Barcelona’s starting line-up reads like a who’s who of world football, with the mercurial talents of Lionel Messi complemented by fellow members of the fearsome ‘MSN’, Luis Suarez and Neymar, World Cup winners such as Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique and European Championship final goalscorer Jordi Alba.
Dani Alves and Javier Mascherano help to bring South American steel to the ranks, while Ivan Rakitic is proving to be a fitting successor to the legendary Xavi, with another of those to have conquered the global game with Spain – Pedro – struggling to force his way into the reckoning at present.
These are the men who generate the headlines in Catalunya and beyond, with the tiki-taka glory days under Pep Guardiola making way for the more dogged, but equally as effective, philosophies of his former teammate, Luis Enrique.
It is, however, important to note that all successful sides are built on the sturdiest of foundations.
If you don’t concede many goals, you will not lose many games.
This isn’t rocket science and is an approach to squad building that has been embraced by the very best from the past and present.
Brick number one in that defensive wall is arguably the most important, with a world-class goalkeeper worth his weight in gold if you can find that most reliable of key stones.
Think Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich and Germany), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus and Italy), Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea and Belgium) and Joe Hart (Manchester City and England) – title winners one and all, with the first two names on that list having helped their respective nations to World Cup glory.
When you think of Barcelona, top-quality shot-stoppers are the not the first piece of the jigsaw that springs to mind.
They have, however, boasted the likes of Andoni Zubizarreta and Victor Valdes in the not too distant past, with there an enviable medal collection, along with more than 100 international caps, to be found between those two.
Following in their footsteps is Claudio Bravo, the unsung hero of the 2014/15 campaign at Camp Nou.
With Valdes departing for Manchester United and veteran Jose Manuel Pinto released, Barca, who are 4/6 in La Liga betting with bookmaker bet365 at the time of writing to beat defending champions Atletico this weekend, found themselves in need of a goalkeeping revamp last summer.
Sizeable sums were shelled out for Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Bravo, with the former considered by many to be the first-choice acquisition as the younger man and more long-term option.
Fate, though, was smiling on the latter as, having secured a dream move at the age of 31, an unfortunate pre-season injury to Ter Stegen opened the door to the first team and the Chilean hasn’t looked back.
Moltes grácies per aquest meravellos moment! pic.twitter.com/CeRoky6fP3
— Claudio Bravo Muñoz (@C1audioBravo) July 6, 2014
Not only has he been an ever-present in an all-conquering outfit, he has been able to write his own chapter of Barcelona history.
He may sport the number 13 jersey, but that has proved to be anything but unlucky for Bravo, who opened the season with a remarkable run of eight successive clean sheets – with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo finally beating him from the spot in October’s Clasico at the Bernabeu after 754 faultless minutes.
The former Real Sociedad goalkeeper has also passed countryman Ivan Zamorano’s tally of most appearances by a Chilean in the Spanish top flight and, sitting on 20 for the season, needs just one more shut-out to break Valdes’ record for the most in a 38-game campaign.
It is easy to argue that anyone could provide Barcelona’s last line of defence, given the quality of the outfield performers, but they are not impenetrable and Bravo – who now has 20 shut-outs to his name – has shown that he is deserving of a standing outside of the shadow cast by Messi et al.