Football over the years has seen the creation of some unbelievable teams by football clubs over the years. While these teams have managed to stay at the forefront for around 5-6 years, they are remembered mainly because of their overwhelming success, the introduction of revolutionary football styles and tactics, and also for putting the limelight on some of the greatest players to grace the football pitch.
5) Ajax (1969-1973): If the initiation and influence of a novel football tactic are considered, Ajax would top this list. But overall the Ajax team of the late 60s and early 70s gets the 5th spot here. Managed by the tactical mastermind Rinus Michel, Ajax transformed from a side fighting relegation to one of the greatest football teams ever assembled. Neither Michel nor Ajax invented “Total Football”; but no club side had put the tactic to such dynamic use both in terms of execution and gameplay as did Ajax under Michel. Johan Neeskens, Piet Keizer, Sjaak Swart, Wim Suurbier, Barry Hulshoff, Gerrie Mühren, Johnny Rep, Ruud Krol, Velibor Vasović, and Johan Cruyff in a 4-3-3 formation led Ajax to 11 trophies in 4 years including 3 consecutive Champions League wins. Johan Cruyff was undoubtedly the beating heart of the team and the best of the lot.
4) Barcelona (2008-2011): Pep Guardiola’s arrival at Camp Nou changed everything for world football. An ardent follower of the “Total Football” philosophy and heavily influenced by the “Tiki-Taka” system, Guardiola arranged the Barcelona team in a 4-3-3 formation. Victor Valdes, Carlos Puyol, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, and Lionel Messi were the most important players in the entire timeframe. Samuel Eto’o, Dani Alves, Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, Pedro, and David Villa were vital contributors in different parts of the field. The team won 14 trophies in 3 years including a sextuple in 2008-09.
3) Santos (1961-1968): The only non-European entry in this list, the Santos team which dominated world football throughout the 60s gets a worthy place. Back when the National League of Brazil was one of the finest tournaments, Santos displayed ruthless authority throughout almost an entire decade. Gilmar, Geraldinho, Calvet, Haroldo, Lima, Zito, Mauro, Mengalvio, and Dorval helped Santos win 17 trophies including a treble in 1962. But the real force of the Santos team managed by Lula and Antoninho was the deadly trio of Pele-Pepe-Coutinho.
2) AC Milan (1987-1991): Arrigo Sacchi is often considered as one of the most revolutionary managers of all time and his principal achievement has been to assemble the devastating AC Milan side of the late 80s and early 90s. Giovanni Galli between the sticks, Mauro Tassotti, Franco Baresi, Alessandro Costacurta, and Paolo Maldini at the back, Frank Rijkaard, Carlo Ancelotti, Roberto Donadoni, and Ruud Gullit controlling the midfield, and Roberto Baggio and Marco van Basten upfront amalgamated a side that steamrolled over opponents. Known for their tight pressing and a rock-solid defense, this Milan side won 9 trophies in 4 years including 2 Champions League titles.
1) Real Madrid (1955-1960): Cristiano Ronaldo and company might have led Madrid to a hat trick of UCL wins but the Real Madrid team of the 50s stood far above not just the former but also any club team ever assimilated in world football. Managed by Jose Villalonga, Luis Carniglia, Miguel Munoz, and Manuel Fleitas, Los Blancos attained the untouchable feat of 5 Champions League wins in a row from 1955 to 1960, which took their tally of trophies to 10 in 5 years. Playing in a 3-2-2-3 formation, Rogelio Dominguez was the last line of defense. Jose Maria Zarraga, Jose Santamaria, and Marquitos guarded the backline. Antonio Ruiz and Juan Santisteban established the bridge between the front and the back. But it was their attack which made them virtually unstoppable for the opponents. Francisco Gento, Raymond Kopa, Hector Rial, Ferenc Puskas, and Alfredo Di Stefano functioned flawlessly as a unit and were undeterred in the attack.