Teams that ruled football with revolutionary ideas and tactics
Nowadays football is more about tactics and points. Players and managers are more concerned about winning matches at any cost.
Spectacular dribbling skills and wonderful passing has become golden like gold dust. Still some clubs has ruled football world by their charismatic passing and free-flowing football in the past. These teams have taught the football world the real meaning of beauty and style. Greatest teams with such beautiful playing style is discussed below:
1. Real Madrid of 1956-1960:
1956-1960 was the golden period in the history of the Spanish capital-based club. Still today Real Madrid of that era are regarded as the strongest team football world has ever seen. During that period Real Madrid won 9 major trophies including 3 laliga,5 European cup,1 Intercontinental cup.
The team was star-studded consisting the legendary Alfredo Di Stefano, ‘Galloping Major’ Ferenc Puskas, Francisco Gento, Raymond Kopa, Jose Santamaria, Hector Rial, Pachino etc lead by Miguel Munoz,Villalonga and Luis Antonio Carnaglia. Their speciality was highly attacking football along with spellbound skills and goals of Ferenc Puskas, Raymond Kopa and Di Stefano. The highly aggressive 3-2-5 formation with such star-studded forward line produced 112goals in the 5European cup winning campaigns of Real Madrid.
Quotes of football legends give us an idea of the magical success of the team.
“We just had the misfortune to be around at the same time as that incredible Real Madrid team,” reflected Stade de Reims goalkeeper Dominique Colonna in 1959 after his side’s second European Cup final defeat to Madrid. “If it wasn’t for them, Reims might have dominated Europe for years.”
“No side could have lived with Real Madrid today,” wrote French reporter Jean Eskenazi. “Their play was like the most fantastic fireworks display you have seen for a long time.”
2. Benfica of 1960-1962:
After 1960 the reign of European football shifted from Spain to Portugal. Benfica took over the reigns of Europe from Real Madrid by winning two successive European cup in 1961 and 1962. Benfica owes this success to a 17yrs old sensational kid, who showed the football world that magical skills don’t see skin colour and a Hungarian manager- the ‘Black Panther’ of football, Eusebio and Bela Guttmann.
Eusebio was a integral part of the Benfica team which won 8 Portuguese leagues from 1960-1969 and 2 UEFA champions leagues in 1961 and 1962. Eusebio with his trademark speed,power and prolific goal-scoring prowess gave Benfica the power to take the baton of ruling Europe from Real Madrid after defeating them by 5-3 in the 1962 UEFA champions league final. Eusebio scored a brace in that game to give Benfica the Holy Grail of football after Ferenc Puskas almost won it for Real Madrid by his hattrick. Bela Guttman was another figure behind this success. His philosophy of equally attacking and defending with a 4-2-4 formation helped Benfica to neutralize the attacking venom of Ferenc Puskas under the leadership of Mario Coluna and Germano. Guttmann’s quote “If we do not have the ball, we have to mark; if we have it, we must run into space,” was a symbol of changing football philosophy from highly attacking football to a balance between attacking and defending.
3. Inter Milan of 1962-1967:
Grande Inter as they were known at that time, Inter Milan enjoyed a hell lot of success during this period under the guidance of legendary Franco-Argentinean manager Hellenio Herrera and the classic skill of Sandro Mazzola.
They won 2 European cups in 1964 and1963 , 3 Scudettos from 1962-1967(except in 1966). The success of Inter Milan also marked the rise of a new style of football-‘Catenaccio’ or defensive football which was invented by Nereo Rocco and taken to next level by Hellenio Herrera. Hellenio Herrera made players strong both mentally and physically. He used Armando Picchi as a sweeper or libero and made Giacinto Fachetti, the first attacking left-back of football. Such solid defence along with pacy midfielders and skilled forwards like Sandro Mazzola providing lethal counter attacking football made Inter Milan,the meanest team in Italy and Europe conceding just 20goals from 1961-1966. Herrera also introduced the concept of ritiro or pre-match retreat i.e removing pre-match distractions from the footballer’s head.
