8 Greatest National Squads in World Football History

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterNovember 12, 2012

8 Greatest National Squads in World Football History

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    International football has seen some fine squads come to prominence over the years, and Bleacher Report takes a look at the very finest.

    From Austria's wunderteam inspired by Matthias Sindelaar to Spain's new-age dominance under Vicente del Bosque, we run through eight of the finest teams, although Vittorio Pozzo's Italy have just missed out.

    Enjoy the slideshow!

Austria (1930-1937)

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    Hugo Meisl led the first ever Wunderteam in the 1930s, taking Austria to the top of Europe's rankings.

    His team are the earliest recorded proponents of "total football," and many early Austrian influences can be found in the Netherlands' dominant style emerging years later.

    They went to the second ever FIFA World Cup in 1934 but were knocked out to eventual winners and hosts Italy in the semifinals. The match was marred by controversy and bias toward the Azzurri.

    Of the personnel, Matthias Sindelar was the undoubted star of the side, revolutionising the role of the forward for the one of the first times in world football history.

Hungary (1958)

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    Hungary are a shadow of their former selves nowadays but for decades promised one of the most potent teams in international football dating back as early as 1930.

    They were one of the stronger teams coming into the 1934 World Cup in Italy but were dispensed by Hugo Meisl's Austria. They finally rose to prominence in 1953 with the fabled 6-3 victory over England at Wembley.

    The free-flowing football from Nandor Hidegkuti, Ferenc Puskas and Zoltan Czibor saw Gusztav Sebes' team dominate. The Three Lions sought revenge and rescheduled but lost 7-1 in Budapest one year later.

Brazil (1958-1962)

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    In 1958, Brazil arrived for the World Cup hosted by Sweden with a 17-year-old Pele among the ranks.

    They beat the hosts 5-2 in the final with Pele bagging a spectacular brace, then went on to lift the trophy again in Chile four years later.

    Djalma Santos, Nilton Santos, Garrincha, Didi, Zito, Zagallo and others were constants in the team during this time.

Brazil (1970)

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    The Estadio Azteca, Mexico hosted the 1970 FIFA World Cup final in which Brazil destroyed Italy 4-1.

    Shown above is one of the greatest goals ever scored in the history of football, finished by the legendary Carlos Alberto steaming forward from right-back.

    This team contained some of the all-time greats, such as Jairzinho, Tostao, Pele and Rivellino, and never has a team dominated a major international tournament by such a huge goal differential.

    They posted 18 wins, one loss and one draw that year.

West Germany (1970-1976)

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    The 1974 FIFA World Cup final, hosted and won by West Germany, saw two teams contest the final using 1-3-3-3 formations.

    The sweeper, or libero, is mostly dead now, but Die Mannschaft's 2-1 victory over the Netherlands is a shining example the system.

    Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller, Paul Breitner and Uli Hoeness were some of the standout performers in this team, who also finished 3rd in the 1970 World Cup.

Netherlands (1974-1978)

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    The Netherlands finished second in both the 1974 and 1978 FIFA World Cups and will feel hard done by as a result.

    They were unfortunate not to beat West Germany while boasting the likes of Johan Cruyff, Johan Neeskens, Ruud Krol and Wim Suurbier. Then, four years later, they went down to a Mario Kempes-inspired Argentina in contentious circumstances.

    These tournaments were true exhibitions of the Dutch total footballing system.

France (1996-2001)

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    The 1998 FIFA World Cup was the crowning achievement for French football, as they became just the sixth host nation to hoist the trophy on home soil.

    Goals from Zinedine Zidane and Emmanuel Petit saw les Bleus overcome a much-fancied Brazil side 3-0 in the final, and this team went on to win Euro 2000, followed by the Confederations Cup in 2001.

    Euro 1996 saw a team made up of similar players knocked out at the semifinals, which is arguably where this great team began its journey.

Spain (2007-Present)

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    Whether or not Spain are the greatest national team we've ever seen is sure to be one of the greatest debates football ever records.

    What we can say for certain is that la Furia Roja have finally come of age and banished any semblance of the "Spain will choke" thought train.

    Victory at Euro 2008 was a shock, and while the triumph in World Cup 2010 was still a little surprising, Euro 2012 was just downright expected.

    They are the dominant force in international football thanks to Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Iker Casillas and company.