Top five: Free-kick specialists
Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham & Juninho Pernambucano have all scored some memorable free-kicks
The most successful teams often have a free-kick specialist - or two - in their ranks.
Here are five of the best:
Ronaldo has revolutionised the free-kick within football.
His ability to strike the ball from distance is phenomenal; a technique that has never been seen before. He hits the ball with the instep of his boot and is able to add wicked dip and pace to the ball. He also is one of the world’s best outfield players, so he cannot really be labeled solely as a free-kick specialist.
Juninho made his living off of set-pieces during his time in France with Lyon. He also possesses the ability to provide dip to his shots from outside the penalty area.
Arguably one of the best free-kick takers of all time.
David Luiz’s set-piece style is similar to Ronaldo’s, except the run-up is much different. Ronaldo stutter-steps on his toes before unleashing a shot, but Luiz’s run-up is quite long.
He takes short strides to the ball, but from about five yards away. Yet the comparisons between Ronaldo and Luiz are the ability to add pace to the shot and the side-footed contact made with the ball.
Luiz, although a centre-back and a developing holding-midfielder, can actually put some whip on the ball. Just view his strike against Aston Villa in an 8-0 route at Stamford Bridge, or his recent stoppage-time goal from 25-yards against FC Basel, where he scored a crucial away goal to give Chelsea an advantage going into the second leg of the Europa League semi-finals.
The new PSG star has always been know for his world-class set-piece delivery. The former England captain can really curl the ball over and around the wall to score from free-kicks.
Even movies, notably “Bend it Like Beckham,” show how great Beckham was and still is at taking free-kicks.
Juan Mata has is blessed with a sweet left-foot and has scored some memorable free-kicks in his career with Valencia and Chelsea, including an excellent effort against recently-crowned Premier League champions Manchester United earlier this season.
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