Sun 13 February 2022 | 11:30

The Golden Generation of Barcelona

The golden generation teams are expected to perform exquisitely on the pitch, win titles one after another, break records, and write the history. That’s exactly what Barcelona did in the early 2010s. This piece is about the golden generation of Barcelona and how they reached to the top of the world.

The club was founded back in the autumn of 1899 by a group of European football players who were led by Joan Gamper – the Spanish-Swiss football executive. It took 11 years for Blaugrana (Barcelona’s nickname, meaning Blue and Reds) to win their first major trophy on the national level which was a Copa del Rey. And that was just the first of many for one of the most decorated football clubs in the world. Since its foundation, Barca has won 26 La Liga, 31 Copa del Rey, 13 Spanish Supercup, 5 Champions League, and 3 Cub World Cup titles, among many others.

Throughout its history Barcelona has emerged itself not only as the archrivals of Real Madrid in Spanish football but also, as one of the elite clubs in European football. Many of the greatest players of all time has spent some chapters of their career playing at Barcelona. We all know about Lionel Messi but before him, there were players such as Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Ronald Koeman,


, and Johan Cruyff who graced the football pitch in a Barca shirt. With that being said, none of the Barca teams in its history has achieved more than the golden generation of Barcelona which we are going to review it in this very article.

When Was the Golden Generation oAf FC Barcelona?

If you were following football (or sports in general) enough, you would know that the term golden generation is used to describe an era of a particular club’s history that in it they had their best team ever. Oftentimes these golden teams create the most prosperous era of the club as well. In the case of Barcelona, we could call their early 90s team a golden generation which dominated the Spanish football. It was when Johan Cruyff made his return to the club as a manager and won four consecutive league titles in addition to club’s first ever European Cup trophy beating Sampdoria in the final of 1991-92 tournament.

That Cruyff’s team is referred to as the Dream Team with footballers like Michael Laudrup, Romário and Hristo Stoichkov in its suqad. But decades later, a member of the Dream Team - Pep Guardiola, assembled a team that turned out to be one of the best football teams in the history of beautiful game which surpassed the 90s Barca in terms of achievements. So, without any further ado let’s dive into the story of

the golden generation of Barcelona

from 2008 to 2012. 

The Story of the Best Barcelona Team Ever

After Cruyff’s incredible achievements with the club in the early 90s, Barca went on to win another 4 La Liga titles from 1994 to 2008. In the same time span, they managed to lift a couple of Copa del Ray trophies as well. One could argue that the most successful coach in the post-Cruyff era was another Dutch coach named Frank Rijkaard who got appointed as the head coach of Barcelona in 2003. The arrival of Rijkaard was the start of a new era at the club.

Altough the former


and Milan player was not the only big change at the Barcelona in 2003: Due to the poor performance of the previous club president Joan Gaspart, the young Joan Laporta – who is now experiencing his second spell at the club, got elected for the role and that made Barca fans excited for the club’s future. It didn’t take long for Frank Rijkaard to build his team around world class players like Ronaldinho, Puyol, Deco, and Eto’o. In addition to two back-to-back La Liga titles, a huge triumph in the Champions League was the pinnacle of the Dutchman’s spell at Barca’s coaching position.

But that European championship which was Barcelona’s second European Cup/UCL title, was followed by an unexpected decline in Rijkaard’s team as they failed to win any silverwares in the following two seasons. In the May of 2008, Frank Rijkaard’s job was at the mercy and losing the El Clasico 4-1 to Real Madrid was the last straw which made Barcelona board to replace Rijkaard with then-

Barcelona B

coach Pep Guardiola. He led Barcelona in the two remaining matches of the season and then immediately started his process to build the golden generation of Barcelona.

Even from those two first matches at the charge of the club, the former Johan Cruyff’ apprentice showed that he was just built different. Guardiola not only transformed things on the pitch, but he also used a more disciplined approach in regards to the atmosphere of the team in the training sessions and dressing room. On his first summer transfer window, Guardiola overhauled the squad by offloading some big names such as Ronaldinho, Deco, Zumbrota, and Edmilson and replacing them with Dani Alves, Seydou Keita, Alexander Hleb, and Gerard Pique. He also introduced some La Masia talents such as Sergio Bosquets, Pedro, and Jeffrén.

The Treble Season

After succeeding Rijkaard in the last days of the 2007-08 season, the 2008-09 was Guardiola’s first full season at the charge of Barcelona. The La Liga campaign started with a defeat to newly promoted


. But that was their only loss in the first half of the season as Barca went on to accumulate 61 out of 69 possible points until the 23rd round of the league. Barcelona under Guardiola was playing one of the most fascinating footballs around the world. Pep introduced a new playing style named


which insisted on playing short passes and keeping the possession of the ball as much as possible.

