Top 10 Best Football Teams Of All Time

Can anyone match Spain as the greatest team ever?
Can anyone match Spain as the greatest team ever? | Source

What makes a great football team?

The history of football is replete with teams that have demonstrated the verve and artistry of the beautiful game. Since the turn of the twentieth century, many European and South American football teams have emerged from obscurity to dominate their respective eras. At the same time, the sport has evolved to encompass a greater array of skills and a higher degree of fitness.

The best football teams need to have won at least one trophy. They need to have played attractive but effective football in a climate of high technical standards. Most importantly, they need to have endured an era of stiff competition and intense rivalry.

Presented here are the ten best football teams that meet those criteria. They are chosen from the entire history of international and club football. To justify the selection, I have endeavored to find the best Youtube videos showcasing their abilities.

10. Arsenal (2004)

The `Arsenal Invincibles' went through the entire 2003-04 Premier League season unbeaten. Despite Juventus equaling this feat in 2012, Arsenal won far more of their games, finishing on 90 points. The team included Theirry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires. Arsenal's swift, attacking style of football destroyed the opposition, taking them to the league title in emphatic fashion. Their 49-game unbeaten record led to them being declared the Premier League's best ever team.

The Best of Arsenal in 2004

9. Milan (1988-1994)

During this 6 year period, AC Milan won the European Cup (Champions League) 3 times, and the Italian League 4 times. They dominated European football thanks to a team of world class players, including Paolo Maldini, Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard, and Franco Baresi.

Milan in the 1989 European Cup Final

8. Liverpool (1984)

The treble winning Liverpool team of 1984 won the league, a domestic cup, and the European Cup (Champions League) in the same year. They beat Roma in the final of the latter on penalties. Star man, Ian Rush, netted 47 goals in the season. Other notable players were Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness, and Alan Hansen.

Liverpool in the 1984 European Cup Final

7. West Germany (1972-1974)

The German team that won the 1972 European Championships and the 1974 World Cup featured some of the best football players of all time. Led notably by Franz Beckenbauer, the team also included Berti Vogts and their prolific striker, Gerd Müller. They denied Johan Cruyff's famous `total football' Netherlands team with a 2-1 victory in the final of the 1974 World Cup. The video shows the highlights from this epic final.

Germany in the 1974 World Cup Final

6. France (1998-2000)

France won the 1998 World Cup, beating hot favorites Brazil 3-0 in the final. They then won the 2000 European Championships, defeating Italy 2-1 with a golden goal from David Trezeguet. Other notable players in the team were Theirry Henry, Zinedine Zidane, Didier Deschamps, Lauren Blanc and Lilian Thuram. They had world class players in every position, although Zidane was instrumental in their success.

France in the 1998 World Cup Final

5. Real Madrid (1955-1960)

Led by Alfredo Di Stéfano and Ferenc Puskas, the Real Madrid team of the late 50's dominated world football. They won the European Cup (Champions league) five times in a row from 1956 to 1960. This culminated in the 1960 final when they beat Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3 in one of the greatest footballing displays of all time (see video).

Real Madrid in the 1960 European Cup Final

4. Manchester United (1999)

The treble winning Manchester United team of 1998-99 won the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League in a single season. It included greats such as Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane and Peter Schmeichal. Like many of Alex Ferguson's teams, they fought until the last whistle, and this was demonstrated in no greater way than the 1999 Champions League final. Against Bayern Munich they came from behind to win with two late goals from Sheringham and Solskjær.

Manchester United's Greatest Comeback

3. Barcelona (2009)

Ten years after Manchester United's achievement, Barcelona won the first ever treble by a Spanish club. They beat United in the final of the Champions League 2-0, destroyed Real Madrid 6-2 to win La Liga, and also won the Copa Del Rey. This season saw the emergence of Lionel Messi as the best player in the world. Under the guidance of Pep Guardiola, Messi more than doubled his tally from the previous campaign. Barcelona's tiki-taka style of play ensured they also won the domestic and UEFA Super Cups, and the FIFA Club World Cup in 2009, turning their treble into a `sextuple'.

The Best of Barcelona in 2009

2. Brazil (1970)

The 1970 FIFA World Cup saw the greatest World Cup performance of all time. Brazil scored 19 goals in 6 games, culminating in a 4-1 thrashing of Italy in a final where Carlos Alberto scored one of the best goals of all time. Also contributing to their beautiful brand of attacking football were greats such as Pele, Gerson, Jairzinho, Rivelino, and Tostão.

