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Man City is one of the best teams I’ve ever seen, but who are yours?

As the head football writer for BBC Sport, I’ve had the good fortune to watch some of the game’s best teams play.

But as I watched Manchester City win the Triple Crown in Istanbul, I began to reflect on some of the best teams I have ever covered.

City’s achievement in becoming just the second English men’s club to win the perfect Trifecta of the Champions League, Premier League, and FA Cup is proof they deserve to be listed among the greatest.

Erling Haaland’s goals and strength offered a sizable point of differentiation, but brilliant performances came from players like Kevin de Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan, Jack Grealish, and many others in every position.

The first 45 minutes of their 4-0 victory over Real Madrid in the second leg of the Champions League semifinal were among the most thrilling displays I have ever witnessed.

The Premier League has charged City with 115 financial laws violations, which the club vehemently denies and will vigorously contest. Nevertheless, when viewed in the context of football, they are a rather exceptional football team.

Who are the other outstanding men’s sides I have witnessed over my career? I have only covered the years I have worked for the BBC because it was very difficult to condense everything into one essay.

By utilizing the form at the bottom of this page, you may let me know who your favorite team is and what you think about my selections.

Liverpool has recovered under Klopp.
The Champions League trophy is raised by Virgil van Dijk.
After taking over for Brendan Rodgers in October 2015, Jurgen Klopp’s reinvention of Liverpool took some time to fully take hold, but once it did, they produced some of the most thrilling attacking football ever.


Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, and Mohamed Salah made up a lethal trifecta, but Liverpool’s ability to reach the next level was made possible by the departure of star player Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for £142 million in January 2018.

The initial investment, £75 million, was made on Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk as Liverpool advanced to the Champions League final at the conclusion of that campaign before falling to Real Madrid 3-1.

Liverpool went one better the following season, defeating Tottenham in the Champions League final in a run that will be forever remembered for the second-leg semi-final at Anfield when Liverpool beat Barcelona to come back from a three-goal deficit. Klopp spent the remaining Coutinho money on Roma’s brilliant goalkeeper Alisson Becker.

The pursuit of a historic quadruple in 2021–22 was next, during which they narrowly lost the Premier League championship to Manchester City by one point and lost the Champions League final to Real Madrid, but they did manage to win the FA Cup and League Cup.

One of the best squads in the contemporary age, to put it simply.

Real of Bale, Ramos, Ronaldo, and numerous other athletes
Gareth Bale enjoys his Champions League championship goal.
Real Madrid will always be included on any list of great teams, but since this is determined by the fans who witnessed in person, one period, beginning in 2014, stands out above all others.

I have witnessed five of Real Madrid’s Champions League victories, dating back to Zinedine Zidane’s left-foot volley that gave Real the victory over Bayer Leverkusen in the 2002 championship game at Hampden Park.

Later on, additional treasures appeared in quick succession for a team led by Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos, as well as Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Karim Benzema, and – before things regrettably went south – the brilliant talent of Gareth Bale.

I was in Lisbon in May 2014 when Ramos’s goal against Atletico in stoppage time set up a 4-1 victory, and I was in Cardiff three years later when Juventus lost by the same score.

In Kiev in 2018, Liverpool lost to Bale’s final, and in Paris in 2022, Vinicius Jr.’s winning goal destroyed Jurgen Klopp’s squad once more.

This was a world-class club that was capable of winning in a variety of ways. Benzema and Modric each received five Champions League championship medals, while Kroos, Ramos, and Ronaldo each received four while playing for Real Madrid.

Beyond Guardiola’s Barcelona
Barcelona players and staff raise Pep Guardiola into the air.
Pep Guardiola won his first Triple in his first season as Barcelona’s manager, adding the Copa del Rey and La Liga to his 2009 Champions League victory over Manchester United in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.

At first, it appeared as though United would overwhelm Barcelona, but as Samuel Eto’o put United ahead, the Catalans’ passing “carousel”—as Sir Alex Ferguson famously described it—became a stunning, lopsided spectacle.

With a spectacular second-half header, Lionel Messi underlined his greatness, completely outclassing a United team that included superstars like Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, who was playing in his final game before joining Real Madrid.

This was the Barcelona of Sergio Busquets as the defensive anchor and Xavi and Andres Iniesta in midfield. Above all, it was Messi’s Barcelona.

When they defeated United 3-1 at Wembley two years later, with the legendary David Villa among their ranks and scoring on goal, the pressure waves they generated were even more intense and completely overwhelmed Ferguson’s players. Although it wasn’t nearly ideal, it wasn’t too far off.

When Barcelona defeated Juventus 3-1 in Berlin in 2015 to win the 2015 Champions League, they had added two more geniuses to their team in Neymar and Luis Suarez.

I had the honor of witnessing all three victories by a truly outstanding team, and Guardiola molded them while Messi provided the spark.

Spain is a global power.
For Spain, Andres Iniesta scores in the World Cup championship.
Hugely talented Spain carried the reputation of being perpetual underachievers until their victory over Germany in the Euro 2008 final, when Fernando Torres’ winning goal won them their first major championship in 44 years.

