Juninho’s greatest free-kick? Brazilian’s physics-defying effort vs Barcelona


Juninho Pernambucano is widely regarded as the greatest free-kick taker in football history.

During his peak years at Lyon, the Brazilian seemed to ripple the back of the net from set-piece situations every other week.

jumpsuit, Juninho scored 77 free-kicks throughout the course of his career and some of them still leave us open-mouthed to this very day.

And perhaps the very best of the lost came against arguably the finest club side ever assembled – Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona.

In February of 2009, when the Blaugrana were on their way to securing a treble, Juninho scored a free-kick so good that it almost looked as if it defied the laws of physics.

From a ridiculously tight angle, the sharpshooter took aim and produced a stunning effort that somehow dipped below Victor Valdes’ crossbar and into the back of the net.

Video: Juninho’s superhuman free-kick vs Barcelona

Okay, someone needs to do a case study on Juninho’s masterpiece against prime Barcelona, ​​because a human being shouldn’t be able to perform magic like that.

The set-piece specialist’s goal put Lyon 1-0 up in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League last-16 tie, but the French outfit were unable to hold onto the lead.

Thierry Henry leveled the scores at 1-1 and then Barcelona recorded a hugely impressive 5-2 victory on home soil, a match in which Juninho picked up a late red card.

But let’s not focus on that minor negative and instead re-focus on the Brazilian icon’s insane free-kick taking ability.

Juninho in action for Lyon
MADRID, SPAIN – NOVEMBER 21: Juninho Pernambucano of Lyon takes a free kick during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between Real Madrid and Olympique Lyon at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium on November 21, 2006 in Madrid, Spain. The match ended in a 2-2 draw. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

In an interview with FourFourTwoJuninho explained how he became a master of the craft at Lyon.

“I was always great at shooting, but as a child, I didn’t have enough power to score free-kicks,” he said.

“I played futsal until I was 13 and didn’t really score much, but it was around then that I started to take some free-kicks.

“The wall was too close, though, so it was rare that I’d hit the goal. It wasn’t until I got to France that I mastered my technique.”

Juninho's free-kick vs Rangers
LYON, FRANCE – OCTOBER 02: Juninho of Lyon takes a free kick during the UEFA Champions League, Group E match between Olympique Lyonnais and Glasgow Rangers at the Stade de Gerland on October 2, 2007 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

Juninho also touched on his use of the knuckleball technique, something Cristiano Ronaldo has used to great effect throughout his career.

“I started by copying free-kicks taken by Marcelinho, who played for Corinthians. He was one of my inspirations, and the first player I had ever seen hit the ball head on and make it dance in the air. That tells you that the technique isn’t mine, either!

“Didi, who won the World Cup with Brazil in 1958 and 1962, was doing it back then, too. Everyone since has just been tweaking the formula.”

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