BBC, MSN & the 10 best attacking trios of all time

Carlo Garganese

Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe all started together on Wednesday evening as PSG took on Club Brugge in the Champions League.

Below we look at the most legendary attacking trios that have blessed the game over the years. Here are 10 of the best.

Gento-Di Stefano-Puskas (Real Madrid)

The Real Madrid team of the 1950s and early 1960s was the first great team of modern European club football, famously romping to five straight European Cup final wins.

Alfredo Di Stefano was the brains of this great team, Ferenc Puskas boasted the best left foot the game had ever seen, while Paco Gento was the fastest man on two legs.

Their greatest moment together was the 1960 European Cup final when Di Stefano hit a hattrick and Puskas bagged four in a 7-3 win over Eintracht Frankfurt.

MSN (Barcelona)

Messi, Suarez and Neymar at Barcelona

Messi, Suarez and Neymar at Barcelona

Between 2014 until 2017, Barcelona’s front three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar – also known as ‘MSN’ – were virtually unstoppable. They provided a lethal mix of skill, speed and shooting ability.

They were the key men as the club won the treble in their first campaign all together, and twice they scored well over 100 goals in a season in total between them.

Furthermore, they were all best friends off the pitch and regularly socialised with their families.

BBC (Real Madrid)

What is the best attacking trio of all time?

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At the same time that MSN were tearing defences apart for Barcelona, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo – the BBC – were doing the same for Real Madrid.

Together, the trio won a historic three Champions League titles in a row – and four in total – with all off them scoring memorable final goals.

They finally broke up after five glorious years together when Ronaldo joined Juventus in 2018.

Rivelino-Pele-Jairzinho (Brazil)

Pele formed three legendary trios during his career. For Santos, he was unstoppable alongside Pepe and Coutinho, while together with Garrincha and Vava he won the 1958 and 1962 World Cups.

But perhaps the best attacking line-up of international football history came at the 1970 World Cup when a majestic Brazil team thrashed everyone in their path on the way to glory.

Although this wasn’t strictly a front three – with Tostao linking up too – it was Rivelino on the left, Jairzinho on the right and Pele in the middle that did most of the damage.

The three R’s (Brazil)

Yet another incredible Brazilian trident was seen at the 2002 World Cup, a tournament the Selecao went into with little expectation but ended up winning.

Much of the credit went to Ronaldinho, Rivaldo and Ronaldo in attack. Between them they scored 15 goals over the course of the finals in Japan and South Korea.

They also provided four assists as the likes of England, Turkey and beaten finalists Germany had no answer to them.

The Holy Trinity (Man Utd)

Although not strictly a front three, the ‘Holy Trinity’ of George Best, Bobby Charlton and Dennis Law terrified defences all over England and Europe for over a decade.

Best was one of the greatest dribblers the game has seen, Law an elite goalscorer, while Charlton probably England’s best-ever attacking midfielder.

It all culminated in Man Utd becoming England’s first team to win the European Cup in 1968 as Benfica were thrashed 4-1 at Wembley after extra time.

Kocsis-Hidegkuti-Puskas (Hungary)

Along with Netherlands 1974 and Brazil 1982, the Hungarian ‘Golden Team’ from 1954 are the greatest team never to win the World Cup.

The attacking trio of Sandor Kocsis, Nandor Hidegkuti and Ferenc Puskas blitzed everything in their path as they made it to the 1954 World Cup final unbeaten for the best part of four years.

They famously thrashed England 6-3 at Wembley and 7-1 in Hungary but fell to a shock and controversial World Cup final defeat to West Germany in Berne.

Mane-Firmino-Salah (Liverpool)

Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah were simply devastating over a three-year period in which Liverpool reached two Champions League finals before romping to a first league title in 30 years.

Mane provided the skill, Firmino the intelligence and Salah the soaring pace as they broke all kinds of scoring records under Jurgen Klopp. They were also a modern attack as they pressed ferociously from the front to win the ball back.

Trio Magico (Juventus)

The magic trio of Giampiero Boniperti, John Charles and Omar Sivori in the late 1950s and early 1960s brought Juventus back to their glory days from the 1930s.

Welshman Charles was voted as the greatest import in Serie A history, even above the likes of Diego Maradona and Michel Platini. He was a complete striker who often played at centre back too.

Meanwhile, Sivori was a temperamental genius who won the Ballon d’Or in 1961. Together they won three Scudetti in four seasons and went close in the European Cup.

Rensenbrink-Cruyff-Rep (Netherlands)

The Netherlands team of 1974 made ‘Total Football’ a popular term in the football dictionary as they revolutionised the game with their effortless switches of positions.

There is no doubting who the star of the team was in genius Johan Cruyff, but the Dutch legend had a quite brilliant supporting cast as well in Rob Rensenbrink and Johnny Rep.

They scored eight goals as they waltzed their way into the final, only to lose 2-1 to West Germany.