Anatomy of a Goal: Cristiano Ronaldo’s Ridiculous Overhead Kick Against Juventus

?There was once a time that Wayne Rooney’s acrobatic effort against Manchester City was the archetype of the wondrous art form that is the overhead kick. 

The way he arched his back and gracefully suspended himself in mid-air to connect with Nani’s cross and send it beyond the helpless Joe Hart; it’s an image that will be replayed over and over in ‘best goals’ compilations from now until the end of time. 

Manchester United's English striker Wayn

But let’s be honest; he hit it with his shin, didn’t he? 

It was an great finish, but it was always waiting to be knocked off its pedestal. And while it might have had to wait more than seven years to be cast into the shadow of another, superior strike, when it came, it came in style.  

And it was always going to be ?Cristiano Ronaldo that delivered it. 

The season he was having in 2017/18 defied any sort of logic. By the time ?Real Madrid travelled to Turin for the first leg of the quarter-finals, he was already on 12 European goals for the season, having played just eight matches – and scored in all of them. 


A Ronaldo masterclass, by this stage, was nothing alien to ?Juventus. He’d put them to the sword in Cardiff in the 2017 final less than a year earlier. His first goal on the night here, then, – a powerful low finish past ?Gianluigi Buffon in the first half – was no surprise, and looked as if it had Real well on their way to a run-of-the-mill win.

There was nothing routine, however, about what followed. 

You could sense something magic was brewing when Dani Carvajal recycled the ball on the right after Lucas Vasquez had an effort well-saved by a recovering Buffon. 

His hopeful cross was teasing and seemed to hang in the air for an age. Perhaps only Ronaldo, however, had the vision and the means to read it as an invite. 

Cristiano Ronaldo

Racing back from an offside position beyond Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli, his predatory instincts went into overdrive. Watching the ball like an eagle eyeing distant pray, he glided out towards the penalty spot, and was off his feet almost as soon as the right-back shaped to cross. 

By the time it reached him, he must have been four feet off the ground, and with his right boot extended to an impossible height, he folded himself over and connected with frightening precision.

There was hardly any pace on the floated searcher that found him, but he generated enough power on the ball to fuel every household in Italy for the rest of the year. 

Buffon didn’t move, Barzagli shrugged and laughed, and Blaise Matuidi gave the impression of 50-year-old man who had just been informed the pubs were shutting down due to coronavirus, after weeks of convincing himself it wasn’t a problem. 

Perhaps the biggest compliment you can give this goal is that even Ronaldo’s signature ice-cool nonchalance was briefly shattered. As he landed on his back and rolled over onto his belly, even his surprise was evident when it dawned on him that he had actually scored. 

This was a goal that even the supreme, unyielding confidence of Ronaldo – who had earlier become the Champions League’s all-time record scorer – struggled to comprehend. 

Real would win the game 3-0, and though Juventus would level the tie up with an astonishing comeback at the Bernabeu, a penalty from you know who booked their place in the semis. 

Zinedine Zidane’s side went on to win the tournament for a third successive season.

And Juve, having seen enough, stumped up €100m to ensure they would never be on the receiving end of something like this again. 

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9 of the Best Overhead Kicks in Football History

Goals are what we crave in football. They determine results (duh), but they’re also what the entire point of playing football is. Sure, sometimes grinding out a 0-0 may be the plan of action, but ultimately, the whole concept revolves around trying to put the ball in the back of the net more often than the other team.

So while any goal will do in most cases, when someone manages to smash the ball in the goalhole spectacularly, memorably or downright super-humanly, we all stand up and take note.

Two years ago today we were treated to such an occasion, when ?Cristiano Ronaldo put Juventus to the sword with a neat little trick known as an ‘overhead kick’. 


These are always special occurrences. Why? Mainly because it doesn’t happen all too often, but mostly because it is the pinnacle of improvisation and sets the goalscorer apart from the norm. Even in a playing field containing the top 0.000000001% of footballers, they manage to go above and beyond; in some cases, above and beyond the bloke stood next to them.

Alas, let us herald the finest instances of such ability by flicking through the very best overhead kicks we’ve been treated to over the years and compiling them all into one healthy, absorbing list. You’re most welcome.


