Friday, October 31, 2014

Italy Greatest All-time 23 member team

1934 World Cup Winner

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

What if Italy qualified for Euro 1992

Italy won back-to-back World Cups in 1934 and 1938.   From the post-War period until 1968, the Azzurri failed to produce a national team that were as good as the pre-War generation.  However, AC Milan and Inter Milan did well in club competitions, winning 4 European Cups in the 1960's. Then, in 1968, Italy won the European Champion and reached the Final of the 1970 WC Finals.  The team consisted of Giacinto Facchetti, Sandro Mazzola, Gianni Rivera, Luigi Riva and Roberto Boninsegna.  

From then on, they produced great team after great team.  In 1982, Paulo Rossi's goals helped Italy to win their first WC since 1938. In the 1990's, Italy had Roberto Baggio as the trequartistas with Paulo Maldini and Franco Baresi maintaining the backline.  They reached the semifinal of the WC in 1990 and then, the Final in 1994.  In 2006, while the Italian clubs were under investigation at home, the Azzurri rallied and won the World Cup in Germany.

This is my all-time team for ItalyIf there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament. 
World Cup 2006
GK: Gianluigi Buffon
Gianluigi Buffon is considered to be one of the greatest keeper ever.  He made his Serie A debut at the age of 17 in 1995 with Parma.  He earned his first cap when he was only 19.  He had a total of 175 caps. His biggest achievement must be winning the World Cup in 2006.  He has been named the Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year a record eight time. He became the most expensive goalkeeper of all time following his transfer from Parma to Juventus in 2001.  He moved to PSG in 2019.

GK: Dino Zoff
Dino Zoff captained the World Cup winning side in 1982 at the age of 40.  He held the Serie A appearance record until 2006. He was also a part of the team that won the Euro 1968. He achieved great club success with Juventus, winning 6 Serie A titles, 2 Coppa Italias, and an UEFA Cup, also reaching two European Champions' Cup finals in 1972-73 and 1982-83 seasons. He also played for Udinese, Mantova and Napoli.
Dino Zoff in 1982
GK: Giampiero Combi
Combi won the 1934 World Cup with Italy.  He was considered one of the best in the world during his time.  He spent his entire career with Juventus.  He played 351 games in Serie A, winning five titles – in 1926 (having conceded only 18 goals during the season), 1931, 1932, 1933 and 1934 as part of the first golden age of the club with a record of five championship victories in a row, a feat known as Il Quinquennio d'Oro (The Golden Quinquennium).

CB/RB: Claudio Gentile
Gentile was considered one of the Azzurri's greatest defender.  He went to both 1978 and 1982 World Cup Finals.  He was best remembered for stopping Diego Maradona and Zico at the World Cup Finals in 1982 as Italy won their third World Cup.  His playing style was very hard. He was capped 71 times between 1975 and 1984.  Gentile played over a decade with Juventus. He also played for Fiorentina and other clubs.
Claudio Gentile vs Zico
CB/RB:  Giuseppe Bergomi
Bergomi was one of Inter Milan's greatest defender, winning one scudetto and three UEFA Cups with them.  He played his entire career with Inter Milan.  He held the record of most appearance in the UEFA Cup. Bergomi won the World Cup in 1982 and appeared in the 1986 and 1990 WC Finals. He was capped 81 times between 1982 and 1998.

CB: Fabio Cannavaro
Fabio Cannavaro was capped 138 times between 1997 and 2010. He was the captain and perhaps, the best Italian player of the 2006 World Cup winning team.  He was named the 2006 FIFA World Player of the Year, and won the Ballon d'Or award in 2006 which made him the third defender to win the award. He started his career with Napoli and had spells with Parma, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid.
Fabio Cannavaro
SW: Gaetano Scirea
Scirea was the starting libero for Italy's World Cup winning team in Spain 1982 and Juventus throughout the 1980's.  He is considered one of the greatest defenders ever played the game.  He is one of only five players in history to have won all international trophies for football clubs recognized by UEFA and FIFA. He started with Atalanta before moving to Juventus in 1974, where he made his name. He also played in 1978 and 1986 World Cup Finals as well as the European Championship of 1980.

SW:  Franco Baresi
Baresi was considered Italy's greatest libero.  He was capped 82 times.  He led the Azzurri to the semifinal of the World Cup in 1990 and then, the Final in 1994.  However, he missed most of the tournament in 1994.  He was a part of the 1982 World Cup winning team, but he did not play a single match.  He was the captain of AC Milan for 15 years, where he won three European Cups and 6 Serie A titles.  This team was considered one of the greatest club side of all-time.
Franco Baresi
CB/SW: Alessandro Nesta
Nesta is considered one of the best defender of his generation.  He was the Serie A defender of the Year for 4 times. He started his career with Lazio.  Later, he played with AC Milan where he won two Champions' league.  He also played in MLS.  He earned 78 caps.   He played on the 2006 WC winning team, but injured in the third game of the tournament.  He also went to 1998 and 2002 World Cup Finals as well as the European Championship in 1996, 2000 and 2004.

LB: Giacinto Facchetti
Until the emerge of Paolo Maldini, Giacinto Facchetti was considered to be Italy's greatest left back. He spent his entire career with Inter Milan from 1960 to 1978.  He was the star wingback of La Grande Inter where they won back-to-back European Cups in the 1960's.  He was capped 94 times and also won the Euro 1968 with Italy. He played in 1966, 1970 and 1974 World Cup Finals.

LB: Paolo Maldini
Maldini was considered the greatest leftback of all-time.  He won 26 trophies in his 25 year career with AC Milan, including 5 Champions' league trophies. With the Azzurri, Maldini took part in three European Championships, and four World Cups. He reached the finals of the 1994 World Cup in the US and Euro 2000, and the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup in Italy and Euro 1988 in West Germany, and was elected into the all-star teams for each of these tournaments, in addition to the Euro 96 all-star team.  He was capped 126 times for Italy. 
Paolo Maldini
DM/CM: Marco Tardelli
He played at the 1978 World Cup Finals in Argentina and the 1980 European Football Championship at home.  He was the unsung hero of Italy's 1982 WC winning team.  He was capped 81 times.  He also won all the three major European competitions with Juventus. He also played for Pisa, Como, Inter Milan and St.Gallen of Switzerland.

