5 club sides who could have won the World Cup

By on June 22, 2018

Watching Leo Messi struggle and sweat his way through Argentina’s humbling 3-0 defeat to Croatia was painful. One of the world’s greatest players – possibly even the greatest of all time – looked subdued, doubt-ridden, broken, even. His hopes of winning the World Cup were more or less shattered, and he’s fallen right of the running according to the Player of the tournament odds on williamhill.com and other online bookies.

It’s not like this when he plays for Barcelona, is it?

Why is that? Well, the answer might be obvious. Could it be that Messi is supported by better players at Barcelona, than when he plays for Argentina? That his club side is stronger than his country? Probably – which got us thinking. Could a club side have won the World Cup? Very likely. Here are five club sides who could have won football’s biggest tournament…

Arsenal 2003-04


Yep, we’re going to sound biased but of course the Invincibles team could have won the World Cup! The team that went 49 league games unbeaten – winning 36 of those games – was full of genuine world class players. Thierry Henry (who scored 39 goals in that spell), Robert Pires and Patrick Vieira all won the World Cup with France in 1998, while Gilberto Silva and Edu were successful with Brazil in 2002. Dennis Bergkamp, Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell and Freddie Ljungberg all played in tournaments, too.

Manchester United 1999

The Manchester United treble-winning team – Premier League title, FA Cup Final, Champions League – would surely have mounted a serious challenge for the World Cup. This was a great team – even former Gunner Martin Keown rated them as better than the Manchester City side which has just cruised to the Premier League title. That team had David Beckham, Roy Keane, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs all in their prime, Peter Schmeichel in goal and the rock of Jaap Stam at the back. United also had four excellent strikers in Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Barcelona 2008-2012

Perhaps as close to perfection as you’ll see in a club side, under Pep Guardiola Barcelona played some wonderful football. Colloquially called tika taka, the style was really razor-quick passing at a high tempo, which just mesmerized opponents. In a way, Barca did win the World Cup. Of the Spanish team which triumphed in 2010, Sergio Busquets, David Villa, Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol, Cesc Fabregas and Xavi all played their football at Camp Nou.

Liverpool 1987-88

This Liverpool vintage was one of the finest in English football. The Reds coasted to the league title, playing some eye-catching attacking football, spearheaded by the likes of John Barnes, Peter Beardsley, Ian Rush and John Aldridge. In central defence, Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson were a superb partnership. It’s just a shame this Liverpool side didn’t get a chance to show what it could do in the European Cup – English club were banned from the competition at the time.

AC Milan 1988-90

Hailed as one of the greatest teams of all time, Arrigo Saachi’s Milan side reigned supreme towards the end of the 1980s. The 1989 European Cup Final saw them at their peak, beating Real Madrid 5-0 in the second leg of the semi-final before thrashing Steaua Bucharest 4-0 in the final. This was the Milan team of superstar Dutch trio Ruud Gullit, Marco Van Basten and Frank Rijkaard, as well as the imperious Italian defensive duo Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini.