Diario AS' man in Barcelona, Santi Giménez, has chosen his all-time Clásico Barcelona team.
Barcelona all-time Clásico XI
Víctor Valdés: The goalkeeper in the best Barcelona team of all time, and he always found that extra bit of motivation against Barça’s main rival. He was never daunted at the Bernabéu, and he made at least one noteworthy save in every Clásico he played in. His ability to concentrate allowed him to continue playing with his feet even after an error led to conceding a goal. A big personality.
Dani Alves: Another player who was born for these matches. The Brazilian never shied away from a battle, and knew exactly when to bomb forward and when to defend. He was vital to applying pressure from the front, and had a presence in attack that allowed him to score important goals. In addition, Alves always knew how to antagonise. He was a nightmare for the opposition.
Gerard Piqué: The scorer of the sixth goal at the Bernabéu on the day of that glorious 2-6 victory, and a man who is capable of carrying the full weight of public pressure on his shoulders. He is Barcelona right to the bone, and his reflection after the Super Cup defeat to Madrid were a was a watershed moment, after which Barça have not lost a match.
Ronald Koeman: He is a must-have player in these kinds of matches. Apart from never giving the opponents an inch, he was also a threat to their goal. His set pieces were always a threat for the Real Madrid ‘keepers. In terms of his mentality, Koeman always reassured Barça fans with his calm persona on the pitch. They could breathe easy with him on the ball.
Carles Puyol: Another player who found the net in *that* 2-6 with a superb header that he later repeated to take Spain to the final of the World Cup. Puyol was defined by his hard work, honesty, and commitment. Nobody was ever allowed to relax when he was on the pitch.
Sergio Busquets: Barcelona’s thermometer. The key piece when it comes to assessing the state of the team. His tactical intelligence has led Real Madrid down a bitter path on many occasions. He makes his team-mates better and represents better than anybody the style of play that led Barcelona to some of their greatest victories over Madrid.
Xavi: Scored in the 5-0 victory at Camp Nou over Jose Mourinho’s side, and was simply marvellous in the 2-6 at the Bernabéu. It didn’t matter to him whether the match was in Barcelona or Madrid. He always picked up the ball and set the rhythm of the match.
Iniesta: The player who has taken part in the most Clásicos. His goal from outside the area in the 0-4 win at the Bernabéu three years ago was one of the finest Barcelona have ever scored on Madrid’s home turf. Iniesta has never been the biggest threat to the opposition goal. But he always steps up against Los Blancos.
Johan Cruyff: It all started with him. That glorious 0-5 in 1974 change the history of Barcelona. Other victories have followed, but for a generation of culés there will never be another night like it. The Dutch wizard, alongside Asensi, Sotil, Marcial, and Juan Carlos struck at the Bernabéu. Later, as a coach, he sowed the seeds of a style of play that would go on to deliver many more wins.
Lionel Messi: Ever since he first appeared at the Bernabéu (on the same night that Ronaldinho dazzled in a 0-3 victory), his ability to intimidate has been incredible. He first lined up against Barcelona at Camp Nou at the tender age of 18, yet he still scored a hat-trick. For that alone, he would merit a place in this team. He has continued to be a particularly niggly thorn in Madrid’s side, and the Bernabéu falls silent when he has the ball.
Rivaldo: For a while, Madrid did not know how to stop the Brazilian. He was one of the few players capable of getting the better of Fernando Hierro, and the pair had some epic battles over the years. He was a narrow offside call away from leaving the Bernabéu with a hat-trick in a match that he played on his own against the world. It is one of the most impressive individual performances in memory.