DM:  Romeo Benetti
At international level, he represented the Italy national football team on 55 occasions between 1971 and 1980, and took part at the 1974 and 1978 FIFA World Cups, as well as UEFA Euro 1980, achieving fourth-place finishes in the latter two tournaments. He is best remembered for his 5 seasons with AC Milan, winning a Cup Winners' Cup.

CM:  Andrea Pirlo
Pirlo started as an attack midfielder with Inter Milan without success before becoming a regista.  He redefined the regista role in the modern game.  He had 116 caps.  He won the World Cup in 2006 and took Italy to the Final of Euro 2012.  For his club career, he was known for his career with AC Milan.  He played over 280 matches for them, winning two Champions' League titles.  He switched to Juventus late in his career. 
Andrea Pirlo
CM/AM:  Giancarlo Antognoni
He was Fiorentina's greatest ever player .  He was a key player for Italy's WC winning team in 1982, but he missed the Final because of an injury.  He was capped 73 times for the Azzurri.  His career started in the Italian Serie D with the club of Asti Ma.Co.Bi., when he was only sixteen. In 1972, he joined Fiorentina. Because of his loyalty with his club, he never won anything at the club level.  He holds the record for the most appearances in Serie A for Fiorentina, with 341 appearances.

CM/AM: Gianni Rivera
Gianni Rivera was Italy's "Golden Boy"of the 1960's and perhaps their best player in his generation.  He won the Ballon d'Or in 1969.  He led AC Milan to win two European Cups in 1963 and 1969. He was capped 63 times, scoring 15 goals, at four World Cup Finals (1962, 1966, 1970, and 1974). Rivera is remembered for scoring the decisive goal in Italy's extra-time win over West Germany in the semi-final of Mexico 1970.

Gianni Rivera

CM/AM: Sandro Mazzola
He was a part of Inter Milan's "La Grande Inter".  He won four Serie A titles (1963, 1965, 1966 and 1971), two European Cups (1964 and 1965) and two Intercontinental Cups (1964 and 1965).  He won the Euro 1968 with the Azzurri and led them to the WC Finals in 1970.  During his career, he was known for sharing the starting position with AC Milan's Gianni Rivera on the national team. His father was Valentino Mazzola who died when Sandro was 7 years old.

AM: Valentino Mazzola
He was the best player in the world during the 1940's.  He was the captain and symbol of the "Grande Torino", the team recognised as one of the strongest in the world during the second half of the 1940s, with whom Mazzola won five Serie A championships.  His career, however, was limited by the War.  He never played in the World Cup.  His life was cut short by the Superga Air Disaster in 1949.  He was Sandro's father.

RW/LW: Bruno Conti 
Conti was the greatest winger in Italy's history.  He had 47 caps. He won the World Cup in 1982 and also took part at the 1986 World Cup Finals in Mexico.  Except with two loan spells with Genoa, he played his entire career with AS Roma. The season after the World Cup Finals in 1982, he helped Roma to win the league title.  He also led them to the 1984 European Cup Final but were defeated on penalties by Liverpool.

AM/FW: Roberto Baggio
Robert Baggio was the icon of the 1990's.  He was the World Player of the Year, the Ballon d'Or winner and the World Soccer Player of the Year in 1993.  He led Italy to reach the semifinal at 1990 World Cup Finals in Italy and then, to a second place four years later in the USA.  For club football, he started his career with Fiorentina.  He became the most expensive player in the world when he joined Juventus.  He also played for AC Milan, Bologna, Inter Milan and Brescia.
Roberto Baggio
FW: Giuseppe Meazza
Meazza is one of Italy's greatest players. He had 53 caps, scorimg 33 times. He led Italy winning two World Cups in 1934 and 1938.  He was probably the best player in the 1930's.  He was the best player at the 1934 World Cup Finals. He played mainly for Inter Milan in the 1930s, scoring 242 goals in 365 games for the club. He also played for AC Milan, Juventus, Varese, and Atalanta.

ST: Luigi Riva
Luigi Riva was the all-time leading scorer for the Italy.  At international level, Riva won the 1968  European Championship and was runner-up at the 1970 World Cup with the Italian national team; he also took part at the 1974 World Cup. With 35 goals in 42 appearances (in all official competitions) between 1965 and 1974. He was Serie A top scorer for three seasons. He was probably the best ever player at Cagliari, leading them to win their only scudetti in 1970.

ST:  Silvio Piola
Silvio Piola is one of Italy's greatest footballers.  He is the the all-time leading scorer in the Italian league.  He was third all-time leading scorer for the Azzurri even through his career was cut short by the World War II.  Piola won the 1938 World Cup with Italy, scoring two goals in the final, ending the tournament as the second best player and the second highest scorer. In 2011, he was posthumously inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame.

ST: Paolo Rossi
Rossi was the hero of Italy's WC winning team in 1982, notably for scoring a hattrick against Brazil in Spain, and went on to win the Golden boot. He was also the European player of the Year in 1982 because of his performance at the WC Finals. His club career was associated with Juventus.  He was a part of the great Juventus team of the 1980's.  He won the 1985 European Cup as Juventus' second top scorer.  He also went to the 1978 World Cup Finals.
Paolo Rossi

Honorble Mention
Walter Zenga, Gianluca Pagliuca, Enrico Albertosi, Lorenzo Buffon, Angelo Peruzzi, Francesco Toldo, Antonio Cabrini, Renzo De Vecch, Gianluca Zambrotta, Ciro Ferrara, Tarcisio Burgnich, Armando Picchi, Riccardo Ferri, Alessandro Costacurta, Pietro Vierchowood, Pietro Rava, Gennaro Gattuso, Giancarlo De Sisti, Gabriel Oriali, Giampiero Boniperti, Alessandro Del Piero, Francisco Totti, Roberto Donadoni, Christian Vieri, Giacomo Bulgarelli, Alessandro Altobelli, Filippo Inzaghi, Daniele De Rossi, Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci,  Andrea BarzagliJorginho, Gianluca Vialli, Virginio Rosetta, Umberto Caligaris, Roberto Boninsegna, Roberto Bettega.

