Portugal were crowned the winners and with the football world now in the midst of another national sabbatical, we decided to get creative with another concept of ranking.
This time around, we’re not just focusing on Europe – we’re heading for the world.
Using the official FIFA rankings, we selected the best five-a-side team for each of the top 23 nations in world football, and then ranked them in ascending order.
We apologize in advance, as controversial decisions had to be taken regarding the ranking of the 23 countries and the team selections …
Team: Gabriel Arias, Arturo Vidal, Charles Aranguiz, Eduardo Vargas, Alexis Sanchez.
The Chile team is not what it once was. They still rely heavily on the ‘old guard’ and we can’t see people like Vidal and Sanchez being able to compete with the rest in a five-a-side frame.
Team: Yann Sommer, Fabian Schar, Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri, Breel Embolo.
Schar and Xhaka are both wonderful passers, while Shaqiri has plenty of tricks and shots in his locker. However, while the Swiss are a very good international team, their best five-a-side look decidedly average.
Equipe: Kasper Schmeichel, Daniel Wass, Thomas Delaney, Christian Eriken, Kasper Dolberg.
Denmark is just ahead of Switzerland and that’s mainly thanks to the brilliant Eriksen. Wass and Delaney would both be helpful on offense and defense, while Dolberg is a pretty handy finisher. Not the worst team.
Équipe: Andriy Lunin, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Ruslan Malinovskyi, Marlos, Viktor Tsygankov.
The Ukrainian quintet is not quite a drummer of the world, but there is always quality. Zinchenko, Malinovskyi, Tsygankov and – in particular – Marlos, are all excellent with the ball at their feet, an essential skill for five. They would probably give some of the bigger teams a run for their money.
Équipe: Wojciech Sczcesny, Mateusz Klich, Piotr Zielinski, Kamil Grosicki, Robert Lewandowski.
Poland is ahead of its European rivals, Switzerland, Denmark and Ukraine because of one man – Lewandowski. Bayern’s goal machine would thrive in any football environment. If Poland hadn’t had one of the best in the world in mind, they would probably be 23rd.
Team: Martin Campana, Jose Gimenez, Rodrigo Bentancur, Fede Valverde, Luis Suarez.
The five players selected here are all very, very good – world class in Suarez’s case. But are they tailor-made for the five to five? Not in our opinion.
Team: Danny Ward, Ethan Ampadu, Aaron Ramsey, Daniel James, Gareth Bale.
Wales are just ahead of Uruguay due to the fact that we think Bale and Ramsey are the top pair-five over Suarez and Bentancur / Valverde. It was a close one, however.
Team: Robin Olsen, Victor Lindelof, Emil Forsberg, Dejan Kulusevski, Alexander Isak
We really like this team. Forsberg’s eye for a pass, Kulusevski’s skill and Isak’s finish, it seems like a pretty murderous combination – at least on paper. That being said, this team would likely struggle to compete with the best.
15. United States
Team: Sean Johnson, Sergino Dest, Weston McKennie, Giovani Reyna, Christian Pulisic.
The USA squad is packed with talent right now and this five-a-side look pretty good too. A partnership ahead of Reyna and Pulisic? Yes please! The fact that the United States is in 15th tells you everything you need to know about the strength of the top 14.
Team: Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly, Idrissa Gueye, Sadio Mane, Ismaila Sarr.
Defensive solidity, midfield engine and two quick and skillful forwards ?! It’s a very good three-part combination. The main difference between the United States and Senegal is that the latter have a truly world-class player in Mane.
Team: Dominik Livavkovic, Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic, Luka Modric, Andrej Kramaric.
Our range from Croatia just screams “ball retention”. Imagine trying to get the ball back from Brozovic, Kovacic and Modric. It would be an absolute nightmare and then you have Kramaric to finish the odds.
Team: Hugo Gonzalez, Hector Herrera, Jesus Corona, Hirving Lozano, Raul Jimenez.
It was difficult to choose between Croatia and Mexico, but we sided with the latter due to the unpredictability and catalog of skills possessed by both Corona and Lozano. Those two who feed Jimenez? A real recipe for success at five.
Team: Gianluigi Donnarumma, Marco Verratti, Federico Chiesa, Federico Bernadeschi, Ciro Immobile.
Verratti’s tabby nature and shine on the ball are tailor-made for the defensive role in a five-a-side team. Then you have the skills and ingenuity of Chiesa and Bernadeschi in front of him, complemented by the goal-scoring prowess of Immobile. Not bad.
Team: David Ospina, Juan Cuadrado, Juan Quintero, James Rodriguez, Luis Muriel.
Skills certainly pay the bills at five, which is why Colombia are in the top 10. Cuadrado, Quintero, Rodriguez and Muriel are all blessed with an array of moves, the top two in particular. This latter pair then brings creativity and goals to the table, creating a very complete team.
Team: Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens.
This Belgium team may not be the most skillful, but that’s not all and ends at five. De Bruyne’s passing range tore opposing teams apart in any setting, while the close control, low center of gravity and goal threat from Hazard and Mertens would make any other team fearful.
Team: Franco Armani, Marcos Acuna, Leandro Paredes, Lionel Messi, Paulo Dybala.
A team with Messi only eighth? We know, we know. But our five-a-side Argentina creation just doesn’t have the x-factor of the best dogs on our list. Although we don’t want to play against Messi and Dybala dropping goals on a Wednesday night…
Team: David De Gea, Sergio Ramos, Thiago Alcantara, Ferran Torres, Ansu Fati.
It’s hard enough to get Thiago’s ball back in an 11-a-side game, let alone in this format. The Liverpool man is reportedly feeding the pacy duo of Torres and Fati, with Ramos holding him all the way to the back. A very exciting team.
Equipe: Manuel Neuer, Joshua Kimmich, Kai Havertz, Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane.
Havertz, Gnabry and Sane are an insane attacking trio, while Kimmich is so versatile and brilliant that there is no need for a top defender in the squad. Germany could probably use Neuer as a five-a-side outfield if they needed to too!
Team: Nick Pope, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford.
To place England ahead of Germany was a difficult call to make, very difficult indeed. What has influenced us? The silky street football skills that Sancho and Rashford would bring to the table. Any defender in the world would fight the pair in a five-a-side game. Grealish wouldn’t be a bad player to have either …
Team: Rui Patricio, Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva, Joao Felix, Cristiano Ronaldo.
The fact that Silva’s nickname is “bubblegum” due to his immense first contact suggests that he would be an absolute demon at five. Take into account the unmistakable brilliance of Felix and the legendary Ronaldo and you have a really solid outfit.
Equipe: Jasper Cillessen, Virgil van Dijk, Frenkie de Jong, Quincy Promes, Memphis Depay.
The presence of Van Dijk is the reason why we opted for Holland in third place. The Liverpool man is reportedly chasing opposing attackers like flies, allowing the trio of De Jong, Promes and Depay to wreak havoc at the top. A delicious combination.
Team: Hugo Lloris, N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba, Ousmane Dembele, Kylian Mbappe.
Kante would be the perfect five-way defender because of his ridiculous engine. Ahead of him, the skillful trio of Pogba, Dembele and Mbappe would wreak havoc on opposing defenders. Difficult to dominate this team, but you will quickly understand why France must be satisfied with a silver medal …
Team: Alisson Becker, Marcelo, Philippe Coutinho, Neymar, Roberto Firmino
It couldn’t be anyone else. Neymar is one of the best players in the world and the PSG superstar would probably be the most terrifying player to face in a five-a-side game. Coutinho, Firmino and Marcelo are all fantastic with the ball at their feet too, a deadly quintet.
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