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  • 5 picks out some of the greatest ever club sides as Barcelona's reputation continues to grow

Barcelona delivered another exhilarating demonstration of footballing greatness on Tuesday evening to beat Arsenal 3-1 in the UEFA Champions League.

The Gunners squad is loaded with class and they tend to dominate any opponent they come across, yet at Camp Nou they were made to look distinctly ordinary as they were dismantled by a rampant Barca.

But where does Pep Guardiola's side rank on the all-time list? How would they fare against the finest that history has to offer?

Comparing teams from different eras is an impossible task but every now and again there are those that stand out like Barca. here trawls back through the ages to pick out, in no particular order, ten of the best.

Barcelona - 2010/11

Let us start with the team of the moment and the remarkable feature of Barcelona's game is the style in which they play. Guardiola has at his disposal some of the most gifted passing technicians ever to have taken the field, most notably Xavi and Andres Iniesta, who allow Barca to control possession to an extent that has never been seen before. They are almost faultless with the ball and then when they do lose the ball they are relentless in their pressing, while up front there is the prolific David Villa and the majestic Lionel Messi, already one of the greatest players ever.

Manchester United - 1998/99

Of course the best way to measure greatness is to look at how many trophies a team has won come the end of the season. It is all well and good playing beautiful football and then missing out on the silverware, as Barcelona did in last season's Champions League after losing to Inter Milan. The Manchester United of the late 20th century managed to combine an attractive approach with the never-say day attitude required to pick up the biggest prizes. Having already claimed the Premier League and FA Cup in 1999, United claimed an unprecedented Treble by memorably snatching two late goals in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich.

AC Milan - 1989/90

Eyebrows were raised in 1987 when the inexperienced Arrigo Sacchi was appointed Milan manager, but within three years they had won the European Cup not once but twice. Sacchi assembled a phenomenal side capable of taking apart just about anyone, with defensive steel allied to attacking flair. Throughout his first-choice starting XI there were world-class stars, including Dutch trio Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard, as well as the likes of Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini. A stunning 5-0 victory over Real Madrid is still regarded as one of the most amazing performances of all time.

Real Madrid - 1956-60

It is difficult to imagine any team winning five successive European Cups in the modern era, even the great Barcelona, but that is precisely what Spanish giants Real achieved in the late 1950s. Nobody else on the continent could compete as legends such as Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas helped Real sweep aside everyone in their path.

River Plate - 1940s

Perhaps a surprise entry to younger readers, but the River Plate team of the 1940s is widely considered one of the greatest ever. It was not always the case that South American superstars would journey to Europe to ply their trade and the Argentine league was particularly strong during this period. River Plate were still able to dominate with four titles in a decade as the likes of Adolfo Pedernera and a young Di Stefano shone, while some old timers say they were the first exponents of total football, 30 years before the Dutch.

Liverpool 1977/78

Venturing back into slightly more recent territory, and the late 1970s were glory years for Liverpool as they retained the European Cup. Phil Thompson, Alan Hansen, Graeme Souness and Kenny Dalglish have shown in more recent times they possess sharp football minds and back in their playing days they proved far too good on the pitch for most of their rivals. An honourable mention must also go to the Nottingham Forest team of the same era, who claimed back-to back European titles the following two years under the great Brian Clough.

Celtic -1966/67

Celtic's class of 1967 would later become known as the 'Lisbon Lions' after claiming European glory in the Portuguese capital courtesy of a 2-1 victory over Inter Milan. It was the first time a British team had won the competition and a fantastic achievement for Scottish football, with every member of the team born within 30 miles of Glasgow. Tommy Gemmell and Stevie Chalmers grabbed the goals against Inter as Jock Stein's side, playing an extremely positive brand of football, won every competition they entered that season.

Ajax - 1994/5

Ajax have had two great teams in their history, one in the early 1970s and another in the mid 90s. The Dutchmen lifted the Champions League trophy in 1995 after going through the competition without losing a single game and, having produced a host of exciting young talents such as Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids, Marc Overmars and the De Boer brothers, a sustained spell at the top of the game looked to be in the offing. However, the Bosman ruling hit them hard and led to the squad being broken up dramatically over the next couple of years.

Real Madrid - 2001/2

A second appearance in our list for Real Madrid, who made it their project to bring in one of the best players on the planet each year during the 'Galacticos' era. They never quite succeeded in world domination but were just about unbeatable at their best, with the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Roberto Carlos and Raul in their ranks. It all came together in 2002 as Zidane's magnificent volley sealed Champions League success against Bayer Leverkusen.

Arsenal 2003/4

Unlike the other examples in our countdown, this Arsenal side did not come out on top in European competition. However, their domestic achievements still make them worthy of a place after going through the entire Premier League season unbeaten, to become known as the 'Invincibles'. Playing with a perfect balance between style and steel that they have never been quite able to replicate, the Gunners cantered to the title as Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Dennis Bergkamp and co sparkled in attack and the likes of Sol Campbell, Kolo Toure and Ashley Cole kept things tight at the back.

Comments (65)

Steven Condie says...

What about Rangers 9 in a row team? Graeme Souness started it off then passed the reins onto Walter Smith and it was full of world class talent such as Paul Gascoigne, "The Goalie" Andy Goram, Ally McCoist, Brian Laudrup, as well as the ever reliable Stuart McCall and Richard Gough. Definetely a team that belongs on this list!

