Football Features

Two peas in a pod: Football’s best strike partnerships

By Squawka News

Published: 18:30, 10 January 2022

One of the best sights in football is seeing a strike duo link up to score a goal, but it’s become an all-too-rare a sight in recent years, as many teams now play with a single forward to ensure they don’t lose out in the midfield battle.

The classic big man-little man partnership is largely a thing of the past and at the very top level, strikers are often called upon to do far more than just put the ball in the back of the net.

The best strikers are expected to be consistent goalscorers, but their managers often want them to press the opposition, hold up the ball, and create chances for others as well.

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Some players just have a synergy which is unstoppable and almost have telepathic connection with each other. They can seemingly do it all and both men compliment one another talents on their way to glory. So on that note we have selected the best strike partnerships of all time.

There are some mouthwatering tag teams in here….

Romario and Hristo Stoichkov

Team: Barcelona

Overall goals scored by Romario for Barcelona: 39

Overall goals scored by Stoichkov for Barcelona: 109

Until Pep Guardiola came along and his tiki-taka template took over the world, Johan Cruyff’s “Dream Team” was widely regarded as the best Barcelona team of all time. Cruyff supplemented Spanish talent with some of the best players in the world and in 1993/94, he united Romario and Hristo Stoichkov up front in what would prove to be a deadly partnership.

They scored a combined 56 goals in all competitions, and their goalscoring ability proved to be the decisive in the title race. Barcelona and Deportivo both finished on 56 points, but the title went to the Camp Nou as a result of their superior goal difference.

Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp

Team: Arsenal

Overall goals scored by Henry for Arsenal: 228

Overall goals scored by Bergkamp for Arsenal: 120

Thierry Henry played with some of the greatest players of all time during his own illustrious career including Lionel Messi, Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldinho, but he believes Dennis Bergkamp is the very best of them, as he revealed during a Twitter Q&A.

Henry played alongside Bergkamp at Arsenal and the strike duo helped the Gunners to play some of the most enjoyable football ever seen in England during their time together.

They both had very different attributes, but they complemented each other perfectly. Henry’s pace, skill and finishing ability provided the cutting edge and he knew that if he made a run into space, Bergkamp had the vision and the technique to pick him out.

Va Va Voom indeed…

Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke

Team: Manchester United

Overall goals scored by Cole for Man Utd: 121

Overall goals scored by Yorke for Man Utd: 65

Manchester United’s treble-winning team of 1998/99 was full of quality all over the pitch. They had the Premier League’s best goalkeeper in Peter Schmeichel, Jaap Stam marshalled the defence, Roy Keane was the midfield general while Ryan Giggs and David Beckham offered very different, but equally potent threats from wide positions.

Up front, Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke provided the goals that fired the club to their historic success, scoring 53 goals between them in all competitions, with Cole’s famous strike against Barcelona perfectly capturing their unique relationship and understanding.

Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton

Team: Blackburn Rovers

Overall goals scored by Shearer for Blackburn: 130

Overall goals scored by Sutton for Blackburn: 59

It seems a very long time ago now but Blackburn Rovers were the surprise winners of the Premier League title after Manchester United failed to beat West Ham on the last day of the 1994/95 campaign and Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton bagged 49 goals between them in the top flight that season.

They were both possessed strong physical presences and were clinical finishers in the box but they only had one full season together, with Blackburn unable to build on that title triumph afterwards.

Sutton was injured for most of the following season and failed to score a single league goal while Shearer joined his hometown club Newcastle for a world record fee of £15m in 1996 and became a Geordie legend.

Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge

Team: Liverpool

Overall goals scored by Suarez for Liverpool: 82

Overall goals scored by Sturridge for Liverpool: 67

Liverpool came agonisingly close to winning their first Premier League title in the 2013/14 season with the Reds title challenge being built on their thrilling attacking play, which was spearheaded by Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.The two strikers were dubbed the “SAS” and they tormented Premier League defences.

