Celtic's heroic victory over Barcelona at Parkhead has resurfaced the question of how the Hoops would get on in English football, but it also reignites a similar debate about the team they defeated. After struggling again in the UK, would Barcelona really dominate if they competed in the Premier League? The answer is hypothetical, of course, but their record against English and Scottish opposition might be able to help us reach a conclusion. talkSPORT has more...
Barcelona's record v English clubs on English soil
Barcelona's record v Scottish clubs on Scottish soil
Barcelona's historic record against English and Scottish clubs away from home is poor
The style that has become synonymous with Barcelona was only really perfected with the arrival of Johan Cruyff as manager in the late 1980s. Prior to those days, however, the club could still call on talent like Cruyff himself as a player, Luis Suarez (the great Spaniard, not the Liverpool player), Laszlo Kubala as well as Diego Maradona, but their record on English and Scottish soil was terrible. Back in 1960, Wolves received a thumping against a strong Barca side in a 2-5 home defeat, but that was a rare highlight for the Catalans, with losses to Birmingham City and Sheffield Wednesday either side of that victory, while Hibs and Dundee United also beat Barca in the 1960s. Fast forward to the 1970s, in the days of Cruyff as a player, and Leeds defeated the Blaugrana in a famous 2-1 victory (see the video below). A year later, Liverpool held the Catalans to a 1-1 draw at Anfield, having won 1-0 in the Nou Camp, and by 1978 Barca had been turned over by Aston Villa (2-1) and Ipswich Town (3-0) on English soil. Ipswich beat Barca at Portman Road again in the first leg of the 1979 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup quarter-final, winning 2-1, and in the 1980s, Nottingham Forest, Manchester United and Aston Villa all defeated Barca in England, while Dundee United beat them home and away in 1987.
Leeds beat Cruyff's Barcelona in 1975
Barcelona's record v English and Scottish clubs in the UK pre-1992
Barcelona's record on British soil in the modern era is far from scary
Barcelona's football only truly entered its current incarnation after the arrival of Cruyff as coach, but they could still only manage a 2-2 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford during the 1994 Champions League group stage and have yet to win in Manchester, drawing 3-3 in 1998 and losing 1-0 in 2008. Barcelona grabbed their first win in 39 years against English opposition away from home when they beat Arsenal 4-2 at Wembley in 1999, but have failed to beat the Gunners at the Emirates, drawing 2-2 in 2010 and losing 2-1 in 2011. Liverpool beat Barcelona 1-0 at Anfield to advance to the UEFA Cup final in 2001, although Barca gained some revenge when they won a Champions League group stage game on Merseyside 3-1 later the same year. They grabbed another win at Anfield in 2007, winning 1-0 despite being outplayed by the Reds, but went out on away goals having lost 2-1 at the Nou Camp. Newcastle beat Barca 3-2 in a 1997 thriller at St James's Park, losing 2-0 when they met there again in 2003. Barcelona have played Chelsea six times at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League era, winning just one, losing four and controversially salvaging a last gasp draw in 2009.
Against Scottish opposition in the modern era, Barca's record north of the border isn't particularly fearsome considering the supposed gulf in class between La Liga and the SPL. They have beaten Celtic twice at Parkhead, losing to the same opposition twice and drawing once with Rangers at Ibrox.
Arsenal beat Barca in 2011
Barcelona's record v English and Scottish clubs on UK soil post-1992
Won: 8 (including the 2011 Champions League final at Wembley)
The Wembley factor
There's one big caveat to the above results, however, because when it came to a one-legged tie on English soil against English opposition, Barca comfortably came out on top. A 3-1 victory and dominant performance against Manchester United at Wembley in 2011 suggested there was little home advantage to be found for the Red Devils. Barcelona do like a trip to Wembley, having won their first European Cup there in 1992 (against Italians Sampdoria) and beaten Arsenal 4-2 underneath the old twin towers in 1999, when the Gunners played their group games at the stadium.
The financial difference
While Barcelona and Real Madrid receive the lions share of television money from the Spanish league, the Catalans would likely make even more cash if they joined the Premier League, a 'product' far better marketed than La Liga. For example, after a Champions League victory in 2010/11 over United, the Red Devils actually ended up taking more money home from the competition (€53.2m) compared to Barcelona (€51.0) due to the English television market being bigger and more profitable than that in Spain. Should Barcelona be allowed to join the bigger English market, in a far better organised and advertised league, then it's tempting to suggest that the Catalans could have even more wealth at their disposal to try and dispatch their English rivals. That would certainly avoid situations like their limited summer finances in 2012, where the Blaugrana were forced to admit defeat in their quest to sign Thiago Silva and Javi Martinez, instead settling for Alex Song. More money would logically lead to better signings, which in turn would give Barca a better squad for competing in the Premier League.
Historically, Barcelona struggle to defeat English and Scottish opponents away from the Nou Camp and, even after the initiation of their golden era under Johan Cruyff, that trend has more or less continued. Results have certainly improved on English and Scottish soil in recent times, but not to the extent that suggests Barca would run away with the Premier League.
Would Barcelona win the Premier League? Comment below and have your say...