The 50 greatest European club sides

Introduction

Contents

Barcelona win 2011 Champions League final

Barcelona win 2011 Champions League final

Alex Ferguson was left in no doubt. “In my time as a manager I would say yes, this is the best team I’ve faced.”

But then, on a Saturday night at Wembley in 2011, the Manchester United manager wasn’t exactly analysing the issue with the most detached viewpoint. His team had just been utterly dismantled by Barcelona. And as he gets closer to the end of his career, it was a performance that will probably leave as deep an impression as that of Real Madrid at Hampden Park near the start of it in 1960.

When watching that landmark 7-3 win over Eintracht Frankfurt now though, it is remarkable just how removed the speed and style are from modern football. In fact, they’re almost incomparable. As such, with the debate about the exact position of Pep Guardiola’s team in history gaining increased relevance, many commentators have complained it’s a futile exercise to try and compare.

And, to a degree, that’s correct. All teams can only ever be products of their own era. Tactical tricks that may have appeared revolutionary in one period may be routine in another. Certain combinations of players that ruled supreme at one stage may have well found themselves routed elsewhere. Indeed, Ferguson saw this with more immediacy than most. His fearsome midfield four of 1999 were rendered outdated by Fernando Redondo’s Real Madrid within less than a year.

As such, it is genuinely futile to try and argue whether one historic side would beat another. The rules, trends and even fitness techniques have all changed far too much.

But one thing never changes: how fully a team dominated their own era.

Since any individual side can only ever be the best in their own time, it is actually possible to compare and contrast how completely they dominated it.

For example, if a side won every competition they entered in their first season – as Barcelona did in 2008-09 – then that translates to 100% domination. Extrapolating that across a team’s ‘cycle’ – as Ferguson would put it – it is possible to put some sort of a number on whether a side was truly all-conquering. This formula formed the basis for our attempt to objectively determine the best club team of all time. How we worked it out can be seen here.

However, there are still different degrees to domination. Most obviously, some winners are more convincing than others. Some did genuinely sweep all opposition away. Others achieved their feats in the most minimalist fashion, just about taking advantage of opposition errors.

To a certain extent, all of this is also quantifiable. For example, the manner in which Chelsea utterly asphyxiated the English league under Jose Mourinho came across in the highest points-per-game records in the history of the competition. Long before then, Real Madrid’s goal-laden Glasgow exhibition in 1960 was only the peak of an already prolific era. They enjoyed the most mesmerising goals-per-game rate in the competition, and that’s even taking into account the extremes of the time. Ajax’s Total Football, meanwhile, translates into some of the cleanest defensive records ever seen. Possession, as has been said about Barcelona a lot lately, evidently isn’t just an attacking tactic.

In order to get as complete a quantification of a team’s quality as possible, then, scaled bonus points were awarded for such feats.

It is acknowledged, however, that excellence isn’t just determined by sustained dominance but also dramatic achievements. As such, points were also awarded for special achievements such as three-in-a-rows and trebles.

Which brings us to another issue: how to separate the team’s cycles and accurately distinguish one era from the next? Where are the seams, for example, in Real Madrid’s almost unbroken period of prize-winning between 1953 and 1969?

Although it’s a little intangible, very often an iconic individual, a particular core of players or even a philosophy will be enough to define a dynasty. In some cases, it was all three.

That Real run, for example, can be split into three periods: (1) the ‘golden era’ of five European Cups brought by Alfredo Di Stefano’s transfer; (2) the period of transition as he and Ferenc Puskas played themselves out; (3) the eventual passing of the torch to the likes of Pirri and Amancio.

At Celtic between 1965 and 1975, it was all Jock Stein. At Bayern Munich of the ’70s, it was the nucleus of Franz Beckenbauer, Paul Breitner and Gerd Muller. At Benfica, the continental torch lit by Bela Gutmann was continued by Eusebio. At Ajax, all of Rinus Michels, Stefan Kovacs, Velibor Vasovic and – of course – Johan Cruyff set in motion and sustained Total Football.

