Barcelona’s all-star team, which featured the likes of Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta would have lost at the hands of Stoke City under the management of Tony Pulis. That’s according to former England striker Peter Crouch, who believes the Potters were the only team who could have beaten the Catalan giants at the time.
Peter Crouch joined Stoke City from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2011 and was influential as the Potters dealt nightmares to many top-rated clubs in the Premier League. The Englishman has made a bold claim that the team assembled by Tony Pulis could have given Barcelona a run for their money.
Peter Crouch told BT Sport:
“At that time, we were the only team who could have beaten Barcelona. Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta came to Britannia at that time, I reckon we could have turned them over because we made it horrendous for teams.”
The Englishman went on to reflect on his time at Stoke City, claiming that Tony Pulis’s side was one of the best dressing rooms he was part of. Crouch continued:
“I bought into it [Stoke’s style] straight away. When I arrived there, there were lots of players playing above themselves. But the attitude, the camaraderie and the group that he’d [Tony Pulis] built, it was amazing. It was one of the best dressing rooms I’d ever been part of.”
“You just knew that you were going into battle every day and you were going to get a result because of the work rate, the attitude, the endeavor, the dedication – it was a great dressing room.”
Crouch also recalled the time Stoke City trained in the middle of the pitch prior to playing Arsenal just to make things difficult for the Gunners. The Englishman remembered:
“Arsenal was our home banker, we made things difficult. I remember we trained in the middle of the pitch before we played Arsenal, just to cut it all up and they couldn’t play. The grass had grown longer, I remember looking at Aaron Ramsey and he couldn’t see his boot. He was like, ‘Crouchy?’ and I went, ‘This is what we do.’”
Peak Lionel Messi and Barcelona were on another level
Although Stoke succeeded in intimidating many big clubs in the Premier League under Tony Pulis, playing against Barcelona in that period was a different challenge altogether. The Catalan giants were in an exclusive class in world football, outclassing every opponent they came across with their tiki-taka style.
Messi was unstoppable in front of goal while the midfield trio of Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Sergio Busquets turned football into art. The team also featured other world-class players like Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Dani Alves and David Villa and were led by the tactical genius of Pep Guardiola