Rivaldo vs Valencia – 2001


Hat-tricks are another way of setting yourself apart from the rest of the pack, ‘Yeah, sure, you can score a goal, but i can score three in one game‘. Well, how about melding a hat-trick together with a ridiculously special overhead kick? Does that whet your appetite? I should bloody well hope it does.

?Barcelona were the beneficiaries of those particular stars aligning, when Rivaldo scored his third goal of an engrossing clash with Valencia back in 2001. The control, technique and finish were glorious, but even more crucially, it secured Barça a Champions League spot in La Liga that season.


Ronaldinho vs Villarreal – 2006

Ronaldinho

Sticking with the Barcelona theme, let’s move on to another Brazilian legend of the club. We all know full well just how technically gifted those from this particular part of South America are, but seeing that ability in motion is truly a sight to behold.

Villarreal were the unfortunate recipients on this occasion, as Ronaldinho added even more flair to an already intrinsically superb piece of skill. Chesting the ball in the box, the Barça man twisted his body as if his bones were made of Play-Doh, before acrobatically firing home with his right foot – even if it looked for all the world like he’d use his left. Heck knows how, but I’m sure he’ll be sharing his secrets in his cosy prison cell right now.


Manuel Negrete vs Puebla – 1984

Manuel Negrete

I don’t even care who crossed the ball in for Negrete for this goal, he deserves the assist himself (not that this is in anyway possible).

The most perfect of chest control sees the ball float perfectly vertical, and with the defender closing him down in the box, he casually lifts it over him with his left, then onto his head, and then onto his left foot. The rest, as they say, is history. Watch it ?here.


Philippe Mexes vs Anderlecht – 2012

Philippe Mexes

Sometimes, an overhead kick is a last resort. By that I mean you’ve got nobody to pass to, no way of controlling the ball in time, and you see your name littered across the back pages. So, often, it’s a case of ‘why the f**k not?’

Philippe Mexes had one of those moments in 2012. The central defender controlled a rubbish free kick on his chest while running away from goal and as seemingly any other option would appear more logical, instead he opted to produce and audacious overhead kick. It’s a good thing he did to, because it was a magnificent piece of improvisation that was so perfectly executed it hurts to even think about.


Wayne Rooney vs Manchester City – 2011

Manchester United's English striker Wayn

It’s worth noting that before this season, ?Wayne Rooney had some criticism directed his way for supposedly being overweight. So, I ask you, how does an overweight footballer leap into the air with outstanding agility and score one of the ?Premier League’s greatest ever goals from a cross that was deflected?

Not only is the technique and application stupendous, he did so in a Manchester derby. Few words do the goal justice, and only the most cynical of people try to belittle it by stating he scored it with his shin. Two things: firstly, shut up, and secondly, shut up.


Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs England – 2012


Has anything like this ever been done before? Furthermore, will anything like this ever be done again? Answers: yes(ish) and no. I mean come on, how ridiculously good do you have to be to score a 30-yard overhead kick in an international fixture? 

Place all the question marks you want on Joe Hart or the defending, but seriously, Zlatan, with instinct and audacity, performed a breathtaking overhead kick with Hart in no man’s land that combined both power and accuracy. It’s utterly sublime and, sometimes, you just need to sit back and admire magnificence. Oh, and he scored three more goals that day, just because.


Trevor Sinclair vs Barnsley – 1997


With great dreadlocks come great power…apparently.

Trevor Sinclair certainly made a case for the above to be true, demonstrating outstanding acrobatics against Barnsley in 1997. An aimless high cross looks like causing no danger, but Sinclair took matters into his own hands with a ludicrously high jump in which he angles a perfect overhead kick beyond the helpless goalkeeper.

The power he generated was unstoppable, and judging on his face after he scored, he knew that too.


Mauro Bressan vs Barcelona – 1999

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Barcelona needed to be on the end of something spectacular, didn’t they? On this occasion, it was the brilliance of Fiorentina’s Mauro Bressan that did the damage.

Some messy build up play saw the ball bounce invitingly for Bressan (well, not really, but to him it was) 30 yards from goal and in another case of ‘why not’ he extended hid body up into the air, before delivering the most fluid, natural looking overhead kick you’ll likely ever see. Francesc Arnau was utterly helpless in net, and he got a smack from the post for his troubles.


