December 23rd, 2011
03:12 PM ET

Is this Barcelona team the best of all time?

Italian footballer Cristiano Doni, European champions Barcelona and Liverpool's Luis Suarez have all hit the headlines.
Italian footballer Cristiano Doni, European champions Barcelona and Liverpool's Luis Suarez have all hit the headlines.

Normally, on my weekly blog, I pick one football topic and discuss it at length. This week, I decided to do something a little different. There are various subjects I would like to discuss and since it is Christmas, I thought I would do something to make myself happy and talk about them all.

Firstly, I would like to congratulate FC Barcelona for being crowned FIFA Club World Cup champions. Let’s face it, we already knew the Spanish giants were the best team on the planet, but now they have the trophy to prove it. I think it is fair to say we are running out of superlatives to describe Barca, aren’t we?

This is the best football side I have ever seen in my lifetime, and considering how much tougher football is now than it was 40, 50 or 60 years ago I would be inclined to say that this is the best side to ever play the game.

The way in which they perform as a team is unique and that is what makes them special. Sure, they have someone like Leo Messi who has now gained legendary status even though he is only 24 years old - but it is the team which allows little Leo to shine, not the other way around.

Barca are so original and so special that they have even decided that they don’t need to play with a striker. Therefore, as much as losing David Villa is a blow to Pep Guardiola, it wasn’t a devastating event. The likes of Messi, Alexis Sanchez, Cesc Fabregas, Pedro, Isaac Cuenca and others will take care of business, even if none of them are pure strikers.

Something we have learned this week is that football authorities are getting serious about stamping out corruption. In Italy, a match-fixing ring was busted with former Azzurri international player Cristiano Doni involved, while in Spain, long-serving Sevilla chairman Jose Maria Del Nido received a prison sentence for fraud.

In the first case I have to say I am not surprised. An agent recently told me he believed there was match-fixing in most top leagues around the world. Considering how many illegal betting syndicates there were, and how so many people in football wanted to make money on the side, he told me he had heard many stories of how matches had been fixed in most leagues in Europe.

He added that the only league that was completely clean was England's Premier League, because as far as the others were concerned, he had heard too many rumors of referees, players and coaches being tempted to take money to affect the outcome of games.

Whether it is true I don’t know, but football definitely has a problem that needs to be fixed.

Regarding Del Nido, it is a shame that someone who built such a good team at Sevilla that won back-to-back UEFA Cups was found guilty of embezzling charges. However, it is good to see that a powerful man can be brought down if there is proof against him. I grew up in Southern Europe and was always told that club presidents can get away with murder as long as they have money and their team is successful.

Whether or not England has problems with corruption, the Premier League's image has certainly been tarnished by the recent racism rows.

Liverpool’s Luis Suarez has been suspended eight matches for racially abusing Patrice Evra during a match in October. I back the English Football Association 100% in seeking to stamp out racism on the pitch, but what will be the implications?  In every game I have ever watched live, I have heard players call each other the most horrible things. So where do you draw the line? Are there going to be cameras everywhere analyzing every word a player says?

I am absolutely sure that Suarez is not and will not be the only player to use similar language on the pitch. And I will be very interested to see what action the FA takes against Chelsea skipper John Terry once his February court case is over. England captain or not, he should get the same treatment as any player on the planet if he is found guilty of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand.

Finally, I wanted to wish all of you a Merry Christmas. Thanks for the comments you have been posting my recent blogs, even if many of them have been quite insulting. At least I appreciate your honesty like I hope you appreciate mine.

Even when I am wrong, at least you should take into account that I am putting myself on the line with a prediction. And for the record, I still think Real Madrid will win the Spanish title and I still think that Manchester City will not win the Premier League.

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Filed under:  Football
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. sulaiman ahmed

    l would only support your comment on condition like. The league madrid many were thinking they will win heavely depend on barcelona's performance agains other la liga teams. Because, Barcelona are so relaxe when they play again team like Gatefe, osasuna, and levente. etc. Pep said we learn our mistake. so if Barcelona play the way they play agains madrid during the el-classico and santos. No doubt they will win the la liga not madrid.

