Bale, Mane or Dzeko? Vote for the UEFA Champions League Goal of the Group Stage, presented by Nissan!

Gareth Bale’s screaming volley verses Borussia Dortmund has been nominated for the UEFA Champions League Goal of the Group Stage, presented by Nissan!

The Real Madrid man struck during his side’s emphatic 3-1 defeat of BVB in Germany, sending his first-time volley flying past a helpless Roman Burki and into the top corner.

But the Wales international wasn’t the only one to hit an impressive volley during the group stage, and faces some stiff competition for the prize.

Sadio Mane will no doubt believe he has a strong claim to take the award following his acrobatic effort in Liverpool’s 7-0 destruction of Spartak Moscow.

And so too will Roma’s Edin Dzeko, who took the Goal of the Week prize on Matchday Three for his impressive volley in a dramatic 3-3 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Dzeko’s Roma colleague Stephan El Shaarawy is also in contention, after hitting a brilliant curling effort in the return match, as is Besiktas star Cenk Tosun thanks to his thumping strike against Porto.

Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann rounds out the nominations with a flying volley of his own during his side’s 2-0 defeat of Roma that won the award on Matchday Five.

Click here to watch the contenders and vote for the UEFA Champions League Goal of the Week, presented by Nissan!

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Messi, Ronaldo & the Top 20 scorers of 2017

On Tuesday, the 2017 Goal 50 will be unveiled, our annual list of the 50 best players in the world.

Cristiano Ronaldo claimed last year’s prize and is in contention to retain his crown after firing Real Madrid to a Liga and Champions League double last season.

The forward’s goals also played a key role in Portugal’s qualification for next summer’s World Cup in Russia but how many did he actually net in 2017? Interestingly, not as many as Lionel Messi or Robert Lewandowski.

Indeed, Barcelona and Argentina ace Messi has scored more than any other player this year, 51 for club and country combined, to be precise – and in just 56 games to boot.

Messi 15/4 to be CL top scorer

No. Player Total Games Total Goals
1 Lionel Messi 56 51
2 Robert Lewandowski 46 47
3 Harry Kane 42 45
4 Cristiano Ronaldo 51 45
5 Edinson Cavani 51 44
6 Dragan Boskovic 37 41
7 Jaja Coelho 49 38
8 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 45 37
9 Ciro Immobile 47 37
10 Bas Dost 43 35
11 Romelu Lukaku 45 35
12 Edin Dzeko 47 34
13 Dries Mertens 51 33
14 Radamel Falcao 43 32
15 Jonas 40 31
16 Vincent Aboubakar 57 31
17 Albert Prosa 39 30
18 Eran Zahavi 35 28
19 Sergio Aguero 40 28
20 Alexandre Lacazette 42 28

Lewandowski racked up 47 goals in just 46 appearances for Bayern and Poland, meaning he averaged more than a goal a game in 2017.

However, the best goals-to-games ratio among our top 20 belongs to the man in third place, Tottenham and England hero Harry Kane, who struck 45 times in only 42 outings.

Ronaldo bagged as many goals as the 24-year-old but in nine games more and his inferior average means the Portuguese has to settle for fourth spot.

Lionel Messi Barcelona

Robert Lewandowski Bayern Munich

Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Kane, Real Madrid v Tottenham

Elsewhere, Edinson Cavani ranks fifth, with 44 goals in 51 matches, which only serves to illustrate that the PSG and Uruguay striker really is in the form of his life.

Sixth and seventh place are occupied by two players probably unfamiliar to most readers, Dragan Boskovic and Jaja Coelho, both of whom have scored freely for Bangkok United and Buriram United this year.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang takes eighth spot, which only makes it all the more mystifying that not one of Europe’s elite made a summer swoop for the prolific Gabon international once it became clear that Borussia Dortmund were willing to sell.

Lazio striker Ciro Immobile and Sporting hotshot Bas Dost round off the top 10, with both presently enjoying the most prolific periods of their careers.

Elsewhere, Belgium duo Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens are 11th and 13th, respectively, which is a particularly impressive achievement by the latter, given he was only converted into a striker a year ago.

Meanwhile, the resurgent Radamel Falcao ranks 14th but there is no room in the top 20 for the world’s most expensive player, Neymar, who was pipped to the final spot on our list by Alexandre Lacazette.

