In another post about the great football legends, I will choose the best XI and the greatest (not necessarily the best) players from each era of the sport: from 1955 to 1975; 1976 to 1996; and 1997 to 2016. I’ve decided to use this criteria, because I wanted a 20 year period for each team (I will not do the pre-1950 XI, since I don’t know as much about those years). Each player would be placed in the era when he had his best years, regardless of how old he was back then.
The colors of each team will be those of the club/nation symbol from that era. Therefore: Brazil for 55 to 75 (World Cup winners in 1958, 1962 and 1970); Argentina, 76 to 96 (World Cup winners in 1978 and 1986); and Barcelona from 97 to 2016 (Champions League winners in 2006, 2009, 2011 e 2015).
Lev Yashin (USSR); Djalma Santos (BRA), Carlos Alberto Torres (BRA), Bobby Moore (ENG) and Nilton Santos (BRA); Franz Beckenbauer (GER), Johan Cruyff (NED) and Pelé (BRA); Garrincha (BRA), Alfredo Di Stéfano (ARG) and Ferenc Puskás (HUN).
Coach: Rinus Michels (NED).
Three greatest players in order: Pelé, Cruyff and Di Stéfano.
In this fantastic team, almost all players are basically in their original position (about Pelé, click here), except for Cruyff (playing further from the opponent’s goal than usual), Beckenbauer (like a defensive midfielder, a little more offensive than a pure sweeper; good to know that he played as a midfielder in the 1966 World Cup) and Carlos Alberto Torres (as a centre-back, where he also played great, mainly later in his career).
Pelé, Di Stéfano, Cruyff and Puskas, great scorers and playmakers, could run everywhere and switch roles during all game, under the instructions of the 1974 Netherlands coach, Rinus Michels. Garrincha would play more static as pure right winger (it was extremely hard to choose two players out of Garrincha, Puskas and Eusébio, I’ve decided to exclude Eusebio, although I believe there is not really a wrong choice here when we had such amazing players). How to stop such great team?
Team B: Gordon Banks (ENG); Berti Vogts (GER), José Santamaria (URU), Elias Figueroa (CHI) and Giacinto Facchetti (ITA); Zito (BRA), Didi (BRA), Bobby Charlton (ENG) and Rivellino (BRA); Eusébio (POR) and Gerd Müller (GER).
Team C: Ladislao Mazurkiewicz (URU); De Sordi (BRA) Cesare Maldini (ITA), Atilio Ancheta (URU) and Karl-Heinz Schnellinger (GER); Clodoaldo (BRA), Gérson (BRA) and Tostão (BRA); Jairzinho (BRA, improvised as right-wigner, position he played in the 1970 World Cup), George Best (NIR) and John Charles (WAL).
Other great players: Antonio Rattín (ARG), José SanFilippo (ARG), Omar Sívori (ARG), Roberto Perfumo (ARG), Silvio Marzolini (ARG), Paul Van Himst (BEL), Ademir da Guia (BRA), Amarildo (BRA), Coutinho (BRA), Dino Sani (BRA), Dirceu Lopes (BRA), Gylmar (BRA), Leão (BRA), Luis Pereira (BRA), Mauro Ramos de Oliveira (BRA), Paulo Cesar Caju (BRA), Pepe (BRA), Wilson Piazza (BRA), Zagallo (BRA), Georgi Asparuhov (BUL), Ivo Viktor (CZE), Josef Masopust (CZE), Alberto Spencer (ECU), Geoff Hurst (ENG), Jimmy Greaves (ENG), Just Fontaine (FRA), Raymond Kopa (FRA), Günter Netzer (GER), Sepp Maier (GER), Uwe Seeler (GER), Wolfgang Overath (GER), Florian Albert (HUN), László Kubala (HUN), Zoltán Czibor (HUN), Enrico Albertosi (ITA), Gianni Rivera (ITA), José Altafini (ITA/BRA), Luigi Riva (ITA), Sandro Mazzola (ITA), Johan Neeskens (NED), Willem van Hanegem (NED), Héctor Chumpitaz (PER), Teófilo Cubillas (PER), Mario Coluna (POR), Simões (POR), Vicente Lucas (POR), Billy McNeill (SCO), Dennis Law (SCO), Amancio Amaro (SPA), Francisco Gento (SPA), Luis Suárez (SPA), Pedro Rocha (URU), Oleg Blokhin (USSR), Dragan Dzajic (YUG), among others.