    December 23, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Reply
  2. IRENE

    I also think Real Madrid is going to win the Spanish title and Im a Barca fan. It seems we are going to have another "derby" in Copa del Rey...

    December 23, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Reply
  3. nonso

    yea , i have confidence on barca because they prove it to the world

    December 23, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Reply
  4. Killian Donnellan

    Merry Christmas to you Pedro, I think i have been a bit harsh with your comments, its your opinion. So just because u say something that people don't agree with, people here including me should respect your opinion, just like i hope u respect our opinions. I still think man city and madrid will win their leagues and that madrid and bayern will play in champions league final.

    December 23, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Reply
  5. madridfantastic

    barca can be beaten by madrid only in the finals , not legged games .........

    December 23, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Reply
  6. Rasta

    Until they (Barcelona) are beaten, they are the best in the world. I am a huge Madrid fan and believe that Madrid is capable but still lack the confidence and calmness to control and play for full 90+ mins. Madrid plays in spurts and sometimes lack focus when play against Barca. Meanwhile Barca players stay focus for the full 90+ mins when playing against any opponent.

    December 23, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Reply
  7. first pole

    Hey Pinto, I appreciate your deep heart praise on Barça. But you´ve put yourself on the wrong line with the worst prediction ever for a league that ia far from ending. Madrid is in top form I agree but Barça is busy winning every title that come their way. I´ll send you a letter at the end of the la liga year. La liga is for Barça. You can bet on the premier league but not in Spain.

    December 23, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Reply
  8. Degraft Otoo

    barcelona is the best team YES, but madrid winning the league title this season is impossible under coach Jose Mou. you always favor madrid b’cos Mou is ur compatriot

    December 23, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Reply
  9. giovanni

    “This is the best football side I have ever seen in my lifetime, and considering how much tougher football is now than it was 40, 50 or 60 years ago”

    but what about Ajax and Johan Cruyff or the AC Milan in the ’90? Just to mention two of the most interesting football team interpreting the “total game”. Time to time a football team appear and a top player walk the field but what a journalist have to be impartial regarding any “moda” analysis

    December 23, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Reply
  10. Vlad

    Madrid will be beaten by CSKA Moscow and Barcelona is the best football team in the world.

    December 23, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Reply
  11. Sachiko

    Dear Mr. Pinto, I fully appreciate your great works on CNN, you have insight and brave spirit that journalists have to have. wish you all the best in next year as well, Feliz Natal!

    December 23, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Reply
  12. Filip


    I am following your reports and reading your blogs whenever I have the time and I think you are doing a really great job and how I like to say, you take all 360 degrees of different information and events in your opinion which always brings out a structured and with facts underlined conclusions. So I couldn't agree more on all of these topics you mentioned, especially with topics about Suarez and Barcelona. Barcelona really don't need to do anything more so people need to say that they really played the best football in the world ever! Nobody achieved such a results with 7 major players in the first squad who are originally from Barcelona school of football, and on the bench you also have 7-8 players more which are also from your school. And that's essential thing for this results! Messi is just like you said, don't have words for him!

    Merry Christmas and greetings from Belgrade!

    December 23, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Reply
  13. jsu

    I agree on u'r thought's, but.. Not at u'r final conclusion. Real, I don't have the trust > simplicity wise, credits on player's performance's, to be winning La Liga ,nope. Barca has a lot harder games against certain "defendants", but they do have the skill, to win important points (referring to Germany at certain time, hard to get the against points against some countries, but still they were able to lift the trophy).
    PL is harder. Manchester's are far, a lot further from the others. ManU has the "winning" skill, City is just learning to have one. But, wouldn't be surprised, if they would get it or the other one's would be fighting about it, at spring..

    December 24, 2011 at 1:48 am | Reply
  14. nasir bhat

    No doubt barca is the best team of all the time

    December 24, 2011 at 2:07 am | Reply
  15. Grey Ethel

    Madrid is a really a great team. But when it comes to playing with barcá they flop a lot because of the frustration metted by barcá due to the tapping of ball. Barcá stand in a better chance to win at any final cos if they can beat madrid more in legged match then they have what it takes to win any final. Still futbol is sometimes unpreditable,the best team always win.