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The Brazilian scored as many goals as the Frenchman but in more games, so the PSG ace misses out. Will Neymar feature in the Goal 50, though? Find out on Tuesday, when the full list is revealed at 1200 BST!

The Goal 50 is an annual award that both recognises and ranks the world’s 50 best footballers of the preceding 12 months. Chief editors and correspondents from Goal’s 37 editions around the world all cast their votes, with candidates judged on their level of consistency over the previous year of action, their big-game performances, footballing legacy and the success of their teams at both club and international level.

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Chelsea in for scary Halloween with Dzeko in best form of his career

The morning after Edin Dzeko had become Roma’s newest centurion, he was hailed by both Tuttosport and the Corriere dello Sport as the new king of the Eternal City.

It caps a remarkable rise for a striker once cruelly referred to as ‘Edin Cieco’ (‘Blind Edin’) by bemused supporters during a debut season at the Stadio Olimpico blighted by horrendous misses.

Dzeko first goal 7/2 with dabble

“I am personally proud to reach 100 appearances in a Roma jersey and, after my first year, nobody thought that was possible,” he acknowledged after Roma’s thrilling 3-3 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on October 18.

Indeed, many pundits felt that Roma had been ripped off – despite only paying Manchester City a grand total of €15 million for Dzeko in 2015.

The Bosnian contrived to squander one open goal after another during his first season in Serie A – there was one miss against Palermo that Dzeko himself says was inexplicable – and he ended the campaign having netted just eight times in 31 outings.

A move to Galatasaray was rumoured but Dzeko was not about to give up. He refused to walk away.

Edin Dzeko Roma PS

“Rome is similar to Bosnia,” he told Il Messaggero in January. “The people don’t just criticise you, they insult you. So, I’m used to it.

“I did think about leaving because you do when you don’t play… but I decided to stay and I was convinced of that, even after the final game of the season, against Chievo.

“I didn’t play but I said to myself, ‘I’m not leaving here.’ “And that was my decision; no one asked me to stay. I saw it as a challenge to win.

“I went on holiday, I switched off and I started over.”

Indeed, Dzeko impressed Luciano Spalletti with his determined attitude and prolific performances in friendlies ahead of the 2016-17 season.

He saw a difference in Dzeko and he gave him all of the encouragement in the world in order to convince the forward that he could win over the notoriously demanding Roma fans.

“I told him that I had confidence in him and even flattered him a bit, as that’s necessary too sometimes,” the former Giallorossi coach explained in April.

“Dzeko has now started believing he’s a top striker. He can feel the confidence of the club and his team-mates, who have improved with him and in turn fuelled his confidence.

“Edinh had to suffer the judgements made about him last year but he’s a smashing lad, loves the dressing room banter and trains well.

“He’s humble and polite. He just needed to discover his form.”

Luciano Spalletti Edin Dzeko Roma PS

He did exactly that, equalling the club record for goals in a solitary Serie A season – set by Rodolfo Volk in 1930-31 – by striking 29 times to claim the 2016-17 Capocannoniere award. Indeed, since the start of last season, he has scored as many goals as Cristiano Ronaldo (49) and, across Europe’s ‘Big Five’ leagues, only Lionel Messi (70) and Edinson Cavani (58).

Spaletti’s summer departure for Inter, coupled with the sale of Roma’s creative fulcrum Mohamed Salah to Liverpool, seemed to spell trouble for Dzeko, who took a thinly veiled swipe at the tactics employed by new coach Eusebio Di Francesco after being left isolated during a dour 0-0 draw at home to Atletico Madrid in September.

“I scored many goals last season,” he mused, “but this year it’s tougher and I didn’t touch the ball many times tonight.” However, Di Francesco promptly “cleared the air” with his No.9, coinciding with Dezko rediscovering his very best form.

Big Five Leagues Top Scorers PS

There were six goals in his next four Serie A matches, as Roma forced their way back into the title race, while he struck three times in his next two Champions League appearances, against Qarabag and Chelsea, to propel the Giallorossi into second place in Group C.