Their speed, movement, and deadly finishing was ably supported by Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho and Steven Gerrard in a new deep-lying role but the Reds ultimately fell just short at the end of the campaign. Suarez was the division’s outstanding performer and he scored 31 league goals while Sturridge chipped in with 21.

That all fell apart when Suarez was sold to Barcelona that summer leaving Sturridge to cry into his pillow at night, following his regular visits to the physio room.

Alessandro Del Piero and David Trezeguet

Team: Juventus

Overall goals scored by Del Piero for Juventus: 290

Overall goals scored by Trezeguet for Juventus: 171

The best partnerships often seem to feature two players with contrasting styles. Alessandro Del Piero was a supremely gifted creator for Juventus who formed a good relationship behind the unorthodox but clinical David Trezeguet.

Del Piero retired in 2015 at the age of 40 with his last club being Indian Premier League side Delhi Dynamos, but he never relied on physical assets to cause danger as his flair and intelligence made him a joy to watch at his peak for both the Old Lady and Italy.

His old partner in crime Trezeguet was lethal inside the penalty area during his time in Turin, often profiting from Del Piero’s creative play. He also retired in 2015. Fittingly his last destination was also India but with FC Pune City instead.

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Alan Shearer and Teddy Sheringham

Team: England

Overall goals scored by Shearer for England: 30

Overall goals scored by Sheringham for England: 11

Another nod for Shearer, who seemed to bring the best out of his strike partners throughout his career. He played alongside Big Teddy for England and they carried the nation’s hopes during the mid to late 1990s, with the unforgettable Euro 96 run arguably being their peak.

Touted as the best duo that the Three Lions had been lucky enough to call their own since Peter Beardsley and Gary Lineker (more on them later), the original SAS simply worked so well together and could make even the best of defences blush with embarrassment.

Sheringham lacked pace but he complemented Shearer’s eye for a goal like no other but when a young whippersnapper named Michael Owen came along, Teddy was dropped from the first team but carried on playing for his nation until 2002.

Andriy Shevchenko and Sergei Rebrov

Team: Dynamo Kiev

Overall goals scored by Shevchenko for Kiev: 124

Overall goals scored by Rebrov for Kiev: 163

Andriy Shevchenko and Sergei Rebrov both had very disappointing spells in English football both failing to ignite during their respective spell at Chelsea and Tottenham. However, they were virtually unstoppable together at Dynamo Kiev helping the Ukrainian club reach the Champions League semi-final in the 98/99 season only to lose to Bayern Munich.

They helped Kiev to win five consecutive league titles before Shevchenko signed for AC Milan in 1999, and between the pair of them, they had the Ukrainian Footballer of the Year award sewn up from 1996 to 2001 an unprecedented achievement for two players who are regarded as flop over here. Shame.

Raul and Fernando Morientes

Team: Real Madrid

Overall goals scored by Raul for Madrid: 323

Overall goals scored by Morientes for Madrid: 112

Real Madrid had many of the world’s outstanding attacking players during the Galactico era, but whoever they bought, they struggled to find a strike partnership as potent as that of Raul and Fernando Morientes.

Raul’s achievements are often overlooked in the face of Cristiano Ronaldo’s astonishing displays for Madrid in recent years, especially after the Portuguese superstar surpassed his all-time goals record for the club. His clever movement, combined with Morientes’ aerial prowess, made it very hard for defenders to deal with just one of them, leading Los Blancos to three Champions League titles between 1997 and 2002.

Romario and Bebeto

Team: Brazil

Overall goals scored by Romario for Brazil: 55

Overall goals scored Bebeto for Brazil: 39

These two were a little bit special, weren’t they? The former has already featured on our list courtesy of his partnership at domestic level with Stoichkov, but when Romario graced the pitch with Bebeto it was all about the Samba style.

