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Ranking All 25 FIFA Puskas Award Finalists Since 2009

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterOctober 23, 2017

Uruguay's goalkeeper Fernando Muslera fails to save Colombia's midfielder James Rodriguez' second goal during the Round of 16 football match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro during the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil on June 28, 2014.  AFP PHOTO / LUIS ACOSTA        (Photo credit should read LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images)
LUIS ACOSTA/Getty Images

The FIFA Puskas Award is a beautiful thing.

It collates the finest goals from every corner of the planet and brings them to us. It creates a footballing feast for your eyes, inclusive of 40-yard screamers, mazy, dizzying dribbles and vivid volleys.

Since 2009, 10 goals have been nominated for the award each year; a public vote whittles that down to a top three, and then a second vote orders the finalists from first to third. The only exception was 2011, when just one goal was automatically crowned.

This year, Deyna Castellanos, Olivier Giroud and Oscarine Masuluke will battle it out for the gong, but how do their efforts compare with previous finalists?

We've ranked the 25 finalists since the Puskas Award's inception.

FIFA.com's criterion for the award is as follows: "An aesthetically beautiful goal, awarded without distinction of championship, gender or nationality, scored without the result of luck or a mistake and in support of Fair Play."

This is our interpretation of which is best in accordance with that guideline, and it's a thoroughly subjective process. Disagree with the order? This shouldn't be a surprise. For every person out there who prefers a long-range volley to a free-kick, there's another who prefers the other. Neither is wrong.

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25. Nemanja Matic, Benfica, 2013

Watch that goal from Nemanja Matic, then of Benfica. Just watch it. Now consider that this is last on the list. What a treat we have in store for you.

         

24. Daniuska Rodriguez, Venezuela, 2016

Daniuska Rodriguez went full Lionel Messi in 2016, twisting and turning her way past two markers before smashing home. She even left one marker on the floor, discarded en route to glory.

        

23. Neymar, Brazil, 2013

Neymar makes several appearances on this list as a result of the sheer number of sublime goals he's scored over the years, but while this one is obviously excellent, it's by far his weakest Puskas Award contender. That's saying something.

         

22. Deyna Castellanos, Venezuela, 2017

It's a heads-up play, and one hell of a spot. From kick-off, having just gone a goal down, Deyna Castellanos touches the ball forward, sets herself and fires a looping effort into the top of the net. Talk about turning a game on its head.

         

21. Alessandro Florenzi, Roma, 2015

Similar to Castellanos' belter, but you would imagine it was a little harder to pull off. Alessandro Florenzi beats a man at full sprint before letting loose, is in a tighter spot and boasts the bonus element of his effort going in off the woodwork.

                

 20. Robin van Persie, Netherlands, 2014

Robin van Persie's dolphin dive header during the 2014 FIFA World Cup is one of the simplest finishes among these 25 goals, but the Puskas Award brief is clear: Aesthetically pleasing goals reign supreme. And this one is just gorgeous.

         

19. Marlone, Corinthians, 2016

Marlone sticks this one away in remarkable fashion, having initially looked to have overcooked his first touch as it flew up. The move preceding the strike is also nice.

           

18. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden, 2013

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's overhead lob finish against England in November 2012 boggled the mind. It's not a particularly easy trajectory, and there are two covering defenders to avoid too.

       

17. Miroslav Stoch, Fenerbahce, 2012

This brilliant effort from Miroslav Stoch was enough to win the Puskas Award in 2012. The control he gets on this strike is jaw-dropping.

        

16. Hamit Altintop, Turkey, 2010

This is similar to Stoch's goal, but it's a more difficult proposition to let the ball come across your body to strike it. Control is harder to maintain, and Hamit Altintop absolutely wallops this one.

                    

 15. Andres Iniesta, Barcelona, 2009

In the context of this list, Andres Iniesta's 2009 strike at Stamford Bridge isn't up to scratch.

But taking into account the magnitude of the situationit was the final minute of stoppage time in the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg, with Barca facing eliminationchanges everything about this goal.

       

14. Linus Hallenius, Hammarby, 2010

How on earth did Linus Hallenius do this? The flick over the defender's head is good enough, but then to volley it home? 

          

13. Wendell Lira, Goianesia, 2015

This one ends with a bang. A slick, sumptuous passing move concludes with a chipped pass sending Wendell Lira haring in on goal. And of course the only natural thing to do from there is to finish via an overhead kick.

            

12. Radamel Falcao, Atletico Madrid, 2012

Everyone loves an overhead kick, and Radamel Falcao produced a scintillating one against America de Cali in a pre-season match five years ago. This goal might just be ranked higher if it had meant anything.

        

11. Neymar, Santos, 2012

As you will likely have noticed, there's little to criticise at this point. The nature of this award means these goals are near-flawless, and the slightly rough, jockeyed end to this Neymar run is the only thing that looks even slightly off here.

              

10. Grafite, Wolfsburg, 2009

Back in 2009, Wolfsburg ruled the Bundesliga, powering to the title thanks to their potent strike force of Edin Dzeko and Grafite. The latter scored a jaw-dropping goal against none other than Bayern Munich that season, dribbling around practically everyone and rolling it home.

           

9. Matty Burrows, Glentoran, 2010

Be honest: Even having watched a slew of high-quality, out-of-the-ordinary goals, did you expect Matty Burrows to put foot to ball like that? 

           

8. Olivier Giroud, Arsenal, 2017

One of this year's contenders is Olivier Giroud's eye-popping effort against Crystal Palace, for which he morphed into a scorpion to convert a cross that had been placed just behind him, backheel flicking it in off the crossbar. It left many speechless.

         

7. Stephanie Roche, Peamount United, 2014

Bing, bong, bosh. Stephanie Roche's volleyed goal stands out from the many similar variants on this list because of the two juggling touches just before, switching it from side to side to evade close marking. 

        

6. Neymar, Santos, 2011

FIFA didn't even bother to create a top three in 2011; the body just crowned Neymar's solo strike against Flamengo the winner and called it an early night.

           

5. Oscarine Masuluke, Baroka, 2017

Overhead kicks are great. Overhead kicks in the 96th minute of games are even better. Overhead kicks in the 96th minute by goalkeepers? Stop what you're doing to salute this feat.

          

4. Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United, 2009

Is there a word that accurately describes how hard Cristiano Ronaldo hit this ball? A hammering? A tonking? No. Nothing quite does it justice. 

       

3. Mohd Faiz Subri, Pulau Pinang, 2016

Last year's winner was Mohd Faiz Subri, who hit this stupefying free-kick in a Malaysia Super League match. Perhaps it wasn't the most important game, but the swerve on this outside-of-the-boot hit is so flabbergasting it nabs a top-three spot.

         

2. James Rodriguez, Colombia, 2014

June 2014 was the month James Rodriguez showed the planet his talents. He excelled in every game at the World Cup in Brazil but hit his zenith against Uruguay in the knockout stages with this unbelievable strike from outside the box.

The little look before the hit. The control. The swivel. Just wow.

          

1. Lionel Messi, Barcelona, 2015

Picking the best goal was an incredibly difficult task, and Rodriguez's aforementioned strike was a serious consideration.

But what Lionel Messi managed against Athletic Bilbao in 2015 trumps all. It should have been impossible to do, and it probably would have been for any other player. That's what made what happened so special. Enjoy. Watch it as many times as you like (we recommend 10-plus times daily).

         

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All statistics via FIFA.com.

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