Team of the Decade 1975-1985

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Manager: Bob Paisley

Bench:

Schumacher, Fillol, Gatti; Cabrini, Junior, Camacho; Olsen, Stielike, Hansen, Krol, Bossis, Förster;  Gentile, Neal, Gerets; Tardelli, Breitner, Schuster; Giresse, Socrates, Conti; Maradona, Bochini, Boniek; Dalglish, Keegan, Kempes; Cruyff, Fischer, Simonsen; Blokhin, Bertoni, Hrubesch

Best Player: Graeme Souness

Best Team: Liverpool FC 1977-1985

Best Club: Liverpool FC

Best Match: Liverpool – Roma, European Cup Final 1984

A preliminary remark: when people compile Teams of the Decade, they most often restrict the meaning of the term ‘decade’ to something like the 80s or the 90s. I don’t. When I say ‘decade’, I simply mean a time span of  10 years. This post is the fifth in a series of articles in which I compile Teams of the Decade. I will work my way back in time in 5 year steps. After this post, the next one will be about the 1970-1980 Team of the Decade, the last one was about the 1980-1990 Team of the Decade. I’ll work my way back in time until the 1950-1960 Team of the Decade. I will stop there because the lack of footage for players before 1950 makes it impossible for me to form an opinion about them that is truly my own. I chose to go back in steps of 5 years, because that seems to be a good compromise. Going back in steps of 10 years is unfair towards those players who have performed the best around the turn of a decade (take Xavi, for example). Smaller steps would mean a lot of repetition: the 2004-2014 Team of the Decade won’t be that different from the 2005-2015 Team of the Decade.
Read More »

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Team of the Season 2015-16

Since 2008-09 I have been compiling my Team of the Season at the end of every season. While my selection is certainly influenced by my limited knowledge and my personal preferences, I try not to build a team of my favourite players, but of the players who performed the best during that season. In order to establish which player performed the best in a given position, I look at quantity and quality of performance only.

So here’s my Team of the Season 2015-16. I define ‘2015-16’ as starting with the final whistle of the Champions League final 2015 and ending with the final whistle of the Champions League final 2016.

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Manager: Claudio Ranieri

Best Player: Sergio Busquets

Best Team: FC Barcelona (Atletico would have won the title if not for their weak and uncharacteristic performance in the final of the CL)

Best Match: FC Liverpool – Borussia Dortmund

Bench: Navas, Buffon, Neuer; Filipe Luis, Alaba, Alba; Boateng, Piqué, Godin, T. Silva, Mascherano, Ramos; Juanfran, Carvajal, Mariano; Kroos, Weigl, Kanté; Vidal, Gündogan, Gabi; Iniesta, Ibrahimovic, Mahrez; Griezmann, Neymar, Vardy; Higuain, Kane, Lewandowski; Müller, Benzema, Özil

 

David de Gea

A lot of the players chosen for this team come from teams who have performed well this season. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Their fine performances were a key reason why their respective teams did well. The case of de Gea is a bit different. Manchester United, still his club after a summer move to Real Madrid collapsed under the most hillarious of circumstances, had a rough year. But not because of de Gea, but despite him. While his season started badly, he was omitted from the squad after said transfer saga, he quickly reached his by now usual level and bailed his team out with fantastic saves time and time again. Potentially Manuel Neuer is the best goalkeeper in the world. However, he had one of his weaker seasons. While he continued to be great on the line, it was his trademark sweeper-keeper game that let him down this season. He made too many uncharacteristic mistakes to make the team. Keepers like Navas, Buffon and Oblak had fine seasons, too. But from what I’ve seen de Gea has deserved the place.Read More »

Team of the Decade 1980-1990

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Manager: Arrigo Sacchi

Bench: Pfaff, Dasajew, Shilton; Brehme, Junior, Amoros; Hansen, Augenthaler, Koeman, Ruggeri, Butcher, Migueli; Gerets, Tassotti, Kaltz; Matthäus, Tardelli, Batista; Cerezo, Souness, Fernandez; Burruchaga, Zico, Giresse; Rummenigge, Hoddle, Gullit; van Basten, Careca, Elkjaer; Rush,Valdano, Lineker

