Football (non-US) question

I am American and not a soccer fan, in general, but I am looking forward to the World Cup. Last time, I got a real kick out of it, for some reason (no pun intended).

In the US, people argue whether the BEST college football (American football) team could compete with the WORST professional NFL team, and the result is usually no.

Is World Cup competition considered the highest level of competition? Or are some of the more major national leagues considered better? Could (for example) Man United or Arsenal compete with the Brazilian team or Italy?


I don’t think there is any single club that could beat the Brazilians over a season of play. But I do think that there are club teams that could beat many of the national sides regularly; particularly the national sides not found in Pot A of the draw this year, and even one or maybe two of the ones in Pot A (in addition, of course, to South Africa, which were in the seeded pot only because they are hosting).

If you look at the top club teams, many of their players are either regularly called up by their national teams, or in contention to be called up by them. Still, not everyone on the roster is at that level, and of course, everyone on the national side for England IS at that level, so even if you could clone Wayne Rooney and other members of Manchester United, for example, who play on the England squad regularly, there is still a potential talent gap.

Of course, the flip side of the coin is that the club sides play together regularly, whereas the national sides get together a few times each year for a week or so, play one or two games, then go back to their clubs. That makes the level of understanding between/among the players less deep, impacting the quality of play at times.

I think that when it gets to the level of, say, the USA Men’s National Team, they would be mid-table at best in the English Premier League, or Serie A in Italy, or La Liga in Spain, and possibly a bit higher in the Bundesliga in Germany.

The US national team plays together much more often than most national teams, which is its main advantage. I’d disagree with DSYoungEsq on his assessment of Brazil - I think the top clubs in England, Spain & Italy are head and shoulders better than any of the national teams.

Now, I guess if we are talking “over the season,” implying Brazil played together week in and week out, it might be different. But then you need to start thinking squad depth, which makes it an unfair comparison. Man Utd or Arsenal have 30 or so players to draw on. The national teams obviously have many more. In a one-off competition, my money would be on Arsenal, Chelsea, Man U, Barca, Real, Inter etc every time against any national team.

Generally club teams are considered to be better than national teams. I have a hard time believing anybody is head and shoulders above Spain or Brazil, but I’d still pick Barcelona over anybody.

It has changed in the last 20 years or so, I think, now that the really big clubs are so rich that they are effectively World All-Star teams. That’s one reason why the World Cup has lost a bit of its magic-- we already see the world’s best players week in, week out in la Liga, the Premier League etc. But people like Pele or Platini, not to mention all the brilliant foreign players we’d never heard of, the only time we saw them was international tournaments, and before the 80s that meant just the World Cup or the occasional European club game.

This I agree with. I think - as said before - that the top club teams are quite a bit stronger at present because they play and train with each other week in week out. But even if they didn’t Barca is brilliant.

I’m not quite sure what would happen if you had national teams playing very often. Somehow I still think the 4/5 top teams in europe would be able to concentrate the best players of these countries produce a better team than countries can (even Brasil and Spain).

But the World cup is the highest form of competition, just because it is the most important.

On a different note, having the best teams lpay each other doesn’t guarantee a good game. Often these teams will cancel each other out and produce a very intense, but seemingly bad, game.

Thanks for the insights!


The first part of that sentence is demonstrably false. It was probably true back before 2002 or maybe 1998 cycle. Now all of the best US players are tied to clubs like any other national team and only play during FIFA dates. It’s also started this cycle that there are a lot more guys called onto the team, so even if they did play more often, the A squad does not play together any more often.

Fair enough - the US National team used to play together much more than other national teams, which was its main advantage.