It was the opening goal in the brilliant brace at the Bridge that really stood out, with his first-time volley evoking memories of Andriy Shevchenko – whom Dzeko idolised as a child in Sarajevo. Ahead of the return match versus Chelsea  on the night of Halloween on Tuesday, Dzeko is again expected to give Antonio Conte’s men a big fright.

The striker feels that in his two years in Italy he’s learned more about the game, and himself, than he did during his previous eight, in England and Germany.

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Dzeko is now 31 but is playing better than ever before, as underlined by his Ballon d’Or nomination. “I don’t feel old,” he has said. “I want to keep playing regularly and at a high level.”

It’s taken him a long time to get to this stage and it’s never been easy, so he’s determined to enjoy it for as long as possible.

In short, the King of Rome is not about to give up his throne any time soon.

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Dzeko volley named UEFA Champions League Goal Of The Week, presented by Nissan!

Edin Dzeko’s stunning volley versus Cheslea has been named UEFA Champions League Goal of the Week, presented by Nissan!

The Roma man struck in his side’s exhilarating 3-3 draw with Chelsea on Matchday Three.

Dzeko beat out competition from the likes of David Luiz, who lashed home a fine curling finish in the same game, and from Bosnia and Herzegovina team-mate Miralem Pjanic, who hit a fine free-kick in Juventus’ 2-1 defeat of Sporting.

Spartak Moscow’s Denis Glushakov also earned a nomination with a wonderfully-controlled volley of his own in a 5-1 thrashing of Sevilla.

Basel’s Taulant Xhaka rounded out the nominees with a fine run and smart finish that helped secure the Swiss side a comfortable victory at CSKA Moscow.

Click here to watch the UEFA Champions League Goal of the Week, presented by Nissan!

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Fantasy Football: Salah and Dzeko lead the Goal Champions League Team of the Week

Round three of Champions League action is in the books and now everyone has played every team in their group once. Liverpool were this week’s big winners with their dominant 7-0 win against Maribor, a performance which placed four of their players in our Goal Team of the Week. You should definitely consider adding as many Liverpool players to your team as possible with the reverse match at Anfield coming up next.

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GK: Alphonse Areola – PSG – 1 Game, 6 Saves, 1 Clean Sheet = 10 Points

DF: Taulant Xhaka – Basel – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 1 Clean Sheet = 17 Points

Typically Taulant is the lesser known of the Xhaka brothers but, as the only one in the Champions League, is the only important one for this format. He contributed towards both of Basel’s goals in their 2-0 win against CSKA moving them up into second in Group A. Xhaka is not top five in either goals or assists in the Swiss Super League so this is likely just a one off, but what a one off it was!

DF: Mats Hummels – Bayern Munich – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Clean Sheet = 14 Points

DF: Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Clean Sheet = 14 Points

Mohamed Salah

MF: Mohamed Salah – Liverpool – 1 Game, 2 Goals, 1 Assist = 17 Points

Salah is having a ridiculous season both domestically and in Europe, sitting in a top three spot in both for goals by midfielders. This performance obviously came against a lesser opponent but they will turn around and do it again in their next Champions League match as well, so the Egypt international should be considered a wise investment.

MF: Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool – 1 Game, 1 Goals, 2 Assists = 14 Points

MF: Eden Hazard – Chelsea – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 14 Points

MF: Bernard – Shakhtar Donetsk – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 14 Points

Once a highly sought after prospect, Bernard has been quietly working away out in Ukraine for the past few seasons. He had the highest key passes rate (per 90 mins) in his domestic league last season and should, in theory, be picking up more assists in both competitions. The next match against Feyenoord should be a great chance for Bernard to show what he can do as the Dutch side sit last in Group F conceding an average of three goals per match.

Quincy Promes Spartak Moscow

FWD: Quincy Promes – Spartak Moscow – 1 Game, 2 Goals, 2 Assists = 18 Points

FWD: Roberto Firmino – Liverpool – 1 Game, 2 Goals, 1 Assist = 15 Points

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FWD: Edin Dzeko – Roma – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 12 Points

The former Manchester City man had a terrific season last year for Roma, leading Serie A in goals with 29. He’s continued that form into this campaign sitting top five in Italy, and has now scored three times in his last two Champions League matches. The two he netted against Chelsea were terrific and he’ll be hoping to repeat the feat against the reigning Premier League champions next time out.

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