Roberto Mancini says Barcelona are still the team others must look up to despite their mauling at the hands of Bayern Munich last season.
Speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the former Manchester City boss did, however, qualify his remarks by saying that Bayern Munich will be the team to beat next year.
“I don’t agree with those who say German or even English clubs are the dominant ones in Europe.
“It’s true the Germans benefit by a winter break, while the English lose intensity over the season because they never stop playing.
“Bayern Munich will be the team to beat as they are not just [Arjen] Robben and [Franck] Ribery. They are full of stars, solid at the back and strong on the counter-attack,” said Mancini, who is currently out of work after being sacked by City at the end of last season.
The 48-year-old went on to say that he considers Barca are still the benchmark, even more so since the signing of Neymar.
“I still consider Barcelona to be the strongest side. Obviously you can’t win every year.
Andres Iniesta is one of the best in the world and their players never give the ball away.
“The directors did well to understand that Neymar was needed. Can you imagine the strike partnership of Lionel Messi and Neymar?” he asked.