Best Attacking Trios 2017

Written by Mitchell Sherrard

Every football fan loves goals and what better way to get them than through a
breathtaking front line of attackers combining well with ludicrous amounts of
goals and assists. First we had Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo tearing nations
apart at the 2002 World Cup. Then came the irresistible Eto’o, Henry and Leo
Messi trio. Fast forward a few more years and we get to the famous MSN
combination, Messi, Suarez and Neymar leading Barcelona to a treble winning
season. All these trios have left a mark in football history. Skip to present day and
you’ll experience PSG’s dynamite front three of Neymar, Cavani and Mbappe
taking Europe by storm. However, they aren’t the only trio that are attracting
attention this season. I’ll look into what I believe to be the top 10 attacking trios
so far this season.

Things to bear in mind:
– Champions League, Europa League, Domestic Cup goal/assist/minutes played
statistics are not included. Only domestic league.
– Statistics are based off of data from www.whoscored.com
– Average minutes per G/A is the minutes per goal or assist for the trio and is
calculated by taking the total minutes played divided by the total goals and
assists of the trio.

10) Juventus – ​Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain, Mario Mandzukic
League Goals: 27 – ​Dybala (14), Higuain (9), Mandzukic (4)
League Assists: 9 – ​Higuain (3), Dybala (3), Mandzukic (3)
Minutes Played: 4440 – ​Higuain (1689), Mandzukic (1457), Dybala (1294)
Average Minutes per G/A: ​123.7
Team Goals Proportion: ​54.0%

After the sale of Bonucci, Juventus have implemented a new four at the back system.
With 2 holding midfielders including the new arrival of Blaise Matuidi from PSG, they
have added to their attacking threat by playing with 3 offensive midfielders sitting behind
Higuain. Despite this change in formation, they haven’t been the same Juventus as
we’ve seen in the past couple of years. They have added perhaps too much depth to
their attacking lineup and now are forced into playing strikers like Mandzukic out wide
and constantly rotate the fourth man in the attacking quarter around between the new
signings of Bernardeschi and Douglas Costa as well as Juan Cuadrado. By no means
however has this attacking trio been bad, they’ve taken defenses apart in Italy and been
ruthless in front of goal on many occasions. They will however be worried about being
behind Napoli in the table and knowing that the quality of teams this season in the
Champions League may be out of their depth.

9) Manchester United – ​Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial, Jesse LingardLeague Goals:​ 27​ – Lukaku (11), Martial (9), Lingard (7)
League Assists: 13 – ​Lukaku (5), Martial (4), Lingard (4)
Minutes Played: 4167 – ​Lukaku (1994), Martial (1089), Lingard (1084)
Average Minutes per G/A: ​104.175
Team Goals Proportion: ​55.1%
This is a team that has been blessed with World Class attacking talents but somewhat
suppressed by the tactics of Jose Mourinho and no that wasn’t an attempt of lyrical
genius. Martial talent is very similar to that of the up and coming Kylian Mbappe and
despite all the stick he receives in the media, Lukaku is a world class finisher and
proved that at Everton. Jesse Lingard completes the trio in his breakthrough season
with 11 goal contributions already with plenty of matches remaining in the season.
However, the imminent arrival of Alexis Sanchez will bolster this attacking trio and with
Sanchez playing just behind Lukaku with a duo of Martial, Lingard, Mata or Rashford
either side, Manchester United should be looking to cement 2nd place. Pogba and Matic
sitting behind has continuously allowed these front three to run riot on occasion but
against bigger opponents, Mourinho tends to sit back and play on the counter. Although
this sometimes works, this trio accounts for just over half of Manchester United goals in
the Premier League this season which says good things about the teamwork but not so
much about the trio.