Liverpool 1975-84 also spanned two managers. But, such was the organic nature in which the team evolved thanks to the Boot Room philosophy, a clean break was hard to find. That wasn’t the case at Manchester United where the abrupt breaks between Ferguson’s great sides have generally been easier to see: the summers of 1995, 1998, 2001 and 2009 being particularly noteworthy.

Perhaps the most contentious, however, is Milan of the late ’80s and early ’90s. Throughout this period, they did admittedly use many of the same players. Especially in defence. But such was the dramatic change in style from Arrigo Sacchi to Fabio Capello that it would have been disingenuous not to split them.

The only thing left then, is to split all of the great teams themselves. We hope you enjoy the list. And, keep in mind, it is one that is always evolving. This is an issue in which it is almost impossible to get an accurate answer. But any comment or suggestion that will help us refine and eventually enhance our findings are always welcome.

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laaziri1963 5 pts

First place for Pele

your racism against blacks - you whites - do not allow you to acquit and giving his place and you give it to cheat and addict

nismoz 7 pts

Hi Thomas, I agree with you there. Football in the 50s n 60s were merely amateurs. First of all, alot of people are not aware of the rules in place in that era. 1) there was no substitutes allowed in a game of football until mid 60s. The first world cup which allowed substitutions in a football game was 1970 in mexico. The maximum number of substitutes allowed in a game of football in the mid 60s was 1, slowly it was changed to maximum of 2 substitutes in the late 60s. 2) Goal keepers up until 1970 still didnt use gloves to make saves. if anyone dont believe me, watch a few games of world cup in 1970 and you will start to notice the difference. 3) Football formations was suited to attacking plays, most of these legendary teams all had used 4 or 5 attackers and 2/3 defenders at the back. In most Champions League knock out games in the late 50s and 60s, it was very common to see score line like 8-10 goals over 2 legs. you can say defence were non-existent. The game intensity and man marking was very slouch, attackers are always afford 5-6 seconds on the ball, compare this to the Champions League of modern era eg) Man Utd v Juventus in 1999.. games are always played at neck breaking pace. So for alot of football fan out there still thinkin Pele was a god and he scored 1200+ goals, think again and ask urself the question how many of that 1200 was at professional competitions and what sorta defenders he faced? Yes he might of won 2 world cups (NOT 3 BECAUSE HE ONLY PLAYED 2 GROUP MATCHES IN 1962), but can we really judge a player as the best of all time because he played well in 2 world cups (16 teams tournaments and all teams self invited)??

cfc4ea 5 pts

you mentioned the current Barcelona Miguel, but Cruyff's Barcelona also derserves an honourable mention because of the pioneering concepts that has become the Barcelona trademark ,"tiki taka" as some would put it.  I understand that statistically Capello's Milan achieved more league success than under Arrigo Saachi but the Milan team of the late 80's  were much more successful than the one in the early- mid 90's, if you look comparitively at their most successful season(s).

 

I didnt look at the full list but where would the great Santos side of Pele be?

 

 

cfc4ea 5 pts

you mentioned the current Barcelona Miguel, but Cruyff's Barcelona also derserves an honourable mention because of the pioneering concepts that has become the Barcelona trademark ,"tiki taka" as some would put it.  I understand that statistically Capello's Milan achieved more league success than under Arrigo Saachi but the Milan team of the late 80's  were much more successful than the one in the early- mid 90's, if you look comparitively at their most successful season(s).

 

I didnt look at the full list but where would the great Santos side of Pele be?   (I mean they are better than Preston, right)

 

 

 

LennartHijn 5 pts

what do you think about the borussia dortmund team of the mid-90s? they won 2 german bundesliga titles and the champions league 97. they weren't a great team but nonetheless very successful and it would have been nice for a fan to see them place on the lower ranks at least. i would love to hear your opinion about them and see why they didnt make it on your list?

nismoz 7 pts

 LennartHijn Hi Lennart, I think the Borrusia Dortmund side in the mid 90s was actually a way better side than the FC Porto of 2003-05. For a mere fact, that team host some of the finest german players in the modern era. I can honestly say players like matthias sammer, jurgen kohler, andreas moller, thomas hasler would walk into any clubs in europe without any problem. They have achieved miracle in that 1997 CL final against Juventus (who were the strongest side in europe from 1995-2000), also won 2 german leagues and 2 german cup in succession.  In my mind, their CL triumph over the mighty marcello lippi juventus beats FC Porto any day of the week!

fix70 5 pts

 nismoz  LennartHijn Did the 3 Stefans Reuters,Freud and Chapuisat feature in this side? I remember Lars Ricken scoring immediately after coming in.