    December 24, 2011 at 11:18 am | Reply
  16. Akintayo samson

    To all of you saying madrid will always win barca in the finals or madrid will dorminate barca this season keep dreaming because it is only a fantasy open your eyes to reality because barca is the only consistent team in the world and no team plays better than barca in the world.

    December 24, 2011 at 11:30 am | Reply
  17. Akintayo samson

    Merry christmas barcelona and a very good and promising new year.

    December 24, 2011 at 11:33 am | Reply
  18. Leo

    The only other three teams that I remember seeing that were similar to this Barca were the Dutch teams of the 70s, the Brazilian National Team of 82 and the twice-world-champion Sao Paulo Teams of 92,93.

    I will take as self-evident that in terms of individual talent this Barca is superior to the Sao Paulo teams and the Dutch teams, and in the same league as the Brazil 82 team. So let's compare to them.

    The Brazil 82 team only needed to last for a few months, and in the end came up short of the world cup title, whereas this Barca team has lasted a few years now, and has won A LOT against some pretty amazing competition.

    Ergo, yes, this Barca team is the greatest I have ever seen.

    I would love to hear someone who has seen enough of those Santos and Real Madrid teams from the 60s chime in.

    December 24, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Reply
  19. Ndubuisi

    The current Barcelona team are way out of this world.The play the most beautiful and entertaining game of football,while achieving results at the same time!No doubt they have reinvented the beautiful game and taken football artistry to extraterrestrial dimensions.I cant stop watching them play and I wish them the best.Long live Barca!

    December 24, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Reply
  20. husainou

    Without question Barca is the best in the business at this point in time.

    December 25, 2011 at 2:16 am | Reply
  21. Simmers

    This is definitely the most exciting time as a Barca fans. I'm not not certain whether the rest of the world will look upon us as best until perhaps we matched Real Madrid's 9 Champions league crowns... but still where it concerns most, I think Barca can really play sexy one-touch football and no one can really touch them.

    Pep is slowly revolutionized our approach. The 4-3-3 success of previous seasons had indeed become obsolete. Earlier this season, when the team stuttered and faltered a little, the worry was whether did the players lost their motivation. Yet looking at the way things developed thus far, it looked increasingly apparent that the players were merely adjusting to Pep's new tactical change.

    The game against Madrid and Santos bore testaments to Pep's acute and almost amazingly strategy because without relying on a pivot frontman like Eto'o, Ibrahimovich, and to lesser extent, Villa, Barca's frontline is at its most fluid and undefined as ever. And this is why they are now so unpredictable. This is how Barca can now strike greater fear.

    What they need for the start of 2012 is to string some convincing victories away from home and the cogs and wheels can be kick-started to reach peak performance. So I shall really wait with baited breath as my team strides towards title after title, and I hope in every sense, we continue to collect the remaining three trophies to end yet another perfect season.

    As for Madrid, great work and great waste of cash. Mourinho maybe a great manager, but he definitely fall short because Rea under his stewardship, maybe a goal-scoring machine, but they simply lack the panache, class and artistry that Barca now possesses. Pep unearth the soul and purpose of a great team. Mourinho on the other simply murders a once great team!!!

    December 25, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Reply
  22. Lycíla

    Real Madrid can definitely win the game fighting with Barca if calmer and steadier. Every time I saw the derby between RM&BFC I felt it a game between an immature kid and a wise man...BTW I'm a RM fan.

    December 25, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Reply
  23. Ebenezer Omejalile

    Hj Pedro in as much you made some good and revealing tips on the level of corruption cut across football in Europe, why did you say only the EPL could be exempted from any form of corruption? have you taken in cognizance how many times referees favors Manchester city in so glaring moments during the course of play, going to that of madrid as claimed by you clearly showed how biased you are towards Barcelona. For crying out loud the whole world saw what stuff Barcelona was made of , initially it was the first elclasico before madrid fans Barca turned madrid apart in the presence of over 500 million viewers across the globe, same to that of Santos FC of which i was very disappointed with the likes of the great Pele comparing Neymar to Messi, my final summation is Barca breed success which reveals the likes Messi, Pedro, Iniesta, just to mention a few, while madrid a club that believe in buying success and its about one player trying to prove a point particularly the headless chicken Ronaldo and his country man Mourinho who is seeking to win the league and champions league with Madrid, which i can comfortably tell that you he should start thinking of a way out of the exit door of madrid before its too late cos i am very sure madrid stand no chance to Barca