It was the beginning of a period in which Barcelona and Real Madrid combined to rule the world, putting ancient animosities behind them in service of the greater cause, first under Luis Aragones and subsequently Vicente del Bosque.

Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, and Carles Puyol were all excellent defenders for Spain. Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Cesc Fabregas, Xabi Alonso, and David Silva all contributed to the strength of the midfield, while Torres and David Villa shone in attack with lightning-quick brilliance. Iker Casillas was an exceptional goalkeeper.

In 2010, a frantic World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands in Johannesburg ended with Iniesta’s extra-time victory after 14 yellow cards and a red for Dutch defender John Heitinga.

If these were attritional victories, Spain’s complete talent range blossomed in a stunning 4-0 thrashing of Italy in the Euro 2012 final in Kiev, capping off three straight major tournament titles in a genuinely golden period that was style-sealed for them and for all of us who were there to witness it.

Select Manchester United as the subject.
Players from Manchester United celebrate their 1998–1999 Champions League victory.
The best Manchester United teams have come from a variety of periods, and although the 1999 Treble-winning squad is mentioned a year too soon given that this is based on first-hand reporting experience, it is impossible to overlook that outstanding campaign.

The first English side to win the Premier League, the FA Cup, and the Champions League all in the same season, against Bayern Munich in the Nou Camp.

And observe how they arrived there. Inter Milan was defeated in the round of eight, and a talented Juventus team was defeated in the semifinal, which United won 3-2 in Turin despite falling down 2-0.

This is the ultimate definition of a great team, but for this particular criterion I leap ahead to the squad that defeated Chelsea in Moscow in 2008 to win Sir Alex Ferguson’s second Champions League on penalties.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, and Carlos Tevez made up United’s offense, and Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic patrolled the center of defense. Along with Michael Carrick and Owen Hargreaves in midfield, Paul Scholes was still a dominant force. Outstanding goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar was essential in the penalty shootout.

The Premier League was likewise won by this iteration of Ferguson’s United, the second of three straight triumphs. Manchester City won their third consecutive title in 2022–2023.

Boys of Mourinho’s Chelsea greatness
Roman Abramovich’s wealth had already begun to transform Chelsea under Claudio Ranieri for one season, but the defeat by Monaco in the Champions League semi-final convinced him he needed something special—or should I say “The Special One”?—to complete the transformation.

In the history of English football, Jose Mourinho produced one of the most spectacular and memorable managerial debuts. He followed it up by leading Chelsea to its first championship in 55 years.

Mourinho, who joined Stamford Bridge after helping Porto win the Champions League, brought with him the defensive stalwarts Ricardo Carvalho and Paulo Ferreira from Porto, as well as the captain John Terry and potential all-time great Frank Lampard. He also added the icon Didier Drogba. Arjen Robben joined the group.

With Lampard as an amazing midfield force and a top-notch goal scorer, Mourinho created a Chelsea team that would serve the club admirably for years to come. He added streetfighter traits and a ferocious defensive mindset to a genuine attacking threat.

Mourinho won two championships in a row in 2005–06, but Liverpool upset him twice in the semifinals of the Champions League.

Yes, it ended bitterly, as it frequently does with Mourinho. However, this was a superb manager at his peak, and this marked the beginning of Chelsea’s heyday.

The ‘Invincibles’ of Wenger
Arsene Wenger, the manager of Arsenal, celebrates his team’s Premier League victory.
After being named manager of Arsenal in 1996, Arsene Wenger became a pivotal role.

He used a philosophical approach, combining style and steel to great effect while shaping a collection of exceptional talents into a purists’ dream.

Patrick Vieira, who Wenger introduced to English football as a young player, later followed by fellow Frenchmen Emmanuel Petit, Thierry Henry, and Robert Pires. Dennis Bergkamp, who had previously been signed by Bruce Rioch, prospered even more under Wenger, and Marc Overmars, another Dutch superstar, joined him.

Wenger made the correct decision to preserve the ferociously competitive core of goalkeeper David Seaman, captain Tony Adams, Steve Bould, Lee Dixon, and Nigel Winterburn, but gradually changed the guard in July 2001 when Sol Campbell, the captain of Tottenham, switched sides in north London in a momentous free transfer deal.

Wenger made a number of wise purchases, including the signing of Nicolas Anelka when he was just a teenager. Anelka helped Arsenal win the Premier League and FA Cup double in 1998, which they repeated four years later.

The highest honor among numerous honors?

The team known as “The Invincibles” was the first since Preston in 1888–1889 to go the complete top-flight season without losing in 2003–04.

On May 15, 2004, when Arsenal defeated Leicester City at Highbury, they made history with the following lineup: Lehmann, Lauren, Toure, Campbell, Cole, Ljungberg (Keown 87), Silva, Vieira, Pires (Edu 70), Bergkamp (Reyes 82), and Henry.


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