LennartHijn 5 pts

 fix70  nismoz  LennartHijn 

 

yes, all those great players featured in this side. also a year after their champions league triumph they still managed to advance into the semifinals (lost to real). the more i think about it the more i feel they deserve to be in that list. hopefully they can repeat their feat this year ;)

billy7 5 pts

Crock of shite. Leeds United of the late 1960s/early 1970s? Two uefa cups, cup winners cup final (cheated), european cup semi and european cup final (cheated). See UEFA coefficient rankings.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UEFA_coefficient

MiguelDelaney 9 pts

 billy7 They didn't win most of those trophies though. That matters. See our "just missed out" section.

dicks69 5 pts

Your method of scoring is horribly flawed. You've accumulated the total achievements of some clubs over 8 or 9 years whilst others only have a window of 4 years. It seems like there is some inherent bias in your lists.

 

For example, Sacchi and Capello's Milan were consecutive and could easily be considered one dynasty from 1987-1995 (which is a time period similar to the top two's) which would achieve a points total of 2185. This total would catapult this Milan as undoubtedly the best dynasty.

 

Even though Milan only had two coaches over 7 years you have split that dynasty apart. Interestingly Ajax (1965-1973) went through two coaches as well and Madrid (1953-1960) went through FIVE coaches. So why not count Milan (1987-1995) as one dynasty?

 

Also, why not divide the total score by the number of seasons? This allow a much better comparison...

 

 

MiguelDelaney 9 pts

 dicks69 Please properly read the 'how it works' section before commenting on, well... how it works.

MiguelDelaney 9 pts

 dicks69 This list was done almost a year ago. In that time, I've addressed your points a fair few times and it is slightly frustrating when you claim to have read the 'how it works' section but clearly taken in only what you want to see. As such, to "reply like an adult" would be to retread a lot of old ground and repeat a lot of what is elsewhere. But here goes.

a) the point about favouring longer dynasties: no we don't. We EXPLICITLY say that the key to this list is balancing between those teams that enjoyed short bursts of intense success (like a treble) with those who admirably lasted years. Both, after all, are the primary virtues. Therefore, does it not make sense that teams who achieved both - intense bursts and long-lasting success - are at the top? Your suggestion unfairly rewards teams who won everything in one season but nothing either side of it.

b) About Milan of the late 80s/90s. This has been brought up a few times. Again, our 'How it works' section makes it clear how we decided when there were was a 'cut-off' point for dynasties. Essentially, there were three criteria (manager/main figure; core of players; overall style). If two of these three remained constant from one season to the next, it was considered part of the same dynasty. If two of these changed, then that was considered a dividing line. With regard to that Milan, there is absolutely no doubt that Capello radically altered the style of the team. Indeed, so all-consuming and distinct was Sacchi's pressing approach that it would have been disingenuous to consider them part of the same dynasty. With regards to Real of the 50s, they had managers but that was about the only thing that changed. In fact, many of those men can barely be called managers. They were just about head coaches. Bernabeu and Di Stefano undeniably called the shots though. As regards the changes in their squad, these were more organic. There was no sudden change one summer.

 

That suit you?

dicks69 5 pts

 

a) I can understand where you are coming from here as it is complicated to weigh impact and dominance when teams have different time frames to work in. I was suggesting that, after the longevity multiplier and such, that an average per season would be added as your system places way too much emphasis on the length of the side's life. I feel too much emphasis has been put on longevity as greatest team in history =/= most prominent team in history.

 

b) Capello became manager in 1991. Cappelo remained similar to Sacchi's style for at least a season, so lets say philosophy change in 1992. All the players stayed for a long time and any players changes were organic. The philosophy change from Sacchi's to Capello's was very pragmatic - the team was becoming older (so less workload), more technical and other sides had started to imitate Sacchi's tactics.