Best player: Diego Maradona

Best club: FC Liverpool

Best team: AC Milan 1987-1990

Best match: France – Portugal 3-2 after extra time, Euro 1984

A preliminary remark: when people compile Teams of the Decade, they most often restrict the meaning of the term ‘decade’ to something like the 80s or the 90s. I don’t. When I say ‘decade’, I simply mean a time span of  10 years. This post is the sixth in a series of articles in which I compile Teams of the Decade. I will work my way back in time in 5 year steps. After this post, the next one will be about the 1975-1985 Team of the Decade, the last one was about the 1985-1995 Team of the Decade. I’ll work my way back in time until the 1950-1960 Team of the Decade. I will stop there because the lack of footage for players before 1950 makes it impossible for me to form an opinion about them that is truly my own. I chose to go back in steps of 5 years, because that seems to be a good compromise. Going back in steps of 10 years is unfair towards those players who have performed the best around the turn of a decade (take Xavi, for example). Smaller steps would mean a lot of repetition: the 2004-2014 Team of the Decade won’t be that different from the 2005-2015 Team of the Decade.

Inclusion in this team is based solely on quantity and quality of performance during the respective period of time. It’s not about whether a player has won a lot of trophies, or fits some artistic ideal, even whether a player was ahead of his time in itself isn’t a criterion. It’s about performance and performance alone. You don’t necessarily have to get top marks for both quantity and quality of performance to be included. If the quality of your performances was outstanding, you will have a chance to be included even if, for example, you only performed on that level for, say, 5 of the 10 years. But the lack of quantity of performance will speak against you. Also, the chances of any given player to be included, of course,  heavily depend on the quality and quantity of performance of other players who played in the same position during the same period of time. This is all still a bit vague, but since fantasy football teams are far from being exact science to begin with, I think that’s okay. The main point that I want to emphasize is that both quantity and quality of performance matter.

I define the 1980-1990 decade as starting with the final whistle of the 1980 European Cup final and ending with the final whistle of the 1990 European Cup final.

Finally, a massive thank you to Javier from @footballiaweb. It’s an honour to have you on board as a guest author.

Toni Schumacher

Your quintessential 80s goalkeeper. Great reflexes, a fantastic athlete, able to stop seemingly unstoppable shots, great in one-on-one’s, and, maybe his greatest strength, ferociously competitive. Like his distant successor Oliver Kahn, Toni Schumacher was an intimidating presence on the field.Read More »

Team of the Decade 1985-1995

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Manager: Arrigo Sacchi

Bench: Schmeichel, Köpke, Zubizaretta; Brehme, Pearce, Amoros; Bergomi, Julio Cesar, Belodedici, Blanc, Costacurta, Blind; Tassotti, Jorginho, Chendo; Sammer, Alemao, Dunga; Stojkovic, Deschamps, Hagi; Hässler, Stoichkov, Rai; Donadoni, Baggio, Mancini; Völler, Butragueno, Rush; Klinsmann, Romario, H. Sanchez

Best player: Franco Baresi

Best club: AC Milan

Best team: AC Milan 1991-1994

Best match: Juventus Turin – AC Milan, Serie A, 1991-92

A preliminary remark: when people compile Teams of the Decade, they most often restrict the meaning of the term ‘decade’ to something like the 80s or the 90s. I don’t. When I say ‘decade’, I simply mean a time span of  10 years. This post is the fifth in a series of articles in which I compile Teams of the Decade. I will work my way back in time in 5 year steps. After this post, the next one will be about the 1980-1990 Team of the Decade, the last one was about the 1990-2000 Team of the Decade. I’ll work my way back in time until the 1950-1960 Team of the Decade. I will stop there because the lack of footage for players before 1950 makes it impossible for me to form an opinion about them that is truly my own. I chose to go back in steps of 5 years, because that seems to be a good compromise. Going back in steps of 10 years is unfair towards those players who have performed the best around the turn of a decade (take Xavi, for example). Smaller steps would mean a lot of repetition: the 2004-2014 Team of the Decade won’t be that different from the 2005-2015 Team of the Decade.
Read More »

