The 1994 World Cup 5-a-side Team

1994 World Cup five a side team

Our pick of the players from the USA tournament who’ll challenge anyone in a game in the park

The 1994 World Cup was the stage for some of the biggest 90s football legends to shine, and most of them didn’t disappoint. Whether they played for a team that didn’t perform as expected often didn’t matter. Take Jürgen Klinsmann and Gabriel Batistuta, who made their mark even while the two 1990 finalists did not impress. These players provided us with a World Cup that many stars would envy. This made narrowing down this list to just five particularly challenging, and we were forced to leave out many names that created many great memories. Jorge Campos, Dunga, and Romario all came close. Forgive us in advance, but this is our attempt.

Goalkeeper: Claudio Taffarel – Brazil

Games played: 7

Games started: 7

Goals conceded: 3

Clean sheets: 5

The man between the posts was one of many defensive leaders in this version of the Seleção, providing the required confidence for Romario, Bebeto, and the gang to do the offensive job. Brazil conceded just three goals on their way to World Cup glory, including a clean sheet in the final, with Taffarel doing solid work throughout the competition. On top of that, his hug with Roberto Baggio, consoling him after missing his penalty in the final, is an excellent example of his great personality.

Defender: Paolo Maldini – Italy

Games played: 7

Games started: 7

Italy’s road to the final was not made up of glorious football but that of resilience and character. After a shock defeat to Ireland in their opening match, the Azzuri were dealt another blow in the second game against Norway. Only 21 minutes in, keeper Gianluca Pagliuca was sent off. And if that wasn’t enough, defensive leader Franco Baresi left the pitch injured five minutes into the second half. However, Italy went on to win the game, with Maldini holding the lines. And the AC Milan legend continued to shore up the defense through to the tournament’s last match, covering for absences due to the suspension of Mauro Tassoti and Daniel Costacurta. In the final itself, Maldini was heroic in holding off Brazil. But while he played his part, his teammates didn’t, missing three penalties and sending the trophy to South America. If you think his spartan performance was any consolation to him, think again

Midfielder: Tomas Brolin – Sweden

Games played: 7

Games started: 7

Goals: 3

Assists: 4

While Gheorghe Hagi also deserves a shout, it is tough to argue against Brolin deserving the spot, as arguably the best of many good players who took Sweden to a surprising third-place campaign. The then-Parma midfielder scored three times, including a memorable finish to a clever free-kick against Romania in the quarter-finals. 

Attacker 1: Hristo Stoichkov – Bulgaria

Games played: 7

Games started: 7

Goals: 6

Assists: 1

Bulgaria took the world by surprise with an unforgettable campaign, and Barcelona’s striker was at the helm. Bulgaria scored in five of their seven games, and so did Stoichkov, including goals written in the history books, like the quarter-final equalizer against Germany. This earned him a position as joint top-goalscorer and golden boot. The nation that struggled to emerge in the post-cold-war era finished fourth in the tournament, an achievement they never came close to emulating both before and after.

Attacker 2: Roberto Baggio – Italy

Games played: 7

Games started: 7

Goals: 5

The smart thing to do in a tournament with so many great striker performances is to pick at least two for a five-a-side team. The final slot was a close call between Romario and Roberto Baggio. The two of them finished joint second top goal scorers in the tournament. Still, the tie-breaker in favor of the Italian is that he more or less carried his team’s attack on his own throughout the knockout rounds, scoring five out of six of the Azzurri’s goals, including late, dramatic winners against Nigeria (102nd minute) and Spain (88th minute). Italians can always blame Baggio for sending his penalty high into the sky in the shootout in the final, but they can also remember that if it weren’t for him, they probably wouldn’t have been in the final at all. It is known that Baggio struggled to recover from the miss, so maybe he can find some consolation with being included in our team. 

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