 

It seems strange you would only break Milan up when Madrid (1953-1960) and Liverpool (1975-1984) had much bigger changes. Its also quite funny that Milan retained an extremely similar team of players over 8 years whilst Liverpool and Madrid ended up with a completely different roster.

 

It seems extremely disingenuous, almost biased, to discredit such a team solely based on your gut feeling here. As you have said, I'm not the only one to point to the fact that Milan shouldn't be broken up. Out of interest - have you watched a lot of Milan from 1986-1994? What about Liverpool (1975-1984) or Madrid (1953-1960)?

 

I find it funny the top two sides are from when football leagues were still full of amateurs - it kind of belittles the professionals.

adamrhbrown 7 pts

 dicks69 I know Miguel will be all over your last remark, so I'll save him the trouble. This list is based on how dominant each team was in its own era, so maybe the conclusion is that it was easier to dominate back then. Then again, from the available footage, both of those teams still look very 'modern'.

 

Also, just because they didn't earn today's mega-wages doesn't mean they were amateurs. Professionalism has been around since the late 19th/early 20th century. In fact, Ajax's rise was largely down to the introduction of professionalism in Holland.

 

And I actually think there should be a bias in favour of those who maintained their dominance for longer. But there really is no fair way of compiling a list like this. I had suggested they change the format, but no dice. (Now, I'm no scholar, but does the original pantheon rank the gods like this, or is it just a general place of worship?)

MiguelDelaney 9 pts

 dicks69 I think Adam catches the point about amateurs/professionals quite well. This, after all, is not about saying which team would be who - since that is impossible across eras - it's about who was most dominant across time. As far as I can see, that is the only fair, objective way to judge their quality against each other.

 

As regards Milan,yes a few people did bring it up. But the majority supported the decision to split the team. This also wasn't based on "gut feeling". It was based on careful analysis of each team and what we felt was the most honest approach. As we say,it's impossible to be completely accurate. But it is what we're striving for.

vellhuan 8 pts

 MiguelDelaney  dicks69 

I wonder why then you don't reconsider Madrid 53-64 as just the Di Stefano era instead of unnaturaly splitting it in two.

 

The thuth is how a team who has reached 7 EC finals (and won 5 in a row) and an extra semifinal in 9 years and 8 leagues in 11 years can be second to anyone?  

 

What changed from 53-60 to 60-64 is that they didn't win in 61 and 62, then you would be talking about the Madrid team of the 7 European Cups, the split you're doing isn't methodological but symbolic, it ends when the european cup streak finishes. But success streak was 11 years long. If you aspire to be "scientific" about it you should  follow your own criteria:

 

-The overall style of Madrid stayed the same all those years being always an attack oriented team.

 

-The core players were Di Stefano and Gento and Miguel Muñoz as captain first and coach later . From the starting XI that won the 53-54 league, only Di Stefano and Gento kept their status in 59-60, with Lesmes II and Zarraga being demoted to squad players. From the starting XI 58-59 to the starting XI in 63-64 4 players are the same Santamaria, Puskas, Gento, Di Stefano and Santiesteban and Casado as squad players.

Yourself confirm that the changes of the squad were organic.

 

-Real Madrid coaches as you already said were not managers but head coaches and in some case just figureheads. All his teamates say that he was the one giving instructions before the match and inside the pitch, he was the manager and he was a total footballer who played everywhere in the pitch. The most influential player for a team ever, empirically proved, Madrid wasn't even the best team in Spain before him, it had been 20 years since winning their second Liga! Remember he was the best player of all times up until that moment.

 

You have the option to consider Miguel Muñoz as a key change, then you would have to change the teams to 53-58 and 58-64, which is breaks anyway with the logic of the other two criterias.  

 

Now, my opinion is that beyond output, Guardiola's Barcelona is the best team ever, at least in the 20 years I've being watching football, futuristic style and the closest thing in football to art.

