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Tuesday, 18 February 2014


Barcelona's best routs of English opposition

One of the season's most eagerly antipicated clashes takes place on Tuesday as Barcelona travel to Manchester City in the last 16 of the Champions League.

With both sides locked in fierce battles for their league titles and with domestic cup finals to look forward to also, the midweek showdown at the Etihad Stadium could go a long way to showing which of the free-scoring duo can harbour realistic hopes of challenging for continental glory.

Barcelona are no stranger to English opposition and, over the past 50 years, have enjoyed some memorable results - including a 4-0 thrashing of Leeds in 2001 in which former Barca and Netherlands striker Patrick Kluivert, who will be tweeting live on Tuesday's encounter, scored twice.

In honour of one of Kluivert's most famous matches, Goal takes a look at Barcelona's biggest wins against English opposition...

Barcelona 6-0 London XI – Inter Cities Fairs Cup Final 1958

In the early years of European football between 1955-58 a specially created team of London-based club players, named London XI, took part in the Uefa Cup's precursor – the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.

The very first edition painfully took three years to complete and resulted in a two-legged final between London XI and Barcelona. The English representatives, who contained the likes of Tottenham's Danny Blanchflower, Chelsea's Jimmy Greaves and Johnny Haynes of Fulham drew 2-2 in the first leg at Stamford Bridge.

Unfortunately, they were then unceremoniously thumped 6-0 in the return leg at the Nuovo Estadio. Future Inter legend Luis Suarez scored twice, while Brazilian star Evaristo (2), Marti Verges and Eulogio Martinez also got on the scoresheet.

Barcelona 4-0 Leeds – Champions League group stage 2001

Back in the days when Leeds United were carelessly spending huge sums of money in order to compete on the continent, they were to have one memorable European season in 2000-01 where they progressed all the way to the semi-finals of the Champions League.

However, their Group H campaign started disastrously as they were battered 4-0 at Camp Nou. Rivaldo was at his brilliant best to open the scoring and Frank de Boer added a second before two second-half goals from Patrick Kluivert. Despite this memorable start to the campaign, Barca were eliminated, with Leeds squeezing through to the next round behind AC Milan.

Barcelona 5-0 Chelsea – Inter Cities Fairs Cup semi-final 1966

Barcelona certainly enjoyed themselves in Spain against English teams in the 1950s and 60s. In the 1960 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup final they blitzed Birmingham City 4-1 at home, while in the same year they crushed Wolves 9-2 on aggregate in the European Cup quarter-final.

Barcelona's joy continued in the 1966 Inter Cities Fairs Cup semi-final against Chelsea. After both teams had won their respective home legs 2-0, a one-match playoff was required to settle the tie.

Barca won the toss, meaning they would play at home, and Chelsea will likely feel they may as well not have turned up at Camp Nou after shipping five goals without reply. The Catalans, who went on to win the competition, included in their line-up Uruguayan defender Julio Cesar Benitez who died in tragic circumstances at the age of just 27 two years later.

Barcelona 4-1 Arsenal - Champions League quarter-finals 2010

Pep Guardiola's brilliant Barca side put Arsenal to the sword in the second leg of their quarter-final tie four years ago in a game which arguably launched the best years of Lionel Messi's career.

Two goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic had put Barca in control at the Emirates in the first leg before Theo Walcott and a late Cesc Fabregas penalty salvaged a draw. In the return at Camp Nou, Nicklas Bendtner stunned the home crowd to hand his side the lead on aggregate, until Messi - deployed in a central position by Guardiola for the encounter - destroyed the Gunners with a devastating 20-minute salvo.

After lashing a fierce shot past Manuel Almunia, Messi finished a move he started thanks to Pedro's set-up before completing his hat-trick with a delightful chipped finish over the stranded keeper. The Argentine then added a fourth after bursting through the Gunners defence and finishing at the second attempt.

Barca were knocked out in the semi-finals by Jose Mourinho's Inter, but Messi's career as the central spearhead of the team's attack had only just begun.

Barcelona 5-1 Chelsea – Champions League quarter-final 2000

One of the best ties of the 2000-01 Champions League season, and one of the greatest comebacks in recent years. A Gianfranco Zola-inspired Chelsea had raced into a 3-0 lead in the first leg at Stamford Bridge, before they eventually won the game 3-1 to seize control of the tie.

In the second leg at Camp Nou, Barcelona recovered further to go 2-0 up at half-time thanks to Rivaldo's free kick and Luis Figo's rebound. But, on the hour mark, Tore Andre Flo capitalised on goalkeeper Ruud Hesp's error to put Chelsea ahead in the tie again.

The Blues looked set to hold on, but with seven minutes remaining substitute Dani headed home. Two minutes later, Rivaldo missed a penalty so the game went into extra time, where Barca ran riot - a penalty from Rivaldo after Celestine Babayaro's red card and a Kluivert header finished Chelsea off.

Barcelona 4-0 Man Utd – Champions League group stage 1994

The European ban following the Heysel disaster in 1985 had affected English clubs badly, and it would be many years until they truly found their feet again. This was illustrated in 1994 when United, the dominant side in England, were knocked out of the Champions League in the group stages, finishing below IFK Gotenborg and Barcelona. In the two games against the Blaugrana, the difference in class was startling.
United scraped a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford thanks to an impudent backheel by Lee Sharpe after Romario and Jose Maria Bakero had turned around Mark Hughes' opener, but in the return clash at Camp Nou, Johan Cruyff's 'Dream Team' handed their counterparts a footballing lesson with a crushing 4-0 win.

Hristo Stoichkov (2), Romario and Albert Ferrer grabbed the goals in a game which signalled one of Sir Alex Ferguson's worst decisions as manager of United when, due to the three-foreigner rule, he dropped iconic goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel in favour of the hapless Gary Walsh. 


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