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Top five counter attacking teams in European football

Top 5 / Top 10
38.82K   //    25 Mar 2013, 16:04 IST

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of Sportskeeda.

Football is a beautiful game! One of the best sights to see is a quick counter attack, a goal within the blink of an eye. Many teams are good with this style and Real Madrid is often associated with counter attacking football.

The idea of counter attacking football: When the opponent gives away possession in midfield or at the far side, opposing players will be further up in the field in an attacking position and may not be able to quickly adjust to a defensive formation. They then catch the opponent on the “break” and score beautiful Goals.

Tiki-Taka style is considered as one of the best playing style in football and counter-attack has been evolved into the only way to break the clutch of tiki-taka. We recently witnessed the effectiveness of counter attacking football against Tiki-taka, when Real Madrid excelled Barcelona in two consecutive El Classicos within a week.

So here is the list of Top five counter attacking teams in European football

1. Real Madrid

 Formation 4-2-3-1
 Appearances 28
 Goals Scored 71
 Goals Conceded 27
 Results W- 19  | D- 4  | L- 5

Since Jose Mourinho took charge at Santiago Bernabeu, he changed the whole club into an attacking team, making them unstoppable on the break. Real Madrid is known for it’s counter attacking football and are dangerous on the break. We have seen how effective Real Madrid counter attacks are, against attacking teams. However, Real Madrid fails to initiate counter attacks to a perfectly defensive formation.

 Top Players Goals
 Cristiano Ronaldo 27
 Higuain 11
 Benzema 08
 Mesut Ozil 04

Pros :

  • Score a lot of goals on the break
  • Reach the opponents box within a few passes
  • Powerful players with fantastic aerial ability increase the lethality of the attack.

Cons :

  • Their counter attack fails against a team with a perfect defensive style of play.
  • Stopping opponents from creating chances
  • Avoiding Offside

2) Bayern Munich

 Formation 4-2-3-1
 Appearances 26
 Goals Scored 69
 Goals Conceded 11
 Results W- 22  | D- 3 | L- 1

We can’t differentiate between Real Madrid and Bayern. Both Bayern and Real are dangerous on the break. Bayern Munich completely dominated the Bundesliga this season, and they were unstoppable on the break. In a Bayern Munich counter attack, we can see Ribery & Muller sprinting down the flanks and the both full backs, Lahm and David Alaba, overlapping them and scoring goals. These counter attacks are beautiful to watch.

 Top Players Goals
 Mandzukic 15
 Thomas Muller 12
 Mario Gomez 07
 F. Ribery 06

Pros :

  • Scores goals, a lot!
  • Dangerous on the break, forcing the other teams to be defensive

Cons :

  • Full Backs sprint forward to join counter attacks and leave the defense vulnerable.
  • Avoiding offside

3) Borussia Dortmund

 Formation 4-2-3-1
 Appearances 23
 Goals Scored 55
 Goals Conceded 27
 Results W- 13  | D- 6 | L- 4

Arguably, it is the third best counter attacking football team in the world. They have players who are young and very quick. Their counters are very fast and within the blink of an eye they will be in the opponent’s box. With their quick attacks, pacy players with great work-rates, Dortmund is described as ‘a team that can’t stop running’.  Marco Reus, Mario Gotze , Robert Lewandowski and Matt Hummels are some of the players who are responsible for Dortmund’s pacy counter.

 Top Players Goals
 Lewandowski 19
 Marco Reus 11
 J. Blaszczykowski 09
 Mario Gotze 08

Pros :

  • Attack, Attack, Attack! This is their main motto. Other teams get dejected with Dortmund’s style of play.
  • Counter attacking play, brings the best out of the young players in the club. ‘Valuable assets for future’
  • Starts the game very fast. They attack from the very beginning of the game, leaving the other team clueless!

Cons :

  • Can’t keep hold of the possession. However, it’s ok, if we compare the situation to this context – quality possession matters rather than quantity
  • After losing possession in counter, make lesser recovery runs.
  • Defending against through balls

4) Udinese

 Formation 3-5-1-1
 Appearances 19
 Goals Scored 27
 Goals Conceded 32
 Results W- 5  | D- 8  | L- 6

Udinese is certainly in the middle half of the Seria A table, but they are very dangerous on the break. They find it difficult to keep hold of the ball, but they always set-up beautiful goals on the break. Udinese’s counter attack is centered around the Italian international Antonio di Natale. He is a great counter attacking threat!

 Top Players Goals
 Antonio Di Natale 15
 L. Muriel 06
 G. Angella 03
 R. Pereyra 03

Pros :

  • Scores goals, even with little possession.
  • With rapid counters, they force the opponents to be more defensive.
  • Coming back from losing positions

Cons :

  • Highly relied on one player (DI Natale).
  • Ineffectiveness in open play.
  • Keeping possession of the ball

5) Arsenal

 Formation 4-2-3-1
 Appearances 29
 Goals Scored 55
 Goals Conceded 32
 Results W- 14  | D- 8  | L- 7

One might ask, Why Arsenal, what about Tottenham? Arsenal is more capable of a quick break than Tottenham. Arsenal commence the game with an open style of play, by keeping possession. But they are often seen more dangerous in the break than in open play. They have scored more goals on the counter than any other in Premier league club. With Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott, they are one of the most dangerous team on the break, even if it might raise many eyebrows.

 Top Players Goals
 Santi Cazorla 11
 Theo Walcott 11
 O. Giroud 09
 Lucas Podolski 08


  • Keeps possession and when loses it, they recover it and employ fantastic counter attacks through the flanks.
  • Full backs often joins the counter.


  • Defensive contribution is less.
  • Defending counter attacks, best in counter attacks but fails miserably to a counter attack, when they lose the ball in opponents half.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of Sportskeeda.

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