His quote regarding winning Scudetto “Class + Preparation + Intelligence + Athleticism = Scudetto”, “If you play for yourself, you play for your opponents; if you play for the team, you play for yourself.” shows that he was a light years above his contemporary coaches.
4. Ajax of 1971-1973:
Ajax, the team which gave the football world magician like Sir Johan Cruyff, Johan Neeskens, Piet Keizer, Sjaak Swart, Wim Surbier and other noteable artists ruled Europe with their ‘TOTAL FOOTBALL’ under legendary Rinus Michels. Rinus Michels converted Ajax from a relegation fighting club to one of the best club in Europe through his innovative free-flowing and passing playing style.
Ajax took over the reign of Europe by defeating Panathinaikos in 1971 European cup final. They came across Bayern Munich in the quarter finals and mighty Real Madrid in semi-finals. Ajax played an attacking 4-3-3 formation where the attackers used to play on wings. There was no definite position for any player. Defenders used to start attack and go forward along with midfielders by passing the ball swiftly. This made man-marking Ajax players almost impossible.
Rinus Michels always emphasized on discipline and properly-planned training sessions.His ‘TOTAL FOOTBALL’ changed the view of people about football tactics. Rinus Michels, once a great forward, implemented his attacking and free-flowing football style to Barcelona and Netherlands also but it was Cruyff’s Ajax which taught the football world the meaning of the word ‘beautiful’ and brought Netherlands in the group of elites of Europe. Ajax won a total of 6trophies including 2 Eredivise, 2 European cup, 1 UEFA super cup and 1 KNVB cup.
The quotes of some of Michel’s disciples show what is his contribution to football.
Sjaak Swart, Ajax forward: “At the start, Michels said: ‘We are going to make Ajax more professional. If anyone is not with me in wanting more discipline and training, say so now, then you can leave.’ His training sessions were always perfectly prepared. And he put the right players in the right positions. That seems simple, but it isn’t. If I had become a coach, I would have done it just like him. I never had a better coach then Rinus Michels.”
Ruud Krol, Ajax defender: “Michels made us run less and take over each other’s positions, which was revolutionary. It was the first time there was a totally different vision of football. ‘Total Football’ spread all over the world. It was the only real change in football for almost 40 years. He stunned the world.”
5. Bayern Munich of 1973-1976:
Bayern Munich of Germany(West Germany then) ruled Europe under two of the legendary German coaches Dettmar Cramer and Udo Lattek.
The German giants took over the baton of ruling Europe through disciplined attacking football under Lattek and defensive football under Cramer and the individual brilliance of Franz Beckenbauer, ‘Der Bomber’ Gerd Muller, Sepp Maier, Uli Hoeness and Paul Breitner. They won a total of 6trophies including 3 Bundesliga, 3 UEFA champions league consistently in a row(first team to do it since Real Madrid), 1 inter-continental cup. Under Udo Lattek Bayern Munich deployed a attacking style and scored a whooping 101goals in the 1971-72 Bundesliga season. Under Cramer Bayern emphasized on defence with a 1-3-3-3 formation under the leadership of Franz Beckenbauer, one of the best libero of football.
6. Liverpool of 1976-1980:
The Merseyside giants were the strongest team to represent England in Europe at that time. Liverpool started conquering Europe by winning 1976 UCL with their class players like Tommy Smith, Terry McDermott, Kevin Keegan and John Tosack under their legendary coaching duo Ronnie Moran and Bob Paisley by defeating Borussia Monchengladbach.
Liverpool retained the title next year and became the first English club to retain UCL. In the final held at mesmerising Wembley Liverpool came over the challenge of Belgian club, FC Bruges by a goal from new king of the Kop, Kenny Dalglish. The Liverpool fans were doubtful about their chance to retain UCL after the major players of that Roma night in previous year after Kevin Keegan went to Hamburg. But the team consisting of the genius Scottish duo Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness handed Liverpool another memorable night. Liverpool also won the UEFA cup in 1976 by beating Club Brugge.
