Lionel Messi in 2009

Best Soccer Teams Of Time ⚽ Top 10

In this article, we’ve compiled a comprehensive ranking of the 10 best soccer teams in history. We’ve done this based on the trophies they won, the players that featured in their teams, the longevity of their success, and their influence on the game.

So, who’s the best soccer team in the world? Let’s settle the debate once and for all…

10. Hungary (1952 – 1958)

The Hungarian national team in 1953Image: Kovács József/Wikipedia Commons

Honors 

Olympic Games Gold medal (1): 1952

Central European International Cup (1): 1953

World Cup Finalist (1): 1954

Notable Players

Ferenc Puskás, Nándor Hidegkuti, József Bozsik, and Gyula Grosics.

From 1952 to 1958, Hungary’s “Golden Team” left an indelible mark on soccer while winning the Olympic Games, Central European International Cup, and finishing as runners-up in the 1954 World Cup.

Led on the pitch by legendary players Ferenc Puskás and Nándor Hidegkuti, their coach Gusztáv Sebes revolutionized tactics at the time. He moved away from the traditional WM formation, which had been around for 30 years at that point, and instead opted for a 3–2–3–2.

Sebes also encouraged his players to be versatile and wanted them to be comfortable in any position. This was a precursor to “Total Football” which wasn’t implemented properly until the 1970s. Their achievements on the pitch, but also their tactical influence on the game, is the reason why they made the list. The name Puskás lives on in FIFA’s Puskás Award, given for the “most beautiful” goal of the calendar year.

9. Santos (1955 – 1968)

The Santos F.C. team Image: Wikimedia Commons

Honors 

Intercontinental Cup (2): 1962, 1963

Intercontinental Supercup (1): 1968

Copa Libertadores (2): 1962, 1963

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A (6): 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1968

Notable Players

European club football is the dominant force in the modern era, but it wasn’t always so. Ever heard of a guy called Pelé?

The striker, considered by many to be the greatest to ever play the game, helped Santos dominate Brazilian and South American soccer for over a decade, claiming multiple Copa Libertadores and Brazilian Série A titles in the process.

Santos was the fertile ground where Pelé honed his incredible skill, flair, and ability to win despite being virtually assaulted by opponents every time he stepped onto the pitch. Santos was the first club to show the world how soccer could be played with imagination, fun, and Brazilian samba spirit. This is their lasting legacy and earns them a place as one of the best soccer teams in history.

8. West Germany (1972 – 1974)

Match between West and East Germany at the 1974 World CupImage: Mittelstädt, Rainer/Wikipedia Commons

Honors 

World Cup (1): 1974

European Championship (1): 1972

Notable Players

Gerd Müller, Franz Beckenbauer, and Paul Breitner

The first international team on our list, West Germany, was a powerhouse of world and European football in the early 70s. Led by the “Kaizer” Franz Beckenbauer, they claimed back-to-back major tournament wins with Euro 1972 and the 1974 World Cup.

Although the German team had experienced success on the international stage before, the legacy of the 72-74 team is their resilience, grit, and will to win. German teams always seem to keep a cool head in the big moments (especially penalties), and that all started with this team.

7. Liverpool (1976 – 1984)

Kenny Dalglish during a match against Stoke CityImage: Jim Wall/Wikipedia Commons

Honors

English First Division (7): 1975–76, 1976–77, 1978–79, 1979–80, 1981–82, 1982–83, 1983–84

Football League Cup (4): 1980–81, 1981–82, 1982–83, 1983–84

European Cup (4): 1976–77, 1977–78, 1980–81, 1983–84

UEFA Cup (1): 1975–76

UEFA Super Cup (1): 1977

Notable Players

Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness, and Alan Hansen

Liverpool’s trophy cabinet for the eight years from 1976 to 1984 is way bigger than most professional clubs could hope to achieve in their entire history. Bob Paisley’s side was synonymous with winning and had a core group of Scottish players that helped lead the team to glory.