Posted 18:26 25th March 2011

Brian Brian says...

I think there is one flaw here: the list mostly seems to include only one season or two, I think it should be looked at over 5 to 10 years. Hence Liverpool in the 70s Madrid in the early 60s, the Ferguson era late 90s to 09, Milan early 90s, Barcolena roughly 05-now, the whole Busby era; these are some examples. Having one good season is 'well' just having one good season.

Posted 11:19 10th March 2011

Graeme Petty says...

James Lewis is totally correct with his comments about the Revie era Leeds United. In my opinion ( as an ex pro) the best side ever to hail from England. One correction to James's statement is that leeds were cheated out of TWO European Cups with the referee on both occasions ( against Bayern and AC Milan) subsequently found guilty of being bribed and banned from football. Leeds should have been awarded the Trophy on both occasions !!!!!!!

Posted 09:41 10th March 2011

Mvelo Ndlovu says...

s league, they had to beat the English Champions - Chelsea, Spanish Champions - Barca and German Champions - Bayern to win itUhm wheres Barcelona 2008/09, they won everything they played for and they were way better than they are now. Also wheres Inter 2009/10, they won everything but also, in Champs league, they had to beat the English Champions - Chelsea, Spanish Champions - Barca and German Champions - Bayern to win it

Posted 09:23 10th March 2011

Mark Timmins says...

Manchester United team from 1968. Three of the best players of all time in Charlton, Best and Law. Matt Busby was class act also. That side was an inspiration. Class of '68 I salute you

Posted 08:09 10th March 2011

Tetelo Basil says...


Posted 07:50 10th March 2011

Adam Gagan says...

I remember when Ruud Van Nistleroy was in stunning form for Manchester United and many thinking he was one of the best players to play for the club. He was one of the best players in the world at that time. However, when asked if he was as good as Marco Van Basten, the reply was simple. Not until I have won as many trophies as him. This never happened for a variety of reasons. Therefore, this current Barcelona side have to win things before they are considered a great side. Great to watch but so were the Milan team. You have to win over a few years to be considered great.

Posted 07:14 10th March 2011

Corey Baxter says...

Chelsea should be mentioned they have been to the semi finals of the champions league 5 of the past 7 years. That is a good team and they have won multiple league and fa cup titles in those years. They might not have had that much success since their start but the recent success ranks up there.

Posted 05:43 10th March 2011

Andrew Lucas says...

Newcastle fans you make me laugh! You are all completely delusional!

Posted 01:59 10th March 2011

Shaun Walsh says...

There's only 1 team to look out for and that is the current Barca team! Breathtaking!

Posted 01:56 10th March 2011

Si C says...

Where is the Everton team of the 80's...players like Neville Southall, Gary Stevens, Kevin Ratcliffe, Peter Reid, Trever Steven, Graeme Sharp, Andy Gray, Kevin Sheedy. In 1985 won a treble of trophies and got to the fa cup final!!

Posted 01:34 10th March 2011

Neil Lennon says...

hi all, surley Notts forrest under brian clough should have a mention before arsenal com on now old 2nd division to European cup twice ??? good to see celtic get a mention well deserved first to bring the big cup to brithish soil....

Posted 01:10 10th March 2011

Matt Stevenson says...

What about Man United's 07/08 side? Set a record of 25 european games undefeated and 13 premier league games without conceding a goal. There are, as others are saying, quite a few great sides that deserve to be on this list, but how can you leave off United's 08 side?

Posted 00:59 10th March 2011

Sean Miller says...

How can the Busby Babes not be mentioned in any of this? If it weren't for the accident they would have dominated Europe for a decade, surely they are more worthy of being mentioned than some of the teams in the list

Posted 00:55 10th March 2011

Brian Taylor (Liverpool fan) says...

87/88 lfc team possibly best footballing side this country has ever produced(sir tom finney)83/84 lfc team 3 trophies&beaten semi finalists in f a cup pure quality

Posted 00:51 10th March 2011

David O'brien says...

juve side of the mid 90's was class....and also the dortmund team of the mid 90's..... as being the 90's and 00's bening my football generation i would compare teams with generations i didn't get to see. and also the bayren side in the 70's bekenbaur and gerd muller...

Posted 00:43 10th March 2011

Geoff Potts says...

will people please calm down its just the guys opinion and hes entitled to it like anyone else... sheesh... but anways to the story as ponly being 18 cant remember alot of these great sides but Barca from ther last 3 years should probably be up there with all there great players they have had in that time.. think not to long ago they still had amazing players such as the one true great ronaldinho, eto, marquez, deco, zambrotta all at there peak thats my opinion of how barca should be in this lol

Posted 00:12 10th March 2011

Mo Singh says...

Liverpool team 1986-89:- Rush, Barnes, Aldridge, Beardsley, Molby, Grobelaar, Lawrenson, Nicol, Whelan, Hansen, McMahon, and ofcourse Dalglish.

Posted 00:09 10th March 2011

Rob Williamson says...

Nice to see Celtic recognised and a feat that will never happen again, a team of players with the same nationality winning, this will never ever happen again in my lifetime, a legend of a Manager in Jock Stein and a team who would today would be as good as any Barca, real or Man Utd

Posted 23:09 9th March 2011

Carson Letterman says...

Chelsea under Mourinho should be mentioned in this article. They completely dominated english football and holds the record for most points - 95! - in one season.

Posted 22:53 9th March 2011

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