Football Features

Ranked: The best front threes in international football

By Harry Edwards

Published: 14:06, 25 March 2019

Club football might bring an array of formations and attacking lines, but in international football the front three is still king.

With international breaks spread out through the year, national team managers don’t have too much time to work on their squads. But when the best attackers in a nation are put together, the results can be disastrous for opponents.

We’ve had a look around international football and devised a list of the 10 best front threes right now. Naturally, quality plays its part, but cohesion as a unit, form and selection will also be key.

10. Andrej Kramaric, Bruno Petkovic & Ivan Perisic

Croatia, 126 combined caps

Croatia have not had the best time since reaching the final of the World Cup in Russia, with striker Mario Mandzukic retiring from international football.

But Zlatko Dalić’s front three remains an impressive one with Ivan Perisic and Andrej Kramaric still getting themselves into dangerous areas, working alongside Bruno Petkovic – who made his debut in Croatia’s 2-1 win over Azerbaijan.

9. Rodolfo Pizarro, Hirving Lozano & Raul Jimenez

Mexico, 121 combined caps

Over the past few years, Mexico have been building themselves as the new dark horses of international football, as shown by their World Cup campaign.

At the heart of their continued growth post-Russia has been Hirving Lozano, with the PSV winger constantly being linked with a move to Europe’s biggest clubs. For Mexico, he is joined by Rodolfo Pizarro and Wolves’ Raul Jimenez, who is in a particularly rich vein of form.

8. Rodrigo, Alvaro Morata & Marco Asensio

Spain, 65 combined caps

Spain are in a strange situation right now with their front three either performing really well, or seemingly doing their best to avoid scoring.

With Diego Costa not available, Alvaro Morata has been leading the line for Spain but the Atletico Madrid striker is bereft of confident and not the young man once tipped for greatness.

Yet there is still promise for La Roja’s front three, who work well as a unit, leading to goals from other positions.

7. Richarlison, Roberto Firmino & Philippe Coutinho

Brazil, 83 combined caps

Like Spain, Brazil are dealing with a big name missing in Neymar, but their current front three are doing an admirable job. Richarlison is in a good run of form for Everton and has transferred this to Brazil, with three goals in seven games.

Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho were ex-teammates at Liverpool and this has helped their understanding for Brazil, with the former still happy to drop deep and allowing his fellow attackers to take control.

6. Julian Brandt, Timo Werner & Leroy Sane

Germany, 67 combined caps

Germany are a strange case, going through transition while also lining up as a 4-2-3-1 on paper. But in their 1-1 draw against Serbia last week, Kai Havertz often dropped deeper to form a 4-3-3 with Leroy Sane, Julian Brandt and Timo Werner the attacking trio.

Full of pace and trickery, there is still a lot more to come from Germany’s front three, but the promise is definitely there. All they need is the right manager to get the best out of them.

5. Bernardo Silva, Andre Silva & Cristiano Ronaldo

Portugal, 221 combined caps

Any team with Cristiano Ronaldo in their front three is going to be a good one, but Portugal’s attacking trio can be quite hit and miss. The Juventus forward has contributed with 85 of the 103 goals this front three has scored with Bernardo Silva only adding three as his rise has been slow.

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4. Ryan Babel, Memphis Depay & Steven Bergwijn

Netherlands, 106 combined caps

Another team to have played 4-2-3-1 on paper, anyone who watches Netherlands can see that Ronald Koeman’s men do operate with a front three.

The Netherlands are on a big high right now, despite their cruel, late defeat to Germany recently, and central to that is Memphis Depay, who is finally living up to the big expectations placed upon him as a youngster. Ryan Babel continues to prove vital to the Dutch side despite his career reaching its tail end, while Steven Bergwijn is one for the future.

3. Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane & Jadon Sancho

England, 88 combined caps

Without over-hyping them, this England side are really good and the future is looking bright for Gareth Southgate’s men. While Marcus Rashford would normally form part of the trio if fit, Jadon Sancho’s arrival to the top has seen him seamlessly slot in alongside Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane.

The trio play with peak cohesion and understanding, with Kane’s ability to drop deep combining well with Sterling and Sancho’s eye for goal.

2. Dries Mertens, Michy Batshuayi & Eden Hazard

Belgium, 208 combined caps

Eden Hazard is one of the best players in the world on his day and the Chelsea winger has been vital as part of Belgium’s golden generation. But when joined with Dries Mertens either side of a forward, Michy Batshuayi in this case, he makes Belgium a side to really fear.

If Romelu Lukaku was fit, there may be a case for Belgium to be pushing closer to first, but Batshuayi is still a suitable replacement on the international stage.

1. Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe & Olivier Giroud

France, 185 combined caps

Didier Deschamps may name Blaise Matuidi as an attacking midfielder on his team sheet, but the Juventus man is anything but once the game kicks off.

France’s actual front three is scary and covers all bases. Olivier Giroud is the selfless target man, happy to sacrifice his own goalscoring chances to put his teammates in better positions – but still able to score for himself. Antoine Griezmann is the technical mastermind who moves around the pitch to score and create, capable of turning a game when required. And Kylian Mbappe is the wonder kid who has everything from pace and dribbling ability to creativity and an eye for goal.

There really is none better in international football right now.