For several years now, Barcelona have been considered to be the best club team in the world. They’re not vastly wealthy like PSG or Manchester City, and they’re owned by fans and supporters rather than a rich Arab Sheikh.
However, since Guardiola walked out on them, their form hasn’t been so great, so it’s time to start asking, are they still the best in the world, or are there other teams that could challenge them to that title?
The first obvious contenders are Real Madrid. El Clasico is a must watch for every football fan as we see two giants clash, resulting in an explosion of raw talent and beautiful play. Real are equipped with the “second best” player in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo, who’s supported by the likes of Ozil, Higuain and Kaka – on paper, they’re unbelievable. This season, although Barca currently sit thirteen points clear of Real, who lie in third, Los Blancos did beat the Barca Boys twice in five days just last week. They’re certainly up there with the best.
The next possibility is from Germany, and they have been the best from their country by far for the past 20 or 30 years. Bayern Munich, with such rich history, home of world-class players such as Ribéry, Robben and Gomez. Now will be managed by Guardiola, who had previously made Barca such an unstoppable force, it’s not unlikely that they’re on their way to the top. Since the epic final at the Nou Camp in 1999, when they were defeated by United in the dying embers of the game, Bayern have longed for major success, and have done so almost every season, winning the German top division, Bundesliga, seven times since then. Although Dortmund are on their way up, Bayern are the kings of Germany, as last season, so nearly became kings of Europe.
Third, we have the three Italian teams; Inter, Juventus and Milan. Giants in their own right, these three have dominated Italian football of the past few years. Players like Sneijder, Pato, Ibrahimovic and Pirlo have graced the Italian League through these clubs, and it’s difficult to find more talented players than some of those who have played in Serie A. Although Inter are declining, Milan recently showed their presence to the world after a shock 2-0 win over Barcelona, which really got critics thinking. Juvé have always been a strong force, and have looked especially strong in this season’s Champions League, and so have Milan – so the boys from Italy are far from faded.
You can’t have this discussion without bringing any English club to the table, as debatable as it might be. The three that I believe are up with any contention would be the two Manchester teams, and Chelsea. Current champions of Europe, who shrugged off Barca on their way to that title, have faded of recent, and haven’t looked strong since Benitez came in. City meanwhile, look strong but have recently dropped points, and didn’t even make it to the Champion’s League knock outs. Sitting 12 points ahead of them, are their neighbors from just across town, United. Since signing RvP, who has scored a respectable 19 league goals this season, United have been the dominant force in English football, and would still be in with a shout at reaching a European final, if it wasn’t for a controversial match against Mourinho’s Men.
So, if anyone’s going to steal Barca’s metaphorical title, it’s most likely to be Madrid, Bayern, Juvé or United – but are any of them really up with the quality of Messi, Iniesta and Xavi? Possibly not, but changing manager can really switch a team, as seen with Barca’s recent shaky patch. But with these teams really up and coming, and quickly, the Catalan boys could start to see some contention from across Europe.