The Greatest Teams in World Cup History

The Greatest Teams in World Cup History

World Cup Team Greatness

There are just a few nations that have gone beyond simply winning the World Cup. They left their mark on an era. They came with a style, a new idea, and they dominated games in a way we had never seen before.

Teams like this were bigger than the individuals who would come and go. They were a national identity, a source of pride for an entire country and a shining beacon of how to play the game the right way.

So who were the best teams in World Cup history?

1. Brazil

Era: 1958-1970

This was the time of Pele, Jairzinho, Tostao and other titans of the game that came to the World Cup with a near alien set of skills. They were the Harlem Globetrotters of the football world and yet they came with a cutting edge.

The Brazilians produced moments of magic in every single game and wrote their name into World Cup folklore in the process. Brazil is an integral part of the World Cup story, a constant threat to the trophy and fan favourites for their amazing style.

The term 'The Beautiful Game' was coined for the Brazilian national team as Pele, Garrincha, Carlos Torres and more. They could run past players, pass them off the pitch and shoot from almost anywhere. It was a joy to behold.

2. Germany

Era: 2010-Present

The current German team might not be the prettiest to watch in action, but they are the Golden Generation of German football. They're even better than the team led by Franz Beckenbauer in the 70s.

The likes of Philipp Lamm, Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski led the resurgence. These stars have made way for the youngsters that look ready to defend their crown and continue this period of German dominance.

Nobody knows when the winning streak will come to an end but if the German team can retain the World Cup, they will go down as legends of the game. 

3. Netherlands

Era: 1970-1980

Dutch 'Total Football' is still talked about in revered terms to this day. Johan Cruyff was the face of Total Football. He was simply breathtaking on the pitch but he only went to the 1974 World Cup. The Dutch philosophy was bigger than one player, however.

Piet Keizer, Johnny Rep, Ruud Krol and Willem van Hanegem were just as integral to the system that passed opposition teams off the pitch.

Cruyff was a master. He lit up the 1974 World Cup with a skill set that seemed to transcend the game. Kids still copy the Cruyff Turn today. He filled entire highlight reels on his own in the group stages.

The Dutch players also paved the way for the next Golden Generation, which saw Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Ronald Koeman and more take the honours in Europe.

Holland was the best team never to win the World Cup but the Dutch team was one of the finest on the planet for a long time. That, in itself, is a great achievement.

4. Italy

Era: 1998-2006

There was a time when Serie A was considered the best league in the world and Italian football stood an another level.

Andrea Pirlo was the star of midfield, Gianluigi Buffon was pretty much the best goalkeeper in the world and Christian Vieri was firing goals in for fun at the sharp end. It was a fearsome team with more world class defenders than positions on the pitch.

Despite their obvious skill, Italy often came up short at the final hurdle. It wasn't until 2006 that it all came together. Filippo Inzaghi joined Francesco Totti, midfield general Pirlo and the rest of the squad to take Italy to the title in a tense penalty shoot-out with France.

It all fell apart for Italy in the wake of that World Cup triumph. They did not even qualify for the tournament in Russia. Italy will be back, but not this time.

5. Spain

Era: 2008-2012

The Spanish enjoyed a brief period of dominance with Tika-Taka football, which left the opposition chasing shadows. Quick passing picked apart even the best teams. For a while, it looked like nobody would have the answer to this recipe of football cooked up in the Spanish kitchen.

The squad had some ridiculously talented individuals, too, including: Iker Casillas, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Sergio Ramos, Carles Puyol, Fernando Torres and David Villa.

They dominated the 2010 World Cup after storming to the Euro 2008 trophy. For a brief period, Spain were absolutely unplayable. They took European honours once again in 2012.

Spain absolutely fell apart at the 2014 World Cup, though, and the same group of players were sent packing in the group stages. The magic spell was broken but at their peak the Spanish team was an absolute joy to watch.

6. Hungary

Era: 1950-1956

There were a few teams from the vaults that could stake a claim for inclusion, but the Hungarian national team was one of the most spectacular. 

Ferenc Puskas was the best player in the world at the time and he was surrounded by mercurial talent. Hungary lost just once in six years and yet never managed to win the World Cup in that time. They lost out to West Germany in a game that is now known as the Miracle of Bern.