A year or so ago, the idea that Barcelona’s current side was the best to have ever played the game was pretty popular. The ball was passed from world-class player to world-class player as Barca would patiently strangle the life out of opposition teams. One tricky season later and it seemed we had been caught in the hype, but is that fair? When you reach a certain level of dominance like Barcelona did, weighing up the side against the others that reached that level becomes a matter of deciding how the miniscule weaknesses and extraneous factors detract from each team’s greatness. There’s a tendency to rank older teams and players higher in football, but that doesn’t really make a great deal of sense. For all the whingeing about modern football, the game is as good as it has ever been: higher standards of physical fitness and a tactical organisation that the likes of Roberto Mancini believe has reached an end point, at least as far as major developments go, mean the quality of football has increased dramatically over the past few decades. The likes of the Dutch Total Football sides were revolutionary but they would be ripped apart by most [...]

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