Ranking Europe's Attacking Trios on Form This Season

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJanuary 17, 2018

Ranking Europe's Attacking Trios on Form This Season

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    Which attacking trios have been simply unstoppable this season?

    We've perused Europe's top five leagues and the Champions League to discern the 20 most lethal tridents in football, based purely on form this season.

    In selecting the players for comparison, we have selected a club's most-used front three where possible (such as at Manchester City and Liverpool); for those who favour a front two (all of La Liga's top five, for example) we brought the most productive midfielder or winger in to complete the set.

    Both domestic and European performances were considered.

    *Please note: The statistics for each club and player are for league matches only. They were not solely used to determine the order (it is not fair to measure players by this strict medium) and are present for contextual reasons.


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    20. Radamel Falcao, Thomas Lemar and Keita Balde (AS Monaco)

    League goals: 22

    League assists: 7

    It's not been the year Monaco wanted, but it has at least been the one most expected after the summer's fire sale. At least Radamel Falcao's goals (15 in Ligue 1) have kept them in the right part of the table.


    19. Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Isco (Real Madrid)

    League goals: 10

    League assists: 9

    If this were solely based on league form, Real Madrid wouldn't even make the top 30, let alone the top 20, but Cristiano Ronaldo's nine Champions League goals rescue them a place low in this list.


    18. Alexandre Lacazette, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)

    League goals: 19

    League assists: 11

    Arsenal's attack has been fairly serviceable this season despite a lot of chopping and changing. Alexandre Lacazette is playing better than his statistics indicate; Alexis Sanchez is playing worse.


    17. Kevin Volland, Julian Brandt and Leon Bailey (Bayer Leverkusen)

    League goals: 20

    League assists: 7

    Bayer Leverkusen rotate and change shape all the time, so we went with the most dangerous-looking and productive for our trio. The pick of these is Leon Bailey, who surely won't be with Die Werkself much longer.


    16. Iago Aspas, Maxi Gomez and Pione Sisto (Celta Vigo)

    League goals: 23

    League assists: 15

    Despite Celta's up-and-down season, Iago Aspas has consistently impressed up top. Add him to breakout star Maxi Gomez and the slippery Pione Sisto, and you've got yourself a brilliant troika of attackers.


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    15. Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller and Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich) 

    League goals: 20

    League assists: 7

    Bayern's three was the hardest to select, as rotation and injuries mean the XI is constantly changing. Robert Lewandowski always leads the line, but opportunities to forge a genuine trio have been limited.


    14. Alvaro Morata, Eden Hazard and Willian (Chelsea)

    League goals: 19

    League assists: 11

    Recent drought or not, Alvaro Morata has had a good first six months at Chelsea and seems to link particularly well with the mercurial Eden Hazard. The problem for them in these stakes is there's no stellar final third, with Willian the most impressive of an OK bunch.


    13. Vincent Aboubakar, Moussa Marega and Yacine Brahimi (FC Porto)

    League goals: 33

    League assists: 11

    FC Porto were a boring watch last season, but new coach Sergio Conceicao has remedied that swiftly. Vincent Aboubakar and Moussa Marega are a physical and awkward handful, and Yacine Brahimi continues to ooze class.


    12. Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon (Napoli)

    League goals: 21

    League assists: 13

    Statistically speaking, Napoli's three-headed monster of Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon hasn't been as strong as it was last season, but be in no doubt: They're ripping teams apart with movement and speed just as easily as ever.


    11. Mariano, Nabil Fekir and Memphis Depay (Lyon)

    League goals: 35

    League assists: 12

    The signing of Mariano for just €8 million looks a real bargain for Lyon, and he's clicked with a resurgent Nabil Fekir and a hungry Memphis Depay superbly. They're scoring goals for fun. 

10. Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic (Juventus)

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    League goals: 25

    League assists: 8

    Paulo Dybala has had his rough patches this season, Gonzalo Higuain too, but in spite of this they still form two-thirds of one of the 10 deadliest attacking trios this term—perhaps that's a sign of how remarkable they are.

    Completing the three is Mario Mandzukic, who despite being relocated to the left wing, continues to chip in with goals, assists and crucial pieces of play. He's not the star name, but don't doubt his importance to Juventus.

9. Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard (Manchester United)

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    League goals: 26

    League assists: 12

    It was tough to pick a trio from Manchester United, such is the rotation system at play in Jose Mourinho's squad. Of late, though, it's been Jesse Lingard shining and Anthony Martial ousting Marcus Rashford for playing time, so we have chosen them to partner up with Romelu Lukaku.

    When Mourinho does let the team off the leash, they can be devastating, with these three combining to great effect in games against Arsenal, Watford and Stoke City. The only issue is sometimes they're forced to sit in and defend to an excessive degree.

