Last Updated on October 1, 2021
In football, there is no doubt that there are some unmatched player pairings (in duos or trios) who have taken their respective teams to the next level. In modern-day football, the commonest examples that come to your mind are MSN and BBC.
However, there are many more player pairings that deserve more recognition today – beyond the MSN and BBC.
On other websites, you’ll either have one of the best football duos OR best trios in separate articles. Also, in most cases, they focus only on Attackers or Midfielders. But here, you’ll find a more complete list of the best duos and trios in football – Defenders, Midfielders, and Attackers.
Let’s get started.
Bonucci & Chiellini
Rule number one of being a legendary defender: be Italian.
Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini are only the first of two Italian center-back pairings that absolutely had to make this list.
The two have spent albeit one of the last ten seasons playing alongside each other for both Italy and Juventus.
The results have been spectacular, with their no-nonsense defending playing a massive part in their success. They won 8 straight scudetti, 5 Coppa Italias, 5 Supercoppa Italiana trophies, and the 2020 European Championship.
Aside from their immaculate work on the field, the pair are also best of friends and often go on vacation with each other.
On playing together, Bonucci has said ‘we know each other’s games inside out’ while Chiellini remarked ‘I think I know Bonucci better than I know my wife’.
So you can figure out from those quotes just how good a partnership these two are, on and off the field.
Bonucci and Chiellini are not just one of the best duos in football, they are one of the best pairings that ever existed in the game.
Bergkamp And Henry
The deadly throngs of the dangerous pike that was Arsenal in the early 2000s.
Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry were an elite strike partnership.
In Bergkamp, there was a masterful footballing brain, complete with a majestic touch, a sumptuous eye for a pass, and flawless technique.
In Thierry Henry, there was lightning pace, unbelievable skill, and absolutely killer finishing.
Put them together, and these two serenaded the premier league with their unparalleled greatness from the sparkling stage of Highbury for years.
2 Premier League titles, 2 FA Cups, and key contributors to the Arsenal Invincible season of 2003-2004, Bergkamp and Henry’s legacy as an attacking duo are solidified in the history books.
Without a d doubt, Bergkamp and Henry are one of the best attacking duos in football history?
Ramos And Pepe
Perhaps the single craziest duo that football will ever see.
In a galactico era at Real Madrid, these two stood tall, with a particular reputation for their forceful and aggressive approach to defending their goal.
In fact, Sergio Ramos and Pepe have managed 28 red cards and over 300 yellow cards combined.
Call it lunacy, but they got the job done at all costs.
Countless trophies later, perhaps they would be most fondly remembered for their participation in the three-peat of UEFA Champions League titles from 2016 to 2018.
These two have left their bootprints on the sands of time. And on a lot of players’ shins.
Given their achievements together, Ramos and Pepe have to be one of the best pairings and duos in football.
Read Also: The Best FREE Transfers in Football History
Cole And Yorke
Turning back time quite a bit, Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke were quite simply phenomenal.
Playing for Manchester United together, these two completely redefined the traditional two-striker partnership. Or perhaps just did it so groundbreakingly better than most.
Scoring 53 goals between them in the 1998/1999 season, their prowess in dynamically tearing defences apart with their movement. Both Players ruthlessly helped each other put the ball in the back of the net were front and center to Manchester United securing the treble, famously winning the Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League that season.
As if their legend wasn’t famed enough, in 2020 they were voted as the best ever Premier League strike partnership by Sky Sports.
Kroos, Modric And Casemiro
The most underrated partnership on this list, and arguably in the history of football.
The midfield trio of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, and Casemiro has held fort at Real Madrid for what is now coming up on the better part of a decade.
Modric and Kroos’ ability to find a teammate whether they are 10 yards or 50 yards away with similar ease and exquisite execution remains extraordinary, while Casemiro has been one of the best defensive midfielders in the world for most of his years at Los Blancos.
Overall, Kroos, Modric, and Casemiro won 3 UEFA Champions League, 2 La Ligas, 3 UEFA Super Cup, and 4 FIFA Club World Cup.
Could there ever be a better midfield trio in world football?
Vidic And Ferdinand
When Sir Alex famously said ‘Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles, he was speaking from experience.
The Great Scot fielded some mean defences in his time at Manchester United, but none more compatible and more effective than Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.
Vidic was the rough and tough of the two, the put-his-head-where-most-won’t-put-a-leg kind of defender, while Ferdinand was famously a Rolls-Royce of a center-back, oozing with class, calm and composure, and deceptively quick on the sweep.
The pair were the foundation of the second era of inexplicable Manchester red dominance in England. They won 5 Premier League titles, 2 League Cups, 4 Community Shields, 1 club world cup, and 1 champions league.
Baresi And Maldini
We’re getting to the business end now, and this pairing was never going to miss out.
Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini are simply the stuff of legend.
Such was their partnership, that in 196 matches together at the center of AC Milan’s defence, they conceded only 23 goals.
That stat speaks for itself. Talk less of their treasure trove of trophies, having won literally every club trophy under the sun.
