adjective: beautiful
  1. pleasing the senses or mind aesthetically.

Beautiful football

Equated to mean attacking football by many – if not most – is one of the phrases on which football thought is most narrow. There are crudely five playing styles and every team leans to one or the other more than the rest. Attacking football, possession football, defensive football, counterattacking football, and total football made famous by the Dutch team at the 1974 World Cup in which any outfield player can perform the role of another. Truth be told, some styles are more likely to please the eyes first, while some please the mind first.

Of the current lot, many would posit Monaco, Liverpool, Man City and Napoli as prime examples of attacking teams who play aesthetically pleasing football. The best representatives for possession would be Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Generally, the answers as to who plays beautiful football would comprise attacking and possession teams.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – MARCH 19: Sergio Aguero of Manchester City (R) scores his sides first goal past Simon Mignolet of Liverpool (L) during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool at Etihad Stadium on March 19, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

However, an unbalanced execution of any playing style is not beautiful football. Liverpool only play beautiful attacking football, but find themselves woefully lacking in the defensive department. They were duly punished after a sizzling 2013/14 campaign ended in tears. Balance is key and goals flying in from all angles as in the 5-3 end-to-end between Manchester City and Monaco in the Champions League is too often confused for true beauty. It may be exciting, as in all sports we like to see scoring, but both teams sacrificed balance for all out attack. That is not beautiful. Football is a team sport; never forget.