Top 5 Strike Partnerships in Europe This Season

Nicolas AnilContributor IIIJune 3, 2011

Top 5 Strike Partnerships in Europe This Season

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    16 May 1999:  Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole of Manchester United celebrate winning the title with the trophy after the FA Carling Premiership match against Tottenham Hotspur played at Old Trafford in Manchester, England.  The match finished in a 2-1 win forM
    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Strikers scores you goals, goals win you matches. It’s as simple as that.

    Every successful team has a striker who has a radar at the back of his head, one that can find the net from nothing.

    A successful strike partnership doesn't come around very often, though.

    A deadly duo can take a team to great heights, win championships almost single-handedly and write their club into history books. 

    The likes of Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Ian Rush, and Kenny Dalgish have made Manchester United and Liverpool feared teams and have taken them to the pinnacle of domestic and European success just by forming a sensational understanding with each other and banging in goals for fun.

    Not many have succeeded in emulating their achievements, but here are the top five strike partnerships that have contributed significantly towards their clubs' success this season.

5. Mario Gomez & Tomas Mueller (Bayern Munich)

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    PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 05:  Players of Germany exercise during a training session at Super stadium on July 5, 2010 in Pretoria, South Africa.  (Photo by Joern Pollex/Getty Images)
    Joern Pollex/Getty Images

    Bayern Munich had one of the worst seasons in their club's recent history, failing to win any trophies.

    But their strikers enjoyed a stellar offensive campaign, Mario Gomez and Tomas Mueller in particular.

    The humongous Gomez was in the form of his life, using his towering height and huge physique to hammer home goals at the expense of brutalized and manhandled defenders.

    Mueller played devil’s advocate on so many occasions, dropping just behind Gomez to set him up with luscious goals. 

    Mueller is also blessed with a wonderful left foot; he didn't end up a top goal scorer in the World Cup because of nothing.

    Twelve of his goals come mostly from his direct runs at defenses, or when he occupied either wing with Arjen Robben to terrorize fullbacks.

    His tally of 11 assists have mostly been for Gomez’ scoring pleasure, and with a combined 40 goals between them, Bayern Munich managed to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

4. Wayne Rooney & Javier Hernandez

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 08:  Javier Hernandez of Manchester United celebrates scoring the opening goal with team mate Wayne Rooney (L) during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on May 8, 2011 in Manch
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Dimitar Berbatov sprung out like a man possessed at the beginning of the season, scoring in almost every game, to keep a notoriously sluggish Manchester United in the top four. 

    Wayne Rooney was suffering from a post-traumatic World Cup, while Javier Hernandez was a relative unknown still finding his feet in a fast-paced English Premier League. 

    But Berbatov ran out of steam soon after, and his 19 goals by January weren't sufficient to merit a starting place. 

    However, the goals were drying up, and the Red Devils suddenly looked vulnerable at the top.

    Then Sir Alex Ferguson made a tactical switch that transformed United’s season from mediocre to seemingly untouchable.

    Man U won 13 of their 20 matches at the turn of the year, with Rooney and Chicarito notching a whopping 24 goals between them.

    The partnership flourished like a Canna flower; and it had pace, power, technique and, most importantly, telepathic understanding between both these players.

    Rooney’s play transformed from non-existent to phenomenal, thanks to the Little Pea. 

    Playing just behind the Mexican, Rooney was given space to run at defenders and set up his strike partner, who was excellent playing off the shoulder of the last men. 

    There was a new Yorke-Cole combination in Old Trafford, and they were simply unstoppable.

    Even after a combined 35 goals from them this season, we are yet to see the best from these two.

    A scary thought for the rest of the clubs, indeed.

3. Robinho, Ibrahimovic & Pato

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    VERONA, ITALY - FEBRUARY 20:  Alexandre Pato of Milan celebrates with Robinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic after scoring a goal during the Serie A match between AC Chievo Verona and AC Milan at Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi on February 20, 2011 in Verona, Italy
    Roberto Serra/Getty Images

    AC Milan had every intention of getting ahead of heated rivals of Inter Milan after Mourinho-led Nerazzurri romped to a treble last season.