Gareth Bale vs Liverpool – 2018


We’ve already gone through some outrageous goals. And while technically speaking you can make and argument for any of the strikes in this list, ?Gareth Bale produced one of the all-time greats in a Champions League final.

The grandeur of the occasion and considering what was at stake, to do what Bale did in Kiev defies belief. It may very well be the greatest Champions League goal of all time for that reason alone. No point really dissecting it too much, just savour every moment of its brilliance. From the readjustment of his body and feet to the technique itself, enjoy to your heart’s content.


For more from Ross Kennerley, follow him on Twitter!  

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UEFA Warns Clubs Could Face Exclusion From Champions League if Seasons are Abandoned

?UEFA have suggested that clubs might not be accepted into next season’s Champions League if they haven’t qualified in traditional fashion, reaffirming their desire to see the 2019/20 football season completed.

Football authorities in England and Europe initially hoped to have seasons concluded by the end of June, but the continued effects of the coronavirus pandemic has further cast doubt over whether or not football can resume as soon as initially expected.

Premier League Match Ball

In a letter sent on Thursday evening to Europe’s national FA’s, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, along with officials Andrea Agnelli and Lars-Christer Olsson wrote,? as quoted by the Guardian“We are confident that football can restart in the months to come – with conditions that will be dictated by public authorities – and believe that any decision of abandoning domestic competitions is, at this stage, premature and not justified.

“Since participation in UEFA club competitions is determined by the sporting result achieved at the end of a full domestic competition, a premature termination would cast doubts about the fulfilment of such condition. 

“UEFA reserves the right to assess the entitlement of clubs to be admitted to the 2020-21 UEFA club competitions, in accordance with the relevant applicable competition regulations.”

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The letter recognised the health risk posed by the coronavirus, but further explained that UEFA have a group working on a proposal that would see leagues completed in summer months, now that? Euro 2020 has been postponed for a year: “Closely following the development of the current situation, the calendar working group will indicate as soon as possible, and ideally by mid-May, which of the plans can be enacted for the completion of the season without leaving anyone behind. 

“Stopping competitions should really be the last resort after acknowledging that no calendar alternative would allow to conclude the season.”

The letter comes after Belgian officials made the decision to ?cancel the rest of the Jupiler Pro League for the 2019/20 season and use the current standings as final, becoming the first top-flight European league to take such measures.

SOCCER JPL D20 KAA GENT VS CLUB BRUGGE

Consequently, Club Brugge have been crowned champions, while second place Gent are also set to qualify for the Champions League. 

However, with UEFA committed to wanting league and European competitions finished in full, both of their places in the competition for next season could be in doubt.

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The Current 30 Best Strikers in the World – Ranked

Here at 90min, we love the gas.

We talk football, we throw opinions out there and we love to generate debate.

Some people agree with what’s said, some people hate what they hear and read, some people find it funny and some people go out of their minds with incandescent rage.

But that’s all part and parcel of being a football fan – we’re a community brought together by the love of this great game, and the special thing is that we all want to have our say. 

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Now we’ve sold the concept of talking football to you, let’s get another hot topic on the go shall we?

Having already dissected the 25 best goalkeepers, full-backs, central defenders and defensive midfielders in the world, we can’t wait any longer to get to the strikers. For this, we’re upping the ante to 30 – basically because there’s so many top dogs knocking around.

For clarity, the players included on this list play the majority of their games from a central striking role. Hence, no Messi or Griezmann, no Salah or Mane, and no Allan Saint-Maximin, before you throw any nearby toys out of the pram.

So strap in – I know I have – and feast your eyes on the current 30 best strikers in the world…


Honourable Mentions

We kick things off with a nod to some players who are still good, but not top 30 material right now. 

These include Edinson Cavani, Gonzalo Higuain and Zlatan Ibrahimovic from the exceptionally well known pile, through to Erin Zahavi (check out his goal record in China by the way), Arkadiusz Milik, Odsonne Eduoard and Iago Aspas – all of whom score goals and contribute good things on a pretty regular basis.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

There’s also the likes of Memphis Depay, Donyell Malen and Tammy Abraham to consider, but there time hasn’t come just yet.


