Best World Cup teams of all time ranked: 10 of the greatest World Cup squads ever
Many great teams have competed in the FIFA World Cup. Some legendary footballers like Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Zinedine Zidane, and Xavi Hernandez have also graced the event and played for the best World Cup teams of all time in football.
Not all great teams in history have won the converted trophy. Some, like Johan Cruyff's Netherlands, were not lucky but managed to light up the stadium and entertain fans with their beautiful football.
Best World Cup teams ever
Brazil has the best World Cup record after winning five teams. Germany and Italy have four titles, while Argentina, France, and Uruguay have won twice. Spain and England have one each. So, which is the best World Cup squad of all time?
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10. Netherlands - 1974
The Dutch's dream team entertained fans with their 'total football in the 1970s. Johan Cruyff led the squad of Johan Neeskens, Rob Rensenbrink, Ruud Krol, and Willem van Hanegem to the finals of the 1974 World Cup but lost to West Germany.
- Goalkeepers: Jan Jongbloed, Piet Schrijvers
- Defenders: Kees van Ierssel, Rinus Israël, Wim Jansen, Ruud Krol, Wim Rijsbergen, Pleun Strik, Wim Suurbier, Harry Vos
- Midfielders: Johan Cruyff (captain), Johan Neeskens, Willy van de Kerkhof, René van de Kerkhof, Theo de Jong, Willem van Hanegem, Arie Haan, Ruud Geels
- Forward: Piet Keizer, Rob Rensenbrink, Johnny Rep
- Coach: Rinus Michels
9. Brazil - 2002
Brazil's star-studded squad in 2002 is among the best World Cup teams as of 2022. It consisted of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Cafu, Kaka, and Roberto Carlos. They are the only Brazilian squad to have won seven games in the tournament. The team scored 18 goals and conceded only four. Ronaldo scored twice in the final as they beat Germany 2-0.
- Goalkeepers: Marcos, Dida, Rogério Ceni
- Defenders: Cafu (Captain), Lúcio, Roque Júnior, Edmílson, Roberto Carlos, Juliano Belletti, Ânderson Polga, Júnior
- Midfielders: Ricardinho, Gilberto Silva, Vampeta, Juninho, Kaká, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Kléberson
- Forwards: Ronaldo, Denílson, Edílson, Luizão
- Coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari
8. Netherlands - 1978
After the defeat against West Germany in 1974, the Dutch super team reached a second successive final. Unfortunately, they lost to Argentina in the final despite playing attractive football.
- Goalkeepers: Piet Schrijvers, Jan Jongbloed
- Defenders: Jan Poortvliet, Adrie van Kraay, Ruud Krol, Piet Wildschut, Hugo Hovenkamp, Wim Rijsbergen, Wim Suurbier, Ernie Brandts
- Midfielders: Johan Boskamp, Johan Neeskens, Willy van de Kerkhof, René van de Kerkhof, Arie Haan, Wim Jansen, D. Schoenmaker
- Forwards: Rob Rensenbrink, Johnny Rep, D. Nanninga, Harry Lubse
- Coach: Ernst Happel
7. Hungary - 1954
Led by legendary footballer Ferenc Puskas, Hungary had an incredible performance in the 1954 World Cup. They eliminated Brazil and Uruguay but lost 3-2 to West Germany in the final. It is one of the best squads in World Cup history to have never won the title.
- Goalkeepers: Gyula Grosics, Sandor Geller, Geza Gulyas
- Defenders: Jeno Buzanszky, Mihaly Lantos, Bela Karpati, Pal Varhidi
- Midfielders: Gyula Lorant, Jozsef Bozsik, Jozsef Zakarias, Imre Kovacs, Ferenc Szojka
- Forwards: Jozsef Toth, Sandor Kocsis, Nandor Hidegkuti, Ferenc Puskas, Zoltan Czibor, Laszlo Budai, Ferenc Machos, Lajos Csordas, Peter Palotas, Mihaly Toth
- Coach: Gusztav Sebes
6. Brazil - 1982
Brazil's 1982 side consisted of Zico, Socrates, and Eder. Despite the talent in the squad, they failed to lift the World Cup. Their loss to Italy on the group stage shocked many people as they exited the tournament.
- Goalkeepers: Waldir Peres, Paulo Sérgio, Carlos
- Defenders: Leandro, Oscra, Luizinho, Junior, Edevaldo, Juninho, Edinho, Pedrinho
- Midfielders: Batista, Renato, Dirceu, Falcao, Paulo Isidoro, Zico, Socrates, Toninho Cerezo
- Forwards: Serginho, Eder, Roberto Dinamite
- Coach: Telê Santana
5. Brazil - 1962
The Selecao became the second team after Italy to successfully defend the World Cup. They defeated Czechoslovakia 3-1 in the final without their talented forward, Pele, who was injured. Instead, Mané Garrincha stepped up and guided the team to victory.
- Goalkeepers: Castilho, Gilmar, Jair Marinho
- Defenders: Altair, Bellini, Djalma Santos, Jurandir, Mauro Ramos, Nilton Santos, Zózimo
- Midfielders: Didí, Mário Zagallo, Mengálvio, Pelé, Zequinha, Zito
- Forwards: Amarildo, Coutinho, Garrincha, Jair da Costa, Pepe, Vavá
- Coach: Aymoré Moreira
4. Brazil - 1958
As a teenager, Pele inspired his nation to their first World Cup in 1958. He scored in their 5-2 win over Sweden, becoming the youngest scorer in the WC final.
