The 30 greatest international teams of all time

The teams who missed out and why

Scotland 1879-88

The reason: despite going unbeaten for nine years and 22 matches, the fact every one of those games came against one of the home nations meant their quality was impossible to quantify in a global context


England 1890-96

The reason: exactly the same as the Scots


Austria 1931-37

The reason: an influential team that has always inspired a lot of emotion, they missed out on the 30 by a mere point. But that’s also because their tactical innovation didn’t actually translate to truly dominant record and they were ultimately beaten by Italy in the World Cup semi-finals


Sweden 1957-59

The reason: an undoubtedly brilliant team, but home advantage in the 1958 World Cup undoubtedly boosted their record while some middling results either side took away from it


Spain 1963-66

The reason: a maiden trophy in 1964 was followed by a miserable World Cup in 1966


Portugal 1965-67

The reason: their brilliance was all too brief as they failed to qualify for the next two tournaments after electrifying the 1966 World Cup


Peru 1970-75

The reason: despite an effervescent quality best illustrated by Teofilo Cubillas, won the 1975 Copa America in haphazard fashion and failed to reach Germany in 1974


Czechoslovakia 1975-77

The reason: conquered Europe in 1976 but couldn’t reach the global stage either side


Denmark 1984-86

The reason: that emphatic second-round defeat to Spain in 1986 offset some exquisite performances as well as a semi-final place in 1984


Denmark 1992

The reason: just like Czechoslovakia, found the World Cup a tournament too far after continental success


Holland 1998-2000

The reason: paid the penalty for failing to maximise their individual quality in the semi-finals of both 1998 and Euro 2000


Portugal 2004-06

The reason: Felipe Scolari’s side had a strange habit of going stale in attack as tournaments reached their end-point. In the last four games of the 2006 World Cup, for example, they only scored once. And they couldn’t do it all at home to Greece. The trophy it cost them also cost them a place on this list



Share your opinion


  1. […] side of all-time according to this very intersting website, The site has devised a clever points system to try and determine the top 30 international sides ever. There is no doubt you don’t agree […]

  2. […] klubblag genom tiderna. Nu är det dags för världens fotbollslandslag. Som väntat hamnar Spanien 2007-2010 […]

  3. […] 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 and energy that is […]

  4. Quora says:

    Is the current Spanish team the greatest soccer dynasty ever?…

    While I am admittedly a rabidly biased Spain supporter, I think the question here is an unequivocal Yes. As I stated in my answer to 2012 UEFA European Football Championship: Who will win the Euro 2012 football tournament?, they have now become the gre…

  5. […] his fantastic blog Football Pantheon, journalist Miguel Delaney places them 7th in his list of the greatest international teams of all time, a full 17 slots ahead of the West German side which defeated them in that fateful final.  From a […]