30. Alexandre Lacazette

Alexandre Lacazette

Lacazette’s goal return for Arsenal has actually been pretty ordinary of late, with his place in Mikel Arteta’s side far from assured.

But the Frenchman offers so much outside of goalscoring, dropping deep to link up play with midfield, as well as foraging down the channels to put pressure on opposition backlines. He also has a tremendous understanding with Pierre-Emerick Aubayemang, though it’s often the Gabon international’s goal tally that reaps the rewards.


29. Dusan Tadic

Dusan Tadic

Back in the summer of 2018, Tadic departed Premier League mid-table lovers Southampton to experience a new challenge with Ajax.

What few of us would have expected was Tadic’s remarkable transformation into one of the most prolific goalscorers in Europe. Granted, the Eredivisie standard perhaps leaves a little to be desired, but netting 38 goals in his debut season – in all competitions – was a bolt out of the blue.

No longer isolated out on the wing and out of possession, Tadic is showing what he can really do in a false nine position, showing pinpoint accuracy with his finishing to couple up with some intricate link-up play.


28. Carlos Vela

Carlos Vela

Another player whose career has reignited after moving onto pastures new is Mexico forward Vela.

Once a failed Arsenal academy graduate, he then spent five years at Real Sociedad confirming that he was actually talented before a return to the Americas beckoned.

There, a change of role has propelled Vela into MLS limelight and he’s now a prolific goalscorer. His wand of a left foot helped him score at a better than a goal per game during 2019, and he’s now regarded as one of the biggest stars across the Atlantic.


27. Gabriel Jesus

UEFA Champions League"Real Madrid v Manchester City FC"

Playing second fiddle is never an easy job, but that’s what Gabriel Jesus has done for much of his career at Manchester City.

The Brazilian is undoubtedly a talent, evidenced by the faith placed him at such a young age by Pep Guardiola. Has his best years ahead of him, which should allow him to break out of Sergio Aguero’s shadow at some point – as well as helping him become Brazil’s leading light for many tournaments to come.


26. Dries Mertens

Dries Mertens

If you’re not familiar with S.S.C. Napoli, may I please point you in the direction of the 2019 Diego Maradona documentary film.

Once you’ve sampled some of that, you’ll realise what it means to play for Gli Azzurri and what it means to become a legend of such a passionate, well-supported club.

One such legend is Mertens, who during the 2019/20 season became the club’s all-time record goalscorer, surpassing another supremely popular figure, Marek Hamsik. The Belgian hasn’t been overly prolific of late, but is still a wonderful all-round player.


25. Duvan Zapata

Duvan Zapata

Scoring goals was something of a pastime for Zapata, rather than a regular hobby before he joined Atalanta in 2018.

But since then, the Colombian has been transformed under the tutelage of Gian Piero Gasperini and is now what some would call ‘a goal machine’. 28 goals in his first full season at the club – aided by his electrifying pace and understanding of the Nerazzurri’s system – looks to be just the starting point of a wonderful few years ahead.


24. Gabigol

Gabriel Barbosa

One man born to score goals was Gabigol – look no further than his nickname if you don’t believe me. Also, look no further than his goalscoring record in South America, which makes for pretty sensational reading.

Admittedly, he wasn’t been able to reproduce his form on the European stage, but his spell at Flamengo has shown many around the world that he’s got that little bit of x-factor about him.


23. Moussa Dembele

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Some really, really special players have kickstarted their careers with Scottish Premiership heavyweights Celtic, and Dembele looks to be no different.

We all saw how good Henrik Larsson was in the past, we’re all seeing how good Virgil van Dijk is right now, so if Dembele can be anywhere near as good as they are, he’s going to be a pretty special player in the future. 

A hive of Premier League interest is already swarming around a player who has scored well over 100 career goals in just over five seasons as a professional.


22. Wissam Ben Yedder

Wissam Ben Yedder

Breaking into France’s national team setup – particularly up front – is a pretty tricky thing to have ticked off the career accomplishments list, but that’s exactly what Ben Yedder did in 2018 after years of consistently scoring goals.