In 1980 the Reds won their 3rd European cup by defeating the mighty Real Madrid in Paris as Alan Kennedy broke the deadlock in 84th minute of the match. Liverpool’s spellbound success in Europe started an era of domination of English football clubs in Europe.
7. Juventus of 1980-1986:
The OLD LADY OF TURIN experienced the golden period of their history during this time. The Bianconeris possessed a shield like defence of Gaetano Scirea, Claudio Gentile and Antonio Cabrini with Dino Zoff guarding the goal and had the best attacking force of that time consisting of Zbigniew Boniek, Michael Platini, Marco Tardelli, Paolo Rossi, Roberto Bettega and Liam Brady(replaced by Platini). The Turin giants under the management of wily Giovanni Trapattoni won every possible trophy including 4 Scudettos, 1 Coppa Italia, 1 European cup, 1 UEFA cup, 1 Inter-continental cup and 1 UEFA super cup. The nucleus of this Juventus team also won the 1982 FIFA World cup for the Azzuri.
8. AC Milan of 1988-1990:
The Rossoneris under Arigo Sacchi were one of the finest team to don the European football. The Red and Blacks were trophy-less since winning the Scudetto in 1979. But after joining of Silvio Berlusconi as club president in 1986 and appointment of Arigo Sacchi things began to change.
The Milan giants bought two Dutch wonder-boys in the form of Ruud Gullit and Marco Van Basten who later dominated the European football with their magical touches and goals. Carlo Ancelotti, Frank Rijkaard, Roberto Donadoni, young Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi, Gullit and Van Basten made AC Milan the strongest team in Europe who excelled in both attacking and defending.
Arigo Sacchi paid more attention to team game rather than individual brilliance. He pioneered the concept of ‘collective intelligence’ where 11 active players would participate in both attacking and defending. He improved the peripheral vision and positioning sense of the footballers by playing practice matches without a ball and tell them where the imaginary ball was so that they can position themselves accordingly.
This quote from the legendary coach himself shows his ideal of football-“The only way you can build a side is by getting players who can play a team game,” Sacchi said. “You can’t achieve anything on your own, and if you do, it doesn’t last long. I often quote what Michelangelo said: ‘The spirit guides the hand.'”
Arigo Sacchi was the first manager to prove that you don’t need to be a great player to become a great coach. His quote “I never realised that to be a jockey you had to be a horse first,” is still noteworthy.
The quotes from some of Sacchi’s finest students show his contribution to Italian football.
Roberto Donadoni: “Sacchi started a revolution in Italian football, at mental and tactical level. We had our style of playing and we were trying to impose it on all opponents, from amateurs in a mid-week training game to Real Madrid at the Bernabéu.”
Carlo Ancelotti: “Arrigo completely changed Italian football – the philosophy, the training methods, the intensity, the tactics. Italian teams used to focus on defending – we defended by attacking and pressing.”
9. Barcelona of 1990-1996:
The appointment of Sir Johan Cruyff as the manager of Barcelona in 1988 changed the fate and philosophy of Barcelona who managed to win just one Laliga in just 14years.
The appointment of former Barcelona fan-favourite, Cruyff, was an indication of something big in the future. Cruyff first emphasized in grass root programme of Barcelona. He is the father of Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy.
This academy later gave birth to legends like Guardiola, Iniesta, Messi and Xavi. Sir Johan Cruyff made a great fusion of youth of Laudrup, Stoichkov,Romario, Koeman and Guardiola with the experience of Andoni Goikoetxea aka The Butcher of Bilbao, Nunoz, Zubizaretta and gave birth to the dream team which would go on to become the best of Europe at that time. This dream team of Sir Johan Cruyff won 4Laligas, 1 UCL, 1 Copa Del Rey, 1 UEFA super cup, 1 European cup winners cup and 1 UEFA super cup. Sir Johan Cruyff injected the Dutch principles of ‘Total Football’ into the vein of Barcelona players.
