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NFL teams' soccer twins: Man City-Eagles, Real Madrid-Patriots & the best football club comparisons

17:20 GMT+3 24/01/2018
NFL teams as football teams
With the Super Bowl upon us, we take a look at the top comparisons between franchises from American football and the top European powers

It's Super Bowl Sunday next week!

The NFL championship game this year sees the New England Patriots, looking to win thier third title in five years and sixth in the Tom Brady era, taking on the Los Angeles Rams.

With the biggest game on the American football schedule set to kickoff in a matter of days, we thought it would be entertaining to draw comparison between NFL teams and the top European football powers. 

There's plenty of room for debate and the similarities are more apples-to-orages than apples-to-apples, but you can draw plenty of comparisons between organizations across the two sports. 

Without further ado, we bring you Goal's list of the top 10 comparisons between NFL franchises and your favortie European football clubs. 

  • Doug Pederson Pep Guadiola

    #1 Manchester City - Philadelphia Eagles

    Two teams that have strengthened greatly over the last couple of years, have deep, talented rosters and young superstars; Manchester City and the Philadelphia Eagles have plenty in common, and both ended 2018 as champions of the Super Bowl and the Premier League.

    The comparisons don't stop there. Doug Pederson and Pep Guardiola, the head coaches of the two teams, were hired within a month of each other in the winter of 2016. Hot starts to the 2016-17 season were enjoyed by both teams, and both fell short of their ultimate goals under their first-year bosses.

    The Eagles still have some work to do to complete the project and it will be no simple task to get past the Patriots. A second successive Premier League title looks possible for Guardiola's City, but like the Eagles and the Super Bowl last season, the Manchester outfit has a goal to be the champion of Europe that seems in reach this year. 

  • Real Madrid Champions League trophy 2018

    #2 Real Madrid - New England Patriots

    For Real Madrid the decline has come steadily, while the New England Patriots are playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday, so the comparison is slightly flawed, but no team in any of the top five leagues in Europe compares with the Pats better than Los Blancos. 

    First off, both teams are reliant on ageing superstars, with Tom Brady and Ronaldo both having been at the top of the game for the last decade. Madrid has won four of the last five Champions League titles while the Pats can make it three in five years with another win on Sunday. Madrid hasn't been as dominant in the 2000s as the Pats, with New England having reached eight Super Bowls and won five, but over the last five years they've been the most dominant teams in their respective sports. 

  • Laurent Koscielny Arsenal Premier League Team of the Week 20012019

    #3 Arsenal - Pittsburgh Steelers / Los Angeles Rams

    Two teams that hover around the top four in their respective leagues, have long-tenured managers and play attractive styles, Arsenal and the Pittsburgh Steelers – as well as the LA Rams – fit well as comparisons. 

    Like the Gunners, the Steelers have been hesitant to change coaches. Mike Tomlin took over in Pitsburg back in 2007 and is one of the longest-tenured coaches in the NFL. His team won the 2009 Super Bowl, and he was the youngest coach in the history of the league to win the crown. 

    Arsene Wenger has been with the Gunners even longer. His appointment in August of 1996 brought about a run of early success, much like Tomlin. But, like Tomlin, Wenger hadn't won a title in a while – and left the club in the summer of 2018 and replaced by Unai Emery.

    Both the Steelers and Arsenal are highly entertaining teams to watch and both have a handful of reliable superstars. They regularly finish in the top four in their respective leagues, and their coaches (former coaches in terms of Wenger) may have overstayed their welcome, with fans of both teams calling for top-down changes in recent seasons. 

    What's more is that Stan Kroenke, owner of LA Rams, also manages Arsenal and is an unpopular figure among the Gunners faithful – as his decision to take the club private has seen the virtual end of supporters owning shares in the North London club and their role upholding custodianship values.

  • Mohamed Salah Liverpool Premier League Team of the Week 20012019

    #4 Liverpool - Dallas Cowboys

    Two organizations with great histories and massive global brands, but with recent histories that don't do justice to the greatness of their storied pasts, Liverpool and the Dallas Cowboys have both flirted with returning to the top in recent times. 

    For Liverpool, the 2005 Champions League title is an outlier from the past and the club's only real moment of glory since 1990, when the Reds won their last domestic title in the English top flight. The Cowboys, the most dominant force of the 1990s NFL, have won a total of two playoff games since 1996, when they were last crowned champions of the NFL. 

    Both teams continue to offer glimers of hope that the next set of glory days may be near. Liverpool's narrow miss on the Premier League during the 2013-14 season was heartbreaking for the fanbase, and Cowboys nation has had to deal with a string of failures in the playoffs after looking like contenders in the NFL regular season. The hope forever remains in these fan bases, though the Cowboys took a step back in 2017 after a 13-3 season in 2016. 

  • Lionel Messi Aaron Rodgers

    #5 Barcelona - Green Bay Packers

    If you're looking to watch the best in NFL do work, you tune in to the Green Bay Packers to watch Aaron Rodgers spin the pigskin. In football, if you're looking to watch the very best you take the time out to watch Lionel Messi embarrass defenders. 

    Cristiano Ronaldo's Madrid team and Tom Brady's Patriots may have the big trophies more often in recent years, (Rodgers won his only Super Bowl in 2011, Messi has won two Champions League titles since then, compared to three UCL crowns for Madrid and two Super Bowl titles for the Pats) but it's hard to argue against either Messi or Rodgers as the best in the game. 

    Both players have records too numerous to mention, and as long as they are on the field their teams, no matter how undermanned, are in with a chance. 

  • Eden Hazard Russell Wilson

    #6 Chelsea - Seattle Seahawks

    Chelsea and the Seattle Seahawks match up well. Both teams built their reputations around defense in a lot of ways. Jose Mourinho's title-winning Chelsea sides had their fair share of attacking talent, but it was a defense that gave up just 37 goals over the course of two seasons that really took the Blues to the top.

    Despite the long-term success of the London club domestically, Chelsea has managed just one European crown, in 2012. 

    Similarly, Pete Carroll's Seahawks defense lead the way to their only Super Bowl title in 2013 and nearly earned them another in 2015, but for an ill-fated pass at the end of Super Bowl XLIX against the Patriots. The Seahawks won division titles in 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2016 under Carroll, with their defense considered among the best in the league, but that second Super Bowl title has proved elusive. 

    Both teams are also facing something of a re-build at the moment. Carroll is still the boss with Seattle, but his team struggled in 2017, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2012, while Maurizio Sarri's Chelsea side have fallen short of challenging for the title this season.

    But with stars like Eden Hazard and Russell Wilson leading strong offensive units, both teams should be hanging around the top of their respective leagues for a while. 

  • Carlos Tevez Peyton Manning

    #7 Juventus - Denver Broncos

    The comparisons between Juventus and the Denver Broncos stem largely from how both teams played in 2015.

    Juventus' run to the Champions League final that year was built around a fierce commitment to defending as a team and a conservative but opportunistic attacking approach while the Denver Broncos leaned on a dominant defensive unit throughout the 2015 NFL season, winning Super Bowl 50 in February of 2016. 

    Both teams also relied heavily on newly acquired star players who were on the downside of their careers. Carlos Tevez lead the line for the Serie A champions that season in what was his last run as a true force at the top of the global game. The Broncos had Peyton Manning, in the last year of his storied career, under center.

    The biggest difference here, aside from playing completely different sports, is that the Broncos defense proved too much for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl, while Juventus couldn't keep pace with Barcelona's attack in the Champions League final. 

  • Jamie Vardy Joe Flacco

    #8 Leicester City - Baltimore Ravens

    Two random champions with star players who could do no wrong in their charge to the title, Leicester City and the Baltimore Ravens fit as the two biggest Cinderella stories of the past decade and a half. 

    Only once in the last 15 years has the AFC title been won by a quarterback not named Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Ben Roethlisberger, and just one team not named Chelsea, Manchester United or Manchester City has claimed the Premier League in the last 13 seasons.

    Joe Flacco pulled off "the Mile High miracle" to top Manning and the Broncos before routing Brady's Patriots in the AFC title game during the Ravens march to the Super Bowl title following the 2012 season. Jaime Vardy's 24-goal haul for the Foxes during the 2015/16 Premier League season, including a record run of scoring in eleven consecutive Premier League games, sparked Leicester to one of the most improbable title wins in the history of team sports.

    Neither player has managed to reach the same heights in subsequent years, and losses of other stars around them have limited their teams to being also-rans. 

    It's not apples to apples here. Leicester City's title win came over clubs with much bigger budgets and the odds of it ever happening again are slim at best, while the Ravens play in a league where the rules promote parity and could easily become a contender again in the near future.

  • Adam Theilen, Minnesota Vikings

    #9 Manchester United - Minnesota Vikings

    We get it, this is the biggest reach of the group. 

    You almost have to throw out the Alex Ferguson years to make this compute, because the sustained greatest of the Red Devils through that period simplay can't be matched, but hear us out. 

    These two proud franchises fell on hard times in recent years, but have both had something of a resurgence based around conservative play and brilliant defensive play. The Vikings are loaded on the defensive side of the ball and, like Manchester United, have plenty of exciting young players who can put up points. 

    The Vikes fell short in the NFL playoffs this season, but have all the building blocks to bring home a championship in the next few years, and while Manchester United isn't likely to win a trophy in 2018, anything seems possible under interim coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

  • Neymar Cam Newton

    #10 Paris Saint-Germain - Carolina Panthers

    If such thing as the newly rich exists in the NFL, the Carolina Panthers are probably the best example. The Panthers began play in 1995, but made just four playoff appearances through their first 14 seasons. But, unlike PSG, it wasn't money from a new ownership group that lifted the team, it was the drafting of a superstar in 2011, when Carolina took Cam Newton with the first overall pick in the NFL draft. 

    That same year Paris Saint-Germain was bought Oryx Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), and like the Panthers their fortunes turned quickly.

    The Panthers with Newton have now made the playoffs four times in six years, with three division titles one Super Bowl appearance, while PSG has won five titles in Ligue 1

    The big prize is still there to be chased for both teams, but in Neymar PSG may have found the global superstar they need to win the Champions League, and the Panthers look primed to stay in contention in the NFL for as long as Newton can stay healthy.