Team of the Decade 1990-2000

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Manager: Alex Ferguson

Bench: van der Sar, Kahn, Chilavert; Lizarazu, Zanetti, Irwin; Blanc, Baresi, Costacurta, Aldair, Adams, Kohler; Thuram, F. de Boer, Ferrara; Dunga, Keane, Albertini; Sammer, Matthäus, Seedorf; Laudrup, Litmanen, Möller; Hässler, Zidane, Giggs; Bergkamp, Klinsmann, Shearer; Ronaldo, Weah, Cantona

Best player: Paolo Maldini

Best club: Juventus Turin

Best team: AC Milan 1991-1994

Best match: Juventus Turin – AC Milan, Serie A, 1991-92

A preliminary remark: when people compile Teams of the Decade, they most often restrict the meaning of the term ‘decade’ to something like the 80s or the 90s. I don’t. When I say ‘decade’, I simply mean a time span of  10 years. This post is the fourth in a series of articles in which I compile Teams of the Decade. I will work my way back in time in 5 year steps. After this post, the next one will be about the 1985-1995 Team of the Decade, the last one was about the 1995-2005 Team of the Decade. I’ll work my way back in time until the 1950-1960 Team of the Decade. I will stop there because the lack of footage for players before 1950 makes it impossible for me to form an opinion about them that is truly my own. I chose to go back in steps of 5 years, because that seems to be a good compromise. Going back in steps of 10 years is unfair towards those players who have performed the best around the turn of a decade (take Xavi, for example). Smaller steps would mean a lot of repetition: the 2004-2014 Team of the Decade won’t be that different from the 2005-2015 Team of the Decade.

Inclusion in this team is based solely on quantity and quality of performance during the respective period of time. It’s not about whether a player has won a lot of trophies, or fits some artistic ideal, even whether a player was ahead of his time in itself isn’t a criterion. It’s about performance and performance alone. You don’t necessarily have to get top marks for both quantity and quality of performance to be included. If the quality of your performances was outstanding, you will have a chance to be included even if, for example, you only performed on that level for, say, 5 of the 10 years. But the lack of quantity of performance will speak against you. Also, the chances of any given player to be included, of course,  heavily depend on the quality and quantity of performance of other players who played in the same position during the same period of time. This is all still a bit vague, but since fantasy football teams are far from being exact science to begin with, I think that’s okay. The main point that I want to emphasize is that both quantity and quality of performance matter. I define the 1990-2000 decade as starting with the final whistle of the 1990 European Cup final and ending with the final whistle of the 2000 Champions League final.

Peter Schmeichel

The 90s were the time of the burly ‘reaction keeper’ and Peter Schmeichel is no exception to that rule. He not only stuck to the basics of goalkeeping but excelled at them. Stopping shots was probably his greatest quality, as exemplified by several YouTube highlight reels. He had very quick reflexes and was outstanding in one-on-one situations. In a nutshell, he was the Danish Oliver Kahn.Read More »

Team of the Decade 1995-2005

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Manager: Ottmar Hitzfeld

Bench: van der Sar, Buffon, Toldo; Lizarazu, Zanetti, Cannavaro; Stam, F. de Boer, Desailly, Campbell, Hierro, Montero; Cafu, Panucci, Di Livio; Vieira, Redondo, Cocu; Seedorf, Scholes, Veron; Giggs, Overmars, Rivaldo; Figo, Totti, Mendieta; Raul, del Piero, Henry; Kluivert, Vieri, Shevchenko