 

 

 

 

Bayern Munich 5 pts

I don't know which team is the best but I do know that these teams Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Barcelona, Real Madrid are probely the favourites but I support Bayern Munich because they play so good and I like the players.Bayern Munich is the best club for me and also,it doesn't always have to be Barcelona AND Man boo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! l DON'T SUPPORT BARCELONA AND MAN BOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

antonio65 5 pts

Barcelona is the all time football club in the world as at now..

adamrhbrown 7 pts

Far too young - and not nearly Dutch enough - to have seen enough of Ajax's TF hippies, but from what I've heard, across all sources, they deserve their no. 1 status. Probably the most intelligent forward-thinking team of all time. Kinda sad that the modern market leaves the current lot having to play against no-marks like no. 11 these days! (Well alright, no. 11 without their world class players.)

Seriously though it's interesting that the least heralded of Fergie's three definitive Man Utd teams is the one with the best results. Brings me onto my main point. Although I appreciate the sacrifices you've already made in your spare time to bring us this site, I do still stand by my comments in my email that the site would work better as a 'Hall of Fame' rather than ranked lists. Judging sides based on how well they dominated their era results-wise may avoid 'who would win a match between...?' arguments, but stats are only one ingredient in the melting pot of greatness.

Plus it does assume that the overall level of competitiveness remains the same across all eras, which - while probably true at domestic level - may not necessarily be the case at the top, especially not with the ever-growing scope of communications media.

Mainly it just seems unfair to leave the Busby Babes off. A side who were also revolutionaries in their more understated English way. Real would most likely not have had five in a row were it not for Munich.

MDelaneyST 31 pts moderator

adamrhbrown If it's a Hall of Fame it's a bit boring though. "Here are some teams". The formula is not perfect, because no formula ever can be. But we'd like to think this at least provides a basis for intelligent, informed discussion.

adamrhbrown 7 pts

MDelaneyST Point taken - especially as there's no big ceremony. Though my way of thinking was not "here's some teams" but more "here's a team plus a few juicy bits about them". Though it is obviously not easy to find a new angle on the stuff everyone already knows everything about.

It might just be that I have a largely female brain and so place less trust in rigid rankings than most other men (which is what you are doing in making such lists, admit it).

Perhaps sounds odd when so much of the game revolves around numbers and ordering. It's not that I don't care for league tables and final results (obviously I have more than a bit of male brain in me), but I fell in love with football for offering more than that. My beef is with making it the overwhelming focus of your analysis.

MDelaneyST 31 pts moderator

adamrhbrown Once again, though, who'd come to a site that just presented teams with a few juicy bits? The ranking system is the launchpad for debate!

Mortan Vang 6 pts

MDelaneyST What do you mean "effectively meaningless"? There's only 20 points a difference between Barca and Liverpool, and I see you give 15 bonus points to the winner of the Club World Cup (where you have to beat two continental champions, including, most likely, the Copa Libertadores winner). Then it would be fair to give, say, 10 points for winning a domestic supercup (where you have to beat the domestic champion / cup winner) and probably the same for winning the Uefa Super Cup (where you have to beat the UCL or UEL winner).

You're right when saying, the major weighting should be domestic league and UCL. But even with minor weighting, I suppose Barca already now could benefit from winning those three minor titles and "advance" to the all-time 3rd place.

MDelaneyST 31 pts moderator

Mortan Vang Yes, but we look at how we calculate it. If Barca, for example, were to only get to the semi-finals of the Champions League this season and finish second in the league then it would take their overall performance average down (it's now at about 92% = 920 points. It would fall below 900 if that happened). That is why the World Club Cup is effectively meaningless. What's important, really, is them winning the Champions League again. That will probably take them above Liverpool.

Mortan Vang 6 pts

MDelaneyST I pretty much understand the whole philosophy of yours with this list of best club teams. But I'm not too sure about, how precisely you do the calculations.

Since I suppose, you've saved the calculations for every team in the list, could you please give a few examples, how exactly each team gets as many points as they do (e.g. The top 5 teams)?

Thanks in advance.

MDelaneyST 31 pts moderator

Mortan Vang Also, that CWC refers to the Cup Winners Cup, not the Club World Cup.

