Without a hint of doubt, anyone can claim that Barcelona are the best team of this century. They have dominated domestic and European competitions, they have built amazing squads, they had and still have some of the best players in the world and they have numerous trophies to show for it.During this period of immense success, the Catalans have often had a trio perform outstandingly for them. For example, their current attacking trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar – often abbreviated as MSN, is ripping the opposition defense apart with their individual and collective talent.Barcelona have had such famous trios even before the advent of the 21st century and one of the most notable ones from the bygone era is from the club’s dream team during Johan Cryuff’s reign as manager.Romario, Michael Laudrup and Hristo Stoichkov formed a mesmerising attacking trio and they would lead the club to its first ever Champions League title. In recent years, Barcelona have had many such wonderful trios in their colours and here is a look at some of the best ones.
#1 Ronaldinho, Etoo and Messi
Lionel Messi was slowly integrated into the Barcelona first team by Frank Rijkaard, but he wasn’t a regular starter up until the end of the 2005/06 season. From the 2006/07 season onwards he got more first-team action as he replaced Ludovic Giuly in the right wing.
In the opposite wing was Barcelona’s talisman of that period – Ronaldinho, and Samuel Eto’o continued to be Rijkaard’s preferred man to lead this attacking line.
The trio didn’t play together for a long period due to an injury which sidelined Eto’o for about five months and several minor injuries to Messi as well, but when they did play together, they were on song.
However, the relevance of this trio ended with the season as Thierry Henry would join the Catalans in the summer, thus leading to a shuffle in Barcelona’s attacking department.
Ronaldinho was the pick of the players from this group as he racked up 24 goals and 14 assists in that season. Messi who now held a bigger role in the squad contributed very effectively with 17 goals and 2 assists from just 36 appearances. Eto’o, who missed a huge chunk of the season, still managed to score 13 goals and provided 11 assists.
This trio performed reasonably well for Barcelona in the short period they played together, but couldn’t lead the club to any major trophies as they lost the league title to Real Madrid on goal difference and crashed out of the Copa del Rey.
More importantly they lost to a resilient Liverpool side in the Champions League in the Round of 16 and Messi, Ronaldinho and Eto’o failed to score in both legs.
Rating: 6/10 - This trio was short-lived and didn’t win any major honours.