Best player: Zinedine Zidane

Best club: Manchester United

Best team: France 1998-2001

Best match: Liverpool – AC Milan 3-3, 2005 Champions League Final

A preliminary remark: when people compile Teams of the Decade, they most often restrict the meaning of the term ‘decade’ to something like the 80s or the 90s. I don’t. When I say ‘decade’, I simply mean a time span of  10 years. This post is the third in a series of articles in which I compile Teams of the Decade. I will work my way back in time in 5 year steps. After this post, the next one will be about the 1990-2000 Team of the Decade, the last one was about the 2000-2010 Team of the Decade. I’ll work my way back until the 1950-1960 Team of the Decade. I will stop there because the lack of footage for players before 1950 makes it impossible for me to form an opinion about them that is truly my own. I chose to go back in steps of 5 years, because that seems to be a good compromise. Going back in steps of 10 years is unfair towards those players who have performed the best around the turn of a decade (take Xavi, for example). Smaller steps would mean a lot of repetition: the 2004-2014 Team of the Decade won’t be that different from the 2005-2015 Team of the Decade.

Inclusion in this team is based solely on quantity and quality of performance during the respective period of time. It’s not about whether a player has won a lot of trophies, or fits some artistic ideal, even whether a player was ahead of his time in itself isn’t a criterion. It’s about performance and performance alone. You don’t necessarily have to get top marks for both quantity and quality of performance to be included. If the quality of your performances was outstanding, you will have a chance to be included even if, for example, you only performed on that level for, say, 5 of the 10 years. But the lack of quantity of performance will speak against you. Also, the chances of any given player to be included, of course,  heavily depend on the quality and quantity of performance of other players who played in the same position during the same period of time. This is all still a bit vague, but since fantasy football teams are far from being exact science to begin with, I think that’s okay. The main point that I want to emphasize simply is, that both quantity and quality of performance matter. I define the 1995-2015 decade as starting with the final whistle of the 1995 Champions League final and ending with the final whistle of the 2005 Champions League final.

Oliver Kahn

I have a soft spot for players who were, in one way or another, ahead of their time or interpreted their role on the field differently. Given these prefences Edwin van der Sar should be the man between the sticks for this team. But there is just no way past choosing Oliver Kahn. The German shot-stopper and He-Man lookalike was a rather conservative player, focussing on the basics of goalkeeping. Block shots, narrow angles, control your area, constantly bad-mouth… well, constantly advise the defenders in front of you. Kahn excelled in one-on-one situations and at saving so called ‘Unhaltbare’, i.e. shots that seemed impossible to save. He was blessed with lightning-quick reflexes. Most importantly, however, was his mental strength. Kahn was always focussed and had a very professional attitude towards his job. Boundless ambition drove him to constantly work on his game. All that resulted in him staying at the very top of the game for the full ten years of this decade. He reached his peak between ~ 1998-2002 (according to Bayern-expert Red de la Rubén), the absolute highlight being the 2002 World Cup where he was named Player of the Tournament. No goalkeeper has managed to achieve that before or since.Read More »

Team of the Decade 2000-2010

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Manager: José Mourinho

Bench: van der Sar, Kahn, Casillas; R. Carlos, Lahm, Ramos; Maldini, Puyol, Terry, Lucio, Ferdinand, Hyypiä; Thuram,  Zambrotta, Cafu; Davids, Emerson, Vieira; Xavi, Lampard, Deco; C. Ronaldo, Nedved, Riquelme; Messi, Kaka, Figo; Totti, Bergkamp, Gerrard; Eto’o, Ronaldo, van Nistelrooy

Best player: Andrea Pirlo

Best club: Manchester United

Best team: FC Barcelona 2008-10

Best match: Real Madrid – FC Barcelona 2-6, 02.05.2009

A preliminary remark: when people compile Teams of the Decade, they most often restrict the meaning of the term ‘decade’ to something like the 80s or the 90s. I don’t. When I say ‘decade’, I simply mean a time span of  10 years. This post is the second in a series of articles in which I compile Teams of the Decade. I will work my way back in time in 5 year steps. After this post, the next one will be about the 1995-2005 Team of the Decade, the last one was about the 2005-2015 Team of the Decade. I’ll work my way back until the 1950-1960 Team of the Decade. I will stop there because the lack of footage for players before 1950 makes it impossible for me to form an opinion about them that is truly my own. I chose to go back in steps of 5 years, because that seems to be a good compromise. Going back in steps of 10 years is unfair towards those players who have performed the best around the turn of a decade (take Xavi, for example). Smaller steps would mean a lot of repetition; a 2004-2014 Team of the Decade won’t be that different from a 2005-2015 Team of the Decade.

