The recent troubles of Football Club Barcelona – Lionel Messi’s departure, financial strife and yet another sacked manager – got me thinking about their recent history.
It’s no surprise that the greatest football club competition in the world leads to some of the greatest goals ever scored.
If you want to start an argument, try agreeing with your mates which are the best of all time. Until now, because here, once and for all, is the definitive greatest ten goals ever scored in the Champions League.
A number of factors have been considered when culling the long list of incredible goals that have been scored in Europe’s top club competition including technical ability, the opposition, creativity and the importance of the goal in the circumstances.
Dejan Stankovic (Inter Milan) v Schalke 04, 2011
Scoring a goal on the volley is difficult. Scoring a goal from 45m out is also difficult. To do both against a fearsome Schalke 04 team is something very few people could ever achieve.
Dejan Stankovic was a versatile player who was at his best when playing as an attacking midfielder. His hard work was matched by his creativity and as can be seen in this goal, a sweet right foot.
No thought for controlling the ball first. No thought for looking to pass to a teammate closer to the open goal who would have an easier shot. Just a pure instinct for scoring goals and the talent to execute.
Andres Iniesta (Barcelona) v Chelsea, 2009
This killer strike from Iniesta ticks the boxes for both importance and technique. Chelsea had held the formidable Barcelona to a 0-0 draw at the Nou Camp in the first leg of the 2009 semifinal and then had taken a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute of the return leg.
Chelsea absorbed incredible amounts of pressure as Messi and his men tried everything to get back into the tie.
In the 93rd minute the ball came out to Iniesta on the edge of the penalty area and he swung his right foot through it perfectly. It was likely the last kick of the game and what a kick – the ball screamed into the top right corner and Barcelona had booked their ticket into another Champions League Final.
Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid) v Bayer Leverkusen, 2002
Of course this one has to be here. Zidane scored plenty of goals and several of them could have made this list but this one is arguably the greatest Champions League goal ever.
It was the 2002 Final and the score was tied up at 1-1. Bayer Leverkusen were pressing hard but then Roberto Carlos was able to break down the left wing. He clipped a speculative cross back in towards the box. The cross was not to his usual standards and looped high in the air.
Zidane steadied himself on the edge of the box and then cracked a volley into the back of the net off his weaker left foot. It caught the keeper completely by surprise and to this day you have to watch it over and over a few times to truly believe how sweet Zidane was able to make contact.
Samuel Eto’o (Barcelona) v Panathinaikos, 2005
This one is beautiful, and clever. Barcelona were all over Panathinaikos in this Group Stage game in 2005 and Eto’o himself got a hattrick with this one making it into the history books.
The combination of lob and curl is just amazing and it’s so sweet to see how perfectly judged every aspect of the shot are from the Barca striker.
Would Barcelona have won the game without it? Absolutely. Would our lives be emptier without it? Absolutely.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Manchester United) v Bayern Munich, 1999
This one is all about the context and importance of the goal. Bayern had fought hard to hold onto their 1-0 lead having scored in the sixth minute and when the fourth official said that there were just three minutes of injury time left in the game, most people thought the Germans had won the competition.
First Teddy Sheringham scored and then in the final minute of injury time, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stuck out a leg and managed to deflect a header from Sheringham into the back of the net.
Both finalists were playing for their own respective treble and Solskjaer’s goal gave Manchester United their third trophy of the season and placed manager Alex Ferguson firmly on the list of top coaches of any sport ever.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) v Juventus, 2018
Seeing as how he’s the all time top scorer in the competition, it’s hardly a surprise that Ronaldo is on this list. His goal against future club Juventus in 2018 showed of all of Ronaldo’s skill and ability.
He had to backtrack away from goal as the cross came in and managed to gain such height that he connected with the ball at the same level as a leaping defender who was trying to head the ball away.
The Juve keeper didn’t even move – he was totally wrong footed and just stood there wondering how on earth that had just happened.
Mauro Bressan (Fiorentina) v Barcelona, 1999
A blast from the past and what a blast it was. This game produced six goals and this was by far the best of them and it certainly matures nicely.
There’s so much that can go embarrassingly or painfully wrong with a bicycle kick and scoring one is always impressive. But scoring one from 30m out and getting the power and accuracy spot on takes a very rare talent.
Ronaldinho (Barcelona) v Chelsea, 2005
At first glance this one doesn’t look that special but keep watching it and you’ll see that it summed up the pure mastery that Ronaldinho had over the ball.
He gets the ball on the outside of the Chelsea area with about four or five defenders swarming around him. He shapes to pass or shoot but then reassesses his options in the blink of an eye and then threads the ball through the maze of opponents in front of him using the outside of his right boot to shape the ball back inside the left hand post of the Chelsea goal.
Lionel Messi (Barcelona) v Bayern Munich 2015
He’s been involved in so many great Champions League moments and against the German powerhouse of Bayern in 2015 Messi was simply on a different level. Rarely does one single player dominate a team game and it’s even less common at the highest levels but in the 2015 semi final first leg, Messi tore the Germans to pieces.
He was unstoppable, scoring twice and setting up Neymar for the Spaniards third goal on the night. His first goal was a well taken shot for sure but it’s his second that makes this list. Yet again he ran at the Bayern defence – many of whom allegedly still have nightmares about this match – and as he jinxed and swayed, defenders literally fell at his feet unable to keep up. The final delicate chip over the keeper was the perfect way to say to the world “There is nothing I cannot do with a football”.