Brazil in the 1970 World Cup

1. Spain (2007-2012)

For winning 3 successive international football tournaments, the best football team of all time has to be Spain. They won the 2008 and 2012 European Championships, and the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Between 2007 and 2009 they went 35 games unbeaten. This included winning all ten of their 2010 World Cup qualification games. Formed almost exclusively from the Barcelona and Real Madrid teams, notable players include David Villa, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol, Xabi Alonso, and Iker Casillas.

Iniesta wins Spain the 2010 World Cup

Which is the best football team of all time?

  • Spain (2007-2012)
  • Barcelona (2009)
  • Brazil (1970)
  • Manchester United (1999)
  • Real Madrid (1955-1960)
  • France (1998-2000)
  • West Germany (1972-1974)
  • Liverpool (1984)
  • Milan (1988-1994)
  • Arsenal (2004)
  • Other
See results without voting

A History of Great Teams

The history of the beautiful game is resplendent with iconic teams. However, this list must make some omissions. Honorable mentions go to the `Juventus Invincibles' for their unbeaten 2011-2012 season, Argentina's 1986 World Cup winning team, the 1972 and 1995 Ajax teams, Juventus (1996), Dortmund (1997), Benfica (1960-1965), Brazil (1994-2002), England (1966), Italy (1934-1938), and Hungary (1954).

The best football teams do not necessarily have the most talented players. Team spirit, leadership, and a willingness to work together to achieve victory are just as important as raw skill. A recent example of this phenomenon is Argentina. They are unable to dominate world football despite the influence of Lionel Messi. Thanks for reading and watching this video compilation.

© 2013 Thomas Swan

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Comments 30 comments

Richard-Murray 3 years ago

Good list. As you know, i don't believe in a best ever. Each team you noted was the best club or national side during a certain time. I would say Barca have never been as good as win they had Henry and Eto'o on the flanks for messi.

Kolos 3 years ago

put Milan first with 3 CL win and take Manchester United off, that team only won one with a great luck against a better Bayern with Elber, Effenberg...

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Thomas Swan 3 years ago from New Zealand Author

Thanks Richard. Henry and Eto'o were there when Barca used to play more direct, and that corresponded with their greatest success. Even though Messi wasn't scoring all the time, they were indeed better then. Nowadays they seem to have taken their tiki-taki style of play to the absolute extreme. The only thing saving them from endless 0-0's is the skill of Messi. Perhaps Messi needs that environment to thrive, but I fear they won't ever be as good as 2009. They need to go back to playing slightly more direct or they won't have an end product as much as they need. Against Milan their tiki-taki won't do them much good if they want two or more goals.

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 3 years ago from New Zealand Author

Thanks for the comment Kolos. Most people wouldn't agree with putting Milan 1st. Madrid won 5 in a row after all. United winning the treble is an extraordinary team effort that is more than just their performance in the final of one of their trophies. All the matches that came before say a lot too. Also, it was an incredible team effort to come back against Bayern like that, and to never give up.

PositronWildhawk profile image

PositronWildhawk 3 years ago from London

Definitely agree with Richard-Murray, it's hard to compare teams from different eras because of the vast changes made in the game. However I reckon if you brought them all back, exactly how they were the Spain team of recent times would come out on top.

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Thomas Swan 3 years ago from New Zealand Author

Yea, it's a valid point PositronWildhawk. Still, if those teams were around today, I think they'd get themselves up to the fitness levels of the current teams. Same, would be the case if Spain 2013 got transplanted into 1970. The teams would improve themselves to match the competition.

Richard-Murray 3 years ago


what if the current brazil side wins the world cup , then who becomes your best team ever then?


great point but it isn't just fitness. Look how light the ball is today, imagine pele, socrates, garrincha with today's light ball and the safety of today. it isn't just fitness, today's ball is lighter and today's flair players are far more protected than ever. When I look at Bayern Mnich, i think pep went to bayern because bayern were already fluid and he could get them to possess more but unlike barca, bayern has the muscle to play the mans game. What hurts arsenal and many barca clones outside spain is that other leagues don't protect those players as much. We really devalue the effect of referee's decisions on tackles towards the messi's and cr7's of the world.

Peter C. 2 years ago

What about the great Benfica from the 60´s with the legendary Eusebio??

Easy top 5!

JNNG 2 years ago

You forget Benfica in the sixties, 5 european cup finals, 2 wins !!!

Marcelo 2 years ago

You gotta be kiding!

Number 1 is defintely Brazil 1970. simply by the fact it has the best player of all time, and that dinasty won 3 ww in almost in a row!