10. Real Madrid of 1996-2002:
Real Madrid of this era was a team full of star players which earned them the name ‘LOS GALÁCTICOS’. Figo, Zidane, Ronaldo, Beckham, Roberto Carlos and many others made Real Madrid the strongest team of Europe.
This team won 3 UCL in 1998,2000 and 2002,2 Laligas,2 Spanish super cups and 1 UEFA super cup. The success of this Real Madrid team marked the beginning of spending loads of money in transfer market. Vicente Del Bosque, is the pivotal figure behind the success of this star-studded team. His intention was to form a perfect combination of world stars like Figo, Beckham, Zidane, Ronaldo with academy graduates like Raul, Fernando Hierro, Iker Casillas, Pavon and Guti. He with his cool head and man-management skills created a place in the hearts of both fans and players.
11. Barcelona of 2008-2012:
The Catalan giants under Pep Guardiola took ‘tiki-taka’ to the next level with the help of little magician Lionel Messi and midfield generals Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta.
Barcelona under Pep Guardiola won 14 out of 19trophies which included 2UCL, 2 Fifa Club World cup, 2 Laligas,1 Copa Del Rey and 2 UEFA super cup. The high-possessional football of Barcelona proved to be nightmares for opponents. They can’t even touch the ball let alone score. Guardiola used Valeriy Lobanovskiy and Arigo Sacchi’s ideals when he promoted several players of La Masia academy into the starting XI and never relied too much on individual brilliance even though he had one of the most skilled footballers of recent days in the form of Leo Messi. Guardiola’s 4-3-3 formation with Messi and Iniesta moving the ball all over the field with quick passes, then suddenly attack with quick moves and brilliant defence splitting through passes of Xavi made Barcelona the undisputable champions of Europe at that time.
12. Santos of 1957-1974:
Santos football club of Brazil which gave the football world the greatest footballer ever Edson Arintes Do Nascimento aka Pele was a major force in South American football.
The team riding on the shoulders of King of football became the first Brazilian team to win the Continental treble i.e Brasilierao, Campeonato Paulistia and Copa Libertadores in 1962. This team won a total of 14trophies including 6 Brazilian Championship, 2 Copa Libertadores, 2 Intercontinental cup,3 Rio-Sao Paolo and 1 South American Recopa.
The Santos team showed the world the samba magic scoring a astounding 143goals in 38 games averaging 3.76goals per game and conceded only 40goals. Pele set a record of scoring the highest no of goals in any state competition in the world by finding the net 58times. This record earned Pele a call from Brazil national team and gave him the chance of becoming an integral part of the best team in the world in 1958 when Brazil won the Jules-Rimet trophy.
Luis Alonso Perez also known as Lula played a vital role in bringing so much success to Santos. He was the pioneer of 4-4-2 formation with Pele and Coutinho forming the lethal attack with Pepe known as Vila Canon for his powerful kicks on the left wing. Lula also brought Dorval, a speedy winger and Mengalvio, the defensive midfielder. Lula fused the youth of Pele, Coutinho and Pepe with the experiences of Zito, Jair, Helvio and Tite which went on to win every possible trophy of football. Santos caught the eye of world football when they defeated Eusebio’s Benfica, the team which ended Di Stefano’s Real Madrid’s rule in Europe, by an aggregate of 8-4 in World Club Championship in 1962.
The first leg ended in a 3-2 win for Santos with Pele scoring twice. The second leg of the match showed the real power of Samba magic when Santos defeated Benfica by a margin of 5-2 with Pele finding the net thrice along with Pepe and Coutinho. In the following year Santos retained the Intercontinental cup by defeating the mighty AC Milan starring Cesar Maldini and Giovanni Trappatoni in a play-off by 1-0 after both teams won by 4-2 margin in both legs.
Other note-able teams
Penarol of early 1960s, Anderlecht of late 1950s, Dinamo Kiev of 1980s