Dino Zoff (ITA); Leandro (BRA), Daniel Passarella (ARG), Franco Baresi (ITA) and Paolo Madini (ITA); Frank Rijkaard (NED), Lothar Matthäus (GER), Zico (BRA), Michel Platini (FRA) and Maradona (ARG); Romario (BRA).
Coach: Arrigo Sacchi.
Three greatest players in order: Maradona, Platini and Zico.
There would be no lack of leadership in such great team. Seven players were their football nation’s captains in World Cups: Passarella (1978), Zoff (1978 and 1982), Platini (1982 and 1986), Maradona (1986, 1990 and 1994), Matthäus (1990 and 1994), Baresi (1994) and Maldini (1998). Furthermore, four of them lifted the World Cup as captains: Passarella (1978), Zoff (1982), Maradona (1986) and Matthäus (1990). We should also not forget that Zico was Flamengo’s captain for many years.
Zico and Platini would play a little more behind than usual so that Maradona could have total freedom. Romario would have a dream job, assisted by three of the greatest attacking midfielders ever: Platini, Zico and Maradona.
Lastly, I must say that, personally, I rate Falcão ahead of Rijkaard, however, I’ve chosen the Dutch, because he was a better defender, even capable of playing as a centre-back, and for being one of the key players under coach Arrigo Sacchi.
Team B: Schumacher (GER); Jorginho (BRA), Gaetano Scirea (ITA), Ruud Krol (NED) and Júnior (BRA); Falcão (BRA), Ossie Ardiles (ARG) and Michael Laudrup (DEN); Roberto Baggio (ITA), Mario Kempes (ARG) and Marco Van Basten (NED).
Team C: Taffarel (BRA), Manuel Amoros (FRA), Aldair (BRA), Giuseppe Bergomi (ITA) and Andreas Bhremme (GER); Breitner (GER), Sócrates (BRA) and Ruud Gullit (NED); Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (GER), Kevin Keegan (ENG) and Paolo Rossi (ITA).
Other great players: Claudio Cannigia (ARG), Jorge Burruchaga (ARG), Oscar Ruggeri (ARG), Ubaldo Fillol (ARG), Franky Van der Elst (BEL), Jan Ceulemans (BEL), Jean-Marie Pfaff (BEL), Michel Preud’homme (BEL), Bebeto (BRA), Careca (BRA), Dunga (BRA), Raí (BRA), Reinaldo (BRA), Roberto Dinamite (BRA), Toninho Cerezo (BRA), Hristo Stoichkov (BUL), Roger Milla (CAM), Iván Zamorano (CHI), Allan Simonsen (DEN), Preben Elkjær (DEN), Gary Lineker (ENG), Peter Shilton (ENG), Alain Giresse (FRA), Eric Cantona (FRA), Jean Tigana (FRA), Jean-Pierre Papin (FRA), Marius Trésor (FRA), Abedi Pele (GHA), Bernd Schuster (GER), Jürgen Klinsmann (GER), Matthias Sammer (GER), Rudi Völler (GER), Thomas Häßler (GER), Claudio Gentili (ITA), Gianluca Pagliuca (ITA), Marco Tardelli (ITA), Roberto Bettega (ITA), Roberto Donadoni (ITA), George Weah (LIB), Hugo Sánchez (MEX), Dennis Bergkamp (NED), Rob Rensenbrink (NED), Ronald Koeman (NED), Romerito (PAR), Grzegorz Lato (POL), Kazimierz Deyna (POL), Zbigniew Boniek (POL), Gheorghe Hagi (ROM), Kenny Dalglish (SCO), Andoni Zubizarreta (SPA), Emilio Butragueño (SPA), Enzo Francescoli (URU), Igor Belanov (USSR), Rinat Dasayev (USSR), Dejan Savićević (YUG), among others.