Mortan Vang 6 pts

MDelaneyST Sorry, my fault. But why isn't the Cup Winners Cup rated as highly as the Uefa Cup. I find it pretty hard to argue either of those two competitions to be superior/inferior to the other.

Teams playing in CWC at least won something to get there. The same cannot be said of teams in the Uefa Cup / Europa League.

Mortan Vang 6 pts

With the current Barca side winning the Spanish Supercopa against a formidable Real Madrid side over two legs, beating Europa League winners FC Porto in the Uefa Super Cup and Al Sadd and Copa Libertadores winners Santos comprehensively in the Club World Cup, who many points does the catalans actually have now. Has Barca surpassed Liverpool in 3rd place?

MDelaneyST 31 pts moderator

Mortan Vang Not yet. Those competitions are effectively meaningless. The major weighting goes to league and Champions League performance.

ThomasDingle 5 pts

Comparing the quality of competition today vs 30-40+ years ago is just silly. Similar to how comparing players from 30-40 years ago to today's athletes is also silly. The simple fact is, if you put any of them on the field today they would fall on their faces.

MDelaneyST 31 pts

ThomasDingle Which is why we're not trying to do that. We're trying to compare teams' and players' performances/records in their respective era... because they are comparable.

We're not saying one would beat the other. Although, one line I would take issue with: yes, if Garrincha took to the field as a 1950s player today, he would probably perform poorly.

But imagine if Garrincha grew up in today's game, got the same fitness regime, the same coaching. Well, given that he was the best of his own time, it stands to reason that his innate ability would give him a good chance of being the best in this time too.

A. 10 pts

MDelaneySTThomasDingle

I think the second hypothetical is not worth considering when trying to figure which team or player WAS actually better. It would be akin to saying a tortoise could run like a hare if it became a rabbit.

I think the very best players of 40 years ago would still be top class today however most of the top teams of those times are way over rated in terms of the quality of their play, perhaps even all of them. Take Ajax of total football for example. Their play is very sloppy compared today's best team, Barcelona. Pumping long balls from the back that are easily repelled can be seen a dozen times at least in every match of theirs and their not even under the same amount of time pressure to play passes as everybody used to drop back when not in possession in those days.

MDelaneyST 31 pts

A.ThomasDingle But that's an unfair comparison. Ajax were still the most evolved state of football at the time. They only had 80-100 years of history and lessons to draw on. Barca have 120 or so to go on. As well as the lessons of Ajax. They're obviously going to look sleeker and more polished.

MDelaneyST 31 pts

A.ThomasDingle And, the most important point, this list doesn't try to look at that... it only compares records over cycles!

A. 10 pts

MDelaneySTThomasDingle

So obviously Barcelona has played the better football.

A. 10 pts

MDelaneySTThomasDingle

I realise this, and fair enough.

MDelaneyST 31 pts

ThomasDingle We also address your very issue in the introduction.

A. 10 pts

Just one last quibble: don't you think there's a little too much weight given to back-to-back EC wins? They almost occurred more often than not in pre-CL times but has proven to be impossible to achieve so far in the CL era. Surely this means that it's much more difficult to do now, even with a great side, rather than the sides of yesteryear being spectacularly better.

A. 10 pts

Looking at the list, I find the determining of eras somewhat arbitrary. For example, what's the reasoning behind separating Barcelona of the last 8 seasons or so into two teams but not doing the same for Ajax 60s-70s, or Liverpool 70's-80's or Juve of that era?

MDelaneyST 31 pts

A. Look at the 'How it Works' section. All of this is explained. In order to determine a team's cycle, there were three factors. If two of them stayed constant from season to season, it was the same cycle. If two changed, different cycle.

The three factors were:

1) same manager

2) same main core of players

3) same philosophy/style

A. 10 pts

MDelaneyST

I don't see how the Liverpool can be included as one cycle based on that criteria. There were only two players present in both their first EC win in 77 and their last in 84 and they had different managers.

MDelaneyST 31 pts

A. Liverpool are actually the strongest argument for this. The Boot Room philosophy ensured that there was a seamless transition from Paisley to Fagan with no discernable change in approach. Also, the core of the team stayed generally the same.

