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To Me, To You: Football’s Best Partnerships

September 08, 2015

- Grant Whittington

Football is ostensibly a team sport, although victories can often be achieved through moments of individual brilliance or precise link-up play. Individual partnerships within a key team have often proved pivotal down the years, as players use an innate understanding of one another’s games to overcome the opposition in front of them. These partnerships are often a joy to behold, whether they thrive on communication or instinctive link-up play.

Whether it be a solid centre-half pairing, a midfield duo, or a strike force who thrive of each other, there’s nothing that boosts a team more than having a team in unison. We take a look at a few of the most effective partnerships in modern-day football.

Andrew Cole and Dwight Yorke (Manchester United)

“When we started playing together, it was like meeting a special woman and falling in love. Everything felt right. Whatever he did, I did the opposite.”

These were the words used by Andrew Cole to describe Dwight Yorke, whose potent strike partnership is best known for delivering 53 goals during Manchester United’s famous treble year in 1998-99. Aside from the goals, these two boasted an exceptional understanding of each other’s games, which in turn created instinctive link-up play and defence-splitting movement. Given the amount of goals they scored, laid on for each other and the success that they achieved together, Cole and Yorke’s partnership is arguably the best in the history of the Premier League.

Bebeto and Romario (Brazil)

Going into the 1994 World Cup in the USA, Brazil had not won the crown for 24 years. The fact that they ended this barren spell was largely down to the impact of their imaginative and fleet of foot strike partnership, which plundered goals and dazzled the opposition with their pace and movement.

Bebeto and Romario were incredibly gifted individuals who games complimented each other perfectly, with the former liable to drop deep and create space while the latter would run in behind the defence. They were a joy to watch, and they would have played together more were it not for the emergence of the brilliant Ronaldo in 1996.

Xavi and Iniesta (Barcelona and Spain)

We tend to think of strikers or defenders when appraising on-field partnerships, but Xavi and Andreas Iniesta have been patrolling Barcelona’s central midfield for nearly a decade. They are undoubtedly the single most successful and effective midfield partnership of their generation, having won multiple honours with both club and country. Xavi is the deepest lying of the two, often using his vision and metronomic passing to trigger attacks, while Iniesta’s flair and technique enables him to unlock even the tightest of defences.

Both products of Barcelona’s famed La Masia, they embody the clubs the philosophy perfectly and will prove almost impossible to replace.

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