World football's dead-ball specialist XI

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Football News

The art of taking a free-kick in modern football has evolved considerably over the years, with new techniques applied such as the knuckle-ball, as well as the classic curler. What hasn't changed though is that there are certain men who striker fear into 'keepers everywhere when they step up to a dead-ball.

Here, GMS have compiled the best squad of free-kick specialists on the planet in a team that would be feared throughout world football. The only real problem would be to decide who gets to take them!

Goalkeeper - Jose Luis Chilavert

Seemingly sick of having to be in between the sticks when free-kicks were fired at him constantly, Paraguayan custodian Chilavert decided to take matters into his own hands and become one of the most feared dead-ball specialists in all of football.

Amassing a total of 59 goals throughout his career, made up of free-kicks and penalties, Chilavert achieved worldwide fame during the mid-90s for his exploits. His best season came in 1997/98 when he notched ten league goals in one season for Argentine side Velez Sarsfield.

Right-Back - Dani Alves

Barcelona's flying Brazilian wing-back has a lot of competition trying to take free-kicks at Barcelona, what with the small matter of the world's best player blocking his path.

However, when he does occasionally step up to a dead ball, Alves strikes the ball with unrivalled ferocity and if it hits the target, the 'keeper usually has no time to even react before it's rippling the back of the net.

Centre-Back - Ronald Koeman

Dutch defender Koeman was never one to be afraid of striking a ball from long range and proved this on numerous occasions during a glittering club career with Groningen, Ajax, PSV, Feyenoord and Spanish giants Barcelona.

Of Koeman's many stunning free-kick goals, one of his best was actually a less-powerful curled effort against England in qualification for World Cup '94.

Centre-Back - Sinisa Mihajlovic

The former Yugoslavian international's free-kick expertise are almost unrivalled, as he holds the record for the most free-kicks ever scored in Serie A, with 27 across a 14-year career.

Mihajlovic also once scored a hat-trick of free-kicks in one match while at Lazio, leaving a certain Swedish manager visibly delighted on the sidelines.

Left-Back - Roberto Carlos

One of the most well known free-kick specialists in world football, Roberto Carlos is famous for his extraordinary 'banana' strike against France in 1997, when he struck a ball with such velocity that it swerved outside the post before dramatically drifting back in via the post.

With his trademark run up and blistering power, Robert Carlos is synonymous with the dead-ball and struck fear into the hearts of anyone unlucky enough to be in the wall when he was playing.

Right Midfield - David Beckham

There's no leaving out perhaps the most famous free-kick taker in recent memory, as the man who is responsible for one of England's best ever moments flies in on our right-hand side.

With England losing 2-1 to Greece in a 2002 World Cup qualifier and seemingly heading for the playoffs, the Three Lions were awarded a free-kick in stoppage time, with Beckham standing over it under the gaze of the entire nation.

'Golden Balls' didn't disappoint, curling a superb shot beyond the goalkeeper and sending England to the World Cup, leaving the nation in delirium.

Centre Midfield - Juninho Pernambucano

Arguably the best free-kick taker in modern football, Juninho was renowned for his expertise with the dead-ball during his time in Europe with Lyon, notching a ton of goals with his trademark technique.

While with the French giants, Juninho netted 44 goals from free-kicks alone, striking the ball with unrivalled power and accuracy. This guy was using the 'knuckleball' before Ronaldo had even started in the game!

Centre Midfield - Andrea Pirlo

Like a fine wine, Pirlo seems to just get better with age, and the veteran Italian is a superb free-kick taker. 

Whether it be a deft curler or a powerful drive, Pirlo can do it all with a static ball and remains one of Europe's best midfielders for Juventus, despite approaching his 35th birthday.

Left Midfield - Ronaldinho

Coming to world prominence in 2002 when he spectacularly lobbed a flailing David Seaman in the World Cup, Ronaldinho would prove that this was no fluke and go on to score many more.

At his best while with Barcelona, the Brazilian was simply mesmerising at one point and scored hatfuls of goals, a lot of the time from the dead-ball with unerring accuracy and technique.

Striker - Alessandro Del Piero

A Juventus legend, having enjoyed a 19-year spell there before a move to Sydney FC in 2012, Alessandro Del Piero is another Italian with extraordinary skill in taking free-kicks.

Scoring 290 goals for the Serie A giants across his career, many of these were exquisite curling free-kicks and the veteran continues to bang them in for Sydney in the A-League.

Striker - Cristiano Ronaldo

How could we leave out arguably the most effective free-kick taker in football at the moment? While Juninho may have brought the 'knuckleball' into European football, Ronaldo has given it worldwide fame after a series of physics-defying efforts throughout his time at Manchester United and Real Madrid.

One of the best of Ronaldo's career came in a Premier League match with Portsmouth, striking the ball so well that it flew over the wall and dipped violently before nestling in the top corner, with David James stranded in the opposite corner of the goal.

Are there any free-kick specialists we've missed out? Leave a comment.

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