Football is one of the most popular sports in today’s world. Daily, hundreds of millions sit down before their television or PC to watch football. Just like in any other sport, the quality of football matches also varis greatly.
We have seen many great games throughout the years, but more often than not, matches are of lesser quality, and some can be classified as outright snoozers. Nonetheless, it is the great games that got people hooked into football, and in this article, I will list my five all-time favourite matches that no doubt will live in the collective memory of football fans long into the future.
Manchester United-AS Roma 7-1(2007)
Manchester United met AS Roma in the second leg of the 2006/07 Champions League edition.
The two sides had met in the first round, and an impressive Rome emerged victorious in the first match by edging the Red Devils 2-1. The Italians were very much the better team in the first leg, home ground advantage no doubt played a great part in their impressive performance.
Man Utd was in red hot form in the Premier League, and although there were some doubts in their fanbase after the unconvincing first game, the English team was very much still the favourite to go through.
The game had a dream start for Ferguson’s side, and they were already 3-0 up after 20 minutes. Ronaldo scored his first goal in the knockout stages of the Champions League just before the break to make it 4-0.
United continued their imperious performance in the second half, and another goal from Ronaldo and Carrick made it 6-0. De Rossi scored an honour goal for Roma not much later, but substitute right back( the only time he ever played on the right according to Evra) scored another goal to make it 7-1.
Fans and pundits were justifiably impressed by United’s demolition job of Rome, and many even considered them the favourites to go on and win the competition after this game.
Barcelona-Real Madrid 5-0(2010)
The El Classico is the most prestigious match of club football. In the years leading up to this game, the Barcelona of Pep Guardiola dominated Spanish football and won back to back titles ahead of their arch-rivals Real Madrid.
Guardiola’s team very much dominated their rivals in their direct matches also and even demolished Los Blancos in their home ground 6-2 in 2009.
After Jose Mourinho won the Champions League with Inter Milan in May 2010, many speculated that he will join Real Madrid for the next season, to bring back the Madrid team to the top.
Rumours were proven right a few days later, and it was announced that Mourinho signed a three-year contract with Real Madrid.
Mourinho’s Real made a brilliant start to the season and was leading the tables when Madrid travelled to Barcelona to meet Guardiola’s Barcelona. Though smart money was still on a Barcelona win, how the match actually unfolded, nobody could have predicted.
Guardiola’s team got off to a good start and were 2-0 up before the break. The second half was even more one-sided and Barcelona ended the match with a knock-out 5-0 victory.
Those who predicted a close match had to eat a very humble pie and bow down before the brilliance of Barcelona.
Spain arrived at the 2014 World Cup as the defending champions. The track record of the Spanish National Team was phenomenal. Not only did they win the 2010 World Cup, but the Spanish had also won back to back European Championships in 2008 and 2016.
Though the Spanish team started to show signs of decline, as their key players got older with time, they were still expected to perform well in the 2014 World Cup and easily top their group.
The Dutch were not seen as contenders by many. Though they still had some heavyweight names like Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie or Wesley Sneijder, most believed that the Dutch team was long past its prime.
The Spanish got off to a good start and took the lead in the first half. They also had a couple more chances to make the score 2-0, but they failed to convert these. As it happened many times before, the Spanish came to rue their missed chances when Robin van Persie equalised with a stunning long-range header just before halftime.
The second half brought a completely different game, as the Dutch team led by an in-form Arjen Robben ran the Spanish ragged with their lightning counter-attacks and demolished the reigning champions with a 5-1 victory.
Liverpool-Man City 4-3(2018)
After a difficult first season in England, during the 2017/18 season, Pep Guardiola’s Man City was dominating the league in spectacular fashion.
City were the runaway leaders and was thumping the opposition often with crazy scores like 5-0, 7-2 or 0-6. The high-intensity, possession-based football of Guardiola was conquering England with a storm. Those who were questioning Guardiola’s credentials after his struggles the previous season were looking very silly, to put it mildly.
In contrast to Guardiola’s City, the Liverpool of Jurgen Klopp looked like a highly flowed team. Going forward Liverpool was amazing, the defence of the team unfortunately was atrocious.
Klopp sold star player Philippe Coutinho to raise the money to buy world-class centre back Virgil van Dijk.
Still, as the two teams got out to the pitch, most probably expected a City win.
They were to be proven very wrong. Liverpool took the lead in the first half, though City was able to equalise not much later. Surprisingly, Liverpool looked like an equal opponent.
What came in the early part of the second half shocked the followers of English football. Under the pressure of relentless pressing from Liverpool, City’s backline was taken apart, and Liverpool went 4-1 up.
A late-game fight back from City made the scoreline close once again, but Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool had proven for everyone to see, Man City was far from unbeatable.
Liverpool- AC Milan 3-3 (2005)
The Champions League Final of the 2004/05 season is still the all-time favourite game that I have ever seen.
Italian giants Milan were the favourites of many before the game, and seeing what a line-up they had(Shevchenko, Maldini, Nesta, Pirlo, Seedorf etc), few could question this assessment. Liverpool, in comparison had few star players apart from captain Steven Gerrard.
The first half went according to the script many have imagined. Milan got an early lead thanks to a goal from their legendary captain Paolo Maldini, while a double from Hernan Crespo left the Italians 3-0 up at half-time.
Despite their disastrous first half, Liverpool did not give up and came out fired up to the second half. The team of Benitez equalised within the first 20 minutes of the second half to complete one of the most astonishing comebacks of football’s history.
Milan had several occasions afterwards to win the game, but miraculously Liverpool was able to cling onto the result and the game went to penalties.
Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek became the hero of the night as he saved several attempts from Milan’s player to win the game for his team.
© 2022 Andrew Szekler