Goals have not been in short supply at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. So far 167 of them have been scored, and there are still two games left to play. That’s just four shy of the all-time record set back in 1998.
However, Brazil 2014 won’t just be remembered for the quantity of goals scored. It will also be remembered for the quality. We have been treated to some truly remarkable strikes over the last four weeks, some of which will surely be regarded among the greatest in the history of the tournament.
Today, as we head into the final weekend of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, we’re going to count down the 15 most beautiful goals the world’s greatest sporting event has produced. Take a look and tell us which one was your favorite.
Argentina beat Belgium 1-0 in the quarterfinals, and that one goal came just seven and a half minutes into the game. Higuain displayed amazing patience, waiting what seemed like an eternity for the deflected pass to bounce to him. Then, when it finally arrived, he struck the ball perfectly on the outer edge of the laces. It all looked so deceptively easy.
15. Gonzalo Higuain vs. Belgium (Quarterfinals)
Giovani dos Santos was robbed of two goals in Mexico's first game of the tournament against Cameroon. However, he didn't let it break his spirits, and in the 47th minute against Holland in the Round of 16, he scored an absolutely brilliant goal, firing a rocket back toward the far post from 25 yards out. If Mexico had been able to hold on for the win, this would have gone down as one of the greatest goals in Mexican history. (And hell, it still might.)
14. Giovani dos Santos vs. Netherlands (Round of 16)
In the second game of group play, Iran was on the verge of a scoreless draw against Argentina, which surely would have gone down as the greatest achievement in the history of Iranian soccer. Unfortunately, just over a minute into stoppage time, Argentina shifted into "get the ball to Messi" mode, and it worked. The best soccer player in the world got the ball a few yards outside the box on the right hand side, darted back toward the middle, and curled a beautiful shot inside the far post, past an outstretched keeper.
13. Lionel Messi vs. Iran (Group F)
The breakout star of the 2014 FIFA World Cup? Without a doubt, that title goes to 22-year-old Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez. Colombia got eliminated in the quarterfinals, but he still leads the World Cup in goals with six, and two of them made this list—starting with this beauty in which he made the Japanese defense look ridiculous.
12. James Rodriguez vs. Japan (Group C)
Arjen Robben looked like out was out of gas by the time Holland played Argentina in the semifinals, but just a few short weeks ago he was one of the most brilliant, dangerous players in the World Cup. He scored not one but two truly brilliant goals against Spain in that shocking 5-1 drubbing, the first of which was reminiscent of the goal Dennis Bergkamp scored for Holland against Argentina back in 1998.
See for yourself:
11. Arjen Robben vs. Spain (Group B)
The other brilliant goal Robben scored against Spain was quite different from the first. This time there was no brilliant touch, and no brilliant lateral cut. There was just speed—blazing, too-fast-for-a-30-year-old speed.
10. Arjen Robben vs. Spain...Again (Group B)
Swiss midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri scored three goals at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and all of them came against Honduras. The one you see here was the first, and it was so fantastic that it really does require a second look:
Honduras may have been a weak opponent, but that incredible shot scores on anybody.
9. Xherdan Shaqiri vs. Honduras (Group E)
This goal by Spain's David Villy may not be as technically impressive as some of the others on this list, but it certainly is one of the most stylish. Given the ball on at the mouth of the goal, there were several things Villa could have done that would have resulted in the ball hitting the back of the net, but he chose the option with the most flair. It was definitely a fitting way for the 32-year-old to close out his international career.
8. David Villa vs. Australia (Group B)
Ivory Coast may not have been screwed out of an appearance in the knockout stage thanks to a horrible PK call in the 93rd minute of their final group stage game against Greece, but at least they'll always have this incredible goal from Gervinho. The Roma forward absolutely shredded three Colombian defenders before burying the ball in the back of the net in what was easily the best one-man effort of the tournament.
7. Gervinho vs. Colombia (Group C)
The USMNT trailed Portugal for 59 minutes after Nani was gifted a goal five minutes into the game. Then Jermaine Jones finally broke through with this goal, which is easily the best (in terms of quality) ever scored by an American at the World Cup. I mean just look at how the ball bends right around #13 Ricardo Costa. World class, all the way.
6. Jermaine Jones vs. Portugal (Group G)
We didn't see too many goals from free kicks in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but the ones we did see were pretty fantastic—starting with this beauty from Lionel Messi against Argentina. The guy just whipped that thing into the net, making it look so amazingly easy.
5. Lionel Messi vs. Nigeria (Group F)
As impressive as Messi's free kick goal was, for my money David Luiz's was even better. More distance, more pace, more hair—just more, more, more.
Unfortunately, Luiz wasn't nearly as sharp on defense against Germany as he was on offense against Colombia, as he and the Brazilian backfield got absolutely torched for a ridiculous seven goals.
4. David Luiz vs. Colombia (Quarterfinals)
I couldn't decide from which angle Tim Cahill's incredible volley goal was more impressive.
From a wide angle, you can see how he reads the trajectory of the ball so perfectly, lining up for the volley almost as soon as the ball leaves his teammates's foot. That's what you see above.
However, the tighter shot shows just how amazing the shot itself actually was. Running volleys are hard to execute at all, let alone with this much pace and accuracy.
3. Tim Cahill vs. Netherlands (Group B)
Many people would probably rank Robin Van Persie's majestic rainbow header against Spain as the best goal of the tournament, and I certainly can't blame them. It's just so pure and poetic.
That being said, for the top spot I went with a goal that I think is a little more technically impressive...
2. Robin Van Persie vs. Spain (Group B)
I loved the Van Persie goal, but the goal James Rodriguez scored against Uruguay takes the cake for me. The way he settles the ball with his chest, follows it perfectly as it floats downward, and then strikes off the underside of the crossbar and into the goal? So. Much. Skill.
Hell, even in slow-motion it's absurd. And for that reason it's #1 on my list.
What do you think?
1. James Rodriguez vs. Uruguay (Round of 16)
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