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The 10 greatest attacking teams that football has ever seen

Matt Gault

Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo exploited defence for fun in the 2011/12 seasonOver the years, world football has bore witness to teams who have taken the breath away when it comes to attacking football. Either through an insatiable appetite for goals or expert attacking tactics from the coaching staff, these teams have found success from purely out-scoring their opponents. After all, goals are the reason we watch football, the reason we love football. The following teams brought us more entertainment than any other purely because of their superiority in attack. Here are the 10 greatest attacking teams in the modern era: (in no particular order)

#10 Liverpool - 1977-84

Liverpool won the European Cup four times in the most decorated spell in the club’s history. The most successful team in England and Europe, the Reds boasted some of the finest attacking talent around at that time.

Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush were stunnnigly prolific for Bob Paisley’s men during this time, while Kevin Keegan also proved himself as one of the deadliest strikers in the game before he moved to Hamburg. Bob Paisley, manager from 1974-83, built a side dripping with attacking talent and they produced moments of brilliance that still burn deeply for the passionate fans that grace the Kop every week.

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#9 Argentina - 1986 World Cup

Without a doubt one of the greatest teams of all time, the World Cup-winning Argentina squad of ‘86 will forever be remembered for their frighteningly good attacking line-up. Led by Diego Maradona, the South Americans also had Jorge Valdano, Jorge Burruchaga and Hector Enrique in their ranks to wreak havoc on defences.

Argentina became World Champions that year playing excellent, attacking football, perhaps typified by their 3-2 win over West Germany in the final. Of course, sometimes Argentina could be devastatingly direct; England certainly learnt that the hard way when they faced an irrepresible Maradona.

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#8 Netherlands - 1970s

In the 1970s, Holland revolutionised football tactics forever with their widely-lauded Total Football style. Pioneered by the coaching nous of Rinus Michels and led on the pitch by the peerless Johan Cruyff, the Netherlands established themselves as one of the greatest attacking teams in the world.

Their wonderful, innovative style got them to the World Cup final, where they lost 2-1 in the final to Germany. Although they did not manage to win football’s ultimate prize, they were rightfully admired for their interchanging players and emphasis on attacking football.

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#7 Brazil - 1970 World Cup

Widely considered to be the greatest football team ever assembled, the 1970 Brazilian national team is attacking football royalty. Pele, Jairzinho, Tostao, Rivelino and Carlos Alberto made for the most formidable unit in world football at that time.

Jairzinho scored in every single round of that tournament – a record that stands to this day, while Pele devastated defences seemingly at his own will.

Brazil were untouchable in the final against Italy, winning 4-1 and exhibiting the most sensational confidence as Carlos Alberto scored one of the greatest goals football has ever seen.

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#6 Arsenal - 03/04

The famous ‘Invincibles’ side boasted one of the deadliest attacks in Premier League history. With a Thierry Henry at the peak of his powers, as well as Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg scoring regularly, Arsenal raced away with league that season.

It was not only in the league that Arsenal could pick teams apart, illustrated in their outstanding 5-1 demolition of Inter Milan at the San Siro. Arsenal certainly aren’t bad these days in attack, but there must be a small part of Wenger wishing he still had Henry and Pires at his disposal.

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#5 Manchester United - 99/00

Manchester United may have won the treble in 1998/99, but the following season saw even more goals flowing at Old Trafford for the Red Devils. Setting a record at that time of 97 goals in the league season, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were utterly mesmerising in front of goal at times.

Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer all scored on a regular basis but there was always goals throughout the team with David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane and Paul Scholes also finding the net on multiple occasions. United galloped away from everyone that season, claiming the Premier League title by 18 points.

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#4 Barcelona - 11/12

The 2011/12 season was clearly a case of Real Madrid and Barcelona attempting to outscore each other, leading to some simply ridiculous numbers and stats. Pep Guardiola’s side were unstoppable at times, managing to score a total of 190 goals for the season.

Lionel Messi outdid his Real Madrid counterpart Ronaldo by surpassing his 60 goals by 13. The Argentine superstar’s record-breaking haul was just one of the many glorious facets of Barcelona’s attacking unit. Cesc Fabregas, Xavi, Pedro and Alexis Sanchez all managed score 13 goals or more. However, the Catalan’s outstanding attack was not enough to retain either the La Liga or Champions League trophies and it was Guardiola’s final season in charge.

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#3 Ajax - 94/95

Ajax under Louis van Gaal were what Manchester United fans wish their team could be right now; ruthless, quick, smart and the ability to score goals for fun. Van Gaal’s side reigned supreme in Dutch and European football, winning the Eredivisie and Champions League by playing some brilliant, attacking football.

The Amsterdam club scored a total of 106 league goals as they romped to the title by seven points. The team formed an excellent attacking chemistry capable of the most fluid and speedy assaults on goal. This video provides the greatest example of their footballing artistry.

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#2 Real Madrid - 11/12

Jose Mourinho may not look back on his time at the Santiago Bernabeu with the fondest of memories, but boy could his team score. Setting a La Liga record of 121 goals from 38 games, Los Blancos found the net an incredible 174 times that season.

Cristiano Ronaldo spearheaded the goalscoring exploits, with an unbelievable 60 in all competitions, but there were admirable hauls for Gonzalo Higuain (26) and Karim Benzema (32). Madrid clinched their 32nd Spanish title and set a record goal difference of +89, also racking up more than 100 points. Impressive, to say the least.

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#1 Chelsea - 09/10

Carlo Ancelotti’s Blues were simply sensational in front of goal that season, becoming the first team to reach 100 Premier League goals in a single season. Armed with Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka in attack, Chelsea were undoubtedly the most irrestible goal-scoring force in English football that season.

They averaged 2.71 goals per game and their prowess was perfectly summarised in their 8-0 thrashing of Wigan Athletic on the final day of the season to clinch their third Premier League title.

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Edited by Staff Editor

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