Squad Explanation
-- Gianluigi Buffon, Dino Zoff, Paulo Maldini, Gaetano Scirea, Franco Baresi, Giacinto Facchetti, Silvio Piola, Giuseppe Meazza, Roberto Baggio and Gianni Rivera are automatic selections.  No need to explain.  The Mazzolas probably also deserved automatic selections as well.  Almost half of the team was set before I even started.
-- I only considered "oriundo"players who were uncapped by other national teams. Anyway, Luis Monti, Miguel Ángel Andriolo, Raimondo Orsi and Enrique Guaita would be the only players seriously considered for a spot here.  Omar Sívori's greatness was for Juventus, not the Azzurri. I would not consider him even if he was uncapped by an Argentina.
-- Italy won back-to-back World Cups in the 1930's.  Silvio Piola, Giuseppe Meazza and Giampiero Combi played on those teams.  Luis Monti might make this team, but I considered him to be Argentine.
-- Italy surprised the world by winning the 1982 World Cup. From that winning team, I selected Dino Zoff, Gaetano Scirea, Franco Baresi, Giancarlo Antognoni, Giuseppe Bergomi, Claudio Gentile, Marco Tardelli and Paulo Rossi. Franco Baresi was a young player at that World cup Finals.  He did not play any match in Spain.
-- Gianluigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro, Andrea Pirlo and Alessandro Nesta were on the 2006 World Cup winning team. Nesta was injured during the tournament.  His selection was based upon overall career. 
-- Italy surprised the world when they won the 2020 European Championship.  Most of the players were unknown outside of Italy.  Giorgio Chiellini deserved a serious consideration after the 2020 European Championship.  However, he was still behind Fabio Cannavaro, Gaetano Scirea, Franco Baresi and Alessandro Nesta.  Gianluigi Donnarumma is still a long way from serious consideration.  I put Jorginho on honorable mention.  Anyone who led his nation to a victory in a major tournament deserved a spot on honorable mention.
-- Few countries in the world can have the same kind of depth Italy has created when it comes to goalkeeping. Gianluigi Buffon and Dino Zoff were undisputed selections.  Buffon should be considered the greatest goalkeeper of all-time.  Dino Zoff was best remembered for winning the 1982 World Cup as Italy's captain at the age of 40, but he also won the 1968 European Championship as the starting goalkeeper.
Gianluigi Buffon
-- Italy produced many great goalkeepers.  So the third goalkeeper was a tough decision.  Giampiero Combi, Walter Zenga, Angelo Peruzzi, Gianluca Pagliuca, Enrico Albertosi and Lorenzo Buffon all deserved the final spot.  
-- In his prime, Enrico Albertosi was considered to be on par with Dino Zoff.  He was ahead of Zoff at the 1970 World Cup Finals.
-- In the end, I chose Giampiero Combi because he seemed the be the most famous among the choices. He won the 1934 World Cup as Italy's captain.  He was due to retire before the World Cup Finals, but Italy's manager asked Vittorio Pozzo to postpone his retirement and joined the team.  Italy regular starter Carlo Ceresoli suffered an injury before the World Cup Finals, and Combi was forced to take over.
-- Gianluigi Buffon's grandfather was a cousin of Lorenzo Buffon.
-- Italy is the country that is known for the "catenaccio" tactics.  It is a highly organised and effective backline defence that translated as "door-bolt".  Since the 1950's, the tactics has been widely used in Italy, Italy became known for their defenders.  Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini were two of the greatest ever defenders.  Gaetano Scirea, Giacinto Facchetti and Alessandro Nesta also easily made this team.  Five defenders were set before I started researching.
-- Both
Giuseppe Bergomi and Claudio Gentile could play as a rightback or a centre-back.  So I took them ahead of other great Italian stoppers, and I also did not bring a pure rightback to the team because of them.  Gentile was known as one of the hardest players ever played the game. Tarcisio Burgnich, Ciro Ferrara or Gianluca Zambrotta was probably the third greatest ever rightback from Italy.  Zambrotta could play on both sides of the pitch, but he was mainly a left wing or a rightback.  I should have select a right wingback for a more modern approach, but I would stay with my two picks for now.
-- For leftbacks, I could not find rooms for Antonio Cabrini and Renzo De Vecch. They were behind Giacinto Facchetti and Paolo Maldini, two of greatest fullback ever played the game.  Giacinto Facchetti played for Inter Milan under Helenio Herrera.  He was a pioneer in the way he played the position. 
Giacinto Facchetti 
-- Antonio Cabrini was one of the greatest leftbacks ever coming from Europe.  He played in one of the greatest defensive units in history for both club and country.  I still could not find a spot for Cabrini.  That said a lot of about the depth of Italian leftbacks.  Renzo De Vecch is the youngest official player to feature in a match for the Italian national team at 16 years, three months and 23 days, but he went back too far in history.  The same applied to Umberto Caligaris. I preferred modern defenders coming after "Catenaccio" was invented in Italy.  The Italian defenders were revolutionized by the system.  
-- Gaetano Scirea, Franco Baresi and Alessandro Nesta took three of the spots for central defence.  Then, I selected Fabio Cannavaro.  It was almost impossible for anyone else to break into the team.  Giuseppe Bergomi and Claudio Gentile also played as central defenders.  As mentioned above, Giorgio Chiellini deserved a serious consideration after the 2020 European Championship, but players such as Armando Picchi, Riccardo Ferri, Alessandro Costacurta, Ciro Ferrara, Pietro Vierchowood and Pietro Rava also deserved a spot. 
-- Fabio Cannavaro was the hero of the 2006 World Cup team and perhaps, the best player of the tournament.  That tournament separated him from other great Italian defenders who did not make the list.  He was also the second cap leader for Italy behind Buffon.
-- Armando Picchi only played 12 times for Italy.  He was ignored by manager Edmondo Fabbri for the 1966 World Cup Finals, where Italy was eliminated by North Korea.  He was later recalled by Ferruccio Valcareggi, but Picchi suffered a serious injury in 1967.  He did not play in the 1968 European Championship, where Italy won.  Unfortunately for him,  I selected Franco Baresi and Gaetano Scirea ahead of him.
-- Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli were collectively known as "BBC".  For Juventus, they were a rock solid until.  Ironically, they lost a Champions' League final against the "BBC" of Real Madrid. Chiellini and Bonucci also won an European Championship for Italy.  However, individually speaking, they were below the players I mentioned.
-- Luis Monti was probably the greatest ever defensive midfielder to wear wore the Italian shirts.  As mentioned above, I considered him to be an Argentine.  So I took Marco Tardelli and Romeo Benetti.  They edged out Gennaro Gattuso and Daniele De Rossi.  Romeo Benetti whom I considered a forgotten player.  His name was seldom mentioned.  
-- Marco Tardelli played 81 times for Italy, which was a lot of games in his generation.  In Italy, he was remembered for the “ L'urlo di Tardelli ” (Tardelli's cry), the goal celebration he had after scoring one of the goals at the 1982 World Cup Finals. In 2007, the London Times newspaper in the United Kingdom placed him at number 10 in their list of the 50 hardest footballers in history.
-- Daniele De Rossi is actually the highest goal scoring midfielder for the Italian national team.  He is also the 4th most capped player.  Despite all of this, he seldom got mentioned as one of Italy's greatest defensive midfielders.  I put him on honorable mention.
-- Andrea Pirlo won a World Cup in 2006.  He starred for both AC Milan and Juventus. Somehow, I found him still underrated by many fans.  I considered him among the greatest ever from Italy. He also played in an unique role (deep lying playmaker).  His playing style changed the way I felt about the game and the role of a playmaker playing deep. So I actually put him on the starting lineups.  He played with Gennaro Gattuso for both club and country.  Pirlo kept Giancarlo De Sisti off the team.  In 2021, I added Jorginho to honorable mention.  Helping Italy to win a major trophy was very important to any selection here.  He was an important player at Euro 2020.
-- A "trequartista" is a playmaker who operates behind the front line but in front of the midfield.  Italy is known for this position.  Roberto Baggio, Gianni Rivera and the Mazzolas were undisputed selection for this team.  So I did not have space for Alessandro Del Piero and Francisco Totti.  Giancarlo Antognoni was probably not classified as "trequartista", but the midfield was set before I looked beyond the four players I mentioned. 
-- Valentino and Sandro Mazzola were father and son. After his parents Valentino divorced his wife in 1946, it was him who raised a young Sandro until he died in the Superga air disaster in 1948.  Their playing style was very different even through they played almost the same position.  Valentino was elegant while Sandro was more rugged.
Sandro Mazzola
-- Sandro Mazzola and Gianni Rivera played in the same era, and they played for rival clubs, Inter Milan and AC Milan respectively.  Both brought back European Cups to their clubs respectively.  Rivera was the first Italian to win the Ballon D'or in 1969. For the national team, they were often not used on the same field together for the national team.  Manager Ferruccio Valcareggi of Italy's World Cup team in 1970 would start Mazzola in the first half and Rivera in the second half.  In the Final, however, Rivera did not enter the field until the 84th minute.  In 1974, the two did play together, but they already passed their prime.
-- Giancarlo Antognoni's career would have been better known if he played for another club.  He was also injured during the 1982 World Cup Finals.  The spotlight went to Paulo Rossi and the Italian defence.  He was a trequartistas, but also dropped deeper than most trequartistas. Gianni Rivera was similar.  He could also play deeper.
-- Italy did not have much choices for wingers.  So I selected Bruno Conti.  He won a World Cup in 1982 and then, led AS Roma to a scudetti.  Giampiero Boniperti, Roberto Donadoni, Mario Corso and Franco Causio were some of the more famous Italian wingers.
-- Roberto Baggio, Silvio Piola and Giuseppe Meazza took three of the spots for forwards.  Piola and Meazza won World Cups for Italy.  
-- Silvio Piola is third in the all-time goalscoring records of the Italian national team. He is also the highest goalscorer in Italian first league history, with 290 goals (274 in Serie A and 16 in Divisione Nazionale). He was voted as the second best player at the 1938 World Cup Finals.
-- Roberto Baggio was Italy's greatest players in the modern era, but Italy underappreciated him.  He was bypassed for the 2002 World Cup Finals and was nearly dropped for the 1998 World Cup Finals.  He never played in the Finals of the European Championship.  He was not appreciated while playing for Juventus and AC Milan.
-- Both Roberto Baggio and Alessandro Del Piero scored 27 international goals for Italy.  Del Piero had 91 caps while Baggio only received 56 caps.
-- Meazza was Italy's best players as Italy won two consecutive World Cups in 1934 and 1938 as captain. He was named to the All-star Team and won the Golden Ball Award at the 1934 World Cup, as the tournament's best player. Meazza is widely considered one of Italy's greatest ever player.
Giuseppe Meazza
-- There were better Italian players than Paolo Rossi, but his performance in Spain 1982 alone got him onto the team. How many players single-handedly won the World Cup? Rossi's hattrick against Brazil changed the way how the Brazilians played the game. I would even say that Rossi changed the history of the game because Brazilian football was very important.
-- I was debating between Giampiero Boniperti and Rossi.  I might need Boniperti's wide game on the right, but Conti could take care of that.  
-- I might have overrated Luigi Riva, but he is Italy's all-time leading scorer.  He was a classic target man. Perhaps, Christian Vieri could also be my target man.  Vieri was underrated because he moved clubs too many times.  He never established himself as a club legend anywhere.  He also missed out on the 2006 World Cup victory. I put him on honorable mention.  Alessandro Altobelli and Phillipo Inzaghi were further down the list.
World Cup 1982
Starting lineup 
Formation 3-4-1-2 
From the La Grande Inter to Antonio Conte's Italy, the libero position is one of the strongest aspect of the Italian game. This formation is built around the position. I believe Gentile would be a better partner than Scirea for Barsei in the back-three.  My lineup also lacks a good right wingback.  So I start Conte there.

