Although in football the most important objective is to win and get the three points (or advance in knockout competitions), more credence is given to those that do it in style. Ask nearly any football fan if they remember these famous teams and they will- the Magicial Magyars (Hungary) in the 1950s, the dynamic Brazilian side in the 1960s and the Ajax club team of the 1970s shine like beacons in football history.
In recent times, we have seen a shift in football that aims at results rather than playing well to get them, however you still see attacking excellence from a few sides around Europe- the likes of Arsenal, Real Madrid and Barcelona all try to awe their supporters with the level of football they play.
In football all supporters have varying and contrasting views- one may think the quick passing game of Arsenal is great to watch; another may feel that the wing play of Sevilla provides a much more satisfying alternative. In this article, I will try and compare the teams that I feel are the four most attacking teams in Europe- and eventually draw a final conclusion on which team is the most pleasing for the neutral. Three of the teams listed come from Spain- this probably shows why it is considered one of the best leagues to watch in the world.
Although Barcelona did not meet their normal high standards last season, when they are on fire they are one of the best teams to watch. The amount of quality contained in their forward lineup speaks for itself- most clubs would be happy to have just one of Thierry Henry, Leo Messi, Ronaldinho or Samuel Eto’o; Barcelona’s squad has all four. It is not just attack where Barcelona are strong- they have Deco, Xavi and ever improving youngster Giovanni Dos Santos in midfield while both fullbacks can bomb forward when needed. Two years ago Barcelona were at the top of the world- winning both La Liga and the Champions League; now they must fight back after going without a trophy last year. Although they have started off the season badly they will hope that their 3-0 win over French giants Lyon is the kick-start to their campaign- Thierry Henry scoring his first goal bodes well for the club and as long as they have the talented Messi on the pitch they will always be dangerous up front.
Arsenal is the one team in this list that does not play in Spain- they would not look out of place if they did though. The Gunners play with a very different style compared to the rest of their Premier League opponents- using a slow, continental passing style that can speed up at any moment in time. One moment Arsenal may be passing the ball around the edge of the opponent’s penalty area, struggling to break down a ten-man defense; the next moment may see them pull off 2-3 quick passes leading to a goal-scoring chance. Even though Arsenal were hit by the loss of mercurial striker Thierry Henry to Barcelona in the summer, they have done well- roaring to top place in the league due to some stunning performances by new talisman Cesc Fabregas. The departure of Henry meant that the team had to step up, and they have done so with goals coming from all areas of the pitch.
Real Madrid had been trophy-less for the best part of three years; that all changed last year when they won the title in a frenetic battle that led up to the last day of the season. Real Madrid’s board have always valued a coach that can make the team play an attacking brand of football- most famously during the Galacticos Era where the club spent extravagant sums of money purchasing the best players in the football world. Real spent a lot of money this summer too- looking to win back-to-back titles. The club brought in the likes of Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben and Royston Drenthe; three players that will further enhance their attacking options. Last year’s manager Fabio Capello was sacked despite winning the league because of his inability to make the team play entertaining football; new manager Schuster will have to make sure he can get the team to gel. Real Madrid has started off the season well, currently sitting a comfortable first in the table after the slipups of title rivals Barcelona.
Sevilla are a youthful team with finances nowhere near matching the above three massive clubs; they have achieved far more than they should have been capable of. Sevilla are built on a collection of good, not great players- fullback Daniel Alves being the only real ‘star’ name, and Europe would do well not to underestimate them this year. Despite their heavy 3-0 loss against English side Arsenal, Sevilla should comfortably qualify for the next stage of the Champions League and will look to make the step up after winning the UEFA Cup for the past two years in a row. Arsenal manager Arsene stated that he thought the Andalusian club is capable of winning the trophy, listing them amongst the top 5-6 clubs capable of doing so and only a fool would write them off as a possible dark horse. Sevilla will look to compete in the title race again, falling away at the end of last year after massive congestion of fixtures. After winning the Copa del Rey as well as the Spanish Super Cup to complement their UEFA Cup win, Sevilla will look to compete with the big boys this season.
In my opinion it is the Arsenal side that is best to watch- no matter what the situation the Gunners always seem confident of scoring a goal. The departure of Henry has lifted a tremendous weight off the team- they play with a lot more freedom these days and if the team keeps performing as it has done, they should pick up some silverware this year. That’s my conclusion- who do YOU feel is the most attacking side to watch in world football? Should Manchester United, Liverpool, AC Milan or Bayern Munich have made this list? Tell me in the comments section below.