Plenty of spectacular finishes, incredible individual efforts and breathtaking moments are just around the corner when the 2014 World Cup kicks off next week.
The tournament has featured many amazing goals in its history, so let’s take a look at the top 10.
10) Joe Cole, England vs Sweden (2006)
Cole put together a productive career for England, playing in three World Cups and accumulating 56 caps during the team’s Golden Generation. And he put himself on the map with this particular goal vs Sweden, scoring his first career goal in a major tournament with a 35-yard volley.
After a lazy clearance by a Swedish defender, who headed the ball out of the box, Cole pounced on the opportunity that was presented to him. He chested the ball down to set it up, and unleashed an absolute howler of a volley into the upper-90 of the goal.
Cole received “man of the match” honors, even though Sweden’s Henrik Larsson tied it up in the 90th minute. The match ended in a 2-2 draw, but Cole stole the show with an excellent strike.
9) Arie Haan, Netherlands vs Italy (1978)
Italy came into the match as heavy favorites, but Dutch midfielder Arie Haan never got the memo. And he showed no fear when he unleashed a rocket of a shot. Italy probably regrets giving him all that space and not getting in the way of the ball to block the shot, even though he was roughly 35 yards out. They underestimated his range, and he made them pay.
Haan took a few dribbles and utilized the space in front of him. After taking one last touch, he got behind the ball and unleashed a right-footed blast toward the upper-90 quadrant of the net. The ball doinked off the post and landed in the net. It was one of the most powerful, long-range “screamers” in World Cup history.
8) Dennis Bergkamp, Netherlands vs Argentina (1998)
There were only minutes remaining in regular time in this match, and Frank de Boer launched an “opportunistic” long-ball roughly 60 yards down the field. It wreaked of desperation and probably wasn’t going to amount to anything.
But then again, Arsenal legend Bergkamp is known for coming up big in clutch moments. And he brought the ball down with a perfect first touch in the box. He then cut back on a dime—playing the ball through the defender’s legs—and then unleashed a rocket of a volley off the outside of his right foot, into the net.
The defender overpursued, and Bergkamp made him pay for it. The goal gave the Netherlands a 2-1 win in this thrilling match.
7) Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Netherlands vs Uruguay (2010)
Easily the best goal of the 2010 World Cup, van Bronckhorst carried the Dutch into the Finals with an absolutely brilliant strike. Even though the team finished as runners-up to an excellent Spanish team, it was a successful run for Holland. And had a few breaks gone their way in the Finals, they could’ve ended up hoisting the trophy.
This goal is pretty self-explanatory. As van Bronckhorst received the ball on the left wing, he took a touch so he could really get a load of power behind his shot. And that’s exactly what happened, as he unleashed a left-footed screamer on frame. Uruguay’s goalkeeper Fernando Muslera was caught completely off guard and was seemingly stunned by the blast as it flew past him into the back of the net.
6) Roberto Baggio, Italy vs Czechoslovakia (1990)
Baggio may be best known for choking in the 1994 World Cup Final vs Brazil, when he blasted the ball over the crossbar in a shootout when he could’ve kept Italy alive.
But make no mistake: He was one of the most elusive and creative players to ever play the game. And if he was given space, he was lethal.
The Czechs learned that the hard way, as Baggio carved up the entire back line in one brief moment. And he did it with little help as a one-man wrecking crew. He started the play from midfield, and after a give-and-go with Giuseppe Giannini, he got the space he needed to go to work. He made two defenders look absolutely silly, and calmly tucked the ball around the goalkeeper into the net.