made the 50 player shortlist, as have former Barcelona greats Xavi, Carles Puyol, David Villa, the Spanish Luis Suarez, Ronald Koeman, Laurent Blanc, Lilian Thuram, Luis Figo and Theirry Henry.
While a few of these legends made their name at other teams, all of them have their place in Barcelona history. Their success on the international stage is a good representation of the high level in which they played with their clubs as well. Barcelona’s list of 11 players edges out Real Madrid’s list of seven, which also included Figo, as well as Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos, Iker Casillas and current manager Zinedine Zidane.