Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, Ronaldinho — those might be the names that spring to mind when you think Barcelona. But Barcelona have also hosted its fair share of some of the best defensive players in the world.
Here’s our list of the Blaugrana’s top defenders of all-time.
10. Miguel Bernardo Bianquetti
Nicknamed “Tarzan” for his immense physique and style of play, center back Migueli played a whopping 549 matches for the Blaugrana — second only to Xavi. He helped the side win two La Liga, four Copa del Rey, and two European Cup Winners’ Cups, most notably the 1978–79 European Cup Winners’ Cup where he played on with a broken collarbone.
9. Michael Reiziger
The defender Michael Reiziger appeared in 249 games for the Blaugrana, becoming the most capped Dutchman to play for the Catalan side. Over a seven-year career, he helped the team win two La Liga titles, a Copa del Rey, and a UEFA Super Cup.
8. Marc-André ter Stegen
Known for making critical saves, the German international has excellent ball control and can also operate as a sweeper-keeper like compatriot Manuel Neuer. Now in his fifth season with Barcelona with four league titles, four Copa del Rey, and a Champions League trophy, ter Stegen is quickly becoming one of the best goalies in the world.
7. Rafael Marquez
A dependable and skillful defender, Rafael Marquez played over seven years (242 matches) at Barcelona. He won four league titles and two Champions League trophies and played a key role in Blaugrana’s historic treble-winning 2008-09 season.
6. Jordi Alba
A quick attacking left-back, Jordi Alba has become a linchpin of the Barcelona defense. A five-time La Liga winner, four-time Copa del Rey champion, the Spaniard also helped the club achieve the treble during the 2014-15 season.
5. Ronald Koeman
Signed in 1989 to play a part of Cruyff’s “Dream Team,” the defender scored an incredible 102 goals in his six seasons at Barca, most notably the set-piece goal that won the team’s first European Cup in 1992. The Dutchman with a powerful right boot is also a 5-time Spanish Champion, a 3 time Spanish Super Cup winner, and 1 time Spanish Cup winner. He still holds the La Liga record for 25 consecutive penalties scored.
4. Gerard Pique
A student of La Masia, he transferred to Manchester United in 2004 before coming back home on a €5m fee to play for Barcelona in 2008. Not known for his pace, Gerard Piqué nonetheless morphed into one of Barcelona’s most versatile defenders given his dependability in the air and sharp passing abilities. In his 456 caps in his nine years with the squad, he’s won the Treble of Champions League, Spanish Cup, and La Liga twice.
3. Eric Abidal
A tactical defender with strong physical play and good pace, Eric Abidal helped guide Barcelona to two Champions Leagues, four league titles, and two Spanish Cups. In 2011, the team united around Abidal who faced health issues related to a tumor in his liver. After a successful transplant, he returned to the squad in January 2013 before moving back to Monaco.
2. Dani Alves
The Brazilian right-back Dani Alves signed to Barcelona from Sevilla for a €35m fee in 2008. In a trophy haul, Alves won 24 different trophies in his 8 years at Nou Camp including the treble in his first season.
Recognized for his technical skills and pace, he’d add to his trophy collection a total of 3 Champions League titles, 6 League titles, 4 Spanish Cups, 5 Spanish Super Cups, and 4 UEFA Supercups.
1. Carles Puyol
An indomitable on-field leader, Carles Puyol captained the Barca side for a decade, winning six La Liga titles and three Champions League trophies. Not the flashiest player on the squad, he was the most committed and his winning attitude was contagious.