- Defenders: Castilho, Gilmar
- Defenders: Bellini, Djalma Santos, Oreco, Zozimo, Nilton Santos, De Sordi, Orlando, Mauro Ramos
- Midfielders: Dino Sani, Didi, Moacir, Zito
- Forwards: Zagallo, Pele, Garrincha, Joel, Jose Altafini, Vava, Dida, Pepe
- Coach: Vicente Feola
3. Spain - 2010
Spain's 'tikitaka' football suffocated opponents and entertained billions of fans in the first-ever World Cup held in Africa. Xavi Hernandez, Andre Iniesta, and Xabi Alonso were the architects as La Roja won their first WC in history. Spain is the only country to win three successive international trophies after lifting the European Championships in 2008 and 2012.
- Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas, Victor Valdes, José Manuel Reina
- Defenders: Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Raúl Albiol, Carlos Marchena, Joan Capdevila, Álvaro Arbeloa
- Midfielders: Jesús Navas, David Silva, Javi Martinez, Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fàbregas, Juan Mata
- Forwards: David Villa, Fernando Torres, Pedro Rodriguez, Fernando Llorente
2. West Germany - 1974
After claiming the 1972 European Championships, West Germany maintained their decent form and stormed to victory in the 1974 World Cup. Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Mueller, and Jupp Heynckes were the squad's stars.
- Goalkeepers: Sepp Maier, Norbert Nigbur, Wolfgang Kleff
- Defenders: Berti Vogts, Paul Breitner, Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck, Franz Beckenbauer, Horst-Dieter Höttges, Jupp Kapellmann, Helmut Kremers
- Midfielders: Herbert Wimmer, Bernhard Cullmann, Günter Netzer, Wolfgang Overath, Heinz Flohe, Rainer Bonhof, Dieter Herzog
- Forwards: Jürgen Grabowski, Jupp Heynckes, Gerd Müller, Uli Hoeneß, Bernd Hölzenbein
- Coach: Helmut Schön
Who is the best World Cup team ever?
Brazil's 1970 side is the best World Cup squad of all time. The team dominated its opponents by winning all its games in the tournament.
1. Brazil - 1970
In 2007, Brazil's 1970 World Cup team was voted the best of all time. It had great footballers like Pele, Carlos Alberto, Jairzinho, and Tostao. It was also the first time the tournament was broadcast in colour. Brazil humiliated Italy 4-1 in the final.
- Goalkeepers: Félix, Ado, Émerson Leão
- Defenders: Baldocchi, Brito, Carlos Alberto, Everaldo, Fontana, Marco Antônio, Piazza, Zé Maria
- Midfielders: Caju, Clodoaldo, Gérson, Joel Camargo, Rivelino, Roberto Miranda
- Forwards: Roberto Miranda, Pelé, Edu, Jairzinho, Tostão
- Coach: Mário Zagallo
Best African teams in World Cup history
No African country has ever won the global showpiece. However, only two teams have reached the quarterfinal stage.
5. Algeria - 1982
Algeria was eliminated in the first round of the 1982 edition but gave their opponents difficult times. They were led by legendary players like Rabah Madjer and Lakhdar Belloumi.
- Played: 3
- Won: 2
- Draw: 0
- Lost: 1
4. Nigeria - 1994
Emmanuel Amuneke, Rashidi Yekini, and Daniel Amokachi surprised European opponents by reaching round 16 in the US. They thumped Bulgaria 3-0 in the group stage before losing to Italy in the knockout.
- Played: 4
- Won: 2
- Draw: 0
- Lost: 2
3. Ghana - 2010
The Black Stars were seconds away from reaching the semi-final in South Africa but lost in penalties to Uruguay in a historic match.
- Played: 5
- Won: 2
- Draw: 1
- Lost: 2
2. Senegal - 2002
Senegal sent shocking waves across the tournament by upsetting defending Champions France 1-0 in their opening fixture. Unfortunately, they only reached the quarterfinals.
- Played: 5
- Won: 2
- Draw: 2
- Lost: 1
1. Cameroon - 1990
The Indomitable Lions were the first African country to qualify for the World Cup quarters. Inspired by Roger Milla, they defeated Diego Maradona's Argentina in their first group game but were knocked out by England.
- Played: 5
- Won: 3
- Draw: 0
- Lost: 2
Brazil dominates the list of best World Cup teams in history because of their massive success in the showpiece. However, it is now two decades since they last reached a WC final.
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The Brazil team of 1970 is considered to be the greatest individual team in World Cup history. Not only did the club win the Jules Rimet Trophy, but they also inspired a generation to come. Brazil has participated in every World Cup since the inaugural tournament, which is more than any other country.Who is the greatest World Cup squad ever? ›
The Brazil team of 1970 is considered to be the greatest individual team in World Cup history. Not only did the club win the Jules Rimet Trophy, but they also inspired a generation to come. Brazil has participated in every World Cup since the inaugural tournament, which is more than any other country.Was Brazil 1970 the best team ever? ›
They won the World Cup in 1970 but they are the greatest team of all time because of the way they played the beautiful game - elevating it to a true art-form. This team best represents the encapsulation of everybody's football dreams before and since. This is the side against which all others are measured.Has there ever been an undefeated World Cup team? ›
FIFA World Cup
This feat has been achieved three times, by Uruguay in the inaugural 1930 tournament, and by Brazil in 1970 and 2002.