Where are they now? Barcelona's 2006/07 underachievers

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FPL360
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In the 2005/06 season, FC Barcelona rose to the summit of European football once more.

The Blaugrana won La Liga, the Champions League and the Supercopa de Espana, only missing out on a clean sweep by falling at the quarter-final stage of the Copa del Rey. Expectations were high for the powerhouses to turn this sensational year into a dynasty.

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Unfortunately, that was not the case. Barça followed up that incredible campaign with a bit of a stinker, losing the Spanish throne to Real Madrid, getting knocked out of the Champions League at the round of 16 by Liverpool, and somehow losing 6-5 on aggregate (including a 4-0 second leg hammering) to Getafe in the Copa del Rey semi-final. Yikes.

Still, Frank Rijkaard’s men won the Supercopa de Espana and the Copa Catalunya, so… yay?

Anyway, it was a season of huge underachievement for the Catalan giants, especially given the array of superstars and major talent across the squad. But where are these 2007 failures now?

Victor Valdes

Victor Valdes
Victor Valdes with hair | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

The last line of defence for Barcelona, Victor Valdes was one of the best goalkeepers of his generation. He left Camp Nou in 2014, spent a season at Manchester United and later joined Middlesbrough.

The shot-stopper began coaching and took charge of Barça’s youth team in July 2019. Unfortunately, he was then sacked in October of the same year. He is now back in the management game though, leading lowly UA Horta.

Albert Jorquera

Jorquera
The man between the stick for the Getafe collapse | Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Very much the backup to Valdes, Albert Jorquera featured extremely infrequently for the Blaugrana. He retired from football at the age of 31, and having gained a degree in gemmology from the University of Barcelona, he moved into the family jewellery business. As you do.

Gianluca Zambrotta

Gianluca Zambrotta
Zambrotta on the ball | China Photos/Getty Images

It was a solid debut season for Gianluca Zambrotta, who featured 29 times in the league that year. Since retiring, the Italian has been named honorary president of football club Como, opened a fitness centre in the same city, and won a gameshow called Monte Bianco – Sfida verticale.

He also briefly dabbled in the world of management in China.

Rafael Marquez

Barcelona's Mexican Rafael Marquez celeb
A club legend | CESAR RANGEL/Getty Images

Rafael Marquez was Barça’s most capped non-European representative during his time at Camp Nou, but he left in 2010 to play in the United States, Mexico and Italy. He was Atlas’ sporting president until May 2019, and is now coaching the Alcala youth team.

Carles Puyol

Carles Puyol
Another hero of Camp Nou | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Carles Puyol was the heartbeat of this Barcelona side and an ultimate professional. He retired as a one-club man in 2014, but shocked many by rejecting the chance to become their sporting director in 2019. Still a legend, though.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst

Giovanni Van Bronckhorst
Hands up | Stu Forster/Getty Images

The 2006/07 campaign would prove to be Giovanni Van Bronckhort’s last in the red and blue of Barça, after four years of excellent service. He retired in 2010, became the assistant coach of Feyenoord in 2011, and then took the top job in 2015.

His stint as head coach lasted four years, leaving in 2019. He then became the manager of Chinese Super League side Guangzhou City, but he resigned less than a year later.

Juliano Belletti

Barcelona's Brazilian defender Juliano B
One of the real Champions League heroes | LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

Scorer of the winning goal in the 2006 Champions League final, Juliano Belletti was destined to leave Barça in the summer of 2007. He spent three years at Chelsea, before retiring in 2011. In February 2021 he became part of the coaching staff at Cruzeiro.

Lilian Thuram

Barcelona's Lilian Thuram of France (L)
Thuram in action for Barça | CESAR RANGEL/Getty Images

Lilian Thuram arrived from Juventus in 2006 and spent the next two seasons at Camp Nou. Unfortunately, he was forced to retire in 2008 having been diagnosed with a serious heart condition, one which had caused the death of his brother.

Hopefully he’s taking it easy now, enjoying his retirement.

Oleguer Presas

Oleguer
Oleguer strutting his stuff | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Oleguer Presas was a solid defender and made 175 appearances for the Blaugrana. Outside of football, he was equally as bright, majoring in economics and writing a political and thought-provoking book called Camí d’Itaca (The Road to Ithaca).

