WATCH: Top 10 goals from the 2014 World Cup


Now for the fun part.

With Mario Götze’s 113th-minute winner against Argentina in the final, the 2014 World Cup tied the 1998 tournament in France for the most goals in any World Cup with 171.

That means fun for everyone!

But only 10 of those 171 can make this list, so we’re picking the best ones.

Hint: lots of James Rodriguez, because James Rodriguez is awesome.

10. Lionel Messi vs. Nigeria

The player who eventually won the Golden Ball picked up the first direct free-kick goal of the tournament when he blasted the set-piece past Vincent Enyema who hardly even tried, knowing he had no chance.

The goal would prompt Stephen Keshi to declare “he [Messi] is not from this planet. He’s from Jupiter.” Argentina would win the Group F game 3-2.

Messi had a late winner against Iran as well that was a very pretty goal, but free kicks are more fun.

9. Jermaine Jones vs. Portugal

John Brooks captured American hearts when he headed the United States past Ghana, but going on individual degree of difficulty, Jermaine Jones ripped a peach against Portugal that would put the US ahead and lead them to victor…a 2-2 draw (come on, Ronaldo).

Jones put some impressive curl on the ball and gave the Portuguese keeper no chance as the ball tucked into the far corner.

8. Arjen Robben vs. Spain

On a breakaway for the Netherlands in their opening match, Arjen Robben wasn’t able to get fully past the defense. No problems. He spun around with his back to the goal, cut into traffic, beat two defenders trailing the play, and left the goalkeeper on his rear end before putting the ball into the back of the net and giving the Netherlands a final touch of brilliance in their 5-1 win over Spain.

7. James Rodriguez vs. Japan

Yay! More James please! We’ve answered your pleas, and have grabbed one of the young Colombian’s six goals of the 2014 World Cup.  And there’s more after, don’t worry.

Against Japan in the group stage, Rodriguez put on some serious moves that sent Japanese defender Maya Yoshida tumbling embarrassingly to the ground. And then he scored. It was Rodriguez’s third goal of the tournament, but it wasn’t his best. We’re getting to that…

6. David Luiz vs. Colombia

We love great free kicks, and David Luiz had the best of the tournament. An absolute ripper against Colombia to break James Rodriguez’s heart, Luiz unleashed a knuckleball into the top right corner in the 69th minute.

The goal would end up being the winner, as Brazil went through 2-1.

5. Xherdan Shaqiri vs Honduras

The Swiss were looking to prove they were deserving of their much-criticized group seed, and they made it into the knockout stage. One of their best moments was against Honduras, when star youngster Xherdan Shaqiri delivered a hat-trick, the third of which was this insane strike from wayyyyyy far out.

4. Mario Götze vs. Argentina

How do you not place a World Cup final winner on the list? Then again, this wasn’t just any winner. It was filthy. First was the heck of a cross from Schurrle.  Götze snuck behind Martin Demichelis (the Manchester City version of Demichelis, clearly) and controlled the ball with his chest, firing home without the ball touching the ground.

A goal to win the World Cup in the 113th minute. That’s what legends are made of.

3. Tim Cahill vs. Netherlands

Oh. Wow. Australia means business. That’s what everyone thought to themselves when Tim Cahill ripped the back of the net with a ridiculous volley that put Australia level with the Netherlands.  The goal came moments after the Dutch took the lead, and announced to the world that the Aussies were here to play.

Cahill’s goal was stunning given he hit the shot one-time on a deep pass from behind the mid line, coming from around behind the defender to connect with the ball. Many would have this as the goal of the tournament, but for us, there are two others that edge it out. It’s still beautiful to watch over and over and over…

2. Robin van Persie vs. Spain

The flying header. One of the most iconic images from this World Cup is the Dutch striker midair, having just pounced on a stunning delivery from Daley Blind.  Van Persie began what would eventually become a Spanish onslaught, and he wow’d the crowd as well. He celebrated by sprinting to his manager Louis van Gaal and delivering a monumental high-five, maybe something we’ll see in England as Van Gaal has taken over at Manchester United.

1. James Rodriguez vs. Uruguay

It’s our man again! Undoubtedly the goal of the tournament, the Golden Boot winner unleashed a vicious volley that left the Uruguayans utterly befuddled. It announced Rodriguez on the world stage (although we had already fallen in love with him long before) and said Colombia would not be taken lightly.

This goal has everything as far as degree of difficulty. The ball pops up in the air, and Rodriguez chests it down facing away from goal. Before the ball touches the ground, he does a 90-degree turn and rips a howitzer with his left foot that clips the underside of the crossbar and caroms into the goal from a good 23-yards out or so. Enjoy.

