We have recently given our views on the seven greatest attacking trios, midfield trios and back fours of all time. There were lots of comments asking us to do similar videos based purely on the here and now, so that’s exactly what we’re going to do with attacking trios today, and if this video does well, we’ll do it for the others as well.
Attacking trios have become increasingly common in the last couple of years, with a number of teams moving from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3. Now, as always, we’ve been pretty strict here, so teams who don’t play with an absolute front three have been omitted.
Here are our 7 best attacking trios right now:
7. Alcacer, Reus & Sancho
Now, I just mentioned our strict criteria, and seventh place is perhaps the least solid attacking trio in this seven, since one could argue Christian Pulisic makes it a three of Pulisic, Reus and Sancho in behind Alcacer when he plays. We’ve given them the benefit of the doubt though, and at that point the Bundesliga leaders front three became our first entrants in this seven.
We must start with Paco Alcacer, a man who scored just 4 goals in 17 La Liga outings for Barcelona last season, but has been absolutely explosive since joining Dortmund on-loan. Poachers seemed to have died out of football at the highest level, but they may be seeing a rebirth with Alcacer, who has fantastic movement, sharp finishing and a good first touch.
Alongside him, Marco Reus has been around for a while now, and every football fan knows how good he can be when he stays injury-free. Jadon Sancho, meanwhile, has really burst onto the scene following a quiet debut campaign. The fleet-footed left winger is brilliant on the ball, and he looks to have made a smart decision in swapping the Premier League for the Bundesliga. Any England fan who isn’t immensely excited by this young lad should take up golf.
If Messi, Neymar & Suarez was nicknamed MSN, and Benzema, Bale and Ronaldo referred to by the initialism BBC, this trio may unfortunately have to be known as ARS.
6. Bale, Benzema & Isco
An attacking trio which has lost it’s talisman, Real Madrid look a shadow of their former selves without starman Cristiano Ronaldo and manager Zinedine Zidane. They still have a very talented front three though, good enough to take sixth place in our eyes. Although their current offensive trio features Marco Asensio rather than Isco, due to the Spanish international’s recent surgery due to appendicitis, it’s still a current trio, and as such it’s permissible.
Isco in particular is a player who we are a big fan of. He has fantastic close control, real inventiveness and a touch of magic, and he has the potential to become the star man now at Madrid. The man most naturally expected to step into Cristiano Ronaldo’s shoes as Real’s go-to match winner was of course Gareth Bale, and he has proved to be thoroughly capable of doing just that on multiple occasions for Los Blancos, such as the recent Champions League final, he just needs to avoid any injury troubles.
Lastly, we come to the much-maligned Karim Benzema. In Ronaldo’s shadow for so long, Benzema isn’t about to spring up and smash in 30+ goals a season as he did six or seven years ago. He has become a well-rounded forward with a great work ethic, intelligent movement and a lovely first touch. Having said that, he’s bagged goals 9 in 17 games so far this term, so he’d be disappointed if he didn’t reach the 20 goal milestone.
5. Costa, Dybala & Ronaldo
Massimo Allegri has experimented with a few different systems already this season, from Dybala and Ronaldo as a front two, to Ronaldo and Mandzukic up top with Dybala in behind. We think their most talented and effective trio though is the one which comes in at fifth place in this seven, made up of Douglas Costa, Paulo Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo.
We don’t need to spend too long talking about Ronaldo. At 33, he’s not as mobile as he once was, but he has the best attacking movement of any player in world football. His anticipation is incredible, as is his leap and his technique when striking a ball on goal. He’s bagged 8 goals in 14 appearances since joining the Italian champions.
Dybala has been very highly thought of for a while now, despite only being 24, and the Argentine has fantastic close control, he loves taking players on and he has a real eye for a pass. Costa, meanwhile, is more of a classical wide player. An excellent dribbler of the ball, he has sensational pace, loves to cut inside and can deliver a really dangerous ball into the box.
4. Salah, Mane & Firmino
Three years ago, Mohamed Salah was considered a Chelsea reject, Sadio Mane was playing for Southampton and Roberto Firmino had recently been brought to Liverpool by Brendan Rodgers having bagged 7 Bundesliga goals the previous season. It’s quite incredible then, that most people’s objection to these three being fourth in this seven is because they’ll think they should be higher.
Mohamed Salah is the natural starting point, since his debut season with the club last season can’t really be underplayed. A tally of 44 goals in all competitions and 32 in the Premier League from wide areas is quite extraordinary, and it was made possible by the Egyptians really intelligent runs, constant stretching of the opposition and his growing composure in front of goal.
Mane is level in the scoring charts with Salah this season, and he just seems to keep improving. Despite being the central forward, few would be surprised if Roberto Firmino scored the fewest goals of these three this season, but the Brazilian brings a really energy and intelligence to Liverpool’s attacks. Individually, these three are arguably inferior to the two that precede them here, but collectively they are excellent.