Call them the Great Wall of Italy. Enough said.
Xavi, Iniesta And Busquets
Could this be the greatest midfield trio of all time?
Of course, you’ll agree that Xavi, Iniesta, and Busquets are some of the best football trios in history?
Xavi, Andres Iniesta, and Sergio Busquets won midfield battle after midfield battle for Barcelona.
Xavi’s intelligence at both ends of the football pitch still makes him one of the most complete midfielders to grace the earth. Iniesta’s uncanny skill to split defences like they were never there with one pass was unmatched. Also, Sergio Busquets was ever happy to do the dirty work and clean up after them.
So good. The trophies agree. Together, they won 5 LaLiga, 3 Copa del Rey, 4 Spanish Super Cup, 3 Champions League, 2 UEFA Super Cup, and 2 Club World Cup.
Trent Alexander Arnold And Andrew Robertson
You likely wouldn’t have thought that TAA and Robertson would be one of the best football pairings. Why? Both players play at opposite flanks. However, the combination of both players makes Liverpool’s attack much more better and meaningful.
Trent Alexander Arnold and Andrew Robertson combined devastatingly in the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons. In both seasons combined, both fullbacks were the top 2 Assisters.
Remarkably, both players helped Liverpool to win their first Premier League title in 30 years. On top of that, they won the UEFA Champion’s League and the Club World Cup.
In Liverpool’s to their Champions League win, remember that TAA’s smart corner kick contributed to Liverpool’s miraculous comeback against Barcelona.
Overall, it is safe to say that Trent Alexander Arnold and Andrew Robertson are on of the best duos or pairings in football.
Consider Reading: Ranked: The Best Right-Backs Ever in Football
Messi, Suarez, and Neymar (MSN)
Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar will go down in history as one of the best attacking trios or pairings in football history.
With the aforementioned maestros in midfield for Barcelona and these three as the explosive trident, the game was over before it even started for whosoever were the unfortunate victims.
What makes this front three so great, was that despite their admirable individual qualities- you could seriously make a case for all three of them being in the top ten players of the 21st century. They combined to an even more devastating effect.
Furthermore, they provided some of the most seriously intricate and beautiful attacking football the world has ever seen in the process.
Mesi Suarez and Neymar had a combined 148 Apps, 51 Assists, and incredibly, 111 Goals.
They assisted each other for fun and celebrated their goals together like they had all scored. They won the treble of the La Liga, Copa del Rey, and the Champions League in 2015. When MSN was in full flow, no one- no one at all- was safe. Bayern Munich would tell you the same.
Although the MSN and BBC are usually compared, it would be a very long while until we see any other football partnership reach the heights they did.
Bale Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo (BBC)
Just like Barcelona’s MSN (Messi, Suarez, and Neymar), Real Madrid had a fearsome attacking trident in Bale Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo. In fact, the MSN and BBC played a few times against each other in La Liga.
In the 2016/17 season, the 3 fearsome attackers made a combined 120 Appearances, scored a total of 70 goals, and recorded 22 assists. (You could compare the Stats of MSN vs BBC)
Don’t forget that this attacking trident of Real Madrid helped to win the Champions League 3 times in a row (2017, 2018, and 2019) – something that’d never happened before in the Champions League era.
Bale, Benzema, and Cristiano Ronaldo would go down as one of the best trios in football history.
Honorable Mentions of Other Player Pairings
There are loads of potential honorable mentions – who are close to being the best football pairings.
Sturridge and Suarez
They were indeed very good together. Unfortunately, they were handicapped in an otherwise average Liverpool team and didn’t win anything.
Suarez and Sturridge scored 52 league goals in the 2013/14 season, making them the league’s top 2 goal scorers, the first time both had come from the same club in the Premier League era.
Although they didn’t win much together, Suarez and Sturridge will be remembered as one of the best football duos.
Salah, Firmino and Mane
Another Liverpool strikeforce. Of course, you’ll agree that Salah, Firmino, and Mane are one of the best attacking trios in football. These 3 are very similar to the previously mentioned MSN and BBC.
These three have been plying their trade in Merseyside together for nearly half a decade now, and have already won the champions league, the premier league, and the club world cup.
Incredibly, the trio has scored over 200 goals for Liverpool.
At their best, quick, direct, and an absolute joy to watch. I do feel like they sometimes don’t get enough credit for how colossal they have been; maybe when we look on it with hindsight in a few years, we would all appreciate them more.
There are other great attacking trios in football but Mane, Salah, and Firmino live long in the hearts of football fans.
All the football player pairings in this article have won meaningful trophies together. We went beyond just personal stats or goals – which may favor only attackers. Generally, in most cases, trophies are the fairest yardstick to measure a player’s success.
On another note, concerning this list, of course, PSG’s attacking trio would come to your mind – Messi, Neymar, and Mbappe. It should not be surprising that they are not on this list. They are yet to win anything meaningful together.
Do you think the PSG attackers would surpass the success of the BBC or MSN? Or do you think MSN and BBC can never be matched by Neymar, Messi, and Mbappe?