The build-up play took a relatively longer time in tiki-taka but still, it could lead to creating so many goal scoring opportunities during the 90 minutes. At the end of the season Barcelona win the league with 87 points and scoring 105 goals in 38 matches. The highlight of the league campaign was the crushing win against Real Madrid at

Santiago Bernabéu

with a 6-2 scoreline. It was also the first season that Lionel Messi surpassed 20 league goals in a single season as he bagged 23 goals and provided 16 assists. The golden generation of Barcelona completed the domestic double by beating Athletic Bilbao in the final of Copa del Rey with 4 goals to 1. 

On the European front, the

best Barcelona team

had to start from the qualifying play-off round where they beat the Polish side Wisła Kraków. In the group C of 2008-09 UCL, Barca topped the group and faced Lyon in the round of 16. Lyon got eliminated with a 6-3 loss in aggregate and Barca had Bayern Munich on their plate for the quarter-finals. A humiliating 4-0 win at Camp Nou was enough for Guardiola’s team to see themselves in the semi-finals against the last season’s runner-up Chelsea. The first leg match at Barcelona ended in a goalless draw and at the second leg, Chelsea got ahead with an early Essien goal.

But on the last seconds of the match, Andres Iniesta scored a screamer which meant Barca is winning the tie thanks to the away goals rule. The final match in Rome was the battle of the reigning champions Manchester United and Barcelona which was on the verge of completing the first treble win by a Spanish club in history. Samuel Eto’o scored the opener after 10 minutes and Lionel Messi sealed the win by a rare header goal in the 70th minute. So, Pep Guardiola had the perfect start in his debut season and he was turning to one of the Barcelona legends for the fans.

Six Titles in a Year

Barcelona was becoming an unplayable team under Josep Guardiola Sala as know as Pep Guardiola. No matter who was the opponent, they could dominate every single match throughout the season. The golden generation of Barcelona break so many records during its time and one of the most remarkable ones, was winning six trophies in a single calendar year. It started by winning the treble in the 2008-09 season. Since the European club competitions comes to an end during the spring, Barcelona lifted up the La Liga, Copa del Rey, and Champions League trophies all in the May of 2009.

Supercup tournaments are quite enjoyable matches at the beginning of every football season and Barcelona had two of them in the August of 2009. The first one was the Spanish Supercup against Athletic Bilbao which Barca won 5-1 comfortably. The second one was the UEFA Supercup against Europa League champions

Shakhtar Donetsk

. The Ukrainian side put on a good fight and Barca only won the match by Pedro’s goal in the 115th minute. In the last days of the calendar year, Barca traveled to UAE to compete in the FIFA Club World Cup. In the final, they beat the Argentinian club Estudiantes 2-1 with Messi scoring the winner at the extra time. 

That was the sixth trophy that Barcelona lifted up in the calendar year of 2009. No other club in the history of football had managed to do so before the golden generation of Barcelona. Since then, only Bayern Munich replicated the achievement in 2020 with Hansi Flick at charge of the club. The 2009-10 season went well for Barcelona and they set another record by winning their second consecutive La Liga title with 99 points which was the highest number of points in a single La Liga season in history. Getting knocked-out of the Copa del Rey by


and losing to Jose Mourinho’s Inter in the semi-finals of UCL prevented the best Barca team to win another treble in that season.

Second UCL Title

It seemed that

the golden generation of Barcelona

was at the peak of it on its third season playing under Pep Guardiola. Once again Barcelona started the season at the front foot as they only dropped points in two La Liga  games up until the Christmas break. An iconic 5-0 win against Real Madrid at Camp Nou was the cherry on the cake for Barca fans. Barca kept on the good form for the rest of the season and won its third straight La Liga title losing only two games in the league campaign.

Their European run started from Group D where they finished at top and faced Arsenal in the first knock-out round. A close 4-3 aggregate win sent them to quarter-finals and Barca had an easier job against Shakhtar as they hammered their way to semi-finals to face Real Madrid. An El Clasico in the semi-finals of UCL was what all football fans wanted to see. With Messi’s brilliant performance at Madrid in the first leg, Barca won the tie 3-1 and headed to the final of the tournament where Manchester United was waiting for them to seek their revenge. 

The final venue was the Wembley Stadium in London but this time Barca couldn’t aim for a treble as they lost the Copa del Rey final earlier to Real Madrid. Nonetheless the biggest club football match of the year kicked off and Barca was the superior side from the beginning. Although the first half ended 1-1, Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United was almost outplayed by Barca’s tiki-taka style and two goals from Messi and David Villa put Barca ahead by a two-goal margin. The match ended 3-1 and Barcelona fans celebrated their fourth European Cup/UCL title in history thanks to their superb golden generation.