3. Sane, Sterling & Aguero
When drafting this seven, I knew the decision to put Man City’s front three ahead of Liverpool’s would be a controversial choice, I even did a poll on our Twitter account, where I was surprised to find there wasn’t a huge swing in favour of Liverpool. My gut is that Man City’s front three is slightly superior overall, even if that wasn’t the case last season. If you’re still not satisfied, well then the Irish Guy agrees with me and he’s even more certain about it, so aim your abuse in his direction.
Anyhow, one of the troubles with Man City’s front three is that it is so interchangeable. Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus, Bernardo Silva, even Kevin De Bruyne, they have so much quality who can play up there, but we think their best and most distinctive attacking trio is Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero.
Aguero is City’s all time leading goal scorer. When Pep Guardiola arrived at the club, there were murmurs that Aguero could be on his way. That would have been madness, and thankfully it never came to fruition. The Argentine has instead reached new heights, adding a level of intensity to his game but remaining as prolific as ever. He bagged 30 goals last season, and he should exceed that if he avoids injury this year.
Leroy Sane was the PFA Young Player of the Year last season, and he’ll be a frightening prospect if he keeps improving. And finally, Raheem Sterling, a player who has made his near £50 million transfer fee look like an absolute bargain. Still only 23, Sterling is one of the best players in the Premier League, and he had the third highest attacking output of any player in the division last season.
2. Cavani, Neymar & Mbappe
Neymar Jr #10,Killian Mbappe #7,Edison Roberto Cavani #9 of PSG during the UEFA Champions' League football match Paris Saint Germain (PSG) against Red Star Belgrade at the Parc des Princes...
A quite incredible front three, PSG’s combination of Cavani, Neymar and Mbappe may have set the Parisians back £375 million, but they did at least get some serious quality for their money.
Neymar is one of the best footballers in the world, and he has averaged almost a goal a game since joining PSG, as well as topping the Ligue 1 assist charts last season. A box of tricks with all the skill, flair and technique in the world, the stats show that Neymar is far more than a mere show-pony.
Cavani is a player who I felt was a touch overrated during his time in Naples, but it’s fair to say he has since proved me wrong. An absolute goal machine with a very good football brain, he is PSG’s all time leading scorer, with 176 goals from 252 appearances for the club.
Lastly, Kylian Mbappe was the name on everyone’s lips at the summers World Cup finals in Russia, well, second to Harry Maguire. The teenage sensation has all the tools to become a future Ballon d’Or winner, with absolutely searing pace, quick feet and a good eye for goal. He needs to keep his ruthless and direct mentality, and 13 goals from 12 games so far this season suggests he may do just that.
0. Sort of Honourable Mentions
Right, we’d normally tell you about some trios that just missed out here, but today we’re going to explain why some couldn’t not have missed out.
For example, Arsenal fans may be wondering why there was no sign of Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil, but Unai Emery’s team are playing with a classic 4-2-3-1 most of the time, with Aubameyang on the left, Ozil on the middle and Mkhitaryan or someone else on the right. Therefore, not a trio.
Other teams with excellent attacks but not trios such as Napoli and Bayern Munich missed out for similar reasons, because we don’t believe their forward lines constitute attacking trios.
One genuine attacking trio who we will mention is that of Wu Lei, Hulk and Oscar, who are wowing spectators in the Chinese Super League this season with their combination play and prolific goal scoring, which is quite interesting, but I’m sure you’ll understand why they didn’t feature.
1. Coutinho, Suarez & Messi
I ummed and ahhed about this one for a while, but in the end I think it’s the right decision. Individually, Luis Suarez is arguably the best centre-forward in the world, Philippe Coutinho is a world class left winger and Lionel Messi is Lionel Messi. And as a unit, there are suggestions that these three could be seriously devastating this season.
We start with Coutinho, who we normally describe as your classic diminutive Brazilian number 10, even though he has spent much of his career out wide. Short, skilful and explosive, Coutinho has first class ball control and he is famed for scoring some quite incredible goals from long range.
Like Coutinho, Luis Suarez arrived at Barcelona for an enormous fee from Liverpool, and despite being regarded as the best player in the Premier League at the time, he actually exceeded all expectations in his second season at the Camp Nou, breaking Messi and Ronaldo’s duopoly over the Golden Boot. He has scored 161 goals in 214 games for the Spanish champions.
And lastly, Lionel Messi. The recently sidelined superstar is a special player who has reached a level I didn’t previously think was attainable. He has bagged 12 goals in 12 games this season, which is par for the course in Messi-land. We’ll save the rest of his bio for our upcoming 100,000 subscribers celebration video in which we’re going to countdown our 100 greatest footballers of all time. Oh, whoops, spoiler. Messi is in it...