8) FC Porto – ​Vincent Aboubakar, Moussa Marega, Yacine Brahimi
League Goals: 34 – ​Marega (15), Aboubakar (14), Brahimi (5)
League Assists: 11 – ​Brahimi (6), Aboubakar (3), Marega (2)
Minutes Played: 4359 – ​Brahimi (1478), Aboubakar (1467), Marega (1414)
Average Minutes per G/A: ​96.9
Team Goals Proportion: ​73.9%
Porto trail the league leaders, Sporting Lisbon by 4 points but with 2 games in hand
they’ll be looking to leapfrog Sporting to remain ahead of the reigning champions,
Benfica. Despite a smaller contribution from the Algerian international, this Porto trio
has been very successful for the Portuguese club racking up 33 goals account for
73.3% of their 45 goals. Aboubakar and Marega are certainly forming a deadly
partnership together and with the creative influence of Brahimi behind them they will be
looking to climb to the top of the table and cement their place as champions. In terms of
assists they have also been quite effective however they might’ve been higher on the
list if Brahimi had been doing a bit more work, with just 5 goals and 6 assists, this
appears to be more of a duo than a trio.

7) SS Lazio – ​Ciro Immobile, Luis Alberto, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic
League Goals: 34 ​- Immobile (20), Alberto (7), Milinkovic-Savic (7)
League Assists: 16​ – Immobile (7), Alberto (7), Milinkovic-Savic (2)
Minutes Played: 4945 – ​Alberto (1710), Milinkovic-Savic (1638), Immobile (1597)
Average Minutes per G/A: ​98.9
Team Goals Proportion: ​60.7%
Lazio have been enjoying a nice campaign in the Calcio A which is thanks to their
brilliant strike partnership backed by the box-box midfielder, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic that
have developed a trio that has proven too much for defenses on many occasions this
season. If the trio continues to fire in the goals then they will hopefully pull away from
their fierce rivals, AS Roma and push to confirm their Champions League status for the
2018/19 season. Immobile has already reached the 20-goal mark for the season and he
will be hoping that Luis Alberto will quickly reach double figures. The stats appear to
make it out as though Immobile is carrying Alberto and Sergej but in reality it is a
collective effort and without the work off the ball from Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto,
Immobile wouldn’t be able to be scoring as he is right now.

6) Tottenham Hotspur- ​Son Heung-Min, Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen
League Goals: 35 – ​Kane (21), Son (8), Eriksen (6)
League Assists:​ 11​ – Eriksen (6), Son (4), Kane (1)
Minutes Played: 5389 – ​Eriksen (1966), Kane (1958), Son (1465)
Average Minutes per G/A: ​117.2
Team Goal Proportion: ​74.5%
Spurs haven’t been as consistent as they were last season, Kane’s prolific goal scoring
has continued to win them matches but the squad hasn’t gelled together like they did
last season nor have they fully adjusted to life at Wembley Stadium. Despite that, their
attacking trio and at times quartet has remained in good form. Son became quite the
star for Spurs towards the end of last season and has been in and out of the squad this
season. Kane has played as a lone striker ahead of either 2 or 3 attacking midfielders
while Dembele and Dier have mainly held the midfield together allowing the space and
freedom for the attacking players to pass the ball around and be ruthless in front of goal.
Although Spurs actually have a quartet, in this ranking it isn’t fair for some teams to
have four players and some to have three. Alli, Eriksen and Son all have 12 goal
contributions each so I have removed Alli as he had the least goals (5) despite having
the most assists (7). With 34 out of Spurs’ 46 Premier League goals, this trio accounts
for 73.9% of the goals.

5) Olympique Lyon – ​Mariano Diaz, Nabil Fekir, Memphis Depay
League Goals: 38 – ​Fekir (16), Mariano (13), Depay (9)
League Assists: 11 – ​Depay (5), Fekir (5), Mariano (3)
Minutes Played: 4763 – ​Fekir (1705), Mariano (1674), Depay (1384)
Average Minutes per G/A: ​97.2
Team Goals Proportion: ​74.5%
With the departure of Alexandre Lacazette it appeared that Lyon’s attack would never
be the same but the rise of Depay and Mariano Diaz to link up with the new captain
Nabil Fekir has proven us all wrong. Their incredible goal tally already this season is
alarming and despite an 11 point gap to the league leaders, PSG, they will be looking to
carry on their good run of form in an attempt to increase the pressure and hope for a
PSG slip up. Their game tomorrow against PSG will be a huge test of character for Lyon
but also an opportunity to reduce the gap down to 8 points with plenty of games
remaining. Fekir’s position sitting just in behind the striker which has mostly been Diaz
and Depay to the left of him has created a deadly force but Lyon are lacking a 4th
member of their attack. Shifting between a 4-2-3-1 and an attacking variation of a 4-3-3
with Fekir playing high in midfield has proven that Lyon lack a player with quality on the
right. Fekir will be a popular for many teams in the transfer window but if Lyon hold onto
him which they almost definitely will and add a new winger to their ranks, they might just
have a foothold in this campaign.

