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Who’s the best? Liverpool 1987-88 v Barca 2010-11

Date: 11th March 2011 at 3:00 pm
Written by: | Comments (8)

There was a poll on Liverpoolfc.tv yesterday, regarding what is considered the greatest side recent memory – – and whether or not they are better than what is considered ’s greatest ever side: the ‘87-’88 side.  This is a tough one, as they played quite different styles of football and for the most part, that side was never really tested against European opposition.  But as it is, that side tended to sweep all before them and it is likely the club would now be sitting on another 3 or 4 European Cups had that side been competing in Europe.

Given that there is over 20 years between the two sides and that football (and you could say, footballs, literally) has changed immensely since the late 80’s, there is only one option available to decide this fairly and that is comparing the first 11’s of both sides.  Also, for the sake of argument, I’m going use Barca’s preferred formation of 4-3-3.

GK - For me, and I imagine, most fans outside of Liverpool, this one should be relatively easy.  Let’s be honest now, Victor Valdes is Spain’s 3rd choice, whilst Bruce Grobbelaar was the best goalkeeper around in his day.  Sure, he made the odd clanger (very rarely) but as an on-field personality, he was peerless and is still considered Liverpool’s greatest ‘keeper by many Liverpool fans.  Liverpool 1:0 Barcelona

LB – For the sake of argument, Steve Nicol will be Liverpool’s left-back, as we’re looking at ‘best 11’s’, so to fit all of the Red’s best players in, we’re going to have to move one or two players around.  So if Steve Nicol was to come head-to-head with Eric Abidal, what would the outcome be?  Well, I think it’s fair to say that the Frenchman would lose.  Nicol was a rampaging type of player; typically Scottish in that he was very aggressive in his style of football.  This amounted to one hell of an attacking full-back, contributing assists and goals with regularity.  Compare this with Abidal who, in almost 100 games for Barcelona, has yet to score.  Liverpool 2:0 Barcelona

CD - Looking at the two pairs of centre backs head to head is a relatively tough one; Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson vs. Gerard Pique and Carlos Puyol.  All four are incredibly good defenders but only three could be considered great footballers, and unfortunately Carlos Puyol isn’t one of those.  A great defender and a hard, tough player he may be but as genuine footballing talent goes, he leaves a lot to be desired.  Purely in defensive terms, Liverpool again have the edge in that Hansen and Lawrenson have greater height and both played in a very competitive and hard league.  Whereas both Puyol and Pique are rarely (let’s be honest, are they ever?) tested.  If Puyol or Pique were to come up against some of the strikers around in the 1st Division in the late 80’s, they may not have faired as well.  But then, the little they have to do defensively is largely down to how good the players in front of them are, as we will see.  Liverpool 4:0 Barcelona

RB - As a first team regular during the 1987-88 season, Gary Gillespie is up against Dani Alves for the right back position.  I think we can all agree that this is a pretty one-sided affair as well; as good as Gillespie was a times for Liverpool he is not really in the same league as Alves as a full-back.  Given that Liverpool didn’t have an outstanding right back during that season, it is perhaps a bit of an unfair battle but as an out-and-out attacking full-back, offering goals, assists and basically for spending 90% of his time in the oppositions’ half, Alves wins this one.  Liverpool 4:1 Barcelona

LCM - At left midfield Liverpool were probably at their strongest; two words: John Barnes.  If Barnes had been appreciated as much in the 80’s and 90’s as he should’ve been (and, again, if Liverpool had been competing abroad) Barnes would probably have won more individual awards too.  However, up against Iniesta, it’s a tough one.  They’re both quite different players, so it is only fair to judge them both on their impact on their current teams.  For Barnes, he was very much the key cog in Liverpool’s team; he was the outlet, the flair player, the man the Reds often looked to turn tight games.  He contributed well over 100 goals in his Liverpool career from the left side and probably twice as many assists.  As for Iniesta, he is a slightly more understated player.  Not scoring as many goals as Barnes or chipping in with as many assists.  For Barca, Andres is very much a big-game player; if there’s a Champions League final to be won, he is usually queuing up to lay on the winning goal or make the match-winning pass.  But then, so was Barnes.  So the only fair way to decide is to take into consideration their overall effects on both sides throughout a season and here Barnes is the hands down winner, often scoring 20+ goals a season from midfield and setting almost as many up in the process.  Liverpool 5:1 Barcelona

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8 thoughts on “Who’s the best? Liverpool 1987-88 v Barca 2010-11

  • steve mcauley
    3 years ago

    i have been a liverpool fan for over 40yrs and i agree that was our best ever team but, if i’m truly honest, i don’t think even that team could live with today’s barca! quite simply the best i have ever seen and, in messi, they have the best player i have ever seen!

    Reply
  • scott
    3 years ago

    Great read and a great debate but if the 88 side of liverpool played in europe maybe they would have got the recognision they only ever seem tog et off Liverpool fans. Reading articles of the greatest club side ever it mentions madrid 50-55 the great benfica, byern munich sides, they busby babes but when it comes to liverpool they seem to mention out 77/78 side but never any mention of what was realy our greatest ever side “Kenny’s boys of 88′ there’s never been a side so great”

    Reply
  • Kenny
    3 years ago

    Barcelona are totally overrated, they are playing in a two team league each season. What did Messi do in the world cup-answer nothing. Inter Milan stopped them easily last season. If Van Persie had not been sent off even Arsenal were on course to go through.

    Reply
  • Navin
    3 years ago

    I’m a Liverpool fan but I have to say this is a ridiculous article. Even the suggested formation is biased to suit Liverpool’s so called 87-88 great, even when Molby – especially Dalglish – hardly played in the starting 11 that season. I mean I love Liverpool but we should be big enough to acknowledge that this current Barca team may well be the best team in the history of the game.

    Reply
    • Ste
      1 year ago

      That team was the best ever in my opinion – it’s certainly not a ridiculous argument, so no offence but you shouldn’t disregard that team. Remember, we won the European Cup 4 times in 7 years just previous to that, so it’s realistic to say that we were already the greatest in the world. That was a truely powerful team that came before !The 87/88 team that followed was flamboyent and fantastic – Barcelona are brilliant, but Our team was too ! More recent events make it harder to believe, but we didn’t win all those cups for nothing.

      Reply
    • Ste
      1 year ago

      The team he says is a little bit wrong if u ask me – Beardsley was more up front, houghton, spackman, johnston, Ablett (R.I.P) and venison all played plenty of games – Molby only played 7 league games, Dalglish 2 – but the outcome is close either way – it was a toss up between Beardsley and Barnes over who was the best player in the world – Aldridge was the most prolific finisher on the planet cos Rush suffered at Juventus – we had some team – class and probably stronger physically than Barcelona you know – The Greatest !

      Reply
  • 80 s Fan
    3 years ago

    I agrre it was Liverpools greatest team adn we would have won more European Cups and had great battles with Milan who were the other great team at the time.

    Hoverer, Nicol should be righ back where he played and Whelan who was better then big Jan held the CMF with MacMahon, Molby was brilliant but look at th records it was RW/SM in central midfiled for majority of 1985-1990

    Reply
  • Ste
    1 year ago

    4 times in 8 seasons like

    Reply

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