Formation 4-4-2 (Diamond)
This formation is based on the 4-4-2 used by Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti.  I started Valentino Mazzola because he was more versatile than the other options.  He could defend, playmake and attack. He also could ply deeper than Rivera.  Capello did not really deploy a true winger so the formation needed wingbacks.  The left side is okay with Paulo Maldini who played for Capello and this formation in real life, but both Claude Gentile and Giuseppe Bergomi were very traditional rightback.  Bergomi was probably better offensive than Gentile.  

Formnation 4-4-2(Saachi)
Arrigo Saachi's 4-4-2 formation was revolutionary. It was based on a high intensity pressing game and high defensive line with a flat back four and a well-organized offside trap.  Saachi successfully used it for his tenure with AC Milan. and then, brought it the Azzurri.  At the 1994 World Cup Finals, he used Roberto Baggio as the focal point of his attack.  Roberto Donadoni who knew the system very well played on the left wing.  I need a midfielder who could both defend or create.  I was choosing between Valentino Mazzola or Andrea Pirlo.  Mazzola might be more defensive-minded than Pirlo.  He was known for his strength and stamina which should help Sacchi's high pressing game.

Arrigo Saachi
Formation III 3-5-2
This formation is based upon Antonio Conte's 3-5-2 used in recent years.  The back three looked great.  Gentile could operate as a rightback, which was a perfect replacement for Andrea Barzagli.  The midfield is tricky.  Claudio Marchisio was a key player for Conte.  I do not have a player liked him.  I do not think Baggio suited to play deep. So I used Riveria who had played a deeper position before.  Italy almost never used Riveria and Mazzola together on the same field. So I was not sure if the pair would work here.  I do not want to drop Roberto Baggio.  I can easily replace Meazza with him.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Netherlands Greatest All-team 23 member team

This blogger Artur Yanturin of Russia copied many of my blog teams.  This blog was one of them.  It was my Russia All-Time Team here.  His team was written in 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2014.   His Spartak Moscow All-Time team entry of was published in October 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2017.  His entry of the Dutch-German rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona was written in 2020, but mine was uploaded in 2014.  He also copied many many of my blog entries.

His Facebook and Instagram

World Cup 1974

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index

North HollandSouth Holand.
The rest of Netherlands excluding North and South Holland
Holland All-Time Team After Johan Cruyff
Netherlands before Johan Cruyff (BC)
Netherlands 2002
Dutch-Indos/Indonesia-born Dutch All-Time Team

The Netherlands played their first international match in Antwerp against Belgium on 30 April 1905. The players were selected by a five-member commission from the Dutch Football Association.  Netherlands first became prominence when they reached the Final of the 1974 Finals, where they lost to the host.  The team led by Johan Cruyff charmed the world with their "Total Football".   Four years later, they reached the Final again, but they again lost to the host Argentina.  Finally, Oranje won their first major international tournament in 1988 at the European Championship.   Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard also contributed the successes of AC Milan in the late 1980's.  Then, in the mid-1990's, a new Golden Generation helped Ajax to win the Champions' league in 1995.  With the national team, they reached the semifinal of the WC in 1998.  In 2020, Netherlands once again reached the Final before losing to Spain.

The team is colloquially referred to as Het Nederlands Elftal (The Dutch Eleven) or Oranje, after the House of Orange-Nassau and their distinctive orange jerseys. Like the country itself, the team is sometimes (also colloquially) referred to as Holland. The fan club is known as "Het Oranje Legioen" (The Orange Legion).

This is my all-time team for Netherlands. If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament. 

Euro 1988
GK: Edwin Van Der Sar 
Edwin Van Der Sar is the most capped player in Netherlands' history with 130 caps.  He went to 1994, 1998 and 2006 World Cup and Euro 1996, 2000 and 2004.  He was best remembered for being the Ajax keeper in 1995 that won the Champions' League and then, later for Manchester United for 6 seasons.  He won the Champions' League in 2007-2008. In between, he also played with Fulham and Juventus.
GK:  Jan Van Beveren
Jan van Beveren was considered one of the best keepers in the 1970's.  In 1970, Van Beveren joined PSV Eindhoven, where he won three Eredivisie titles, two domestic cups and the UEFA Cup in 1978. He had 32 caps from 1967 to 1977. His career with the national team was cut short because of a feud with Johan Cruyff. He missed the World Cup Finals in 1974 because of that. 

GK:  Just Göbel
Born in Dutch- Göbel who played for Vitesse Arnhem, succeeded Reinier Beeuwkes as the Dutch national goalkeeper in 1911. He was known for being the first Dutch keeper trying to catch the ball rather than stomp it away. He played 18 matches for the Dutch team, being best remembered for his numerous saves during the 2-1 win over England's amateurs and his bronze medal in the football tournament of the 1912 Summer Olympics.

RB: Wim Suurbier 
Suurbier is considered among the best ever rightback in history.  He was the starting rightback for Oranje at the 1974 World Cup in Germany as well as the great Ajax team of the early 1970's where he played 13 seasons. He won three European Cups with Ajax in the 1970's. He also played club football in France, the USA and Hong Kong.

RB: Harry Dénis 
Harry Dénis participated in three consecutive Summer Olympics, starting in 1920.  He actually delivered the Olympic Oath during the opening ceremony of the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam. He was capped 56 times and 37 times as captain.  Dénis started playing football with local side DVV and joined HBS aged 11. He would stay at the club for the rest of his career, winning the 1925 Netherlands Football League Championship with them.

CB:  Ronald Koeman 
Ronald Koeman was the rock solid sweeper of Holland's Euro1988 team.  He was capped 78 times. He also won two European Cups, one each for PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona FC.  He scored the winning goal for Barcelona's victory in 1992. The Cup was Barcelona FC's first ever European Cup.  In Netherlands, he played for all of the "big three" clubs, namely Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord.
Ronald Koeman 
CB:  Jaap Stam 
Stam was at one point the most expensive Dutch player and the most expensive defender in the world when Manchester United bought him for 10.6 million pounds.  He played for several European clubs including PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United, Lazio, A.C. Milan and Ajax. In total, he had 67 caps.  He was also an important player in the Dutch team that finished fourth in the 1998 FIFA World Cup and again reached the semifinal of Euro 2000.