Standing just 5ft 7in tall, Ben Yedder’s main strengths lie in his ability to wriggle away from defenders and he loves taking people on before firing home. Has registered double digit goal seasons seven times in his career, flourishing in both La Liga and at home in Ligue 1.


21. Anthony Martial

Anthony Martial

?Manchester United are fast-tracking their way back to the promised land babies (note, this is wild speculation and pure conjecture) and all eyes are on Anth…..Bruno Fernandes.

In all seriousness, the Red Devils have been notably better since Fernandes arrived but you have to give some credit to Martial too. He’s operated both on the left wing and up front – not easy when you’re trying to find consistency – and continues to operate, on the whole, very well.

Though he’s yet to enter the prolific goalscorer category, he’s a hard grafter and looks to be taking his game in the right direction.


20. Raul Jimenez

Raul Jimenez

Speaking of going in the right direction, that brings us nicely on to Wolves – and Mexican striker Raul Jimenez, who has brought his game on leaps and bounds since an ill-fated spell with Atletico Madrid.

Now, he’s one of the most reliable forwards in Europe, with his workload – and the pressure that goes with it – unparalleled across the ‘top five’ leagues. All areas of his game are strong, particularly his work rate and ability in the air, but they’ll be some who say his finishing must improve.

And they’re right – he’s not as consistent in front of goal as he could be.


19. Roberto Firmino

Roberto Firmino

Liverpool, Liverpool, Liverpool – what a rollercoaster ride it’s been on Merseyside since Jurgen Klopp assumed the reins from Brendan Rodgers (remember he was there folks).

Initially there was some bad times, but my goodness me have there been some good ones – both domestically and in Europe. While the Reds’ team is equipped with superb players all over the shop, few have an effect on the side quite like Roberto Firmino.

The Brazilian is the glue that holds things together – no, he doesn’t score goals for fun like others, but he gets the best out of each and everyone of his teammates. An invaluable trait to have.


18. Paulo Dybala

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Let’s rewind to a time when I was playing FIFA 13 career mode and Palermo was the team of choice.

Not only did I have Afriyie Acquah patrolling midfield – trust me, he was incredible – there were also two incredible talents getting better and better with each passing game – one was Josep Ilicic, and the other was Paulo Dybala.

Turns out, FIFA knew what they were doing – as the Argentine is now one of the most talked about footballers in the world, as well as being one of the most gifted. Courted throughout the majority of 2019, Dybala’s signature is one that everybody would want if given the chance – owing to his fast feet, creativity, dribbling skills and swashbuckling finishing ability.

He doesn’t score bucket loads but, boy, is he good.


17. Lautaro Martinez

Lautaro Martinez

When Barcelona are sniffing around a player’s coat tails aged just 22, you know that player is probably a bit special.

And that’s exactly what Martinez is – an exciting talent all set to blossom into one of the best strikers in the world. A lethal and powerful finisher with both feet, the Argentine is also tremendous in the air, where his exploits have helped revive Inter’s slowing Serie A pulse.

Great things are expected of a player wanted by some of the games very best – and richest – clubs.


16. Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford

When a fresh faced 18-year-old Rashford burst onto the scene with four goals in his first two Manchester United games, the Red Devils took a deep breath.

Was a new local talent ready to take on the mantle of the ageing Wayne Rooney, leading United back to the very top of English football? Well, not quite yet, but Rashford is certainly looking the part and hasn’t really looked back since that whirlwind first week.

Playing as either a left winger or central striker, he’s elevated his game year on year and is now a fearsome Premier League goal threat.


15. Mauro Icardi

Mauro Icardi

Few players in the world of football have captured the media’s attention like Mauro Icardi has. Though, unfortunately for him, it’s his wife – and agent – Wanda Nara who steals the limelight most of the time.

But despite kerfuffle and controversy that seems to follow Icardi around, there’s one side to his actual game that is very clean – his finishing. Clinical, deadly and unerringly accurate, the Argentine was born to score goals, evidenced by his 100+ strikes in the colours of Inter.


14. Josep Ilicic

FBL-EUR-C1-VALENCIA-ATALANTA

Remember that FIFA story I was telling you about? Time for part two!

