Top five: Game-changers in world football
Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic & Arjen Robben are amongst football's best game-changers
Only the best players are capable of single-handedly turning a game on its head.
Here are football's top five game-changers:
5. Sebastian Giovinco | Juventus and Italy
His ability was shown at Parma and is also starting to shine through for Juventus. The ‘Atomic Ant’ is lightning quick, agile, has unparalleled balance and also has a box of tricks better than Harry Potter’s.
The clearest example of his game-changing abilities was when Juventus faced off with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the 2012/13 edition of the Champions League group stages.
At half time Juve were 2-0 down and looking like heading out, but Sebastian Giovinco entered the fray to help Juve to a 2-2 draw. He would later be the standout performer in Juve’s 3-0 demolition of the Blues in Turin.
4. Tomas Rosicky | Arsenal and Czech Republic
Originally bought to replace Robert Pires at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger realised that he would be much more useful as an attacking midfielder - and since then he hasn’t looked back.
For two seasons in a row now, Jack Wilshere’s injuries have been a blessing in disguise for Arsenal, as Wilshere does not have the experience, talent nor the drive to push his team forward when they needed it, but with Rosicky back in the starting XI, Arsenal have been a much more formidable opponent.
For two seasons on a row, Arsenal have struggled for a top four place, until Rosicky stepped in - usually being the catalyst to Arsenal’s annual late season push.
Maybe he isn’t so much of a game changer, and more of a season changer.
3. Arjen Robben | Bayern Munich and Holland
Robben is often seen as overrated and a big-match flop - in some cases these arguments are justified, but in most they are not.
It is true that sometimes he will be invisible for 80 minutes of a game, but as he showed against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final, 88 minutes of wasteful finishing and immature greed didn't matter, as his goal was a piece of pure, unexpected genius that left the Dortmund players heartbroken after playing the better football for much of the game.
Love or hate Robben, you can’t deny his incredible footballing talent.
2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic | Paris Saint-Germain and Sweden
Probably the only footballing superstar Sweden have ever produced; he is one of the most naturally gifted players to ever grace a football field.
Ibrahimovic is capable of just about anything and has incredible control and balance for someone so tall. He has many moments to choose from, like his wonderful solo effort against NAC Breda or his spectacular volley against Benfica, but his most stunning goal came against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League group stages in 2007.
He found a way between two defenders and unleashed a thunderbolt from 25 yards that curled inside-out to fool the goalkeeper and find the top corner of the net.
With more magical moments than Lionel Messi, he will surely go down as a modern great.
1. Lionel Messi | FC Barcelona and Argentina
Who else could be first? The greatest player of his generation rarely fails to impress, and has dug Barca out of a lot of sticky situations in the past.
His goal against Getafe in 2007 showed his talent, and suggested that comparisons to Diego Maradona may not have been as far-fetched as many thought.
His wonderful chip against Mexico in the 2007 Copa America semi-final, making the Arsenal defence and goalkeeper powerless in 2010 with four stunning goals, the Clasico hat-trick, the 5-0 demolition of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real Madrid in 2011 and the five-goal haul against Bayer Leverkusen in 2012 were all dizzying heights in his career - but none of them standout compared to the goal in the 2011 semi-final of the Champions League against Real Madrid: beating four Real Madrid players before slotting it into the far corner and booking Barca’s place in the final.
There are no players currently playing near his level, and we are unlikely to see any for a very long time.
Honourable mentions: Mario Gomez (Bayern Munich and Germany), Falcao (Monaco and Colombia), Mirko Vucinic (Juventus and Montenegro) Javier Hernandez (Manchester United and Mexico), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona and Spain)
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