They won a staggering seven league titles in eight seasons, as well as four domestic cups and four European cups, culminating in a treble in 1984. Paisley is remembered as one of the greatest managers in the history of soccer, and was the only manager to win three European Cups until Carlo Ancelotti in 2014.

6. Manchester United (1992 – 2000)

Ryan Giggs playing for Manchester United

Honors

English Premier League (6): 1992–93, 1993–94, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1998–99, 1999–2000

FA Cup (3): 1993–94, 1995–96, 1998–99

Football League Cup (1): 1991–92

Champions League (1): 1998–99

Notable Players

Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Roy Keane, Eric Cantona and Peter Schmeichel

From one great English football dynasty to another. Spearheaded by the class of ‘92, which included club legends like Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, and David Beckham, Manchester United dominated English football in the first era of the Premier League.

Although they didn’t have the same level of European dominance as Liverpool, United captured the hearts of fans around the world with their exciting, never-say-die brand of soccer. This resilience was on display in the 1999 Champions League final, where injury-time goals from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjær helped United claim the Champions League, and complete a historic treble.

5. Real Madrid (1955 – 1960)

Real Madrid players Puskás, Gento and AraquistáinImage: Wikimedia Commons

Honors

La Liga (3): 1954–55, 1956–57, 1957–58

European Cup (5): 1955–56, 1956–57, 1957–58, 1958–59, 1959–60

Latin Cup (2): 1955, 1957

Notable Players

Di Stefano, Raymond Kopa, Ferenc Puskás, and Paco Gento

The Real Madrid team of the mid-1950s was one of the first teams to realize the potential of signing the best players from around the world, instead of relying on local, homegrown talent. This birthed the idea of “Galacticos” and is now second nature. All of the biggest clubs in the world have a team sheet full of international stars.

This side also goes down in soccer folklore thanks to winning the first five European Cups, from 1955 to 1960. Fans will always remember the dynamic, attacking soccer that was played by the world’s best players, including Di Stefano and Puskás. Today, Real Madrid remains one of the best soccer teams in the world, and is in fact the world’s richest soccer club.

4. AC Milan (1988 – 1994)

AC Milan at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium in 1993Image: Wikimedia Commons

Honors

Serie A (4): 1987–88, 1991–92, 1992–93, 1993–94

Supercoppa Italiana (4): 1988, 1992, 1993, 1994

European Cup (3): 1988–89, 1989–90, 1993–94

European Super Cup (3): 1989, 1990, 1994

Intercontinental Cup (2):1989, 1990

Notable Players

Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten, Paolo Maldini, and Franco Baresi

AC Milan was the dominant force domestically, and on the European and international stage in the late 80s and early 90s, when Italian soccer ruled the roost. They boasted a combination of outstanding Dutch attacking talent in Gullit and van Basten, to complement two of the greatest defenders of all time in Italian internationals Maldini and Baresi.

This combination made them almost unbeatable, as they claimed four scudettos and three European cups in six seasons. They also recorded a 58-match unbeaten run in Serie A, which helped them claim three titles in a row, and cement their place as one of the best soccer teams of all time.

3. Spain (2008 – 2012)

Spain national team during Euro 2012

Honors

World Cup (1): 2010

European Championship (2) 2008, 2012

Notable Players

Andrés Iniesta, Xavi, and Carles Puyol

The last international team on this list, West Germany, won two major tournaments in a row. This outstanding Spain team went one better and won back-to-back Euros and a World Cup in just four years, confirming their place as one of the best soccer teams of all time.

Spain boasted an incredible roster of talent that was used to winning at club level, but they put classico rivalry aside to also become an unstoppable force at international tournaments.

After edging incredibly close finals in 2008 and 2010, the supremely confident Spanish side destroyed Italy 4-0 in the final of Euro 2012, becoming the only international team in history to win three tournaments in a row.

2. Brazil (1958 – 1970)

Brazil during the World Cup in 1970Image: Store Norske Leksikon, PDM 1.0 DEED

Honors

World Cup (3): 1958, 1962, 1970

Notable Players

Garrincha, Pelé, Carlos Alberto Torres, and Jairzinho

While the 1970 World Cup-winning Brazil team is often regarded as the best international team in history, it’s important to remember that they also won two out of three editions of the tournament before that.