8. Simone Zaza, Rodrigo and Goncalo Guedes (Valencia)

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    League goals: 23

    League assists: 10

    Anyone who watched Simone Zaza lazily swan about the London Stadium turf last season while on loan at West Ham United could scarcely believe their eyes when the Italian started scoring weekly for Valencia. It just didn't feel like he had any life in him while in England.

    It has been a completely different story in Spain, though, and he's now the fulcrum of an incredibly exciting, attacking Los Che outfit.

    Partnered with Rodrigo, who is now making a serious run at Spain's 2018 World Cup squad, and flanked by Goncalo Guedes, who continues to excel on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, they're on course to take a team that flirted with relegation two years ago to a Champions League finish.

7. Ciro Immobile, Luis Alberto, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio)

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    League goals: 31

    League assists: 16

    The top scorer in Serie A right now doesn't belong to Juventus, Napoli or even Inter Milan; he is with Lazio and his name is Ciro Immobile.

    That he's already bagged 20 league strikes is quite a shock to many, as he only managed three more (23) in the entirety of last season (We say "only," but 23 is still a fantastic achievement).

    Playing as the prima punta in Simone Inzaghi's system, he benefits from a nice blend of guile (Luis Alberto) and power (Sergej Milinkovic-Savic). They don't play as a classic three, but they're the three most involved forwards in a very attacking team.

6. Mauro Icardi, Ivan Perisic and Antonio Candreva (Inter Milan)

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    League goals: 25

    League assists: 15

    Inter Milan's midfield three has rotated and changed fairly often, but the front three is almost always the same.

    Leading the trident is Mauro Icardi, whose 18 goals in this Serie A season have fired the Nerazzurri into a strong position and made the difference in too many games to count. 

    To his left is Ivan Perisic, who scores thunderbolts for fun, utilises great patience to create clear-cut chances and tracks back relentlessly to help his defence.

    And to his right is Antonio Candreva, who is yet to score this term but has eight assists and will never stop crossing the ball. Many of them find Icardi in good areas.

5. Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Heung-Min Son (Tottenham Hotspur)

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    League goals: 34

    League assists: 11

    You would expect Tottenham Hotspur's most effective attacking trio to include Dele Alli, but the truth is the first half of his season was well below par. Instead, another has risen to take his place: Heung-Min Son.

    He works particularly well with goalscoring machine Harry Kane, feeding off the space he creates and using it to make shooting opportunities or chances for others. Recently the South Korea international has been relentless, netting in five straight home games.

    With Son doing the running and Kane firing them home, it's left to Christian Eriksen to sit back a little and pull the remaining strings. His free-kick deliveries can break deadlocks, while his cutting passes split defences in two.

4. Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

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    League goals: 34

    League assists: 15

    Liverpool have issues to sort all over the field, but one thing manager Jurgen Klopp knows he doesn't have to worry about is his team's ability in the final third.

    Second only to Manchester City in Premier League goals scored and having managed 23 in just six games in the Champions League group stage, Klopp barely has to encourage his troops ahead of gameshe just knows they'll go out and start dealing damage.

    Chief among the goals has been the incredible Mohamed Salah, whose form since joining the club has refused to relent, while Roberto Firmino has quietly put together an excellent campaign, and Sadio Mane's starting to look like himself again.

3. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Paulinho (Barcelona)

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    League goals: 38

    League assists: 12

    Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are very much a front two these days, with the former playing in the pockets of space just off the latter. Barcelona's switch to a (lopsided) 4-4-2 was frowned at initially, but it's sparked the Uruguay international into life and has the club heading towards a seemingly guaranteed La Liga title.

    The initial plan was for Ousmane Dembele to complete this deadly trio, but injuries have robbed him of any chance of impacting in his first six months at the club. Stepping into his place, surprisingly, has been Paulinho, whose penalty-box runs and assured finishing have been worth their weight in gold.

    What keeps Barca just outside the conversation for top spot is their disappointing Champions League goal return—just nine from six games.

2. Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane (Manchester City)

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    League goals: 34

    League assists: 18

    Had you polled Manchester City fans ahead of the season for their predictions on who the club's standout forward would be by the halfway stage, few—if any—would have picked Raheem Sterling.

    But here we are: A rejuvenated presence, the England international leads the club's goalscoring charts despite playing largely from the wing (and starting the season on the bench).

    Opposite him is the electric Leroy Sane, whose sprint speed and low crosses are a constant nightmare for defenders, and leading the trident is the reliable Sergio Aguero.

1. Edinson Cavani, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)

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    League goals: 38

    League assists: 20

    It takes some effort to outdo a Lionel Messi-led team in these stakes, but Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe have managed it.

    Since uniting as a three at the beginning of this season, they have been awesome, blowing teams away in relentless fashion and even putting some strong sides (Bayern Munich in the Champions League) to the sword.

    In many ways, they're perfectly balanced. Cavani is the central presence and chief goalscorer; Neymar the X-factor, the dribbling king; and Mbappe the sensational speedster to lead counters and mop up loose balls.

    Together they destroy and conquer.