Ranking the Best Soccer Teams of All Time
They’ve finally done it. Manchester City and Pep Guardiola have won the Champions League seven years after the Spaniard was appointed as head coach at the Etihad.
Despite relative dominance on the domestic scene (City have won five of the last six EPL titles), the biggest trophy of them all had yet to land in the trophy cabinet of the blue half of Manchester.
All that changed on a memorable night in Istanbul, with Rodri’s fine strike the difference between City and three-time winners Inter Milan.
Victory in Turkey saw City match their Mancunian rivals’ 1999 treble of an EPL title, FA Cup triumph and Champions League glory. Both surely have to be considered as one of the greatest achievements in the game, but who is the best soccer team of all time? Bodog explores.
Manchester United 1999
Long before Pep Guardiola arrived and established the blue side of Manchester as English soccer’s dominant force, it was their cross-city rivals that ruled the British game. Sir Alex Ferguson created a dynasty that would last long in the memory, and there was no greater United side than that which won the treble in 1999.
A legendary team featuring the likes of Roy Keane, David Beckham, and Paul Scholes, punctuated by a relentless, attacking philosophy, this was a team that overcame all obstacles and odds. There was no more fitting example of this than their final triumph, a last-minute winner against Bayern Munich when they had trailed by two goals, to secure the Champions League and their place in footballing history forever.
Real Madrid 2018
If trophies are the ultimate mark of greatness in football, then few sides can claim to rival Real Madrid. The serial winners have had many iconic teams over the years and equally iconic players, yet it was 2018 that completed arguably their most impressive feat.
The Galacticos, led by former midfield maestro Zinedine Zidane, had suffered a lackluster season domestically, having been knocked out of the Copa del Rey and chasing Barcelona in the league, it looked as though the season would be one to forget.
However, Madrid proved themselves worthy of their insurmountable reputation. They embarked on one of the best European campaigns ever, beating PSG, Bayern Munich, and Juventus on their way to the final. Their final test was a Liverpool side that looked fated for glory. It was not to be though, as Real’s sheer ruthlessness won out in the end, helped by one of the best goals scored in a European final ever. The result? A historic three-peat in the Champions League, a feat not likely to ever be repeated.
While Pep Guardiola is currently revered by the Manchester City faithful, it was in the streets of Barcelona where he made his name. A former player and permanent fan of the Catalan club, Guardiola immediately made some huge calls when appointed, letting go of club legends Deco and Ronaldinho.
It was a big play by a man who would become known for moves of that magnitude, but it paid off brilliantly. He nurtured the talents of an emerging Lionel Messi, guiding him from a hot prospect to a 38-goal superstar, and installed a scintillating style of play.
Of course, style is nothing without substance, but there were no issues here either, as Guardiola’s Barcelona dominated in every competition they played in. They won the Copa del Rey, pipped Real Madrid to the league, and demolished Ferguson’s United to secure European glory too. All conquering and brilliant to watch, few would argue this Barca side isn’t one of the best in club football.
Sometimes, it can be easy to forget the accomplishments of teams before the Premier League and UEFA era. While they may not be the most remembered team now for those outside of the Merseyside faithful, Liverpool’s 1983-84 team rival any of the others mentioned in this list.
Led by Joe Fagan, appointed after the legendary Bob Paisley, Liverpool went on a dominant run, which saw star player Ian Rush score 47 goals in all competitions. They first beat Everton in the League Cup final, before securing a third successive Division 1 title, becoming only the third side to do so.
Their final test came against AS Roma in the Stadio Olimpico in a bid to be crowned kings of Europe. It was a tense game that ended 1-1 after extra time, leading to a nail-biting penalty shootout. They won 4-2 and became the first English side to win three major trophies in a single season, a historic achievement still talked about by Liverpool fans to this day.
Manchester City 2023
Perhaps the most surprising part of Manchester City’s success this year is how unlikely it looked earlier in the season. In February, City looked like a team on the decline. Their stars were tired after a mid-season World Cup, they trailed behind Arsenal in the league and had even been knocked out of League Cup by bottom-placed Southampton.
Even with a record-breaking Haaland up front, it seemed as if the Blues were destined to end the season without silverware. But, when trials and tribulations arise, true greats step up. Guardiola, recognizing the need for drastic change, did what he does best.
He switched to an innovative 3-2-2-2-1 formation, transitioning John Stones to a hybrid midfield role, one in which he excelled, and relied on previous bit-part players like Nathan Ake to take a prominent part in the team.
The results were seismic. They caught Arsenal in the league, beating them twice in two title-clinching ties, emerged triumphant in the FA Cup against their fiercest rivals Manchester United and topped it off with a first-ever Champions League to seal a historic treble. If there had been any doubts over Guardiola and his City side’s legacy, all were dismissed when the final whistle blew on that famous night in Istanbul.
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