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Football News: Top 10 – All-Time International Teams


Top 10 - All-Time International Teams


Top 10 - All-Time International Teams

Top 10 All-Time International Teams

 

With it being the international season upon us right now, I thought I would do a different Top 10 from the usual and rank international teams. It is very difficult to do, I mean the 1920s Austrian Wunderteam was clearly a great team, but I had to leave them out. I also had to leave out the great Argentina team of the late 1980s as it was really Diego Maradona and 10 others. He was that good in that period that it could have been 10 kids off the street alongside him and still probably got the same results. Hard to put them in as a great team because of that. It also feels harsh that neither of the Uruguay teams to win the World Cup made it, but the competition is fierce!

 

10. England 1970

It may seem strange to put this team in, rather than the 1966 team which won the World Cup, but this was the better team. By far and away the best team England have ever had, even if there are arguments to be made that individuals in other teams are better. They were not able to benefit from Pele being kicked out of the tournament like the ’66 team did and so they did end up empty-handed, but it was still a great team.

 


9. Brazil 1998-2002

This Brazil team had it all, attacking flair, dig and battle and defensive solidity. They even had a good goalkeeper, almost unheard of for Brazil, in Claudio Tafferel. Aldair was a solid defender and Dunga was protecting the defence, allowing Cafu and Roberto Carlos to blast down the flanks. Then there was Rivaldo’s creativity in the middle and Bebeto and the great Ronaldo R9 up front at his peak in 1998. What could have been if Ronaldo did not have a convulsive fit on the eve of the 1998 World Cup final? That final saw what was essentially just a shadow in the team, instead of the real Ronaldo and cost them their chance to win. They came back though and by 2012 Ronaldinho was weaving his magic and Ronaldo was able to score 2 goals in the World Cup final to cement this team as one of the greatest ever.

 


8. West Germany 1972-1974

The Germans have had some great teams over the years, including the one that won the 2014 World Cup, which was extremely close to making the list too. In fact it was more of a 10.5 than number 11 in my choices! There is no doubt that West Germany between 1970 and 1976 makes the list, with the standouts being the teams that won the European Championships in 1972 and then the 1974 World Cup, beating the great Netherlands ‘Total Football’ team along the way. They were a machine of a football team, with the great Gerd Muller firing the goals, while the brilliant Beckenbauer swept up at the back. They were not as entertaining as other teams, but they found a way to win when it mattered.

 


7. Hungary’s ‘Magical Magyars’ 1950-56

While the rest of the world knows them as the Magical Magyars, the Hungarians know them as the ‘Golden Team’. With great names like Ferenc Puskas, Nandor Hidegkuti and Sandor Kocsis, who still inspire awe to this day, they are arguably the greatest team to never win the World Cup. More than anything, they changed football around the world and inspired what later became the Total Football style in Holland, with a system that saw players covering multiple positions on the pitch and able to switch positions between themselves constantly. They deserved far more than just an Olympic gold medal in 1952.

 


6. Spain 2008-10

This team should really be further up the list, as it was a truly great team that had quality all over the pitch, with, in my opinion, the greatest defensive midfielder of all time anchoring their midfield and the sheer balletic beauty of Andres Iniesta dribbling added to the firepower of David Villa and the combativeness of Sergio Ramos and Carles Puyol at the back. And that is not even mentioning Fernando Torres and Xavi! But, and it is a very big but, their legacy is very tainted by their association with Dr Eufemio Fuentes, who was one of the doctors involved in the downfall of cycling due to doping. In fact it was his court case that really opened the eyes of the world, with his clients including people from almost all sports. Fuentes himself said that the evidence would lead to Spain being stripped of all the titles achieved during this period while in a Spanish court. That court immediately ordered the destruction of all of his evidence! Can you say cover up?

 

5. Netherlands 1974-78 ‘Total Football’

The other team in the argument to be the greatest team to never win the World Cup, the Dutch team led by Johan Cruyff was special, with a brand of vibrant, attacking football that inspired children to play the game. Though I do think that a lot of the greatness of this team has to be placed at the feet of their coach, Rinus Michels, who took the Magical Magyars way of playing to a whole new level with this great team. All it lacked was trophies and that is why it can go no higher than 5th as it failed to win when it mattered.

 


4. Italy 1934-38

This team suffers from two things. One is that it was before wall-to-wall TV coverage, so that its greatness is often overlooked now. Secondly, it was the era of Benito Mussolini and he tried to link its success with his National Fascist Party. In reality, there is little connection between the two. It was good enough to win the first two World Cups that Italy entered – 1934 and 1938, before being broken up by the Second World War. Vittorio Pozzo was their coach and he is still the only coach to lead a country to two World Cup wins.

 


3. Brazil 1958-66

This was another insanely talented Brazil side, with the incredible skills of Garrincha and Pele at the forefront, winning two World Cups in a row in 1958 (when Pele was just 17) and 1962. They were one of the first teams to ever play a back four with full-backs to raid down the flanks. They even used sports psychologists. Sadly their run was halted in 1966 by the simple expedient of kicking Pele off the pitch. With the match officials affording him absolutely no protection against Portugal, Brazil were forced to take him off for his own safety. And I do mean safety, as the challenges were not just crunching, they were truly career-threatening and attempts to injure him. The greatness of this era is often overlooked, but it was a special team that benefitted from long periods spent together.

 


2. France 1998-2000

This was maybe the best defensive team in history, with the great Marcel Desailly paired with Laurent Blanc, protected by Didier Deschamps and Emmanuel Petit. And it needed to be great at the back because the one thing it lacked was a true goalscorer, as Thierry Henry’s brilliance as a striker had not yet been realised. What they did have was the legendary Zinedine Zidane to create chances that even the likes of Stephane Guivarc’h and David Trezeguet could slot home. They were nowhere near the most overall talented, nor did they possess the attacking flair or exciting football of many that they have beaten in this list. As a team though, they were truly magnificent with a great team spirit that saw them beat some truly talented sides.

 


1. Brazil 1970

There can only be one, I know that because I have seen Highlander, and in this case it is the 1970 Brazil team. I have to say this was the easiest choice of all. In fact I put these in as number 1 and then worked out the rest afterwards. There was not even a question in my mind who it would be at the top of the tree. In part they have benefitted from being the winners of the first World Cup to be televised in colour, as the documentary of that tournament was shown regularly on TV. Everything about them seemed so magical. The skills, the way they played, the movement and workrate was just a class above everyone else, and everything I have seen since. When you want to show someone why football is called the ‘beautiful game’, then this is what you show them. They were the pinnacle of international football and everything else afterwards is always going to be compared to this team. Pele, Tostao, Gerson and Jairzinho, this team had greats almost everywhere you looked.

Written by Tris Burke June 10 2024 06:25:05

 

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