CB:  Rinus Israel
Nicknamed "IJzeren Rinus (Iron Rinus)".  He had 47 caps for Holland. He was a part of the 1974 World Cup team  that finished second at the World Cup Finals in West Germany.  During his career he played for DWS (1962–66), Feyenoord Rotterdam (1966–74), Excelsior Rotterdam (1974–75) and PEC Zwolle (1975–82).  He won an European Cup with Feyenoord. 

CB: Virgil van Dijk 
Van Dijk started with Groningen before he moved to Celtic in 2013. In S2015, he joined Southampton before signing for Liverpool in 2018 for £75 million, a world record transfer fee for a defender. Van Dijk was named the PFA Player of the Year and the Premier League Player of the Season for the 2018–19 season. Van Dijk starred as Liverpool won the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final where he was named man of the match. From 2015 onward, he played for Netherlands and was named captain.

LB/SW:  Ruud Krol 
Krol was one of the most important defender in Netherlands' history.  Capped 83 times. He helped Oranje to reach the World Cup Final in both 1974 and 1978.  He was a leftback at the World Cup in 1974 and switched to sweeper later in his career.  He won three straight European Cups with Ajax in the 1970's. He also played in Italy with Napoli, in France with Cannes and the NASL with Vancouver Whitecaps.
Ruud Krol 
LB/DM:  Giovanni Van Bronckhorst
Giovanni Van Bronckhorst played for his country in three FIFA World Cups, in 1998, 2006 and 2010, as well as three UEFA European Championships, in 2000, 2004 and 2008.  He was the captain of Netherlands at World Cup 2010, where Netherlands finished second.  He played 106 times for Netherlands.  He won the Champions' League for Barcelona in 2005-2006. He also played wirh Feyenoord, Arsenal and Rangers.  

CM: Frank Rijkaard
Frank Rijkaard was one of Netherlands' most important player.  Capped 73 times.  He won the 1988 European Championship in West Germany. He notably played for Ajax and AC Milan. He spent 5 seasons with AC Milan when Milan was considered the greatest club team in the world.  He won two European Cup with them. In 1995, he led a young Ajax team to their famous Champions' League victory.  That team is also considered one of the greatest club sides ever.

CM: Willem Van Hanegem
In Holland, Willem Van Hanegem was widely considered the second best Dutch player in the 1970's and perhaps, the greatest player for Feyenoord. He won the European Cup with Feyenoord in 1970.  He was capped 52 times between 1968 and 1979.  He was an important player at the World Cup Finals in 1974, where Netherlands finished second, but he missed the World Cup Finals in 1978.  He also played in NASL.
Willem Van Hanegem

CM: Johan Neeskens
Johan Neeskens was considered to be one of the greatest Dutch midfielders. He was a crucial component in the Total Football side of the 1970s.  He had 49 caps for Netherlands.  Her led Netherlands to two second place finishes at the World Cup Finals in 1974 and 1978.  He was Netherlands' top scorer at the 1974 World Cup Finals.  He also won three straight European Cups with Ajax: 1971, 1972, 1973. He also played with Barcelona FC and New York Cosmos.

CM: Edgar Davids
Nicknamed "the Pitbull", Edgar Davids was one of the greatest defensive midfielders in the world.  He won the European Champions' League with Ajax in 1995.  He was an important player at the World Cup Finals in 1998 when Netherlands reached the semi-final. He also spent 7 seasons with Juventus at the height of his career. He also played for Tottenham Hotspurs, Barcelona, AC Milan, etc.

RW/LW/FW: Arjen Robben
Arjen Robin was an important player for Bayern Munich's dominance in Europe as they reached three Champions' League Finals in 4 years, winning a single one.  He also played with PSV, Real Madrid and Chelsea. For the national team, he had 97 caps. He helped Netherlands to reach the World Cup Final in 2010 and then the semi-final in 2014. He also went to the 2006 World Cup Finals. He had 96 caps between 2003 and 2017.
Arjen Robben
LW: Coen Moulijn
Coen Moulijn was considered the best left winger in Dutch football and probably the best player from Feyenoord.  He started his career with Xerxes in 1954.  A season later, he joined Feyenoord. He stayed there until 1972. He won the European Cup and the Intercontinental Cup with them in 1970. He had 38 caps at a time when Netherlands was not considered a major power in football.  He scored 4 goals for the Netherlands national football team.

AM: Ruud Gullit
Ruud Gullit was the iconic captain of Netherlands' Euro 1988 winning team.  In 1987,  he moved from PSV Eindhoven to A.C. Milan for a world record transfer fee.  He was an important player for AC Milan during the 1980's where they won two straight European Cups. He was the European Footballer of the Year in 1987 and the World Soccer Player of the Year in 1987 and 1989.  He spent one season with Sampdoria winning the Italian Cup in 1994.  He earned 66 caps.
Gullit with Van Basten
FW:  Faas Wilkes
Faas Wilkes was one of the first Dutch player to play aboard.  In 1949, he joined Inter Milan, where he had the best of his career.  He also had a great career with Valencia.  He was considered to Holland's best player until the emerge of the Golden Generation of the 1970's. He was capped 38 times scoring 35 goals.  He was banned from the national team between 1949 and 1955 because KNVB did not select professional players. He was Netherlands' all-time leading scorer until 1998.

FW: Johan Cruyff
Known for his number "14", Johan Cruyff is the greatest Dutch player ever.  He won the Ballon d'Or three times, in 1971, 1973 and 1974.  He was considered one of the best players in history.  He was noted for his brilliant performance at the World Cup in 1974.  He also won three straight European Cups with Ajax in the 1970's.  He moved to Barcelona in 1973 for a world record transfer fees, where he became a legend.  He also played in the NASL at the end of his career.
Johan Cruyff
FW: Dennis Bergkamp
Bergkamp was the best-known Dutch player of the mid-1990's.  He helped Netherlands to reach the semi-final of the 1998 WC Finals in France.  His goal vs Argentina at was considered among the best ever scored in WC history.  Bergkamp surpassed Faas Wilkes's record to become the country's top goalscorer of all time in 1998. He started with Ajax and played for Inter Milan.  He also had a successful career with Arsenal.

