As we await the potential return of Champions League football, we're looking back on the 20 greatest goals scored over the past 20 years in Europe's premier club competition. Given our 21st-century cutoff line, some spectacular strikes, unfortunately, miss out; Lars Ricken's classy chip, Jean-Pierre Papin's sweet volley, and arguably the best goal in tournament history, Mauro Bressan's audacious overhead kick, are out of contention. But the turn of the century has delivered a series of memorable goals to carry the torch.
Part I: Goals 20-11, featuring Thierry Henry, Lionel Messi, and more.
There were few better sights in the sport than Kaka in full flight. When the Brazilian was at his peak, he was a majestic footballer. He bamboozled multiple defenders while scoring this classic goal against Manchester United.
Charles-Edouard Coridon didn't spend all that much time at Paris Saint-Germain, but he certainly made the most of it, delivering one of the most ingenious tallies in Champions League history with this 2004 scorpion kick.
For someone who was a pretty ordinary defender throughout his career, Philippe Mexes had a penchant for scoring spectacular, unlikely goals. Despite strong competition, none was better than this looping bicycle kick.
We're still not exactly sure how Ronaldinho managed to conjure this magic against Chelsea. The captivating Brazilian froze the defense with a little shimmy of his hips before poking home a mesmerizing tally.
Before Manuel Neuer became a sweeper-keeper extraordinaire, his wandering ways got him posterized by Dejan Stankovic in 2011. The Inter midfielder's technique on this volley - from the halfway line - belongs in the Louvre.
Mario Mandzukic's acrobatic effort in the 2017 final was superlative all on its own, but the buildup deserves special praise; the ball never hit the ground after it left Leonardo Bonucci's boot. Freestyle football at its best.
Champions League semifinal at the Bernabeu against your most bitter rival. The stage doesn't get much bigger. It was just another day at the office for Lionel Messi, though, whose trademark slaloming run put Real Madrid to shame.
This instantly iconic bicycle kick is all about the reactions. Gigi Buffon frozen; Andrea Barzagli waving the white flag; Zinedine Zidane in disbelief; and, most notably, the entire Juventus crowd on its feet to applaud Cristiano Ronaldo's superhuman feat.
Speaking of Zidane, he knows a thing or two about delivering legendary goals in Europe's grandest club competition. His left-footed volley in the 2002 final felt like it happened in slow motion and remains one of the sport's most famous moments.
It's almost incomprehensible that this happened in the same season as Ronaldo's loose-limbed effort highlighted above. Anything you can do, I can do better - and in the Champions League final. That Gareth Bale has never truly endeared himself to Real Madrid fans is wild, especially after this moment of brilliance.