Inspired by the iconic Pelé, this generation of Brazil players thrilled fans and played a brand of soccer that had never been seen before. In an era where regular tackles would be seen as a physical assault by today’s standards (something which Pelé paid the price for), the cream rose to the top.

Brazil showed the world that you could win by playing an exciting, flair-based style of attacking soccer. In 1970, the team conceded in all but one game, but every player was comfortable on the ball, and willing to attack, including holding midfielder Clodoaldo, who dazzled fans in the final when he dribbled past four Italian players in his own half.

Their legacy lives on even today, and every time a Brazil team takes to the World Cup stage, there is huge expectation. Fans want to be entertained, and in an era where soccer was often very negative, and always aggressive, Brazil was a breath of fresh air.

1. Barcelona (2008 – 2012)

Lionel Messi in 2009Image: Arturo Miguel/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Honours

La Liga (4): 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2012–13

Copa del Rey (2):  2008–09, 2011–12

Supercopa de España (3): 2009, 2010, 2011

Champions League (2): 2008–09, 2010–11

UEFA Super Cup (2): 2009, 2011

FIFA Club World Cup (2): 2009, 2011

Notable Players

Lionel Messi, Andrés Iniesta, Xavi, and Dani Alves

Not only did Barcelona collect 15 trophies in four years, they managed to win all six that were available to them in the 2008-2009 season, becoming the first team in history to do so. Led by club legend Pep Guardiola, Barcelona extended the club ethos of bringing young, homegrown players through their world-famous “La Masia” youth academy. They played a possession-based, technical style of soccer known as “tiki-taka”, in which every player was confident and comfortable on the ball.

Barca’s academy produced all-time greats like Iniesta, Messi (one of the richest soccer players in the world, as it happens), and Xavi, and combined their talents with international stars like Theirry Henry and Dani Alves to form the most impressive club side ever fielded, and undoubtedly the best soccer team in the world at the time.

Pep Guardiola’s influence on soccer and the impact his Barcelona team had between 2008 and 2012 can’t be understated. In the highest levels of European and International soccer, it’s now almost impossible to find a highly regarded team or coach that doesn’t want to build from the back, control possession, and dominate the opposition in the way this legendary Catalan side did. That is why we believe this Barcelona side is the best soccer team in the world.

FAQs

What is the best soccer team in the world?

The best soccer team in world history is arguably the FC Barcelona team managed by Pep Guardiola between 2008 and 2012. In the 2008/2009 season, the team won six trophies, becoming the first team in history to do so. They also had all-time great players in their team, like Lionel Messi and Andrés Iniesta, and arguably the most influential coach of all time.

Which country is number one in soccer?

Argentina is currently ranked as the number one international soccer team by FIFA. In terms of club teams, Man City currently have the highest UEFA club coefficients due to the treble they achieved in the 2022/2023 season.

Which countries have the best soccer teams?

In terms of club soccer, the best teams are mostly from Europe. In the last 11 editions of the FIFA Club World Cup, European teams have won every title. England has several strong clubs, however, thanks to Real Madrid and Barcelona, Spain has enjoyed the most success in Europe and Internationally over the past decade.

What’s the best soccer team in America?

The team with the biggest name and most wins in US soccer is LA Galaxy. The Galaxy has nine total MLS Cup appearances and five wins. We should also mention Columbus Crew, who won the MLS Cup in both 2020 and 2023.

What’s the best soccer team in Mexico?

América is the current champion of the Mexican Primera División and historically the most successful team in the country. They have more league (14) and Copa México (6) titles than any other club.

Which team is better: Real Madrid or Barcelona?

If you compare Real Madrid and Barcelona purely on titles won, Real come out on top. They have 35 La Liga titles to Barca’s 27, and 14 European Cup/Champions League to Barcelona’s 5, however, Barca does have 11 more Copa Del Rey titles than Madrid. Both are certainly among the best soccer teams in the world.

Author: Nathan Sanchez