VOTE: The Best Women's World Cup Goal

With the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015™ tantalizingly close, what better way to get you in the mood than by giving the chance to relive some of the tournament's greatest ever goals?

FIFA has chosen some of the best strikes from the competition's 24-year history for our '15 for 2015' poll, letting you help decide the fans' favorite goal from 625 scored so far. Perhaps the hammer of a strike by Marie Hammarstrom from 2011 takes your fancy, or Ingrid Johansson's thunderbolt two decades earlier?

Get in the mood for the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015 by voting for the greatest goal in the tournament's history in FIFA's '15 for 2015' poll. Maybe you prefer a bit of Marta magic or Homare Sawa's silky finish, then cast your vote between 11th May and 5th June to ensure your choice sits atop the fans' poll, with efforts coming from all six previous tournaments.

While the latest helping of Women's World Cup does not kick off until 6th June, there is bound to be a goal in there that speaks to you. Be it Jin Pyol Hui capping off a flowing North Korea team move or Jie Li's sweetly struck free-kick. Watch all 15 fabulous goals and pick from the shortlist to make your decision. Make sure you visit once Canada 2015 begins to find out the winner!

The '15 for 2015' winner will be selected by users. This does not represent an official FIFA award.

Source: FIFA
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Priceless Maestro: The World At His Feet

Perhaps the most striking thing about Lionel Messi’s second goal against Bayern Munich at the Camp Nou on Wednesday night was its gentleness. There were 80 minutes gone when Messi approached Jerome Boateng, feigned to go inside but instead glided to his right, not so much a dribble as a kind of lullaby, leaving Boateng, Manuel Neuer and finally Rafinha lying down very gently on their backs in their own penalty area as the ball floated into the back of the net. In the space of five perfect strides Messi had effectively put the Bayern defence to sleep, lulled into a drowsy supplication at his feet by a moment of controlled gymnastic perfection.

“Messi is unstoppable,” Pep Guardiola shrugged at the end of Barcelona’s 3-0 first-leg victory, which sounded at first a little cute, an evasion of responsibility from a coach whose gameplan had clearly failed. Pep’s trip to the Camp Nou had ended the way Pep’s trips to the Camp Nou always used to, with an opposition coach frazzled and outmanoeuvred, eyes bulging on the touchline. On this occasion that coach happened to be Pep himself, halfway through a semi-final billed as a collision of influence between player and manager, a peeling back of the synergy between the two.

At the end of which it is tempting to conclude what some have already suggested – that Guardiola is a genius when he’s got some geniuses to genius for him. And that Messi is simply Messi, a player who is, after a slight but undeniable hiatus, once again operating to a different set of physical rules; and who has just produced something that might just rank among the all-time club football performances. It is easy to go overboard here, to get drunk on superlatives. Just as it is also easy to become inured by repetition to the pitch of Messi’s brilliance. But this was a genuinely rare combination: a great player producing a great performance against great opposition at the vital moment in an elite competition.

Bayern were without some heavyweight players, but they remain a genuine powerhouse opponent, managed by a princeling of the modern age, and stuffed through with World Cup winners. And yet Messi’s performance in victory was not simply ruthless, it was decorative too, shot through with moments of grace and beauty, the work of a 10-year club football superstar who still appears to believe that he’s playing a game rather than carrying out a tactic or executing a plan.

At the Camp Nou Messi scored two brilliant goals, made a third and at times yawned his way around champion opponents like a man tactfully avoiding a gaggle of overheated toddlers in a high street coffee shop. Often he took the ball and shimmied past two or three men, operating within a kind of fermata, events slowed and paused around him, and providing a reminder that he remains one of the great dribblers, master of the flip-flap, the surge, the amphetamine-crazed-millipede shift of feet.

The Twitter reaction to Messi's incredible second goal, in which the Barcelona star effectively crossed Bayern Munich defender Boateng to the ground before chipping over goalkeeper Neuer with his weaker right foot (watch it above). Naturally, notable names in the football world loved it:

But it didn't stop there. Over in the United States, some of the biggest athletes were blown away by the move:

Source: Twitter, YouTube, ESPN, The Guardian, Associate Press, Fox Sports
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The Genius of Dimitar Berbatov

Dimitar Berbatov is not a man given to verbal communication. "He was so shy, I spoke three sentences to him in five years. But he was superb, one of the best players I ever played with. With his potential, he could have been one of the best players in the world," remembers his former Bayer Leverkusen teammate Hans-Jorg Butt. Berbatov, then 21, reached the Champions League final with the German side in 2002.

