Messi & Suarez, Ronaldo & Benzema, Suarez & Sturridge: What is the greatest strike partnership?

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Gone are the days where teams would line up 4-4-2 no matter what.

There was no such thing as five at the back or three strikers.

Instead, teams played with four solid defenders, two central midfielders, two wingers and two strikers.

Anything else was just bizarre.

But new formations means the death of strike partnerships.

While they’re a dying breed, there is still a place for a front-two in modern football.

And to pay tribute to strike partnerships, 90min decided to look back at the 30 greatest partners in the history of the sport.

While many are from years gone by, some are still banging in the goals together as we write.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the greatest strike partners of all time.

30-26

30. Luis Suarez & Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Ajax)

29. Demba Ba & Papiss Cisse (Newcastle)

28. Robbie Keane & Dimitar Berbatov (Tottenham)

27. Michael Owen & Emile Heskey (Liverpool)

26. Alexis Sanchez & Antonio Di Natale (Udinese)

A young Suarez scored 22 goals during the 2007/08 campaign as Huntelaar notched a further 36.

The streets will never forget Ba and Cisse at Newcastle but a lack of trophies sees them in 29th place.

Keane and Berbatov were technically perfect but, again, didn’t win any silverware.

Owen and Heskey were the ultimate ‘little and large’ combo and scored 171 goals together in five years.

Before Sanchez moved to Barcelona, he was impressing in Serie A for Udinese alongside Antonio Di Natale.

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25-21

25. Luis Suarez & Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)

24. Hulk & Radamel Falcao (Porto)

23. Marcelo Salas & Ivan Zamorano (Chile)

22. Romelu Lukaku & Lautaro Martinez (Inter)

21. Grafite & Edin Dzeko (Wolfsburg)

If Suarez and Sturridge had led Liverpool to the 2013/14 Premier League title - which they so almost did - then they would be far higher up this list than they are.

In 2010/11, two iconic strikers in the form of Hulk and Falcao combined to fire Porto to the treble.

A rare national team duo comes next with Chile’s Salas and Zamorano firing the South American side to the 1998 World Cup finals.

A more recent entry is 22nd with Inter’s front two of Lukaku and Martinez leading them to Serie A glory last season.

Dzeko will always be remembered by Manchester City fans for helping them win the Premier League but he did something similar with Wolfsburg previously with the help of partner Grafite.

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20-16

20. Wayne Rooney & Dimitar Berbatov (Manchester United)

19. Diego Tristan & Roy Makaay (Deportivo)

18. Sergio Aguero & Diego Forlan (Atletico Madrid)

17. Alan Shearer & Chris Sutton (Blackburn)

16. Diego Milito & Samuel Eto'o (Inter)

After Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez had left, Rooney and Berbatov remained and fired Manchester United to glory.

Another ‘streets will never forget’ entry with Tristan and Makaay winning Deportivo La Coruna La Liga title and proved dangerous in the Champions League.

Aguero and Forlan spent four seasons together at Atleti with the highlight being the 2008/09 campaign where they scored a combined 49 league goals as Forlan won the European Golden Shoe.

The original SAS find themselves in 17th as Shearer and Sutton helped Blackburn to an unlikely title win.

Jose Mourinho deserves most of the credit for a partnership of Milito and Eto’o winning the Serie A and Champions League double.

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15-11

15. Romario & Hristo Stoichkov (Barcelona)

14. Kevin Keegan & John Toshack (Liverpool)

13. Andriy Shevchenko & Filippo Inzaghi (Milan)

12. Filippo Inzaghi & Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus)

11. Ronaldo & Raul (Real Madrid)

Romario and Stoichkov only spent one season at Barcelona but are two of the greatest strikers of their generation.

Keegan and Toshack were legendary at Liverpool throughout the 70s as Liverpool won league titles and European Cups.

Shevchenko and Inzaghi led Milan to the 2003 Champions League but were victims to Liverpool two years later in the final.

Inzaghi also formed an incredible partnership with Del Piero at Juventus before his move to the San Siro. With Zinedine Zidane behind them, Juve won back to back league titles in 1996/97 and 1997/98 - although they did lose in Champions League finals in both seasons.

Ronaldo and Raul at Real Madrid. What more do we need to say? They should have dominated everything but didn’t

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10-6

10. Marco van Basten & Ruud Gullit (Milan)

9. Raul & Fernando Morientes (Real Madrid)

8. Wayne Rooney & Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)

7. Kenny Dalglish & Ian Rush (Liverpool)

6. Cristiano Ronaldo & Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

Despite Van Basten’s injuries, he and Gullit helped Milan win multiple Serie A titles throughout the 90s as well as the European Cup.

Before Ronaldo arrived, Raul had already formed a formidable partnership with fellow Spaniard, Morientes at the Bernabeu.

Ronaldo and Rooney were unstoppable at Old Trafford. Despite their clash at the 2006 World Cup, they led United to the Champions League in 2008.

How do you replace the legendary Keegan at Anfield? With Dalglish, of course. Rush later joined him and the pair helped Liverpool dominate English and European football.

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5-1

5. Thierry Henry & Dennis Bergkamp (Arsenal)

4. Dwight Yorke & Andy Cole (Manchester United)

3. Pele & Garrincha (Brazil)

2. Lionel Messi & Luis Suarez (Barcelona)

1. Alfredo Di Stefano & Ferenc Puskas (Real Madrid)

So the greatest strike partnership in football history is Di Stefano and Puskas at Real Madrid.

If one match sums up their incredible ability it’s the 1960 European Cup final against Eintracht Frankfurt in which they won 7–3. Puskas scored four and Di Stefano notched a hat-trick.

They pipped Messi and Suarez who, along with Neymar, formed the incredible MSN trio at Barcelona.

Pele won three World Cups with Brazil in 1958, 1962 and 1970. In the first two of those tournaments, the incredible performances of Garrincha helped the Brazilians become arguably the greatest international team of all time.

When you think of strike partners, you immediately think of Yorke and Cole at United. The pair helped the club to the treble in 1998/99 and will always be remembered for THAT goal against Barcelona.

Making up the top five are Henry and Bergkamp, who helped Arsenal go Invincible during the 2003/04 season.

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