Premier League preview: Manchester City vs. Southampton

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 21: Manuel Pellegrini, manager of Manchester City looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool at Etihad Stadium on November 21, 2015 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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  • Manchester City has lost both its home matches against top-10 sides this season
  • Southampton is six matches away unbeaten – club record is seven
  • Southampton has lost five straight at the Etihad across all competitions

Depending on results, Manchester City could be on top of the league come the end of the weekend if they can pick up three points when they welcome Southampton to the Etihad on Saturday (Watch live, 10:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

Unfortunately, they’ll face the Saints very banged up, something which has caused the home side plenty of issues recently. Goalkeeper Joe Hart suffered a hamstring injury midweek and will miss out, as will defenders Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta and Eliaquim Mangala.

[ WATCH LIVE: Stream every PL game via Live Extra ]

Manuel Pellegrini‘s squad struggled mightily at times without Sergio Aguero up front during his four-match injury absence. Aguero is back and scored last week in the 4-1 loss to Liverpool, but now the back line is giving the Chilean boss headaches. They broke again midweek, a 1-0 loss to Juventus in Champions League play leaving City fans scratching their heads.

Southampton saw its six-match unbeaten run come to a surprising end against Stoke City last weekend, and that puts them in an awkward spot, stuck in a clogged portion of the Premier League table where the gap between sixth and 11th is just two points. With a difficult London list of Spurs, Arsenal, and West Ham on the docket surrounding the December holidays, stolen points here at the Etihad would go a long way later on.

The Saints are also shorthanded, with Graziano Pelle suspended for yellow card accumulation after picking up his fifth of the season against Stoke. With Jay Rodriguez still sidelined, that leaves Shane Long to lead the Southampton attack.

What they’re saying

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini on injury problems: “All the clubs have the same problems here in England and in other European leagues, because the players have to play so many games in the year and they have to go to their national squads with long flights.”

Southampton midfielder Steven Davis on Manchester City: “The demand from their fans is to win every game and they’re coming off the back of a couple of bad results. They will be looking to put it right. It should be an entertaining game but we’ll need to be at our best to get something. I’m confident we can go there and do that.”


Because of Manchester City’s defensive issues, summer signing Nicolas Otamendi will be forced back into the starting lineup after finding himself on the bench for the Liverpool loss. Since Otamendi looked off the pace in his first two Premier League matches (both of which City lost), he has acclimated quite well – the club has conceded just three goals in the Argentinian’s five matches following those two defeats.

With the striker issues for Southampton, City will use the return of David Silva to run Southampton down. Silva is known for playing his part in early goals, and the first 15 minutes will be key in this match. Manchester City will get one early, and they will return to their winning ways on a 2-0 victory.

Words fly as Mathieu Valbuena opens up about blackmail scandal

LISBON, PORTUGAL - SEPTEMBER 04: France's midfielder Matthieu Valbuena celebrating France goal during the Friendly match between Portugal and France on September 04, 2015 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images)
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Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena has spoken out for the first time about the sex tape scandal that has rocked the French national team.

If what he says proves to be true, Karim Benzema could be in a whole heap of trouble.

Valbuena told his story to French newspaper Le Monde, where he explained how things began in May of 2015 with a phone call from Djibril Cisse that suggested someone had a tape of the 31-year-old Valbuena. A few days later a blocked number called Valbuena asking to meet in Dubai about the video. The Frenchman got the police involved, and then Benzema approached him during national team training.

“He [Benzema] spoke to me about a video. Immediately, I thought back to what the police chief had told me on Sunday [that someone would approach him about the video].  Then he asked me to meet a friend that he presented to be very reliable, very serious, someone that he had complete confidence in, to arrange all of that. So, anyway, I am not an idiot!

I was sceptical to say the least. Even if, it was true, at the start I said to him: “Thank you for warning me”, I was doubtful that if he wants me to meet someone, it is not for nothing. The way in which he conveyed things, it was certainly to provoke me to see someone, indirectly, it means to pay this person to destroy the video.”

Valbuena said Benzema never actually asked him to pay for the video to be destroyed, but that it was heavily implied. “I played his game, I told him, me I would like very much to pay for my freedom, but we all know that if you pay, it is endless, there will always be copies etc. He told me: ‘Don’t worry, I have total confidence in my friend, there will be no more duplicates, they will be destroyed.’ He insisted a lot for me to meet his friend.”

The Frenchman later would implicate Samir Nasri as someone who, according to Valbuena, had offered to approach him instead of Benzema. “[Nasri] is someone who is no longer part of the French national team. My relationship has always been difficult with Nasri. Now, nothing surprises me.”