Brazil claimed a fourth World Cup in 1994 and it was largely down to these two. But it wasn’t all about the football. Who can possibly forget the famous rocking baby celebration?

Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten

Team: AC Milan

Overall goals scored by Gullit for Milan: 46

Overall goals scored by Van Basten for Milan: 124

Arrigo Sacchi’s great AC Milan side of the late 80s and early 90s was built on a rock-solid defence, but the Dutch duo of Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten ensured that they also had the ability to outscore their opponents.

They played a vital role in Milan winning the league title after an eight-year wait in their first season at the San Siro, as well as back-to-back European Cups in 1989 and 1990.

They also helped the Netherlands to success at international level, and they scored a goal each in their 2-0 win against the USSR in the Euro 1988 final, a match that will always be remembered for Van Basten’s jaw-dropping volley from a near-impossible angle.

Emilio Butragueno and Hugo Sanchez

Team: Real Madrid

Overall goals scored by Sanchez for Madrid: 208

Overall goals scored by Butragueno for Madrid: 165

Real Madrid are arguably the biggest club in the world, and no one has more European Cup/Champion League titles than the La Liga giants, but they went six years without a league title during the 1980s.

The performances of Emilio Butragueno and Hugo Sanchez played a major role in ending that drought, with the club going on to win five consecutive titles with the duo leading the attack. In 1989/90, Madrid scored an enormous 107 league goals, with Butragueno and Sanchez getting 48 of them.

Ian Rush and Kenny Dalglish

Team: Liverpool

Overall goals scored by Rush for Liverpool: 346

Overall goals scored by Dalglish for Liverpool: 169

Ian Rush was just breaking into the Liverpool team as a young striker during the early 1980s while Kenny Dalglish’s own career appeared to be winding down, but they brought the best out of each other.

Rush reaped the benefits of Dalglish’s majestic creative play while the former Scotland international thrived in the space that Rush’s presence up front afforded him. They won three league titles and two European Cups together for the Reds, and they scored 50 goals between them in 1982/83. To use the words legends for these two would be an understatement.

Alfredo di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas

Team: Real Madrid

Overall goals scored by di Stefano for Madrid: 307

Overall goals scored by Puskas for Madrid: 242

When Real Madrid signed Ferenc Puskas in 1958, it meant they were able to play two of the best forwards of all time together, and unsurprisingly, the results were spectacular.

Di Stefano and Puskas won four consecutive league titles and two European Cups during their time playing alongside each other at the Bernabeu. The highlight was the 1960 European Cup final against Eintracht Frankfurt, which Madrid won 7-3, with four goals from Puskas and three from Di Stefano.

Gary Lineker and Peter Beardsley

Wayne Rooney has his critics, but England haven’t been blessed with a striker of similar quality in recent years until Harry Kane blossomed at Tottenham.

It was a different story when Gary Lineker and Peter Beardsley played up front together in the 1980s and early 1990s. Beardsley often dropped into a deeper role to get on the ball and make things happen while Lineker was a predator inside the area. They scored 36 international goals together, making them the nation’s most successful strike partnership.

On a side note, we could have easily included Beardsley’s time at Newcastle with Andy Cole in here, which remains one of the most potent strike forces in Premier League history with the duo grabbing 55 goals between them in the 94/95 season.

Ivan Zamorano and Marcelo Salas

Team: Chile

Overall goals scored by Salas for Chile: 34

Overall goals scored by Zamorano for Chile: 37

You won’t find two more committed and passionate footballers than Marcelo Salas and Ivan Zamorano, who gave their everything for the Chile national team in the 1990s. Both men excelled at the 1998 World Cup in France where they helped the South American side reach the second round.

In fact, between 1994-2001, Zamorano and Salas scored a combined 60 goals in 104 games for the national side. Salas was the nation’s leading goalscorer of all-time until Alexis Sanchez surpassed him. Imagine if those three could have all played in their prime together, though. Chile supporters would be in dreamland.


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