We know it might be hard to believe, but there was a time when playing two up top was the norm.
Modern football is so concerned with ‘tactical flexibility’ and the rise of a number ten playing alongside a lone striker has all but killed off the days of the duo.
Look around Europe and you’ll see trios, false nines and trequartistas, but truly great strike partnerships are at a premium. So let’s reminisce about a simpler time.
1 Ian Rush & Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool)
Often talked about as the best duo ever to strut their stuff in British football, and it’s not hard to see why. Dalglish brought guile, wit and touch while Rush’s fearsome pace and finishing ability were responsible for a mountain of goals in the ’80s.
2 Romario & Hristo Stoichkov (Barcelona)
He came, he saw, he conquered. Romario only spent two years in Barcelona, but his first was a whirlwind of unforgettable football. As with Dalglish and Rush, Stoichkov played in the pocket, netting 16 often eye-catching goals, while the explosive Romario top scored with 30 La Liga goals during the 1993/94 season.
3 Alan Shearer & Chris Sutton (Blackburn)
So good they had a natty nickname. SAS fired Blackburn to a first league title since 1914 during the 1994/95 season, scoring a combined 49 goals, although they never managed to replicate their form at international level.
4 Filippo Inzaghi & Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus)
Inzaghi and Del Piero being fed by Zinedine Zidane. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. Juve won the league and reached the final of the 1997/98 Champions League backed by 39 goals from the two Italians.
5 Marcelo Salas & Christian Vieri (Lazio)
The mercurial Salas and cricket loving Vieri only played together for one season but 1998/99 was a campaign to remember, with both netting 15 goals as Lazio finished 2nd, an agonising point behind Milan.
6 Andy Cole & Dwight Yorke (Man United)
What would this list be without goal king Cole and his best mate Yorke? As good a friends on the pitch as they were off it. Ironically the most iconic moment of the 1998/99 season, the Champions League win, happened with both off the field.
7 Vincenzo Montella & Marco Delvecchio (Roma)
Montella and Delvecchio, the Italian version of little ‘n’ large, struck gold during the 1999/2000 season scoring 19 and 11 goals respectively. However Roma, under the tutelage of Fabio Capello, could only finish 6th in Serie A.
8 Niall Quinn & Kevin Phillips (Sunderland)
Not all superheroes wear the replica shirts of European giants. Quinn and Phillips plundered 34 goals for humble Sunderland during the 1999/2000 season, with the latter winning the European Golden Shoe.
9 Andriy Shevchenko & Oliver Bierhoff (AC Milan)
It’s rare that you get a striker who can do everything. It’s even rarer that you get two of them playing for the same team. Sheva and Bierhoff were a threat from anywhere on the pitch during Milan’s 1999/00 campaign, scoring 35 goals between them.
10 Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink & Eidur Gudjohnsen (Chelsea)
Hasselbaink and Gudjohnsen, new arrivals from Atletico Madrid and Bolton respectively, gelled together straight away. Jimmy’s rocket powered left foot combined with Gudjohnsen’s subtle touch combined for 39 goals and helped the Dutchman win the 2000/01 Premier League Golden Boot.
11 Thierry Henry & Dennis Bergkamp (Arsenal)
If you could build an ideal strike force it look something like Henry and Bergkamp. The latter could put a ball anywhere he wanted with a waft of his magical right foot, while Henry’s sheer pace, control and athleticism was a defender’s nightmare.
12 Diego Tristan and Roy Makaay (Deportivo La Coruna)
The season after Depor shocked Spain by winning La Liga, Tristan and Makaay lined up together, scoring 37 goals as the club narrowly missed out on consecutive league titles.
13 Chris Sutton & Henrik Larsson (Celtic)
Larsson smashed 35 goals in just 37 games during the 2000/01 season, winning the Golden Boot, helped out by Sutton’s aerial ability. Those were the day, eh, Celtic fans.
14 David Trezeguet & Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus)
Another combination that worked off two very differing styles. But Trezeguet, who was joint top scorer in the 2001/02 Serie A season with 24 goals, was a lot more than just muscle, keeping a certain Marcelo Salas on the bench.
15 Ronaldo & Raul (Real Madrid)
Madrid won a treble of sorts in the 2002/03 season, picking up La Liga, the Inercontinental Cup and the Super Cup, with home grown Raul and €45million Brazilian Ronaldo combining for 39 league goals.
16 Hulk & Radamel Falcao (Porto)
Falcao wasn’t always a running joke. In 2011 he was near the peak of his powers alongside the powerful Hulk. The duo scored a mind boggling 74 goals in all competitions as Porto won a quadruple.
17 Alexis Sanchez & Antonio Di Natale (Udinese)
Di Natale has been at Udinese for 12 seasons, and a professional footballer for 20 years and counting, so when he names Sanchez as the best strike partner he’s ever had it’s a glowing endorsement. The pair helped Udinese to fourth place in Serie A, qualifying for the Champions League with a combined 40 goals.
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