The Most Successful International Soccer Squads of All-Time

I was going to post this on my Fox Soccer blog, but then discovered that it no longer exists (it's been awhile since I blogged about soccer). I figured: Well, I spent a lot of time on this, so I might as well post it somewhere. Without further ado, here it is:

After their historic victory in the 2012 Euro final against Italy, there will be a great deal of discussion as to whether or not this Spanish National team is the greatest International soccer squad of all time. Granted, the fact that they won three major titles in a row makes a strong argument that they are the best. There have been other squads in the long history of the game that could also be up for the title, however. I’ve decided to throw in my list of seven squads worth considering.

Possible Worlds Greatest Int. Soccer Teams:

Uruguay 1924-1930: 1924 Olympic Gold, 1928 Olympic Gold, 1930 World Cup

Italy 1934-1938: 1934 World Cup, 1936 Olympic Gold, 1938 World Cup

Both teams inclusion in this list is problematic since the format of the World Cup was much different in the 1930’s and you would be hard pressed to say that winning an Olympic Gold in soccer (as impressive as that is) is as difficult as winning a Euro or Copa America.

Brazil 1970: World Cup 1970

Not to tread on the memory of Pele’ and the 1970 Brazilian squad that demolished all comers in the World Cup of that year, but that was their only major title. Granted there was a gap between 1967 until 1975 where there was no South American Championship or Copa America. They also won a number of minor tournaments, but it makes them hard to compare to Spain’s 2008-2012 squad.

West Germany 1972-1976: Euro 1972, World Cup 1974

You can make a strong case for Franz Beckenbauer’s West German side from the 1970’s. They took the 1972 World Cup, the 1974 World Cup, but came as runners up in the 1976 Euro to Czechoslovakia on penalties. It’s interesting to note that they did win the 1980 Euro after Beckenbauer left the team, but that is quite the gap between tournament wins. Another fun fact is that East Germany won the Gold at the 1976 Olympics. It makes you wonder what could have been.

France 1998-2000: World Cup 1998, Euro 2000

Zinedine Zidane’s French side did well to win the World Cup and Euro back to back and even had enough gas left in the tank to make it to the 2006 World Cup Final against Italy. They also won the 2001 and 2003 Confederations Cups. However, the fact that they never won their third major title and the way that Zidane left football will always haunt them.

Brazil 2002-2004: World Cup ’02, Copa America ‘04

I think this team tends to get overlooked next to the 1970 Brazil squad, but they did capture a World Cup and Copa America back-to-back. They also won the 2005 Confederations Cup and the 2007 Copa America despite falling short in the 2006 World Cup. They won enough to enter the discussion, though.

Spain 2008-2012: Euro ’08, World Cup ’10, Euro ‘12

On top of winning three major tournaments in a row, this Spain squad also has a number of impressive records to boast. Most consecutive wins (15), a shared most consecutive games undefeated (35), and a perfect 30 out of 30 points in World Cup qualifying for 2010. The only flaw would be their third place finish in the 2009 Confederations Cup, but that barely counts since it’s a minor tournament. There’s also the possibility that they could go on to win the World Cup in 2014. If they did, it would be almost impossible to argue against them being the greatest International soccer team of all time.

Honorable Mentions:

Argentina in the mid to late 1970’s won the World Cup in 1978 and a number of minor trophies, but failed to pick up a Copa America.

France in 1984 won the Euro, the Olympic Gold, and a few minor trophies in the surrounding years. Michel Platini’s side never won the World Cup, however.

2 Comments
2 Comments
Posted by ApenasJoao

@Jekylhyde14: Really that you think this horrible team of Spain is the greatest of all time?

Germany and Italy in 2006, France and Holland in 98, Argentina in 90, Brazil in 94 and 02...All of this teams, was too much better than Spain today.

I think was better to compare BARCELONA and ask if there was some great team as Barcelona today....And I would say yes. Manchester in 99, Palmeiras in 96, Ajax in 92...

Posted by Jekylhyde14

@ApenasJoao:

Honestly, I never said one way or the other if I thought that Spain was the best. I've always had a soft spot for Zidane's French side, myself. It's really an opinion-based question. There is no best team outside the one you think is the best. I wrote this blog to point out that if we were going by results in major tournaments alone then it's hard to argue against Spain. By winning three major tournaments in a row they did something unprecedented. They were also the first European side to win a World Cup outside of Europe and they have a crazy number of world records. My blog simply points out that these are strong arguments for them being the best, but nowhere do I say that they are actually the best. That's all about opinion. However, they are certainly not "horrible."

I was also limiting my blog to International Association football and not club football. If you wanted to discuss which club was the greatest of all-time then I'd be willing.