Soccer history is rich with teams that have exemplified the passion and beauty of the beautiful game. Since the twentieth century, many South American and European soccer teams have come from obscurity to dominate their respective periods. The sport has developed to include a broader range of talents and a higher level of athleticism.
At least one trophy must have been won by the finest soccer teams. They must have played beautiful but successful soccer in a technical environment. Most importantly, they must have lived through a period of fierce competition and rivalry.
The 10 best men’s soccer teams that match those criteria are listed below. They are drawn from the records of international and club soccer.
After winning three consecutive international soccer championships, Spain had to be the finest soccer team. It triumphed in the European Championships in 2008 and 2012 and the FIFA World Cup in 2010. Between 2007 and 2009, it went 35 games without losing. This featured victories in all ten of their World Cup qualifying games for 2010. The squad was nearly entirely made up of players from the Barcelona and Real Madrid clubs. Noteworthy players included David Villa, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol, Xabi Alonso, and Iker Casillas.
The best World Cup performance occurred at the 1970 FIFA World Cup. Brazil garnered 19 goals in six games, culminating in Italy’s 4-1 rout in the final. Carlos Alberto scored one of the most significant goals in history. Greats like Pele, Gerson, Jairzinho, Rivelino and Tosto all contributed to their brilliant style of aggressive soccer.
Barcelona won the first-ever triple by a Spanish soccer team ten years after Manchester United. It defeated Manchester United in the Champions League final 2-0, beat Real Madrid 6-2 to win La Liga, and won the Copa Del Rey. Lionel Messi emerged as the finest player in the world this season. Messi quadrupled his total from the previous season under one of the world’s top soccer coaches, Pep Guardiola. Barcelona’s tiki-taka style of play earned them the domestic and UEFA Super Cups and the FIFA Club World Cup in 2009, extending their triple to a sextuple.’
4. Manchester United
Manchester United won the Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League in the same season in 1998–99. Greats like Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane, and Peter Schmeichel were amongst those that took part. Like many Alex Ferguson’s sides, they battled to the last whistle. This was nowhere more evident than in the 1999 Champions League final. They rallied from behind to beat Bayern Munich, with two late goals from Sheringham and Solskjaer.
5. Real Madrid
The Real Madrid squad dominated international soccer teams in the 1950s, led by Alfredo Di Stéfano and Ferenc Puskas. From 1956 through 1960, it won the European Cup (Champions League) five times. This culminated in 1960 final. It defeated Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3 in one of the greatest soccer performances.
France won the World Cup in 1998, defeating Brazil in the final 3-0. It went on to win the European Championships in 2000, beating Italy 2-1 thanks to a golden goal from David Trezeguet. Theirry Henry, Didier Deschamps, Zinedine ZidaneLauren Blanc, and Lilian Thuram were important squad members. They possessed world-class players in every position, with Zidane playing a key role in their achievement.
7. West Germany
The German squad that won the European Championships in 1972 and the World Cup in 1974 included some of the greatest soccer players. The squad was led by Franz Beckenbauer and contained Berti Vogts and Gerd Müller, their prolific scorer. They defeated Johan Cruyff’s famed ‘total football’ Netherlands squad in the 1974 World Cup final, winning 2-1.
In 1984, Liverpool won the league, a domestic cup, and the European Cup (Champions League), all in the same season. It defeated Roma on penalties in the latter’s final. Furthermore, Ian Rush, the team’s star, scored 47 goals this season. Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness, and Alan Hansen were other famous players.
Milan won the European Cup three times and the Italian League four times, between 1988 and 1994. It dominated European soccer under Arrigo Sacchi and Carlo Ancelotti. It owed to a roster of world-class players like Paolo Maldini, Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard and Franco Baresi.
The ‘Arsenal Invincibles’ were undefeated in the Premier League for the 2003–04 season. Despite Juventus matching this feat in 2012, Arsenal won more games and finished with 90 points. Dennis Bergkamp, Theirry Henry, Patrick Vieira, and Robert Pires were squad members. Arsenal’s quick, aggressive style of play annihilated the opponents, propelling them to an overwhelming league triumph. Their 49-game undefeated streak earned them the Premier League’s most outstanding ever squad.