ST:  Marco Van Basten
Marco Van Basten was probably the second best Dutch player and among the best striker in football's history.  He won the Ballon d'Or three times.  He led Oranje to the victory at the European Championship 1988 scoring 5 goals at the tournament. It was Holland's first victory in a major tournament. His goal in the Final is considered one of the best in history of the tournament. He started his career with Ajax.  He also won two European Cups with AC Milan, a club side that was considered the best ever.  
Marco Van Basten
ST: Ruud Van Nistelrooy
Ruud Van Nistelrooy was a prolific goal scorer. He won the top scorer award in three different European domestic leagues. He started with PSV Eindhoven.  He spent 5 seasons with Manchester United where he was voted as their best player twice.  With Real Madrid, he finished second as the European Golden Boot. Van Nistelrooy earned 70 caps and scored 35 goals for the Netherlands. He played in the 2006 World Cup Finals and two European Championship.
Ruud Van Nistelrooy

Honorable Mention
Hans Van Breukelen, Maarten Stekelenburg, Eddy Graafland, Jan Jongbloed, Frans de Munck, Piet Keizer, Roel Wiersma, Berry van Aerle, Danny Blind, Wesley Sneijder, Johnny Rep, Patrick Kluivert, Robin Van Persie, Barry Hulshoff, Jan Wouters, Arie Haan, Michael Reiziger, Wim Jensen, Arnold Muhren, Gerrie Muhren, Abe Minderts Lenstra, Rob Rensenbrink, Clarence Seedorf, Kees Rijvers, Willy Van De Kerkhof, Willy van der Kuijlen, Marc Overmars, Rafael van der Vaart, Frank De Boer, Ronald De Boer, Puck Van Heel, Cor Van De Hart, Mark Van Bommel, Nigel De Jong, Phillip Cocu, Georginio Wijnaldum, Beb Bakhuys, Jan Klaassens, Abe Lenstra.