    New coach Massimo Allegri was hired to steady the ship, and silky strikers Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho were brought on loan to add to Alexander Pato's firepower.

    The partnership paid instant dividends.   

    AC Milan had found the perfect target man in Ibrahimovic, with Brazilians Robinho and Pato flanking him on each wing. 

    The Rossoneri left a trail of fire in their wake, and had established an eight-point lead at the top by March, leaving the rest with little chance of playing catch-up.

    It was a joy to watch a Milan side filled with attacking talents, especially the rejuvenated Robinho, who seemed to find his dancing boots once again. 

    He was shimmying bedazzled defenders a la the late Michael Jackson, while the once scrawny Pato had buffed up to power past defenders.

    Their combination of skills and talents produced 44 goals, almost three-quarters of the club’s total of 65 in the league.

    AC Milan won the Serie A quite comfortably, and Robinho was more than happy to let Kevin Prince Boateng show his dance moves during their title celebrations.

2. Falcao & Hulk

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    PORTO, PORTUGAL - APRIL 28:  Radamel Falcao of FC Porto celebrates with Givalnildo Vieira 'Hulk' after scoring his side third goal during the UEFA Europa League semi final first leg match between FC Porto and Villarreal at Estadio do Dragao on April 28, 2
    Angel Martinez/Getty Images

    One a predator with deadly aerial accuracy, the other a beast with speed and bullet-like precision.

    Together Falcao and Hulk terrorized hapless defenders to the ground, scoring a whopping 74 goals between them.

    Domestic title, Cup trophy, Europa League, they swept the treble for Porto almost single-handedly this season.

    Hulk shouldered the responsibility of domestic netting, scoring 23 goals in the Portuguese League.

    Falcao saved his best for the Europa League, scoring 17 goals in the tournament, including the match winner in the final. 

    This irresistible pair had the perfect combination to destroy any team.

    Falcao has the ability to use his head to deadly effect and could score with a header from any angle despite his 5’9" frame. He is also blessed with two excellent feet, is extremely acrobatic and is clever with his finishing. 

    What he lacks, Hulk more than compensates.

    The bulky frame defies the speed that the striker has.

    He has the ability to push the ball past defenders and leave them for dead, with his finishing move usually a mighty ripple through the net.

    Porto will have a hard time hanging on to these duo as they’re currently on the wanted list of most clubs in Europe.

1) Messi-Pedro-Villa

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    MALLORCA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 26:  David Villa of FC Barcelona (C) celebrates with his team-mates Lionel Messi (L) and Pedro Rodriguez after scoring his second team's goal under a challenge of Dudu Aouate of Mallorca during the La Liga match between Mallorca
    David Ramos/Getty Images

    This trio combination produced 98 goals for Barcelona this season, leaving many to believe that Pep Guardiola has found the greatest strike force of all time.

    Lionel Messi was accountable for more than half these goals, although much of his 53 strikers have come as result of outstanding link-up between the three.  

    The Argentinean played the position of the main striker in Barca’s three pronged attack, but time and again the little wizard dropped deep to win the ball and run at defenders at the expense of a goal.

    This allowed Pedro to play off the back of the last defender, which he did so brilliantly due to his speed and clever positioning.

    David Villa supported both of them through the left wing, using his uncanny ability to cut in and shoot or play the final pass, tiki-taka style. 

    Combined with endless support from Busquets, Xavi & Iniesta, these trio sliced and diced their La Liga & Champions League opponents apart.

    They decided to share the spoils in the Champions League final and outplay Manchester United to stake their claim as Europe’s best hitman. 

    Unless other teams start figuring a way to stop them, it should be business as usual next season for Messi, Pedro & Villa.

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