Plus: I watched France 1998 and they had a good team. However Brazil 1982 was a WAY better.

rodrigo 2 years ago

Milan dominated world football many years, Milan played 5 finals in 7 years at !!!!!champions¡¡¡¡¡¡

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 2 years ago from New Zealand Author

Thanks for the comments everyone. To address them:

Benfica were indeed a great team in the sixties, and you're right that I should have mentioned them. For now, I've given them an honorable mention near the end of the article.

I ranked Brazil 1970 very high. It's just Spain won 3 trophies in a row from 2008-2012, and I think they would beat the Brazil 1970 team.

I agree, Milan were an excellent team in the late eighties and early nineties and deserved their place in this list.

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 2 years ago from New Zealand Author

Oh, and I added a poll recently to this article, so if you haven't voted yet, please do! :)

john 2 years ago

i am sorry i know everybody is entitled to their own opinions but not having ajax from 1969 to 1973 in there is a DISGRACE.

playign for european finals in those years losing 1 and winning 3 in a row.

is a huge achievement also domestic titles.

and with a great way.. they not just beat opponents they dominated them. they played total football with atg players such as neeskens, krol and of course johan cruyff

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 24 months ago from New Zealand Author

You might be right John, though I'm not sure who I'd take out, especially as this includes club and international teams. Perhaps I should have done a top 15 or top 20. I have given the Ajax 1972 team an honorable mention at the end.

worldsoccer profile image

worldsoccer 22 months ago from Dhaka

Brazil 1970 is the best one, they were great. Although didn't have the chance to see it live but as a football fan I researched and saw lot of videos to come up with the decision, Spain and Barcelona both are very close, I mean really close but it's Brazil who had the best team of all time. May be lot of people disagree with me, I will respect their choice, it's just my opinion.

vergudo 22 months ago

The best team ever has been Brazil from 1994-2009. They went to every final possible for them except in 2001(confederations cup & copa america), 2003(confederations cup) and 2006 world cup. It was different players as years went by but still. Or I can narrow it down to Brazil 1994-2002 lol.

Luke Chapman profile image

Luke Chapman 22 months ago from Peterborough, England

Although I haven't seen every one of those sides play, the best team I've ever seen is by the Barca under Guardiola, with the 5-0 against Real in Mourinho the best team performance I've ever seen.

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 21 months ago from New Zealand Author

Thanks for the comments guys.

Worldsoccer. True, video watching is all we can do for some of these teams. We can also judge their achievements though, and Spain can't be beaten for that.

Vergudo. Good point. Romario, Bebeto, and Ronaldo were all legends up front during that time. I'll give them an honorable mention.

Luke Chapman. I agree, that 5-0 was pretty much the pinnacle of their dominance. A wonderful display.

Jayden 21 months ago

Il Grande Torino?

Mark 21 months ago





vergudo 17 months ago

Spain from 2008-2012 is one of the best but not number 1 of all time. I actually thought that they got lucky and struggled in WC 2010. They barely edged out a decent Portugal. Probably wouldve lost to Paraguay if they hadn't missed the penalty and a wrong offsides call.(Paraguay wouldve been up 2-0). Barely edged out Germany with a corner kick goal and in the Final, Robben didn't want to win hahahahaha. In Euro cups they did good winning twice, but they were a team that did not score many goals. They barely were able to beat top teams. That Spain team would lose vs Brazil 1994-2009 especially when they had Rivaldo, Romario, Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Kaka at the SAME time. That was back in 2001-2002. RONALDO was 25, Rivaldo was 29, Ronaldinho 21, Romario 35, Kaka 19. If only Romario wouldve gone to 98 world cup... Brazil wouldve won THREE world cups IN A ROW!

Matt 17 months ago

This is a fine list, however Ajax 1969-1973 is off course a top 5 team at least.

Ajax changed the game with Cruyff, Krol, Neeskens with coach Michels.

4 finals and 3 wins in a row. Wow.

Besides, Ajax 1994-1996 is also top 10. They won every single price (unbeaten for at least a year). Should have won the 2nd CL against dope Juventus. Bad luck with penaltys.

Yossef Ziati profile image

Yossef Ziati 17 months ago from morocco

every year we found anew best team ,for example inter milan in 2010 , bayern munich in 2013 , but there are some special team witch we could not forget ,like spain in the 4 years until 2012 .

yinka 16 months ago

What about realmadrid of 1997 to 2002 we carreid 3 champion league and 4 laliga

Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 16 months ago from Northeast Ohio

This was an interesting hub from you, Thomas, on your thoughts on the FIFA World Cup. Thanks for sharing. Voted up!

Texs 14 months ago

Barca 2009 For Sure

Md Naimul Islam Rahat 4 months ago

Where is Puskas' Hungary????

Mako 3 months ago

What about Die mannschaft now?

Name 6 weeks ago

Spain 1st, wtaf

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