3) 1997 a 2016
Gianluigi Buffon (ITA); Cafu (BRA), Alessandro Nesta (ITA), Fabio Cannavaro (ITA) e Roberto Carlos (BRA); Andrea Pirlo (ITA), Zidane (FRA) and Ronaldinho (BRA); Messi (ARG), Ronaldo (BRA) and Cristiano Ronaldo (POR).
Coach: Guardiola (SPA).
Three greatest players in order: Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Ronaldo.
Contemporary football would also make a fantastic team, with technique, strength, great playmakers (Pirlo, Zidane, Ronaldinho and Messi) and scorers (both Ronaldos and Messi). In order to have those players in the same team, I’ve put Ronaldinho and Zidane a little further behind than where they used to play.
Pirlo, Zidane, Ronaldinho, Cristiano, Ronaldo and Messi under Guardiola? Scary!
Team B: Peter Schmeichel (DEN); Javier Zanetti (ARG), John Terry (ENG), Sérgio Ramos (SPA) and Philip Lahm (GER; he starded his career as a left-back); Fernando Redondo (ARG), Figo (POR), Iniesta (SPA) and Rivaldo (BRA); Raul (SPA) and Henry (FRA).
Team C: Oliver Kahn (GER); Lilian Thuram (FRA), Marcel Desailly (FRA), Carles Puyol (SPA) and Ashley Cole (ENG); Patrick Vieira (FRA), Xavi (SPA), Pavel Nedvěd (CZ) and Kaká (BRA); Zlatain Ibrahimovic (SWE) and Gabriel Batistuta (ARG).
Other great players: Angel Di Maria (ARG), Hernán Crespo (ARG), Javier Mascherano (ARG), Juan Roman Riquelme (ARG), Juan Sebastian Veron (ARG), Daniel Alves (BRA), Dida (BRA), Marcos (BRA), Neymar (BRA), Rogério Ceni (BRA), Thiago Silva (BRA), Samuel Eto’o (CAM), Didier Drogba (CIV), Yaya Touré (CIV), Davor Šuker (CRO), David Beckham (ENG), Frank Lampard (ENG), Michael Owen (ENG), Paul Scholes (ENG), Steven Gerrard (ENG), Wayne Rooney (ENG), Claudio Makélélé (FRA), David Trezeguet (FRA), Didier Deschamps (FRA), Frank Ribèry (FRA), Bastian Schweinsteiger (GER), Manuel Neuer (GER), Mesut Özil (GER), Michael Ballack (GER), Miroslav Klose (GER), Thomas Müller (GER), Tony Kroos (GER), Roy Keane (IRL), Alessandro Del Piero (ITA), Christian Vieri (ITA), Francesco Totti (ITA), Arjen Robben (NED), Clarence Seedorf (NED), Edgar Davids (NED), Ruud Van Nistelrooy (NED), Van der Sar (NED), Deco (POR), Rui Costa (POR), David Villa (SPA), Cesc Fàbregas (SPA), Gerard Piqué (SPA), Iker Casillas (SPA), Xabi Alonso (SPA), Andriy Shevchenko (UKR), Luis Suarez (URU), Gareth Bale (WAL), Ryan Giggs (WAL), Predrag Mijatović (YUG) among others.
I hope you have enjoyed this post. Unfortunately, we will never know who would win those matchups. I’d put my money on the 1955-77 team, because it has probably five of the eight greatest players ever: Pelé, Cruyff, Di Stéfano, Beckenbauer and Garrincha. The team led by Maradona looks more balanced, with more a defensive and a central midfielder, while the contemporary XI has strengthand modernity on its side. What about you guys, what do you think?