Squad Explanation 
-- Johan Cruyff, Ruud Krol, Johan Neesken, Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard and Ronald Koeman were probably automatic selections.  No need to explain.  Dennis Bergkamp was also close enough to be an automatic selection.
-- Netherlands might have reached the Final of the 2010 World Cup Finals, but I selected more players from the Dutch national team from 1998 to 2006 than the team from 2010 and 2014. I thought that they were more talented. Edwin De Sar, Jaap Stam, Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, Edgar Davids, Dennis Bergkamp and Ruud Van Nistelrooy were on my team.  They reached the semi-final of the 1998 World Cups, but underperformed in 2001 when they failed to qualify for the World Cup Finals in 2002.  I did a 2002 World Cup team for them over here.
-- Netherlands' greatest moment was winning the European Championship in 1988. However, I only selected 4 players from that team, namely Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard and Ronald Koeman.  They all started on this all-time team. The four of them also had successful club careers.
-- Netherlands 1974 was known to be the greatest national team that did not win the World Cup.  The team defined Dutch football. However, I only took 6 footballers from that team: Johan Cruyff, Ruud Krol, Willem Van Hanegem, Johan Neesken, Wim Suurbier and Rinus Israel.  The goalkeeper Jan Van Beveren did not attend the World Cup Finals because of a feud with Johan Cruyff, but he was from the same generation.  He should be counted as the 7th player.    
Johan Neeskens
-- The Netherlands had many sets of brothers who made impacts on Dutch football.  The Muhrens, the Koemans, the De Boers and the Van De Kerkhofs were all famous sets of brothers.  Ronald Koeman was the only player who made this team.  His brother Erwin did not make honorable mention, but he was capped over 30 times for the national team and was a part of Euro 1988 winning team.
-- Only four Surinamese made this team which surprised me.  They were Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit, Edgar Davids and Virgil van Dijk.  Please see my Dutch-Surinamese All-Time team.
-- Edwin van de Sar was the greatest Dutch goalkeeper.  Then, I took Jan Van Beveren.  A feud with Johan Cruyff kept goalkeeper Jan Van Beveren off the 1974 World Cup team, but I did not consider it as a factor.  He was rated among the greatest ever Dutch goalkeepers.  
-- Just Göbel was a pioneer in Dutch football.  He was also the least known player selected.  In 1912, he was in goal when England beat the Netherlands.  His heroic performance kept the scoreline to just 4-0. a part of the Dutch national team that beat England. He earned a standing ovation from the English fans, which reportedly first time ever given to a foreign player.  In 1913, he was again in field against England.  This time, the Netherlands prevailed with 2-1 victory.
-- So Hans Van Breukelen, Maarten Stekelenburg, Eddy Graafland and Jan Jongbloed were also big names in Dutch football.  I also came upon Frans de Munck.  
-- Jan Jongbloed himself did not expect to start in the 1974 World Cup Finals.  He was never known to be as talented as other Dutch goalkeepers, but he played well in one World Cup Finals and he should be honored.
-- Barcelona wanted to sign Frans de Munch in 1947, but he decided to stay in the Netherlands to keep his amateur status.  At the time, the Dutch national team did not select professional players.
-- "Gejus" van der Meulen was one of the most popular Dutch sportsmen of the 1920s–1930s, but he fell into disgrace in the late 1940s due to his collaboration with Nazi Germany.  His exclusion had nothing to do with this.  He just was outside the top three.
-- Jan Stam was at one point the most expensive Dutch player and the most expensive defender in the world when he joined Manchester United.  In Manchester, he lived up to expectations.  Ronald Koeman was a hero of Barcelona FC.  The pair was undisputed selection for central defenders.
-- Virgil van Dijk is becoming one of the best defenders in the world at this moment.  He came second in the 2019 Ballon d'or, an award that he should have won it.   Not many defender ever came close of winning it. He won the UEFA Player of the Year in 2019 as well as PFA Player of the year in 2018-2019. Certainly, Rinus Israel or Frank De Boer never came close. In August, 2019, I took Frank De Boer off the list and replaced him with Van Dijk.  I might have overrated him.
-- The last central defender chosen was Rinus Israel. He only narrowly edged out Frank De Boer, Danny Blind, Barry Hulshoff, Ariel Haan and Cor Van De Hart.  They could have easily take over the 4th central defender spot.
-- Cor Van De Hart played 44 international matches, in which he was captain in 23 games.  He played in the famous victory over World Cup winner West Germany in 1956.  
-- Ruud Krol was actually my fifth central defender.  He was better known as a leftback, but he played as a sweeper at the end of his career.  Of course, no explanation was needed for his selection.  Giovanni Van Bronkhorst played for two big clubs in his prime.  At the age of 35 years old, he captained the national team at the 2010 World Cup, where he had a brilliant tournament.
-- Frank De Boer could not get into the team because of Ruud Krol and Giovanni Van Bronkhorst.  The central defender position was also very deep.
-- Wim Suurbier was great rightback, but after him, no other player stood out on the fullback position.  I found the position weak after those players. I do not know how to rate Roel Wiersma, and I was not sure about Michael Reiziger, Berry van Aerle or Adri van Tiggelen.  So I honoured rightback Harry Denis with a spot of the team.  He was a pioneer in Dutch football.
--For the central midfielders, Frank Rijkaard and Johan Neeskens easily took two spots.  I myself rated Edgar Davids very high.  He was very dominating during their prime. Willem Van Hanegem was considered to be the second best ever Dutch player after the 1974 World Cup Finals. 
Edgar Davids
-- Wim Jensen, Arnold Muhren, Jan Wouter, Gerri Muhren, Mark Van Bommel, Jan Klaassens, Phillip Cocu, Willy Van de Kerkhof, Nigel De Jong, etc all deserved a mention, but they were not going to challenge the four midfielders I just mentioned.
-- Edgar Davids's energetic and combatic style of play made him a fan favorite.  He also had silky dribbling skills.  
-- Willem Van Hanegem had the physical appearance of a defensive midfielder.  He was actually a playmaker.  As mentioned, he was widely considered the second best ever Dutch player after the 1974 World Cup Finals. Clarence Seedorf was a few steps behind him.  Seedorf only made honourable mention.
-- I should have taken Puck van Heel.  He held the Dutch appearance record for 42 years.  He was an inside left or left winger.  He was probably capable of playing in the midfield.
-- Wesley Sneijder, I felt, had one good season in 2009-2010 where he won the Champions' League with Inter Milan and the Golden Silver Ball at the World Cup Finals.  His club career in other seasons, however, were marked with a lot of inconsistency, but I gave him credit for leading the Netherlands to 2nd place at the World Cup Finals in 2010. He deserved to be on the team, but unfortunately, Ruud Gullit, Willem Van Hanegem, Johan Cruyff, Dennis Bergkamp and Faas Wilkins could all play as a secondary striker/offensive midfielder role. So I only put him as an honorable mention. 
-- Ariel Robben was the one of only two members of the 2010 World Cup Finalist who was selected (Giovanni Van Bronckhorst was the other).  I needed a winger or wide player.  Furthermore, he had proved to be an all-timer while playing for Bayern Munich winning the Champions League. In 2014, Robben was the first football player since Ruud Gullit (1987) to be elected Dutch Sportsman of the Year. At his prime, he was right behind Cristano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. It was actually a controversial to pick him over Piet Keizer who was rated as highly as Johan Cruyff. Keizer's career might have been overshadowed by Cruyff.  I also selected Coen Moulijn because he was was an icon of Feyenoord. I credited him for that. Marc Overmars was behind the two of them.  Rob Rensenbrink had two great World Cup Finals under him, but his overall career was not as good as Robben or Keizer.  
-- Johan Cruyff, Marco Van Basten and Ruud Gullit already occupied three of the attacking spots.  Dennis Bergkamp and Faas Wilkes also did not need introduction.  Faas Wilkes was one of the first Dutch player to play aboard. He was an idol in Valencia. I considered him as a pioneer in the Dutch football.  After I selected Ruud Van Nistelrooy.  The team was set.
Dennis Bergkamp 
-- Ruud Van Nistelrooy won the top scorer award in three different countries.  He has been the top scorer in three separate UEFA Champions League seasons, and is the sixth-highest goalscorer in the competition's history with 56 goals. Besides Marco Van Basten, Netherlands did not have another striker better than him. Robin Van Persie was probably right behind him. He was sometimes ranked as high as Van Nistelrooy.  He actually had more international goals than Van Nistelrooy.  Patrick Kluivert's peak was too short.  Ironically, he was born on the same date as Van Nistelrooy. Kluivert started his career quickly, but faded quickly while Van Nistelrooy was a late bloomer.  
-- Before I started researching this team, I could not imagine Keizer not on the team.  He was kept off by Coen Moulijn, Denis Bergkamp and Faas Wilkes. 
-- Abe Lenstra, Faas Wilkes and Kees Rijvers formed what was then called the "Gouden Binnentrio" with the Dutch national team. Of the ten international matches they played together, only one was lost.
-- Kees Rijvers, Piet Keizer and Rob Rensenbrink were the biggest names missing from this team. I decided to select two old-timers (Wilkes and Moulijin) and two younger players (Bergkamp and Robben) over them.  
-- Abe Lenstra also deserved a spot, but I went with more modern players.  He was the greatest ever player from Heerenveen.  The club was also fondly referred to as 'Abeveen'.  He reportedly had scored over 700 goals in approximately 730 matches.
-- Johnny Rep was left off since a handful of younger players emerged after the 1970's. Liked Keizer and Rensenbrink, he was the most successful name not on this team.  
-- Beb Bakhuys scored 28 goals in 23 international matches, but he was from the amateur era. 

Netherlands 2010 World Cup Finals
Starting lineup
I am using the classic 4-3-3 formation from Netherlands 1974.  However, tactics would be very different.  On paper, Cruyff was moved to the wing, but he would move around the field so it did not matter where he lined up.  Netherlands 1974 did not have a classic striker in Marco Van Basten.  So I am playing with a target man.  In 1974, Wim Jensen played in the midfield.  I replaced him with Ruud Gullit, a more offensive player than Jensen. This formation would probably reduce Neeskens' movement. He would drop back more often.