No, don’t worry, I won’t really get into that – but what I will get into is Ilicic’s astonishing improvement over the past few years, especially since he joined Atalanta. 

With an absolute cannon of a left foot, a penchant for finding space and a goal record that most out-and-out strikers would kill for, Ilicic is hot property when deployed in the false nine role.


13. Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku

Back in February 2019, ?a piece was penned (by yours truly, shameless plug) about Romelu Lukaku still having a bright future at Manchester United.

While my sentiments of his impending improvement were right, what I didn’t know at the time is that the best thing for Lukaku to do was to get out of England – and the scrutiny and ridiculous over-analysis of his game – to find his confidence again.

At Inter, he’s just done that – and is pounding goals in for fun again in Serie A. Lukaku looks happy, fit and ready to conquer, with plenty of years at the top ahead of him yet.


12. Jamie Vardy

Jamie Vardy

The rise and rise and rise of Jamie Vardy – from non-league football to ?Premier League winner and golden boot contender – really is one of football’s feel good stories.

Furthermore, the fact that Vardy has achieved so much at Leicester, who are a good side but can hardly compare with big clubs financially, is testament to just how hard he has worked over the years.

Pace, a never-say-die attitude and a willingness to give 100% each and every time he steps on to the pitch are some of his best qualities; as his crisp finishing ability.


11. Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez

Pushing the top 10 ten boundary – but missing out by the length of an incisor – is Uruguayan gnasher Luis Suarez.

He may be entering the latter stages of his career, but Barcelona’s lead marksman still has one of the sharpest tool kits in the trade. At his peak, Suarez was among the very best in the world, and perhaps was even the best striker for a time.

He’s still very good now, scoring goals at a decent lick in Catalonia – it’s just a shame he’s been laid low by injury problems.


10. Timo Werner

UEFA Champions League"Red Bull Leipzig v Tottenham Hotspur FC"

Paul Pogba, Gareth Bale and Timo Werner – what do they all have in common? Yep, they’re the three most talked about transfer targets in recent memory.

In Werner’s case, it’s still very much a case of is he really worth it? Playing up front for RB Leipzig, the German’s not really had the chance to show that he can deliver – regularly at least – at the absolute highest level. But in the glimpses we have seen, he’s shown he’s more than up to the task, scoring goals and leading the line with aplomb.

Die Roten Bullen are a genuine threat in Germany because of how good Werner is, and it may not be too long before he’s adorning Liverpool red.


9. Harry Kane

Harry Kane

There have been few England strikers – ever I’d imagine – who made as much of a splash as Harry Kane did when he broke onto the scene.

It was all a bit weird to be honest, because before he went goal crazy, Kane had endured some pretty ordinary loan spells away from Tottenham. Now, though, he’s one of the most clinical finishers around, with two feet capable of firing home from all angles.

Not only that, Kane is a penalty specialist and also loves a long shot or ten. The cherry on the top of his icing is his link up play – which club and international supporters of him will tell you is really rather good.


8. Karim Benzema

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BETIS-REAL MADRID

Underappreciated, undervalued and the equivalent of a footballing Formula 1 car – three very appropriate ways that you could describe Benzema.

That last reference, of course, follows his spat with international teammate Olivier Giroud, but that’s a story for another time. Instead, we’re here to talk about his Real Madrid greatness and the fact that he’s scored – and continues to score – bucket loads of goals for the club.

There’s very few flaws to report in the Frenchman’s game, so long as you don’t scour Twitter for a video showing some absolutely abysmal misses during his career to date.


7. Erling Braut Haaland

Erling Haaland

Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Samassi Abou* – three generational talents who, in their respective times, took each and every collective breath away.

Now, that feeling is likely to happen again as we watch on with admiration at the emerging talents of Haaland. A youngster who can, quite literally, do it all, it’s frightening to think that the Norwegian has a good 15 years of kicking ass ahead of him.

Sit up and take notice, this boy is the future.

*worth Googling


6. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Haaland may be the future of the game, but he’s also Borussia Dortmund’s future – unlike Aubameyang, who left the German giants in his rear view mirror back in 2018.

When he did so, he set ?Arsenal back a cool £56m – a fee that he’s, probably, repaid already. Scoring goals is what Aubameyang does and terrorising defenders with his blistering pace is what he’ll continue to do for years to come.