Sylvinho

Last but not least, Sylvinho
Last but not least, Sylvinho | Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Sylvinho left Barça in 2009, spending one season at Manchester City before hanging up his boots. He bounced around as an assistant coach at Cruzeiro, Inter and the Brazil national team, before being appointed Lyon boss in May 2019. He was sacked in October of the same year.

Xavi Hernandez

Xavi Hernandez
Barcelona’s metronome | Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

Back to the ultimate legends. Xavi Hernandez ended his 24-year association with Barcelona in 2015, moving to Qatar to play for Al Sadd. He spent four years as a player, and then became their coach in 2019. Many are expecting a return to Camp Nou’s dugout in the near future…

Andres Iniesta

Andres Iniesta
The artist | Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

Another of Barcelona’s greatest ever products, Andres Iniesta was still in Catalonia as recently as 2018. He did eventually make an emotional exit however, moving to Japan to sign for Vissel Kobe where he is still strutting his silky stuff.

Deco

Deco
Deco the gem | Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Deco left Barça in 2008, moving to Chelsea to ball out in the Premier League. He finished his career at Fluminense, retiring in 2013. He is an extremely charitable man, and even founded ‘The Deco Institute’ near Sao Paulo.

Thiago Motta

Thiago Motta
A top midfielder | MN Chan/Getty Images

Thiago Motta became a not-so-revolutionary coach after his playing career, believing he had invented the 2-7-2 formation, including the goalkeeper as one of the outfield players. His ideas bagged him the role of Genoa coach in October 2019. He was sacked in December 2019.

Edmilson

Edmilson
Those flowing locks in action | Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Edmilson left Barcelona in 2008 and retired from football altogether three years later. The Brazilian didn’t turn his hand to management after leaving the game behind however, even if his experience would be invaluable.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi
The baby goat | Bagu Blanco/Getty Images

Who? Unfortunately, we never did hear anything of this ‘Lionel Messi’ fella ever again. Other than six Ballon d’Or awards, ten La Liga titles and four Champions League successes. He’s still a Barcelona player – for now, at least.

Ronaldinho

Ronaldinho
A genius on the pitch | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

The man who taught Messi the ropes – the appropriate ones, anyway. Ronaldinho’s Barcelona career was approaching its end at this point, but he still went on to achieve great things with Milan, Flamengo and Atletico Mineiro.

He achieved not-so-great things when he was imprisoned in Paraguay for entering the country with a fake passport. He’s been released now, having won a futsal tournament behind bars – those two points are not directly related, by the way.

Javier Saviola

Saviola
There were a lot of these poses | Denis Doyle/Getty Images

The 2006/07 campaign would prove to be Javier Saviola’s last in the red and blue, before making the unforgivable switch to the white jersey of Madrid. In fairness, Barça definitely got the last laugh from that deal. He’s now the assistant manager at Andorran football side Ordino.

Eidur Gudjohnsen

Barcelona's Eidur Gudjohnsen celebrates...
Gudjohnsen played his part for Barcelona | LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

Eidur Gudjohnsen kept his career going until 2017, when he finally retired at Pune City, in India, having not played a single game. The Icelandic star is now the assistant manager to his country’s senior national team.

Ludovic Giuly

Barcelona's French forward Ludovic Giuly
Giuly and son | LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

The diminutive winger Ludovic Giuly left Barcelona for AS Roma in the summer of 2007, but he spent only one year in Italy before returning to France. He later became Monaco’s club ambassador, and then was handed the assistant’s job for their B side.

Samuel Eto’o

Samuel Etoo
Eto’o was one of the best strikers of all time | Bagu Blanco/Getty Images

Samuel Eto’o was a proper baller, for just about every team he represented. He was appointed interim player-manager during a spell at Antalyaspor, before finally finishing up his career in Qatar in 2019. He’s now enjoying a well-earned rest.

Santiago Ezquerro

Mission Hill Invitation XI v Barcelona
Ezquerro made nine appearances in the league for Barça in 2006/07 | MN Chan/Getty Images

Santiago Ezquerro managed only nine league appearances in this disappointing season, and he was sent packing a year later. He spent one year at Osasuna, before hanging up his boots in 2009.



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