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21st century champions

Which World Cup-winning side is the best of the modern era?

Which global conquerors are the best crop of the 21st Century?

It goes without saying that all World Cup-winning sides are formidable and worthy conquerors.

But which crop is the most impressive of the modern era?

Here we’re matching up Brazil 2002, Italy 2006, Spain 2010 and Germany 2014 in a variety of ways so that we ultimately end up with the 21st Century’s ultimate World Cup winners.

Let’s dive in…

Best feeling in the world?

AP:Associated Press
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Best feeling in the world?

GOALKEEPER

It’s Marcos v Gianluigi Buffon v Iker Casillas v Manuel Neuer.

Three of the best keepers in history… and Marcos.

Italy and Spain only conceded twice throughout their respective tournaments whereas Brazil and Germany shipped four each.

However, when you consider that Buffon was only beaten by an own goal and a penalty there’s really only one winner.

1st place: Italy (4 points)

2nd place: Spain (3 points)

3rd place: Germany (2 points)

4th place: Brazil (1 point)

Gianluigi Buffon won the World Cup with Italy in 2006

Getty Images
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What a magnificent human being

DEFENCE

Once again this one comes down to Italy v Spain.

Fabio Cannavaro and Carles Puyol were both immense colossuses at the heart of their country’s defence; the former won the Ballon d’Or off the back of his general-like leadership.

However, as Spain won all their knockout games 1-0 (including the final) we reckon their defence deserves to be ranked top of the pile.

The Cafu/Roberto Carlos full-back apex means Brazil edge out Germany in the battle for third.

1st place: Spain (4 points)

2nd place: Italy (3 points)

3rd place: Brazil (2 points)

4th place: Germany (1 point)

Louis van Gaal once had the cheek to tell this glorious hero to cut his hair

Getty Images
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Louis van Gaal once had the cheek to tell this glorious hero to cut his hair

MIDFIELD

Ronaldinho, Andrea Pirlo, Xavi, Toni Kroos… there’s some serious talent knocking about in this category.

For pure strength in depth it’s got to be Spain again; Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Juan Mata, Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets, Javi Martinez, David Silva and Jesus Navas made up a unit that meant Vicente del Bosque’s side took full control of games and barely gave their opponents a whiff.

We still think Kroos should have won the Golden Ball over Lionel Messi in 2014 and once you add in a focused Mesut Ozil, a determined Bastian Schweinsteiger and an inspired Andre Schurrle (three goals, three assists) it’s the Germans who take the silver medal in midfield.

1st place: Spain (4 points)

2nd place: Germany (3 points)

3rd place: Brazil (2 points)

4th place: Italy (1 point)

Yes… just, yes

AP:Associated Press
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Yes… just, yes

ATTACK

Brazil and Germany both scored 18 goals from their seven games but the latter’s record is slightly skewed by the 7-1 anomaly in their semi-final. You know the one.

The irrepressible trio of Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho ran riot in 2002 with the legendary No9 scooping the Golden Boot with eight goals.

Miroslav Klose and Thomas Muller both save their best form for the big stage while David Villa lead something of a solo mission in 2010.

And Italy had great strength in depth with Luca Toni, Alessandro Del Piero, Francesco Totti, Vincenzo Iaquinta and Pippo Inzaghi all appearing on the scoresheet.

1st place: Brazil (4 points)

2nd place: Germany (3 points)

3rd place: Italy (2 points)

4th place: Spain (1 point)

The greatest Brazilian player of all time… and Pele

AP:Associated Press
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The greatest Brazilian player of all time… and Pele

MANAGER

This may sound incredibly harsh but we reckon Vicente del Bosque had an easy job in 2010.

With the Barcelona trio of Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets dictating the play in a similar manner to Pep Guardiola’s side, all he really needed to do was send the lads out there and tap into his deep reserves midway through the second half.

Italian football is traditionally tactical and Marcelo Lippi orchestrated his troops with aplomb but we’re giving the four points to Luiz Felipe Scolari.

On the eve of the tournament public opinion of him was low after he had left out Romario from his squad despite the legend’s prolific form in the Brazilian league.

Managing a bunch of enigmatic talents is not easy, especially when three quarters of your defenders want to be centre-forwards.

Brazil have proved a difficult team to manage in the last decade and so Scolari’s masterful direction in 2002 deserves more plaudits.

1st place: Brazil (4 points)

2nd place: Italy (3 points)

3rd place: Germany (2 points)

4th place: Spain (1 point)

“Go out there and play well!” – insightful management

Reuters
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“Go out there and play well!” – insightful management

FINAL RESULTS

Brazil: 13 points

Italy: 13 points

Spain: 13 points

Germany: 11 points

Well isn’t that annoyingly inconclusive?

We’ve got the 2002, 2006 and 2010 winners all level.

As Englishmen we’re in awe of the Germans ability to not disappoint their fans

EPA
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As Englishmen we’re in awe of the Germans ability to not disappoint their fans

However if you look at where the points were won we can say that Italy had the best keeper and defence, Spain dominated midfield while Brazil had the most firepower.

Add in Germany’s consistency, competitiveness and natural habit of winning and we’ve got one hell of a imaginary side.

Which isn’t what we set out to do, ah well…

Are you suffering from Post-Football Stress Disorder?