Inclusion in this team is based solely on quantity and quality of performance during the respective period of time. It’s not about whether a player has won a lot of trophies, or fits some artistic ideal, even whether a player was ahead of his time in itself isn’t a criterion. It’s about performance and performance alone. You don’t necessarily have to get top marks for both quantity and quality of performance to be included. If the quality of your performances was outstanding, you have a chance to be included even if, for example, you only performed on that level for, say, 5 of the 10 years. But the lack of quantity of performance will speak against you. Also, the chances of any given player to be included, of course,  heavily depend on the quality and quantity of performance of other players who played in the same position during the same period of time. This is all still a bit vague, but since fantasy football teams are far from being exact science to begin with, I think that’s okay. The main point that I want to emphasize simply is, that both quantity and quality of performance matter. I define the 2000-2010 decade as starting with the final whistle of the 2000 Champions League final and ending with the final whistle of the 2010 Champions League final.

Gianluigi Buffon

Compiling this team wasn’t easy. A lot of great players played some fine football during these ten years. There was hardly one position where I knew whom to pick right away. Except for the position of goalkeeper, that is. Gianluigi Buffon was always gonna be my choice in goal. However, that is not to say that he was the only excellent keeper during this timespan. Far from it! The likes of Oliver Kahn, Edwin van der Sar, Petr Cech and Iker Casillas also had a fine decade. But all of them lose out in some respect. Kahn and Cech weren’t playing at the highest level for the whole decade, Casillas struggled to establish himself at Real Madrid during the early years, and van der Sar had problems at Juventus before he spend some years in the second-tier of elite level football at Fulham. Buffon basically had ten years of non-stop brilliance both for club and country. Cech and Casillas aren’t a real danger to his throne anyway because he did all that they did, only that he did it better and for the whole ten years. Kahn had a peak in the early 2000s that rivalled what Buffon did in terms of quality of performance. But since Kahn’s career ended well before the end of the decade and since he had some relatively weaker years before that, he’s no real threat to Buffon either. Also, he wasn’t as well-rounded a keeper as Buffon was. Van der Sar came closest. Being one of the great sweeper-keepers, he possessed some qualities that Buffon didn’t possess, or at least not to that degree. Had Alex Ferguson signed van der Sar as Peter Schmeichel’s direct replacement, as he originally planned, and had van der Sar been able to perform for the whole ten years at the highest level, competing against the best of the world every year, it would have been close between him and Buffon.Read More »

Team of the Decade 2005-2015 – English Version

This is a slightly altered translation of these two posts which were written in German: Part 1 & Part 2

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Manager: Pep Guardiola

Bench: Buffon, Cech, Casillas; Zanetti, Abidal, A. Cole; Hummels, Vidic, Puyol, Chiellini, Nesta, Pique; S. Ramos, Maicon, Srna; Schweinsteiger, Cambiasso, X. Alonso; Pirlo, Lampard, Scholes; Kaka, Fabregas, Modric; Ribéry, D. Villa, Di Maria; Ibrahimovic, Rooney, Drogba; Agüero, T. Müller, Eto’o

Best player: Lionel Messi

Best team: FC Barcelona 2008-12

Best club: FC Barcelona

Best match: FC Barcelona – Real Madrid 5-0, 29.11.2010

A preliminary remark: when people compile Teams of the Decade, they most often restrict the meaning of the term ‘decade’ to something like the 80s or the 90s. I don’t. When I say ‘decade’, I simply mean a time span of  10 years. This post will be the first in a series of articles in which I compile Teams of the Decade. I will work my way back in time in 5 year steps. After this post, the next one will be about the 2000-2010 Team of the Decade, which in turn will be followed by the 1995-2005 Team of the Decade and so forth back until the 1950-1960 Team of the Decade. I will stop there because the lack of footage for players before 1950 makes it impossible for me to form an opinion about them that is truly my own. I chose to go back in steps of 5 years, because that seems to be a good compromise. Going back in steps of 10 years is unfair towards those players who have performed the best around the turn of a decade (take Xavi, for example). Smaller steps would mean a lot of repetition; a 2004-2014 Team of the Decade won’t be that different from a 2005-2015 Team of the Decade.

