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FIFA Puskas Award 2019: Ranking the three finalists for Goal of the Season

FC Barcelona v Arsenal - Pre-Season Friendly
FC Barcelona v Arsenal - Pre-Season Friendly
Rachel Syiemlieh

The finalists for The Best FIFA Football Awards 2019 were announced at a media event held at the San Siro on September 1st.

Along with categories like The Best FIFA Player, The Best FIFA Coach, The Best FIFA Goalkeeper, and the FIFA Fan Award, the finalists of the FIFA Puskas Award, presented to the player with the most beautiful goal in the preceding season, have also been announced.

The organisation shortlisted three finalists from the initial ten-man shortlist, with Lionel Messi, Juan Quintero and Daniel Zsori set to battle it out for the accolade.

All goals under consideration were scored between 16th July 2018 and 18th July 2019, and the ten-player shortlist consisted of seven men and three women, which is the highest number of female nominees in a single year so far.

The final trio beat the likes of Matheus Cunha (RB Leipzig), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy), Ajara Nchout (Cameroon), Fabio Quaqliarella (Sampdoria), Amy Rodriguez (Utah Royals), Billie Simpson (Cliftonville Ladies) and Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace), and stand a chance at winning the prize.

The winner will be chosen from the top three by a panel of FIFA Legends and will be announced at the Best FIFA Football Awards gala in Milan on September 23rd.

In this article, we attempt to rank the three finalists on the basis of their nominated goals:

#3 Juan Fernando Quintero (River Plate) v Racing Club – February 10, 2019

River Plate v Independiente - Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores 2018
River Plate v Independiente - Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores 2018

Juan Quintero's sublime long-range free kick for River Plate against Racing Club in their 2-0 Superliga win in February has been described as one of the best direct free kicks of all time and rightly so.

The Colombian playmaker stepped up to take the free kick from 30 yards, and where most players would have opted for a cross, he decided to curl the ball right into the top corner as goalkeeper Gabriel Arias looked helpless between the sticks.

The goal helped River Plate to a 2-0 win as an unfortunate own goal from Alejandro Donatt helped Marcelo Gallardo's side to get the better of the league leaders.

Quintero has not had the kindest journey in football, having been plagued by a series of major injuries during his career, but his quintessential goal against Racing Club has reminded spectators of the impeccable vision he has always had and his buttery smooth left-foot.

#2 Lionel Messi (Barcelona) v Real Betis – March 17, 2019

Barcelona v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Semi-Final: First Leg
Barcelona v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Semi-Final: First Leg

Lionel Messi is the most nominated player in the history of the FIFA Puskas Award, having made it to the top ten on seven out of ten occasions.

Unfortunately for the mercurial Argentine, the prize has eluded him since its inception in October 2009, despite his 603 goals likely to have brought forth some of the most beautiful goals in football.

The 32-year-old ace stands a good chance of winning his maiden Puskas Award this year, with his hat-trick clinching goal against Real Betis on March 2019 having made it to the top three goals of the season.

The Barcelona maestro started and finished the goal after a quick one-two with Ivan Rakitic and struck the ball with a measured effort through the crowded penalty area over Pau Lopez from about 18 yards out.

While fans were keen to see Messi's Champions League free-kick against Liverpool on the list, it is his intelligent positioning and finish for the third goal against Real Betis that earned him a deserved Puskas nomination and a standing ovation from away fans in a packed Estadio Benito Villamarín.

#1 Daniel Zsori (Debrecen) v Ferencvaros – February 16, 2019

Debrecen's Daniel Zsori scored a superb overhead kick goal in his league debut against Ferencvaros
Debrecen's Daniel Zsori scored a superb overhead kick goal in his league debut against Ferencvaros

Daniel Zsori’s phenomenal overhead kick goal for Hungarian outfit Debrecen against domestic rivals Ferencvaros made its way to the three-man shortlist for a host of reasons.

The game marked the forward's league debut for the first team and the 18-year-old announced himself to the top division by netting his first goal a few minutes before stoppage time when the scoreline was 1-1.

The teenager, who was heavily marked by two defenders, managed to convert an otherwise poor cross into an astonishing goal as he met it with a spectacular overhead kick inside the area into the top far corner of the net.

Zsori's goal helped Debrecen secure a late 2-1 win with his debut, Puskas-nominated goal, in what could only be described as a dream start for any football player.

Edited by Samya Majumdar

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