Messi in action against Arsenal last week
In recent weeks, many observers and pundits have been gushing with praise for the current FC Barcelona team. After their dismantling of Arsenal last week,this increased even more, with many now saying that this is the best team ever! One of the biggest reasons for the deifying of modern players & teams is of course the bigger exposure from satellite TV & the Internet.
However, as much as we rave on about Messi (and rightfully so), I'd point you in the direction of any John Barnes compilations from the late 80's Liverpool team and you'd see that he was doing those very same things . Many agree that that team itself would have gone on to break Real Madrid's then record of six European Cups if they weren't banned from Europe, with total football that would even put their Liverpool predecessors to shame.
They weren't up against the best over a sustained time, so we'll never know for sure. Likewise, this Barcelona team has wowed us for the past three years, but as much as they were dominant last week, if Bendtner had a cooler head on his shoulders, Barca would be out. Also, it would take a blind man to deny that some "dubious" refereeing was more than responsible for their 2009 semi-final win. Last season's out-thinking by Inter also needs no mention. However, the best teams ever, as history has judged, strode imperiously over opponents.
Accordingly, I decided to have a look at all of the great Club teams over the years to produce my own subjective list of the Top 10 Club teams. The rankings are based on a combination of Results & Aesthetics.
As indicated, it is a subjective lists, as these always are. No individual has a "right" answer when it comes to these sort of rankings, so feel free to criticise or comment as necessary. A National Teams list will be done in my next article, so here we go with the Club list:
1) Real Madrid CF (1955-60): Puskas, Di Stefano, Gento, Kopa and the first five European Cups (ECs), plus two League titles & an Intercontinental Cup. Culminated in the 7-3 dismantling of Frankfurt in the '60 Final. Three managers, but they never missed a beat as their teams showed both strength and style.
2) Liverpool FC (1981-84): Grobbelaar, Souness, Hansen, Rush and Dalglish in his prime. Bob Paisley's second great team (then Joe Fagan's) won three consecutive League titles, four consecutive League Cups and two ECs, first against Real Madrid and then against Roma at Rome, in Rush's 50 goal season.
3) AC Milan (1988-90): Van Basten, Rijkaard, Gullit, Donadoni, Maldini. Arrigo Sacchi brought together Italian defence & Dutch flair—sexy soccer at its best. Back to back EC's (last team to do so), a couple of Intercontinential Cups, along with a domestic League & Cup.
4) Santos FC (1961-65): Pepe, Coutinho and of course Pele sandwiching Brazil's first two World Cups with five League titles, two Copa Libertadores two Intercontinential Cups. Under Luis Perez' guidance, their style would have made Brazil jealous.
5) AFC Ajax (1969-73): Neeskens, Haan and Cruyff mastering the totaal-voetbal that the Dutch national teams of the 70's would show the world. Rinus Michels guided them to three consecutive ECs, three League titles & an Intercontinental Cup during Ajax's glory years.
6) FC Bayen Munich (1971-76): Muller, Maier, Bretner, Beckenbauer...was this West Germany in disguise? Three consecutive ECs, three League titles & an Intercontinental Cup. Always efficient, but Udo Lattek's team could also turn on the style when ready.
7) FC Barcelona (1989-94): Koeman, Laudrup, Romario, Stoichkov, Guardiola et al. How many of the current Barca would get into Johan Cruyff's original Dream Team? Their first ever EC, four consecutive League titles, as well as a Spanish & Cup Winners Cup. Now that's one of the best ever teams.
8) Liverpool FC (1975-80): Clemence, Toshack, Keegan, then Dalglish. The first of Bob Paisley's great teams (as bestowed by Bill Shankly). Back to back ECs, four League titles and a UEFA Cup by the first English team to play the beautiful game as it was meant.
9) AC Milan (1991-96): Baresi, Boban, Desailly, Dondoni and a still young Maldini. Fabio Capello took over from Sacchi leading the team to three consecutive League titles, including the undefeated 91/92 season and three consecutive EC finals, hammering Barcelona 4-0 in the only one they won.
10) Real Madrid (1997-2002): Casillas, Raul, Morientes, Figo, Zidane. This period brought 3 ECs, 2 League titles and 2 Intercontinental Cups. It also brought five Coaches and the start of the "Galacticos" policy with almost a decade of embarrassment in Europe. It was great to watch back then though.