“The Chaaaaampions…” (sings the theme tune)
With the Champions League final little more than 24 hours away, Pies rounds up 25 of the finest strikes the competition has ever seen. Because you’re worth it…
25. Mancini, ROMA v Lyon
This goal always makes me smile. It’s like a Pro Evolution Soccer goal, complete with opponent-baiting stepovers.
24. Kaka, MILAN v Celtic
The Brazilian didn’t have many players to beat, but the final burst of acceleration, followed by a composed finish, was a joy to watch.
23. Thierry Henry, ARSENAL v Sparta Prague
A quite beautiful finish by TH9 with the outside of his right foot. (Goal can be seen, briefly, at 1:21 into the above video).
22. Lars Ricken, BORUSSIA DORTMUND v Juventus
The sub scored with his first touch in the 1997 CL final, after being on the field for less than 20 seconds. And what a sweet touch it was.
21. George Weah, PSG v Bayern Munich
Fast-forward to about eight minutes in (No.2 video on the compilation) to see Weah at his dynamic best.
20. Paul Scholes, MAN UTD v Barcelona
Poor marking by Barca, but a typically pure strike by the Ginger Ninja.
19. Peter Crouch, LIVERPOOL v Galatasaray
In which Crouchinho uses his ridiculously long legs to wonderful effect.
18. Charles-Edouard Coridon, PSG v Porto
Freaky brilliance from a one-goal wonder.
17. Samuel Eto’o, BARCELONA v Panathinaikos
A magical finish (first goal in the compilation).
16. Paul Gascoigne, RANGERS v Bucharest
Gazza at his best, showing more pace than many people credited him with (goal is 1:40 into the compilation): LINK
15. Cristiano Ronaldo, MAN UTD v Arsenal
Manuel Almunia might have done better, but what audacity and nerve from C-Ron.
14. Lucho Gonzalez, PORTO v Hamburg
Smashed in on the volley, just like the commentator says.
13. Georghe Hagi, GALATASARAY v Monaco
Boom. That is all.
12. Michael Essien, CHELSEA v Barcelona
Strong like bull.
11. Steven Gerrard, LIVERPOOL v Olympiakos
Stevie G resuces his team from an early CL exit with this thunderbolt. “Ohhh, you beauty! What a hit son! What a hit!”
Take a deep breath… OK, now Pies presents the Top 10:
10. Pablo Aimar, VALENCIA v Liverpool
The final ball to Aimar is just a thing of gorgeousness. Not the most spectacular goal on this list, by any means, but proof of the power of one-touch passing.
9. Andy Cole, MAN Utd v Barcelona
Just the most exquisite example of telepathic forward play you could hope to see. A one-two-one, if you like; the weight of Dwight Yorke’s return pass to Cole is very tasty.
8. Mikael Nilsson, IFK GOTHENBURG v PSV
A banana free-kick of fearsome power. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a video which shows the strike from behind the goal.
7. Ronaldinho, BARCELONA v Chelsea
The toe poke to beat all toe pokes. In fact, to call it a toe poke is unfair. Genius is a more fitting description.
6. Mauro Bressan, FIORENTINA v Barcelona
Bressan did nothing else in his career, but he’ll always have this clip to show his grandkids.
5. Cristiano Ronaldo, MAN UTD v Porto
The second appearance by C-Ron is also a goal from this season’s competition – and what a ridiculously good-looking goal it was. Can he top this in Rome? We’ll see.
4. Raul, REAL MADRID v Man Utd
Not Raul’s goal, of course, but Fernando Redondo’s. Peraps the second most enjoyable assist in Champions League history. The first being…
3. Freddie Ljungberg, ARSENAL v Juventus
Ah, the sublime genius of Dennis Bergkamp. How Gooners must miss him. Ljungberg’s run and finish was very tidy too.
2. Hugo Almeida, PORTO v Internazionale
Holy crap! That’s what I think every time I watch this. Shame Porto lost the match though, as Almeida’s goal was worthy of winnning any game. You’ll never see a free-kick follow a more perfect and deadly trajectory.
1. Zinedine Zidane, REAL MADRID v Bayer Leverkusen
Zizou did this in the final, and that’s why it has to be No.1: hardly original, I know, but it can’t be ignored. Look how much time he has before the ball drops onto his foot – enough time to think, I could f**k this right up. But this is Zidane we’re talking about, and so he doesn’t f**k it up at all. Awesome.