In 2009 and 2011, he reached the final again with Manchester United only to lose to Barcelona. But on Wednesday, Berbatov was obliged to speak to a television journalist on behalf of his current club, Monaco, after playing a starring, scoring role in his side's 3-1 win at Arsenal.

"How did you manage to make Arsenal look so ordinary and you look so good tonight?" asked the presenter on the pitch as the Monaco fans celebrated.

"Because we are good," replied the Bulgarian.

Against Arsenal, Berbatov's skills (including his exquisite first touch) were on fine display. "Berba sees the art and beauty of bringing a ball down from 30 yards, then flicking it through with a back-heel. It's an artistic approach," said his first team coach at United, Rene Meulensteen.

Simple, accurate, brilliant. Manchester United fans were left to reminisce. Watching Berbatov on Wednesday, some United fans may have wondered what might have been, but can't the same be said of every former player?

Here is a reminder of Berbatov's brilliance.

May 7 2007

A stunning solo goal helped relegate Charlton as Tottenham Hotspur won 2-0 at the Valley. Latching on to Ledley King's pass, Berbatov spun away from Talal El Karkouri on the left wing then held off the Charlton defender before striding into the box and dispatching an angled shot beyond Scott Carson.

Dec 29 2007

Berbatov led the way in a White Hart Lane goal feast, scoring four times in Tottenham's 6-4 beating of Reading. Three of his goals were timed in the 63rd, 73rd and 83rd minutes.

Sept 19 2010

A spectacular overhead kick highlighted a magnificent hat-trick that brought Manchester United a 3-2 win over Liverpool at Old Trafford. Nani's cross fell behind the Bulgarian, but he brought the ball under control and swept an overhead kick past Pepe Reina via the underside of the bar.

Nov 27 2010

Berbatov ended an 11-match goal drought in stunning style, hitting five as Manchester United demolished Blackburn 7-1. The pick of the bunch? The brilliant overhead kick he executed for his second.

April 20 2014

Hailed as his best goal since arriving in France, Berbatov settled Monaco's home derby with Nice last April, using the outside of his right foot to lift an exquisite lob into the far corner of the net.

Source: Associate Press, The Telegraph, The Guardian, Fox Sports, YouTube
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The Magic of English FA Cup: David & Goliath

Manchester United boss Louis Van Gaal coined the phrase "twitching our ass" prior to his side's game at Cambridge. It must have been twitching overtime at the Abbey Stadium last night and it's safe to say he wasn't too happy after his moneybags side was held 0-0 by the League two minnows.

"Every aspect of the match is against us. We have to come here, the pitch is not so good, but that can influence also that you play in another playing style. The opponents are always giving a lot more than normally. And defending is always easier than attacking," said Van Gaal.

Just to give you an idea of Cambridge's achievement in holding Manchester United to a 0-0 draw, the Abbey Stadium side only got back in to the Football League this season after a nine-year absence. But does Cambridge boss Richard Money now believe they can go to Old Trafford and beat United?

"No. I don't, but you never know. We've said in the dressing room 'You're going to Old Trafford. Who cares what happens? Just go and enjoy it, soak it in'. This club has been in the doldrums for 10 years, out of the Football League, and suddenly here we are taking everybody back to Old Trafford. It's incredible," said Money.

Yes, the League Two minnows, whose starting XI cost nothing, held a United first XI which was worth £180m to a 0-0 draw to set up a money-spinning replay at Old Trafford. Cambridge wrote a little piece of FA Cup history as they battled to a 0-0 draw with Manchester United to earn a lucrative replay at Old Trafford.

It was another miserable outing to lower league opposition for Van Gaal’s men, who succumbed to a 4-0 thrashing at MK Dons in the League Cup earlier in the season.But the main story was the heroics of Cambridge, with many on social media quick to praise the League Two outfit’s efforts:

The Abbey Stadium outfit might be 76 places below their Premier League opponents but Louis van Gaal's side still couldn't find a way through Cambridge's defense. That, my friends, is what you call the magic of the Cup.

Source: Associate Press, Eurosport, BBC, The Guardian, Getty Images
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