The Tip of the Spear

4–2–3–1, 4–4–2, 4–3–3, it doesnt matter which formation your team plays or which you use in FIFA, all that matters is your attack scores and plays with that flare and creativity that most can only imagine. World football today is blessed with many great attacking teams and players but two of them are a cut above the rest and we need to spend some time going over what makes these two so deadly.

MSN VS BBC: It does not matter which footballing generation you claim is the best, Messi Suarez Neymar (MSN) and Bale Benzema Cristiano (BBC) have to be mentioned as some of the best attacking trios that have ever played together. There are some similarities and some differences in their styles and ways they operate but the results is often a 5 goal smashing with multiple goals and assists being shared by these players. Both MSN and BBC are elite counter attacking trios where the movement on and off ball is seamless and unpredictable with lighting speed, technique and efficient finishing. Another trait of both these attacking trios is the ability for players to interchange positions with one another without sacrificing efficiency or result. I mean how many times have we seen Suarez drift out wide to assist Messi or Ronaldo take a central position to finish a cross by Benzema.

A key difference is that BBC because of its athleticism and aerial ability utilize crosses and set pieces at a higher clip than MSN who rely on a modified tiki-taka interplay in the final third to break down the opposition. In simple terms BBC kills teams with speed, power and sheer determination while MSN just outclasses you with imagination, teamwork and skill but this is too much of a generalization because both trios lack any real weakness. To be honest, we are truly lucky to witness these two trio’s at their peak playing together even though it often comes at the cost of them lighting up our clubs but hey that’s life I guess.

More that I think about MSN, the more I realize they remind me so much about the legendary 2002 Brazilian World Cup Winning trio of Ronaldo (R9), Ronaldinho and Rivaldo (RRR). Without a doubt, this trio has to be in consideration for playing some of the most attractive, joyful and deadly styles of football. Watching old clips of them on Youtube, you will notice right away these three had the ability to dribble on their own and score but they did not. Instead, they used their fancy abilities to make logic defying passes and use the most ridiculous of controls to break past defenses in ways which cannot be comprehended. Ronaldo scored a majority of the goals but one cannot forget how many times these goals were created by the magical footwork of Ronaldinho or the smooth, calm touches of Rivaldo.

Staying with this theme of creative yet lethal trio, I must say another trio which comes to my mind is that of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Robert Pires which dominated the top flight of english football from 2000–2006 with the glowing invincible season as their main proof of domination. This trio shared traits with MSN both in terms of its creative interplay and uncanny ability to break down defenses with deft passes. However, because of the pace and power of Henry they also had the ability to beat teams on the counter attack like BBC often does. With Bergkamp and Pires you had two of the most gifted and technical players in the league who liked creating goals more than scoring. Unselfish yet the skill to kill teams is the best way to describe this trio.

There have been other trios who compare to MSN and BBC but the two I have discussed are one I have the most memory of watching play live and thus have the greatest memory and admiration for. As I was thinking of other legendary attacking trios who stick out to me are:

- Ronaldo, Tevez, Rooney (2008 UCL and Premier League Title with Man Utd)

- Giggs, Cole, York (1999 Treble Winners with Man Utd)

- Van Basten, Gullit, Rijkaard ( Back to Back European Cups with AC Milan)

There are other great attacking trios but for me these are some that remind me more of the dominance and style exemplified by BBC and MSN. Great players have won, great teams have won but there is something about a trio of attackers coming together and just dominating that has oozes this emotion of invincibility and unmatched confidence. As the saying goes “all great things come in threes” and I have no doubt this is the same thing with soccer attacks.


Somran Roy (Questions/Comments @s_royal12)