A. 10 pts

MDelaneyST

You've only ticked one you're own criteria - same philosophy. The managers were different and there were only two players who stayed through out.

OTOH, some teams have been split when they more closely follow the criteria. There was no discernible change in philosophy between the Sacchi and Capello era (except perhaps a fine tuning in the early Capello times and then a more pragmatic approach after 93), and there were many more players in common between the 89 CL winning team and the 94 winning team than in the comparable era for Liverpool.

The same could be said of the current Barcelona beginning with Rijkaard.

MDelaneyST 31 pts

A. No because if you actually look trhough Liverpool every season, there was generally only one or two changes to players per season. So it was very hard to ever draw a line. The team favoured organic evolution.

As for Milan, Sacchi's entire approach was hugely different from Capello so it would have been disingenuous to not split them. Likewise Barcelona. Guardiola represented a quantum leap from Rijkaard.

A. 10 pts

MDelaneyST

Don't mistake the Capello of today for the Capello who first took over at Milan. For his first two seasons there was no change in approach except fine tuning and often improving what Sacchi had established with the same players, e.g. the high def. lines, pressing, creative usage of deadball situations etc. Thereafter, as injuries started to take their toll, and the dynamics of the post-Bosman started to tell, he started to become more cautious, which in itself wasn't unheard of in Sacchi's times either, as some of the stats from that era would attest to.

As to Barcelona, the foundations for the current style of play were very much laid down by Rijkaard. The pressing, formation, philosophy, tiki take are all the same. Many of the players are the same ones as well. They've just gotten better and better at it.

MDelaneyST 31 pts

A. We'll have to agree to disagree. Sacchi's training approaches were so idiosyncratic and demanding that many of the players said they were not sustainable. This goes a long way to explaining why Milan performed better in a cup competition and only won one league title. Capello drastically changed that, so then the team went and won a series of consecutive titles.

The opposite applies to Barca. Such is the way Guardiola introduced a relentless pressing game to their system, they were absolutely unrecognisable from Rijkaard's team - even if some of the players are the same. Guardiola had a MASSIVE difference. This relentlessly successful era is almost entirely down to his approach.

A. 10 pts

MDelaneyST

I'm not really interested in the behind the scenes goings on. On the actual field of play, there were no major difference in playing style between Sacchi's Milan and Capello's. This is what's important.

The pressing was always there and was a core philosophy under Rijkaard. Players such as Deco and Iniesta made their names by this approach! The ball possession and pressing are common factors, only under Guardiola it is generally been done at an even higher level.

MDelaneyST 31 pts

A. You mightn't be interested but they're absolutely essential to understanding these teams. The differences were absolutely huge, even if they were not immediately obvious. And Guardiola has revolutionised the pressing game. Taken to ridiculous new levels.

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  3. [...] Hur bra är då Barcelona, numera ofta porträtterat som från en annan planet i europeiska medier? Frågan har förstås inget svar, men jämförelser kittlar och i Football Pantheons ambitiösa sammasntällning blir det ”bara” en fjärdeplats. [...]

  4. [...] easily the greatest side since the Milan of the late 80′s early 90′s.  They are arguably better.  There is no doubt however, that this Barça side has joined the pantheon of great clubs [...]

  5. [...] presenterade Football Pantheon en ambitiös ranking av bästa europeiska klubblag genom tiderna. Nu är det dags för världens fotbollslandslag. Som väntat hamnar Spanien [...]

  6. [...] engaged in is a fundamental cornerstone of a successful fan culture. Sometimes the arguments can be very persuasive and other times less so.  Even when the results are less convincing, the effort reveals a passion [...]

  7. [...] Oorspronkelijk geplaatst door Weebl Die pagina is door nen Hollander gemaakt zeker? Neen, een Spaanse Ier of zoiets, Miguel Delaney. "Freelance football writer for Independent, Blizzard, ESPN, Champions, Irish Examiner. Author of 'Stuttgart to Saipan: the Players' Stories' (Mentor)." Die spelerslijst is inderdaad meer subjectief, maar zijn best teams of all time lijstje vond ik anders wel goed uitgevoerd! The 50 greatest European club sides | The Football Pantheon [...]