Inclusion in this team is based solely on quantity and quality of performance during the respective period of time. It’s not about whether a player has won a lot of trophies, or fits some artistic ideal, even whether a player was ahead of his time in itself isn’t a criterion. It’s about performance and performance alone. You don’t necessarily have to get top marks for both quantity and quality of performance to be included. If the quality of your performances was outstanding, you have a chance to be included even if, for example, you only performed on that level for, say, 5 of the 10 years. But the lack of quantity of performance will speak against you. Also, the chances of any given player to be included, of course,  heavily depend on the quality and quantity of performance of other players who played in the same position during the same period of time. This is all still a bit vague, but since fantasy football teams are far from being exact science to begin with, I think that’s okay. The main point that I want to emphasize simply is, that both quantity and quality of performance matter. I define the 2005-2015 decade as starting with the final whistle of the 2005 Champions League final and ending with the final whistle of the 2015 Champions League final.

Manuel Neuer
Germany has a long tradition of fine shot stoppers. The likes of Oliver Kahn, Sepp Maier and Toni Schumacher were among the best keepers of their time. Manuel Neuer is the next in line and has a real chance to outshine even the best of his predecessors. In fact, he already comes close. It’s possible that he hasn’t reached the half way point of his career, but his performances during the last couple of years warrant such praise. Especially his 2014 World Cup ranks among the best tournament performances by a goalkeeper ever. Take the game against Algeria: , with any other goalkeeper Germany would have lost that match, as Rene Maric correctly observed. Something like that is hard to find. Maybe Maradona against England in ’86 is another example. That’s the kind of performance level we’re talking about – albeit without the cheating. Read More »

Team der Dekade 2005-2015 – Teil 1

This piece is written in German, but, of course, one should still be able to comprehend my team selection.

Eine Vorbemerkung: Unter einem Team der Dekade stellt man sich meistens so etwas vor wie “Team der 80er” oder “Team der 90er”. Beschränkt man sich jedoch auf das Zusammenstellen solcher Teams, dann läuft man Gefahr die Spieler, die um einen Dekadenwechsel herum den Höhepunkt ihrer Karriere hatten unfairerweise unberücksichtigt zu lassen. Ein Beispiel: Xavi hatte seine beste Zeit von ~2008 bis ~2012. Während dieser Periode war er einer der prägenden Gestalten des Weltfußballs, gewann alles, was es zu gewinnen gab und lieferte durchweg extrem starke Leistungen. Trotzdem würde er es vermutlich nicht in eine Elf der Dekade 2000-10 schaffen und auch in einem Team 2010-20 wird er eher nicht vertreten sein. Nicht weil er zu schlecht war oder sein Leistungspeak zu kurz anhielt, sondern weil er einfach Pech hatte, um einen Dekadenumbruch herum seine besten Leistungen zu zeigen. Daher stelle ich neben Teams der Dekade der Form ‘X0 – ‘Y0 auch Teams der Dekade der Form ‘X5 – ‘Y5 zusammen. So ist gewährleistet, dass kein Spieler übersehen wird, nur weil seine besten Leistungen um einen Dekadenumbruch herum stattfanden. Auch dieses Modell ist den Spielern gegenüber nicht vollständig fair. So haben die Spieler die beste Chance, in eine solche Elf zu kommen, die zu Beginn des Zeitraumes ca. 21-22 Jahre alt waren. (Im Falle von Torhütern vielleicht eher 24-25 Jahre.) Der Hauptteil ihrer Karriere liegt dann exakt im Zeitrahmen für die Auswahl. Man könnte dieses Problem dadurch lösen, in dem man einfach jedes Jahr eine Elf der Dekade für die jeweils letzten 10 Jahre benennt. Dies ist mir aber etwas zu viel und ich bleibe lieber bei dem oben beschriebenen Kompromiss.Read More »