With a terrific goal record safely tucked under his belt, there’s no disputing that he’s one of the very best – but his toes will be twitching to show that on the biggest stages going.


5. Sergio Aguero

Sergio Aguero

Manchester City’s rise to the top of the English game has relied on heavy investment, we all know that.

But to win things, consistently, you need to buy exceptional players who are willing to stick around and lay the ground work for something special in the future. You also need players who will put their hand up in the big moments, shouldering the burden of expectation and leading their team to victory.

For City, Aguero has done that for almost a decade – and is rightly regarded as the club’s best ever up top. Not only that, he’s one of Europe’s – and the world’s – finest, still scoring goals for fun on a regular basis.


4. Ciro Immobile

Ciro Immobile

When Immobile’s venture to the Bundesliga in 2014 went south pretty rapidly, you would have been forgiven for thinking that he wouldn’t make it at the top level.

After all, he’d only had one exceptional season of scoring at Torino before Borussia Dortmund took a punt on him.

What we now know is that Immobile is one of the most natural finishers of the modern era, capable of carrying a side on his back. Two great feet, a superb leap in the air and the versatility to play anywhere across the front three makes him a real handful for any defence in the world.


3. Cristiano Ronaldo

Christiano Ronaldo

For almost a decade and a half, we’ve all wagged our chins at our respective office desks and asked which of Messi or ?Ronaldo is really the greatest of all time?

That question will never be answered, but what can be answered is that the Portuguese phenom – sorry The Undertaker – is the third best front man going right now.

Yes, Ronaldo is still scoring a pile load of goals and yes, he contributes most for current club Juventus – but sometimes you have to recognise greatness, move with the times and hand the mantle over to youth.


2. Kylian Mbappé

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And the youth in this case is Kylian Mbappé, whom we all expect to dominate the footballing landscape for many, many years to come.

He may barely be out of nappies, but Mbappé is already at the very top of the game, striking fear into anybody who comes up against him.

Good points: Two footed, powerful shot, direct runner, unbelievably quick, agile, well balanced, intelligent, creative, unselfishness, willing to learn, goal machine.

Bad points: N/A.

Say no more.


?1. Robert Lewandowski

Robert Lewandowski

So how on earth is Mbappé not the best striker in the world? Well, that would be because of the existence of Robert Lewandowski.

A complete forward, who epitomises everything and anything you’d want from a striker in your side, the Pole is insanely consistent. He bags goals, goals and more goals, goes on crushing scoring rampages and also acts as the perfect foil to bring his teammates into play.

Furthermore, his abilities have seen Bayern become serial winners during his tenure in Munich – and the unnerving thing is that he still has many years left at the top.


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Belgium Cancels Rest of 2019/20 League Season – What it Could Mean for Rest of Europe

?Belgium’s Jupiler Pro League has taken the decision to cancel the remainder of the 2019/20 season as a result of coronavirus, making it the first top-flight European league to do so.

Most other domestic leagues across the continent still remain committed to trying to finish the campaign in some way, whether it just be heavily delayed or with all remaining games behind closed doors, or possibly both.

UEFA is thought to be targeting August for things to be wrapped up, with suggestions the governing body is considering plans to hold ‘final four’ mini-tournaments that month in Istanbul and Gdansk to decide the Champions League and Europa League respectively.

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The Pro League’s board of directors has decided, however, that it is not desirable to continue the 2019/20 season after 30 June, having been advised that games in fan-filled stadiums cannot take place before, that players could still be at risk and that even behind closed doors there would be unnecessary additional strain on law enforcement and health services.

But rather than void the season and expunge results, the standings as they are now will be the final ones. That means Club Brugge will be crowned champions, with Gent second and therefore claiming Belgium’s other Champions League qualifying berth.

The league has set up a working group to look into sporting complaints or financial implications.

One of the reasons the cancellation and position freeze has been possible in Belgium is that the league includes round-robin playoffs to determine the champions after a ‘regular season’. And with 29 of the 30 regular season games complete, it is effectively just scrapping the playoffs.

