Two of the best teams to have graced not only La Liga but the world football stage are undoubtedly are the ‘first’ galacticos of Real Madrid and Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona team of recent years. But which team exactly boasted the best possible squad?
Starting with Real, huge fortunes were spent on the likes of Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and David Beckham, who cost a combined transfer fee of £140 million. Beckham in particular was seen as a player with high commercial value, but all of these players were identified as bankable stars who would sell huge amounts of shirts and other memorabilia.
Aand this worked, helping Real Madrid overtake Manchester United as the richest club by revenue in 2005-2006.
On top of these huge signings, they managed to sign Ballon d’Or winner Michael Owen, who only stayed for a little bit, but held the best goals to minutes played ratio in La Liga whilst he was there.
Spaniards Iker Casillas and Raul held major importance in the side too, having been developed through Real’s youth system, and also proved to become integral international players.
You can to the list of the main galacticos Roberto Carlos, who even though he was signed before the galacticos era, showed the Brazilian flair that was at its height at the time, with players such as Ronaldo and Ronaldinho also being poster child’s for Brazil’s ‘Joga Bonito’ style.
Despite not spending the vast sums Real did however, Guardiola created one of the strongest forces in world football. Players such as Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi, who had all come through the ranks, were now the focal point of the team as he decided to offload their previous important players like Ronaldinho and Deco, to start to build a new generation.
Gerard Pique and Dani Alves were then brought in from Manchester United and Sevilla respectively, to start putting together this new look team. Of course, Barca could claim a significant input to Pique’s development during his years in their youth system.
Promoting talent such as Sergio Busquets and Pedro was also important to Barca. Even this second string of homegrown talent, as they were initially viewed, have now gone on to play internationally and become major stars within the team.
Alongside latter signings, including David Villa, Javier Macherano, Cesc Fabregas, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alexis Sanchez, Barca became one of the most dominant forces in the world, winning three league titles, two domestic cups, three super cups, two UEFA Champions League trophies, two UEFA Super Cups and two FIFA Club World Cups.
On that basis, Pep’s Barcelona team definitely enjoyed much more success than the galacticos, winning 14 trophies in four years. However in terms of individual stars, I think Real had the upper hand. Any team that can boast the likes of Beckham, Figo, Zidane, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo and Raul (to name but a few) in the same team, is some achievement. However to emulate that sort of team, you will have to do more than just sell your old PSP to raise a sufficient transfer war chest, because with big names, come much bigger prices.
Who gets the nod for your money?