    December 25, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Reply
  24. Musah Fifa

    yes Pedro you can say that, but that is not what is going to happen at the end of the season, because Barcelona are going to win the La Liga, Champions League and copa del rey, and also Manchester City are going to win the Premier League,and that is what is going to happen, Happy Chrismas and New year in advance, Pedro Pinto

    December 25, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Reply
  25. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    Long way to go Senhor Pedro. The January window will make things more comfortable to those who have been struggling. It is too early to predict anything towards the fag end of 2011. Let's wait and watch the flow of fresh waves of new energy in 2012. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

    December 26, 2011 at 10:43 am | Reply
  26. omegafifteen

    Pedro, even if so good, it is still disputable that Barcelona is the best team ever. And hard to be stated as sure.
    As regards corruption, to give so much attention to it for the Italian Serie A is not proper as Mr. Doni and other few guys where involved in some only minor Serie B matches. Someone who reads your article would believe that corruption is so common in the Italian Serie A. And it's not the case.

    For your prediction: it's not tough to predict Real Madrid as the next Liga Winner while I'am ready to take a bet on MC as the Premier League winner.
    Happy New Year !

    December 26, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Reply
  27. oyetunde

    i love Barcelona and i will alwayz love them till eternity.Go Bacelona. Go! Go!! Go!!!

    December 26, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Reply
  28. sure

    "...but it is the team which allows little Leo to shine, not the other way around."

    I think you're flat-out wrong. Without Messi, they would be half as good! Sure they are still world-class without him, but definitely not as dominant as they are when he is on the pitch. (Although I think that there is a strategy to stop him, which has never been tried as far as I know).

    So they probably are the best of all time with Messi on the pitch. I still can't stand them though. Most of the Spanish players are a bunch of trashtalking crybabies... and how they conducted themselves during the Cesc transfer drama was absolutely undignified and not worth the reputation of their club. Guardiola is alright, but the players (except for Messi) have zero class; just listen to post-match interviews: whenever they do not win, they complain and blame anybody and anything but themselves. It's pathetic.
    Same with management: come one, they are the best team in the world, and they had to brag about how they got Cesc on a cut-price deal (after their players did everything to unsettle him and leverage negotiations to Barca's advantage). A team like this should have their finances in order so they wouldn't have to play dirty when conducting business.

    January 5, 2012 at 2:02 am | Reply
  29. Thartea

    I really wish to see the Catalans crushing down on other teams again this year's champions Leaque

    January 5, 2012 at 8:48 am | Reply
  30. John S Toure

    hey Pedro, it is absolutely correct that madrid are going to be the LA LIGA champions this year. i felt sorry for you on the coments issue...that is all about journalism. take heart man.....i must commend your tremendous effort towards football journalism via cnn sport. wish you the best in prediction is Leo becoming the th best player on earth for the third consecutive time.

    January 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Reply
  31. James

    Ajax of the 70s

    January 10, 2012 at 12:14 am | Reply
  32. dony

    I really feel afraid when journalists ill-inform people nowadays, are you sure that this Barça team is the ebst all-time? (please be serious) of course players run too much and think less nowadays, but also Garrincha and Di Stefano can get fitter nowadays (and always the most technically gifted win), how you can compare this Barça with the powerful 1958 (Brazil never lost a match with Pele and Garrincha playing together) or with River Plate 1948 (Di Stefano was not part of its starting 11!), are you sure than Messi , Fabregas and Alexis can destroy teams like the Dutch trio of AC Milan 1989-1990 or the likes or Cruyff and Neskens with Alax 1970-1973 or what about Santos 1961-1962 with Pele and Coutinho?, also why people nowadays rather than talk rubbish rent an old football match and face the true for themselves( there are 100’s of football matches available played since 1953!), and everyone can make their own analyse, but please do not believe the silly hype…………

    January 15, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Reply

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