4) Manchester City – ​Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, Sergio Aguero
League Goals: 36 – ​Aguero (15), Sterling (14), Sane (7)
League Assists: 19 ​- Sane (10), Aguero (5), Sterling (4)
Minutes Played: 4736 – ​Sterling (1669), Sane (1549), Aguero (1518)
Average Minutes per G/A: ​86.1
Team Goals Proportion: ​51.4%
Manchester City have been absolutely phenomenal this season. Playing out from the
back under the brilliance of Pep Guardiola they have been able to work it into their world
class midfield which is cemented by Fernandinho with the creative genius of David Silva
and Kevin De Bruyne ahead of him who feed into the attacking trio which has mainly
consisted of Sterling, Sane and Aguero due to unfortunate injury spells for Gabriel
Jesus. The trio has been sensational, scoring goals for fun and despite not having as
many goals as the Barcelona or Lyon trio, they have arguably done it in a much harder
league. Their undefeated run was recently ended by Liverpool but that didn’t happen
without a goal from Sane and another assist from Aguero. Guardiola will be
disappointed that he wasn’t able to add Alexis Sanchez to his attacking capabilities but
with Jesus returning in a few weeks and Bernardo Silva beginning to gel into the squad
he won’t be too concerned. Although I pointed out earlier that Manchester United’s trio
not having such a high team goals proportion isn’t so positive, in this scenario it is quite
different. These 3 are playing on a different level with Sterling and Sane both having
their best seasons yet and the team only losing one game all season.

3) Liverpool FC – ​Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah
League Goals: 34​ – ​Salah (18), Firmino (10), Mane (6)
League Assists: 15 – ​Salah (6), Firmino (5), Mane (4)
Minutes Played: 4648 – ​Salah (1775), Firmino (1697), Mane (1176)
Average Minutes per G/A: ​94.9
Team Goals Proportion: ​63.0%
Liverpool’s 18 match unbeaten run in all competitions stretched all the way back to
October and since then they achieved 13 wins and 5 draws following their recent loss to
Swansea. Despite that, the arrival of Mohamed Salah has certainly lifted Liverpool’s
performance from last season and despite Sadio Mane not living up to the standard he
set last season, Coutinho and Firmino have continued to strive. Firmino has become
one of the most complete centre forwards in Europe with 15 Premier League goal
contributions and consistently outstanding work off the ball. Coutinho’s departure was
expected to weaken this Liverpool side but if anything it has encouraged them to prove
they’re just the same without him. Their win over Manchester City saw them make a
major statement with all three getting in on the act. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has also
stepped up since Coutinho’s departure and he appears to be playing well alongside this
fantastic trio. Liverpool will be hoping to continue this impressive run of form and
hopefully acquire Champions League qualification for next season. Speaking of the
competition, they will also be hoping to perform well and getting past Porto will be their
first challenge. Liverpool’s loss to Swansea proves their need for a player of Coutinho’s
calibre to break down defenses.