Both have responded. Benzema’s lawyer gave an interview to French radio station RMC saying that there was contact between the two about the tape, but that the conversation saw Benzema encourage Valbuena not to pay for anything. Nasri also spoke to RMC, completely denying any involvement in the case by saying, “It is not my problem, not my situation.”

Benzema has been charged with conspiracy to blackmail for his role as an intermediary, but the investigation is still in the preliminary stages.

Premier League preview: Leicester City vs. Manchester United

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 07:  Jamie Vardy of Leicester City celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Watford at The King Power Stadium on November 7, 2015 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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  • Leicester sits atop the Premier League table with 28 points
  •  Manchester United has conceded just once in their last 7 league games
  • Leicester’s Premier League games have produced 48 goals, the most in the league

Yes, this is #1 vs #2. No, your eyes are not deceiving you.

And yet somehow, that magnificent lede has been buried thanks to one Jamie Vardy.

The 28-year-old can break Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s Premier League record of 10 straight games with a goal as Leicester City hosts Van Nistelrooy’s former team Manchester United at King Power Stadium (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

[ WATCH LIVE: Stream every PL game via Live Extra ]

The Foxes are firmly atop the Premier League table, but many question whether they can hang onto that, and even others remain skeptical whether they can truly challenge for a top four spot this season. Saturday’s game will be a true test of their ability to remain in the hunt for the long haul, as the Red Devils are just a point off the top and, while it hasn’t been pretty at times this year, van Gaal’s men have done enough to pick up results in key situations.

On the other end, Manchester United has conceded just one goal in its last five league matches, and has not allowed a goal from open play since the Arsenal drubbing in early October. Can Vardy find space in the tight Red Devils’ back line?

Both teams are relatively healthy coming into this matchup. Leicester is only missing long-term absentee Matty Jones, while Manchester United is a little more banged up with Ander Herrera, Phil Jones, and Michael Carrick likely out alongside Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia.

What they’re saying

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal on Leicester City’s chances at title“Normally these kind of clubs can compete for long time, then at the end it becomes more difficult. But in England because of the quality of the teams, because every team has the money to buy players – and they have bought players – the difference in the Premier League between the clubs is not so high.”

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri on the Foxes’ aim“The league is very strange and open but our goal is 40 points. Our goal at the moment is this but let me see the next two months and then maybe I change the goal. Like everybody else I am also curious in these days to watch my team, and to see how we respond in these big matches.”


Manchester United’s results have been there, and they’ve created a ton of chances. On the flip side, Leicester’s improved defensive organization is solid enough to hold off the Red Devils. This one ends 1-1, and there is no change at the top. Vardy gets the Foxes’ goal, because who doesn’t like fun things?

Jurgen Klopp says Daniel Sturridge must learn how to manage pain

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 22:  The injured  Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool watches from the stands  during the UEFA Europa League Group B match between Liverpool FC and Rubin Kazan at Anfield on October 22, 2015 in Liverpool, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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Liverpool is rising up the table under Jurgen Klopp, and while the squad is getting healthier and healthier as opposed to when Klopp first took over, one man who remains on the sidelines is Daniel Sturridge.

An unused substitute in Liverpool’s last two games after missing a month due to injury, Daniel Sturridge has suffered yet another setback to his foot, Klopp confirmed from Melwood training ground today.

[ RELATED: Klopp confirms Sturridge to remain out with another injury setback ]

But while Klopp is being patient with his oft-injured striker, he believes Sturridge can do better to get himself back on the field.

“Everyone wants him back on the pitch but we all have to learn,” Klopp said. “The situation is Daniel was very often injured in the last few months, and maybe years, so it is normal when you get back in training usually it is not the quality, but you need training. Your body has to learn to adapt to new intensities of training and in this time you have to learn what is serious pain and what is only pain.”

[ MORE: Liverpool moving up Premier League power rankings ]

Due to the heavy amount of injuries, Sturridge has made just three appearances this season, and 15 total in the 2015 calendar year.

It’s clear the impact Sturridge can have for this Liverpool squad, as despite just his three appearances, he has two goals, both coming in the 3-2 win over Aston Villa. The 26-year-old is an electric player, but the club needs to get him back on the field to reap the benefits. Sturridge would complete the striker comeback for Klopp, who arrived to helm the Reds with Sturridge, Christian Benteke, and Danny Ings all sidelined with injuries. Ings is out for the season with an ACL injury and will not return, but Benteke is back alongside Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino who are in good form.