The World Cup is getting closer and closer, so it is time to look at ten of the best goals in the tournament’s history. Leave a comment below if we missed off your favourite goal. So in no particular order here is the top ten:
Dennis Bergkamp vs Argentina, 1998
The quarterfinals of the 1998 World Cup in France produced this magical moment from the former Arsenal striker Dennis Bergkamp. With the game heading to extra time, Bergkamp judges the flight of the ball from Frank De Boer and caresses the ball down with the inside of his right boot, taps the ball inside and then unleashes a shot right through his laces past the despairing Carlos Roa.
Diego Maradona vs England, 1986
This goal has been somewhat overshadowed by his infamous “Hand of God” incident, but you cannot take anything away from the goal that was dubbed the “Goal of the Century”. Maradona danced and weaved past several England players from his own half with incredible pace and poise then slotted the ball past Peter Shilton after rounding him. If the despairing Peter Reid was still chasing him now, I do not think he would catch him.
Maxi Rodriquez vs Mexico, 2006
Estaban Cambiasso’s goal in the same tournament is the one many people remember; rightly so as the Argentina side put 26 passes together. However, Maxi’s goal was something else. The Round of 16 game was already in extra time and left back Juan Pablo Sorin launched the ball to the right-hand corner of the penalty box where Maxi took it down on his chest, directed it onto his left boot and then thundered it into the top left-hand corner.
Carlos Alberto vs Italy, 1970
Mention this goal and people will remember the vivid colour of this World Cup and the yellow shirts of Brazil. The Brazilian side picked up the ball by their own box, made three one-touch passes and then Clodoaldo decided to take it to Italy by dancing past four Italian players then spraying it out wide. Rivelino then pings the ball to Jairzinho who drives at the tired Italian defence, lays it off to Pele who patiently waits for Carlos Alberto to turn up and he, in turn, plants the ball into the far corner. It is simply a sublime team goal in the days when defenders were seen but never heard.
Robin Van Persie vs Spain, 2014
The flying Dutchman started the revival and destruction of champions Spain. The Netherlands were 1-0 down until Daley Blind spotted the run of Van Persie, who had peeled away from Sergio Ramos and played a very De Boer-esque ball into his path. Van Persie watched the ball like a hawk and directed his header over Iker Casillas who could only stand there and watch the ball drop into the back of the net.
Nelinho vs Italy, 1978
Carlos Alberto started the attacking revolution for the Brazilian right back, and Nelinho carried on the tradition in 1978. In the 3rd place, playoff game between Brazil and Italy Nelinho scored an outrageous equaliser that left Dino Zoff scratching his head wondering if it was a cross or a shot. Nelinho to this day says it was a shot. Out on the right-hand side of the box, the ball is played out to him, he took one touch and crashed one at the far post. However, the ball was heading way wide until it curved back in and landed in the far corner. If there was a line to follow the curve it would look like a banana. Sensational.
James Rodriquez vs Uruguay, 2014
The 2014 tournament in Brazil will live long in James Rodriquez’s memory as he burst onto the scene for his beloved Colombia. It was during their Round of 16 game with Uruguay when he had everyone on their feet. As the ball was cleared Abel Aguilar headed the ball back at the Uruguay defence, however, it found James’ chest at the edge of the D. He chested it down, with his back to goal and swivelled on a sixpence. Without even looking where the chested ball was going, he let it drop onto his left foot and smashed it past Fernando Muslera.
Michael Owen vs Argentina, 1998
Both the sides were level at 1-1, and David Beckham was on the ball in his own half. He noticed Owen was waiting for a pass, he delivered, as the youngster took the ball down and used all his pace to escape the grasping Jose Chamot. Once he alluded Chamot, then he showed Roberto Ayala the wrong way, as he shimmied to the right and advanced into the penalty area. It looked like Paul Scholes was about to take the shot, but Owen continued and smashed the ball past Carlos Roa.
Pele vs Sweden, 1958
Pele was another boy wonder who introduced himself to the world on the big stage. However, this was the World Cup final against Sweden in 1958, and at just 17 years old he made his defenders look even younger than him. The ball was played into the box at chest height, and despite battling with the Swedish defender he managed to take it in his stride, advance towards the penalty spot and lift it over another lunging defender; somehow avoiding his flailing foot. The ball came down to him, and he volleyed it low past Kalle Svensson. Pele did not look back from there.
Roberto Baggio vs Czechoslovakia, 1990
Baggio will, unfortunately, be associated with his penalty miss in the World Cup final in 1994 but four years before he was one of the best players at the tournament. His goal against Czechoslovakia showcased his talents to the max. After playing a one-two Giuseppe Giannini on the halfway line, Baggio went like the clappers and left Ivan Hasek in his wake. His next victim was Miroslav Kadlec, was left dazzled by his footwork and ended up in knots while Baggio slotted his shot home to seal the win for Italy.