2) FC Barcelona ​- Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez, Paulinho
League Goals: 42 – ​Messi (19), Suarez (15), Paulinho (8)
League Assists: 15 – ​Messi (9), Suarez (4), Paulinho (2)
Minutes Played: 4337 – ​Messi (1800), Suarez (1523), Paulinho (1014)
Average Minutes per G/A: ​76.1
Team Goals Proportion: ​73.7%
The departure of Neymar has clearly not hurt Barcelona as much as everyone thought.
Barcelona immediately replaced Neymar with Borussia Dortmund star, Ousmane
Dembele who was purchased for well over £100 million and was expected to be the
third member of the Messi and Suarez attacking force. However a major injury put him
on the sidelines and with an additional setback already in January, he hasn’t been able
to fill the void. Step up, Paulinho. After their summer chase of Coutinho, Paulinho
certainly wasn’t the Brazilian that fans were expecting but he has taken the opportunity
and from midfield he has created a prolific trio that has put Barcelona well clear at the
top of La Liga. Paulinho’s work from midfield has been decisive in many games and
despite naturally being a central midfielder, or even slightly more defensive, he has
adapted his game to a new Barcelona two striker formation and helped out Messi and
Suarez when they needed it most. The return of Dembele from injury and the arrival of
Coutinho for a whopping £145 million will almost certainly guarantee Barca the title but
a push for Champions League glory will also be expected. Paulinho and Coutinho will sit
behind the new trio in the second half of the season which hopefully will give us a
reminder of the glorious MSN trio that we witnessed in previous seasons.

1) Paris Saint-Germain – ​Neymar Jr, Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani
League Goals: 44 – ​Cavani (20), Neymar (15), Mbappe (9)
League Assists: 22 – ​Neymar (11), Mbappe (8), Cavani (3)
Minutes Played: 4397 – ​Cavani (1713), Neymar (1347), Mbappe (1319)
Average Minutes per G/A: ​66.3
Team Goals Proportion: ​64.7%
Surprisingly, first place is possibly the easiest to choose, the newly assembled PSG
front line has been absolutely ridiculous this season. Neymar has taken his world record
fee as motivation rather than a burden on his shoulders and with 29 goal contributions
already this season in the French first division he will be more than happy with himself.
Kylian Mbappe, who is technically still an AS Monaco player on loan at the Parisian
giants has also stepped up and shown that he isn’t too young for the Champions
League or the Ligue 1. Cavani has continued to be a deadly finisher but the more
impressive part is the way in which these three combine. They started off poorly with on
field arguments between Neymar and Cavani over who can take which set pieces.
Since then they’ve sorted it out and the three have been running riot most games this
season. Some fantastic performances in the Champions League have put them as
favourites to win the whole competition and despite links to Real Madrid, Neymar seems
to be solely focused on making the Ligue 1 defenders look like absolute farmers as
many label them. It was no hard decision putting these three first, their insane amount
of goals has proven them to be a bunch of good goal scorers but they’re also the top
assisters out of these 10 which shows just how well they work with each other.

Honourable Mentions:
Inter Milan​ – ​Mauro Icardi, Ivan Perisic, Marcelo Brozovic
League Goals:​ 28 – ​Icardi (18), Perisic (7), Brozovic (3)
League Assists: 9 – ​Perisic (6), Icardi (1), Brozovic (2)
Team Goals Proportion: ​77.8%
Celta de Vigo​ – ​Iago Aspas, Maxi Gomez, Pione Sisto
League Goals: 25 – ​Aspas (12), Gomez (9), Sisto (4)
League Assists: 15 – ​Sisto (9), Aspas (4), Gomez (2)
Team Goals Proportion: ​71.4%
Valencia CF​ – ​Simone Zaza, Rodrigo Moreno, Goncalo Guedes
League Goals: 23 – ​Zaza (10), Rodrigo (9), Guedes (4)
League Assists: 10 ​Guedes (6), Rodrigo (4), Zaza (0)
Team Goals Proportion: ​56.1%
Chelsea FC​ ​- Eden Hazard, Alvaro Morata, Willian
League Goals: 22 – ​Morata (10), Hazard (8), Willian (4)
League Assists: 13 ​- Willian (6), Morata (5), (Hazard 2)
Team Goals Proportion: ​48.8%
SSC Napoli​ – ​Dries Mertens, Jose Callejon, Lorenzo Insigne
League Goals: 21 – ​Mertens (10), Callejon (6), Insigne (5)
League Assists: 13 – ​Mertens (6), Insigne (5), Callejon (2)
Team Goals Proportion: ​46.7%
Borussia Dortmund​ – ​Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Maxi Philipp, Andriy Yarmolenko
League Goals: 22 – ​Aubameyang (13), Philipp (6), Yarmolenko (3)
League Assists: 6 – ​Aubameyang (3), Yarmolenko (2), Philipp (1)
Team Goals Proportion: ​55.0%