Top Five One Man National Teams in Football

Published 12/12/2015, 9:25 AM EST


Every single football fan has his own perception about the game. But the one thing that each one of us shall agree on is that football is a team game. There is no way that one player’s performance can decide the game’s outcome. But some teams in the world depend upon the magic of just a single player to win the matches. Here’s a look at five such national teams, who, without their marquee player, cannot exceed at the world level.

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5) Xherdan Shaqiri – Switzerland

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Xherdan Shaqiri has been the man behind the Swiss national team’s wonderful performances recently in the European qualifiers. The team has risen to 12th in the FIFA World Rankings, which in itself is a commendable achievement. And most of the credit has been given to the former Bayern Munich man Shaqiri. Shaqiri made his international debut at the senior level in 2010 in a friendly match against Uruguay. His incredible performances for Switzerland cemented his place in the team. In the latest edition of the FIFA World Cup in 2014, Shaqiri was named man of the match in two of the three matches in group stages, scoring a hat-trick in the final match against Honduras. At just 24, Shaqiri has already played 51 games for the national team, scoring 17 goals. Switzerland has qualified for the Euro 2016, and is hoping that Shaqiri continues his great form for them.

4) David Alaba – Austria

Arguably the best left-back in the world, David Alaba is an exceptionally versatile player. He can play as a full-back, as a centre-back, as a winger and even in the midfield. The Bayern Munich man is fast, and is technically very sound. His contribution in Austria’s rise to 10th in the FIFA World Rankings is enormous. At just 23, Alaba has already played 42 games for Austria and has netted 11 goals. He has won the Austrian Footballer of the Year four times in a row now, winning his first at the age of 19. Austria has qualified for the Euro 2016 topping their group, their first ever successful qualification campaign and Alaba has played a huge role in that. With Alaba firing on all cylinders, Austria is expected to perform well in the competition, and can be giant killers in the tournament.

3) Cristiano Ronaldo – Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo is the perfect example that football is not a one man game, it’s a team game. The three-time and the current Ballon d’Or winner is the best player in the world, alongside Lionel Messi. Ronaldo has had all the success at club level, but despite being a player on another level, his performances haven’t proved that fruitful for his national team Portugal. He has been the one for Portugal to take them out of trouble every time, but he hasn’t won a single trophy with them. The Portuguese superstar has broken every record that has come in his way. He made his senior team debut in 2003, and had an immediate impact on the team as Portugal reached the final of the Euro Cup in 2004 for the first time in history. With Luis Figo partnering with Ronaldo, Portugal lightened the 2006 World Cup with delightful football, and finished fourth in the competition. Ronaldo is the top scorer in Portugal’s history, scoring 55 goals in 123 appearances, and is the captain of the team. But recently, Ronaldo has been the lone warrior in the Portuguese jersey, taking them to 7th rank in the latest FIFA Rankings. And though the team has qualified for the 2016 Euro as group winners, Portugal will be heavily dependent on the Real Madrid superstar if they are to win the tournament.

2) Gareth Bale – Wales

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If there is a team to name who has gained a lot of attention in the past five years, it has been Wales. From a lowly rank of 117, Wales broke into the top 10 for the first time in history in October’s rankings, surpassing England for the first time in history and acquiring the eight position. While Wales have a number of players responsible for this elevation, none of them can be compared to the impact that Gareth Bale has provided. The Real Madrid winger has been exceptional for Wales recently, scoring and providing on a regular basis. He has scored 19 goals for the national team in 54 appearances for Wales. The most expensive player in world football, Bale is amongst the fastest footballers on this planet. The 26-year-old winger made his international debut in 2006 as a 16 year-old teenager. Since then, Bale hasn’t looked back. He has put on some incredible performances for Wales, helping them to qualify for the Euro 2016. With Bale in the prime of his career, Wales are truly the dark horses of the competition and there won’t be any surprises if Wales pull off the incredible.

1) Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Sweden

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic chose to play for Sweden over Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. He made his international debut in 2001, and since then he has been the player on whom Sweden has been dependent for results. Sweden has already qualified for the Euro 2016, despite finishing third in their qualifying group. The Paris Saint Germain forward has improved with age, scoring more freely every season. His martial art background has helped him on the football pitch tremendously. His long range and acrobatic goals have been a treat for every football fan around the globe. The big, strong 34-year-old striker has performed extremely well for Sweden as well, but his performances have mostly been for nothing. Ibrahimovic’s most incredible performances for Sweden came against Germany and England. Sweden came back from 4-0 down against Germany to draw 4-4, as Ibrahimovic scored the first goal and started the revival. But his goal against England in 2012 in a 4-2 victory is regarded as the most insane goal ever to be scored on the football pitch. Ibrahimovic launched himself and struck a wonderful overhead kick from 35-40 yards and found the back of the net. Sweden’s chances in the Euro 2016 are not so bright, but they can act as giant killers for anyone in their group. And if Ibrahimovic shows the similar kind of form that he has shown over the past 15 years, Sweden might have the slightest of chances to lay their hands on the prestigious trophy.

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Paritosh Gautam

121 articles

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