Brugge already held a 15-point lead at the top of the standings, which would have equated to a seven-point head start in the ten-game playoffs, leaving little room for complaints.

SOCCER JPL D23 KV KORTRIJK VS CLUB BRUGGE

To cancel or not to cancel is the question that is being asked of the major European leagues. Could others follow Belgium’s example, which would have the benefit of minimal disruption on next season and a clean slate for 2020/21? Or is there too much uncertainty to declare it final?

For starters, none of the major European leagues are anything like as close to a justifiable end point like Belgium, just one game away from the end of the regular season.


Premier League

Mohamed Salah

In the Premier League, clubs have nine or 10 games left to play. Liverpool are 25 points clear at the top and few might argue if the season was called at this point, but can even such a large gap be enough when it was still mathematically short? Belgium can argue that once it was decided the playoffs were cancelled, Brugge’s 15-point lead was unassailable with only one game left.

Sides having played different numbers of games causes problems for an immediate halt as well. In the hunt for European places, the likes of Arsenal and Sheffield United are a game short of those around them. Had either played that game and won it, it could make a serious difference to their league placing and, in Sheffield United’s case, even be worth Champions League football.

At the bottom it is even tighter, with three teams in and out of the relegation zone level on points and separated by goal difference. In Belgium’s case, relegation is still to be decided.

If the season ends now:

Champions: Liverpool

*Champions League: Liverpool, Leicester, Chelsea, Manchester United

Europa League: Wolves, Sheffield United, Tottenham

Relegated: Norwich, Aston Villa, Bournemouth

Cause for complaint: Sheffield United, Arsenal, Bournemouth, Aston Villa

*Manchester City excluded due to UEFA ban


La Liga

Lionel Messi,Toni Kroos

In La Liga, at least every team has played the same number of games – 27. But, again, with as many as 11 left un-played, the implications of cancelling the season are not favourable, especially when it comes to the two-point title race between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Third place to sixth – which will determine Champions League qualification – are separated by two points.

If the season ends now:

Champions: Barcelona

Champions League: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Sevilla, Real Sociedad

Europa League: Getafe, Atlético Madrid

Relegated: Espanyol, Leganés, Mallora

Cause for complaint: Real Madrid, Getafe, Atlético Madrid, Mallorca


Serie A

FBL-KSA-ITA-JUVENTUS-LAZIO

Serie A has more of the season left to play, with 12 or 13 games remaining for clubs. The title race between Juventus and Lazio has just one point in it. At least the sides in contention for the rest of the Champions League and Europa League places are a little more spaced out, which would make finalising the current standings more justifiable from their perspective.

The relegation battle in Italy is another very tight one though, with Genoa and Lecce level on points, but one in the drop zone and one out.

If the season ends now:

Champions: Juventus

Champions League: Juventus, Lazio, Inter, Atalanta

Europa League: Roma, Napoli

Relegated: Brescia, SPAL, Lecce

Cause for complaint: Lazio, Lecce


Bundesliga

Achraf Hakimi,Robert Lewandowski

The Bundesliga has, for the most part, nine rounds of games left. On the plus side, those two who have a game in hand wouldn’t be unduly disadvantaged. Eintracht Frankfurt could rise one place in the bottom half, for example, by winning the game they haven’t played, while Werder Bremen wouldn’t be able to escape the automatic relegation zone with only one more.

At the top, Bayern Munich have a four-point lead over Borussia Dortmund. Bayer Leverkusen are two points shy – and therefore potentially within one win – of a Champions League place.

If the season ends now:

Champions: Bayern Munich

Champions League: Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, Borussia Monchengladbach

Europa League: Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke

Relegated: Paderborn, Werder Bremen

Cause for complaint: Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, Freiburg, Hoffenheim


Ligue 1

Kylian Mbappe

Ligue 1 is a similar story, with 10 games left and Lille one point off a Champions League place. No critical places are currently decided by tie-breaker criteria, with the relegation battle at least a little spaced out and Paris Saint-Germain 12 points clear at the top.

If the season ends now:

Champions: Paris Saint-Germain

Champions League: Paris Saint-Germain, Marseille, Rennes

Europa League: Lille

Relegated: Toulouse, Amiens, Nimes

Cause for complaint: Lille


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