While so much of the attention during the past few months has been on dynamic duos in soccer such as Luis Suarez-Daniel Sturridge, Alan Shearer-Chris Sutton and Andy Cole-Dwight Yorke, just to name a few, we thought we’d share some of our favorite trios instead.
9. Bale, Ronaldo and Benzema (Real Madrid)
This season, Real Madrid has the most attacking trio on the planet following the arrival of Gareth Bale for a world record €100 million. The Welshman has often played on the right wing, with €94 million man Cristiano Ronaldo on the left, while €41 million player Karim Benzema (2009 signing) marauds through the middle.
The trio has already proven that they are a deadly combination. Within a short span of time, all three have played together, most notably scoring two goals each in a recent Champions League 6-1 win over Schalke. They have since informally been nicknamed ‘BBC’ among the pundits and Blancos fans alike.
The summer signing of Gareth Bale has helped Real Madrid complete a formidable trio as the club have a rich history of capturing the best players on the planet. Ronaldo’s performances won him the Ballon d’Or in January in a Blancos shirt and it certainly looks to be only a matter of time before his Welsh team-mate is in contention for the accolade too.
8. Best, Law and Charlton (Manchester United)
There were three European ‘Player of the Year’ winners at the core of Manchester United’s 1968 European Cup winning side, nicknamed ‘The Holy Trinity’: George Best (1968), Denis Law (1964) and Sir Bobby Charlton (1966).
George Best remains one of the most gifted players to have ever played the game while Denis Law remains one of the club’s iconic goal scoring machines. Bobby Charlton’s inclusion in particular was an emotional one after he survived the Munich Air Disaster 10 years earlier.
7. Keizer, Cruyff and Rep (Ajax)
Ajax is one of the only three clubs to win three consecutive European Cups in a row. They revolutionized the way soccer was played en route to their wins in 1971, 1972 and 1973. At the centre, playing the striker role, was Johan Cruyff — part-time conductor, part-time orchestrator, and part-time magician — with Piet Keizer on his left and Johnny Rep playing towards his right.
At the 1974 World Cup, the trio went on to shine for Netherlands but failed to replicate their continental heroics and were denied victory by West Germany.
6. Hansen, Souness and Dalglish (Liverpool)
Between 1977 and 1985, Liverpool enjoyed eight years among the world’s elite, until the Heysel disaster saw English clubs banned from Europe for half a decade. There were three super Scots at the centre of their victorious 1983-84 campaign: Central defender Alan Hansen, midfield captain Graeme Souness and prolific attacker Kenny Dalglish.
5. Giordano, Maradona and Careca (Napoli)
The only trio put up on the list without a European Cup or Champions League trophy, Bruno Giordano, Diego Maradona and Careca were the perfect combination to the club’s greatest period to date. They were famously known as ‘Ma-Gi-Ca’, which means magic in Italian.
Following the Partenopei’s Scudetto win in 1987, they seemed unlucky to taste defeat against Real Madrid at the first hurdle. But three years later, they made it just one round further.
Some fans made Ma-Gi-Ca comparisons to Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marek Hamsik, but the original MaGiCa trio were definitely on a whole new level.
4. Van Basten, Gullit and Rijkaard (AC Milan)
Three Dutchmen were at the centre of AC Milan’s consecutive European wins in 1989 and 1990. The trio comprised Marco Van Basten, Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit.
Possibly the greatest club side, Rijkaard marshaled the midfield, while Van Basten and Gullit were the consistent forward pairing that fired Arrigo Sacchi’s men to glory on both the above-mentioned occasions.
3. Del Piero, Vialli and Ravanelli (Juventus)
The trio of Alessandro Del Piero, Gianluca Vialli and Fabrizio Ravanelli were the back-bone of Juventus as they lifted their second European Cup in 1995-96.
Their fluidity under World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi was evident for all to see. Vialli was the skipper and centre forward, with young attacker Del Piero playing towards his left and Ravanelli playing towards his right, during the prime-time of Ravanelli’s career. The trio played the famous 4-3-3 formation. The Bianconeri triumphed on penalties after the 1996 final versus Ajax finished 1-1 in regular time.
2. Ronaldo, Rooney and Tevez (Manchester United)
With Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez, Manchester United made two consecutive Champions League finals. Rooney’s intelligence and unselfishness gave United fluidity. Ronaldo brought the terrifying pace and threat from set pieces, while Tevez’s goal threat and tenacity was added to the Red Devils already intimidating firepower.
Tevez came on at half-time during their 2-0 loss at Barcelona, while all three started the previous years’ victorious final win over Chelsea on penalties.
1. Xavi, Messi and Iniesta (Barcelona)
The emergence of Xavi, Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta saw Barcelona develop into a brilliant machine under Pep Guardiola. Xavi and Iniesta were already established stars when Messi chipped in to take the game to the next level.
During Guardiola’s stint at Camp Nou, two Champions League titles were certainly a team effort but the excellence and swiftness of the Catalan’s terrific trio was the main difference between them and any other team on the planet.