Key Players of Barcelona Golden Generation (2008-2012)

If you take a look at Barcelona all time XI, you will notice that the majority of players are Barca’s homegrown talents that graduated from club’s famous academy, La Masia. As one of the best football academies in the world, La Masia was the main source that provided both Pep Guardiola and Spain national team with world class players. Add to that the successful purchases like Seydou Keita,

David Villa

, Javier Mascherano, and Thierry Henry who completed the best Barcelona team. All things considered; these are our picks of the most important players in the golden era of Barcelona from 2008 to 2012. 

Lionel Messi

Picking a peak time for Lionel Messi’s career is almost impossible as he is one of the most consistent players in the history of the game and you could barely find him underperforming for a long period of time throughout his career. With that being said, Lionel Messi had so many impressive games in Guardiola’s team and watching him play in that team was a pure joy for everyone who loves football. Messi made his debut for Barcelona three years prior to Guardiola’s arrival but it was in Pep’s team that Messi turned to the best player in the world and one of the

Barcelona legends

in the span of four years.

Messi played 222 games for Barcelona under Guardiola and had 338 goal contributions in those games including 211 goals and 127 assists. In Guardiola’s last season at the club, Barca lost the UCL and La Liga titles but Lionel Messi had an unbelievable season with scoring 72 goals and providing 48 assists in 62 games in all competitions. He also won four of his seven Ballon d'Or titles from 2009 to 2012 and that should give you the idea of how crucial his role was in the golden generation of Barcelona.

Carles Puyol

Another La Masia product who played his first match for Barcelona senior team in 1999 and stayed at the club for the next 15 years until he hanged up his boots in 2014. Carles Puyol was the charismatic leader of Barcelona’s squad in those prosperous years. Due to his impressive leadership skills, he is often regarded as one of the best captains in the history of football. Puyol’s main position was the Centre-back but he could also perform on both sides full-back positions as well.

Despite suffering from injuries from time to time, he was still among the greatest defenders of his generation and had an undeniable role in Barcelona’s successes from 2008 to 2012. At the meantime, Puyol was an important asset in


’s national team which was also going through its most prosperous era winning two EURO titles and its only World Cup. Speaking of, Carles Puyol scored the match-winning goal in the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup showdown against Germany that led his team to the final of the tournament. 

Dani Alves

As mentioned above, Barcelona had some smart moves in the transfer market that helped them to compete at the highest level – something that the club is missing in the recent years. One of those was the signing of Daniel Alves da Silva aka Dani Alves from Sevilla. A €32.5m transfer that made the Brazilian right back the third-most expensive defender back then. But Dani Alves showed that he worth every penny of that and it’s safe to suggest that he was the

best player in his position

for a long period of time.  

Even before joining Barcelona, Alves had a successful career at Sevilla and helped them to win two UEFA Cups and a Copa del Rey titles. But then looking at his career at Barca, Dani Alves is most certainly among

Barcelona all time XI

. He joined the club in 2008 and on his debut season, Barca won its famous treble. Alves carried on wearing Barcelona colors until 2016 and during this time he won 26 titles with the club. Since he was playing at the same side as Messi's, they had a telepathic link-up play between them and many recall Alves as Messi’s best partner during his career.


In Guardiola’s tiki-taka style of play, having highly intelligent midfielders is a crucial part of the squad. Xavier Hernández Creus known as Xavi was one of those midfielders who had an incredibly talent in reading the game. He graduated from La Masia in 1998 and made his debut for the club when he was 18 years old. During his time at Barca Xavi worked with so many world class managers but it was with Guardiola that he reached to the his full potential and cemented his place as one of the Barcelona legends.

Xavi scored 36 goals and assisted 82 in 208 games under Guardiola but goals and assists was just a part of his influence on the team. As a central midfielder, Xavi was the core of Barca’s possession-based game and he controlled the rhythm of the game with his short passes. He was also a capable leader at the middle of the pitch and was club’s vice-captain during that era. The current manager of Barcelona, is the club’s second-most capped player with 767 games in Blaugrana colors – only 12 shy of Messi 778 games. 

Andrés Iniesta

Since he was four years younger than Xavi, Andrés Iniesta stayed at the club after Xavi left in 2015 and that helped Iniesta to amass more gold medals compared to his partner in the middle of the pitch. The creative attacking midfilder won 30 titles with Barcelona which made him the most decorated Spanish football player in history. He was known for scoring crucial and decisive goals and that made him a fan favorite both for the club and country - since he scored the sole goal of 2010 World Cup final against Netherlands at the extra time.

 As you would guess, he spent his youth career in La Masia and got promoted to the first team in 2002 as an 18-year-old talented player. It didn’t take him long to see himself as a regular started in Barcelona’s lineup. When Guardiola took charge in 2008, Andrés Iniesta was already a key player in the team. Alongside Xavi and Sergio Bosquets, Iniesta was the third man of


midfield in

the golden generation of Barcelona

which played in a 4-3-3 formation.

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source: SportMob

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