The Best XI

The Best XI section is an attempt to connect similar football events across different locations and share them with you. Best XI will seek to be about topics you are interested about and want explored. Send in your topics for the month of November to and we will incorporate that.


Watching one’s favourite superstar dribble past an array of defenders with the ball glued to his feet is what all football lovers can walk miles to see. This is that moment of the match which lives in the memory beyond the goals, beyond the win or the loss. These are the skills which differentiate the men from the boys. In this edition we showcase the special skills and pay tribute to the heroes who make this world a better place to stay.

The Denilson Step Over

The step over (also known as the pedalada, the Denílson, or the scissors) is a dribbling move to fool a defensive player into thinking the offensive player, in possession of the ball, is going to move in a direction he does not intend to move in. The move was reportedly invented by Dutch player, Law Adam who was famous for it and who was nicknamed “Adam the Scissorsman” in the late 1920’s/early 1930’s. It was popularized in the mid 1990’s by Ronaldo, who was the best player in the world at that time and his national team’s top scorer. One may say Denílson used and overused this move. In 1998 FIFA World Cup, hosted in France, Denílson famously put the move to use after coming on as a substitute and dribbling past Emmanuel Petit by way of six pedaladas before blasting the ball against the post from the left wing.

The Jump Cut/ Crossover

While dribbling full speed at a defender next to you, use the back of your outside foot to cut the ball at a 90-degree angle and jump over the ball with your standing leg. Then quickly change direction and accelerate away behind the beaten defender. This move is commonly used with the cross over. This is an age old skill showcased by Cristiano Ronaldo to perfection.

The Ronaldinho Panna/ Nutmeg

This is one is from the old school. The origins of the word are a point of debate. An early use is in the novel “A bad lot‎” by Brian Glanville (1977). When a defender is facing you, feint going one way or the other, and note if the defender has his feet spread in the defensive stance. If an opening exists, pass the ball gently between the defender’s legs (Panna means the ‘gate’) and accelerate away. The ‘nut’ is supposed to refer to the testicles of the player through whose legs the ball has been passed and nutmeg is just a development from this. The Panna or the nutmeg was perfected and exhibited by Brazilian superstar, Ronaldinho.

The Cruyff Turn

The Cruyff turn is most effective when you are dribbling forward with a defender sprinting alongside. Here one plants one’s inside foot and gently drags the ball back behind the standing foot before swiveling and accelerating away behind the defender. The trick was famously employed by Cruyff in the 1974 FIFA World Cup, first being seen in the Netherlands’ match against Sweden, and was soon widely copied by other players around the world.

The Marseille turn

The Marseille turn is a specialized dribbling skill unique to the elites of football. It is sometimes known as the 360 turn, the Marseille Roulette, Rolie Polie or the Piroman. In this move, one controls the ball with one foot, uses his body to shield the defender, turns quickly on the ball and accelerates quickly past the defender. A number of famous footballers have been known to use it, including Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho, Cristiano Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry, Kaká, Robinho and Ronaldo. I wonder why this move would be called the Marseille turn though.

The Matthews Feint

English superstar Stanley Matthews was the originator of this soccer move. Tap the ball gently with the inside of the foot and fake going in that direction, then quickly plant the standing foot and use the outside of the dribbling foot to perform a sharp change of direction. Matthews’ nicknames included The Wizard of the Dribble and The Magician for his ball control.

The Rivelino Elastico/Flip Flap

Roberto Rivelino invented a football move called the “flip flap”, famously copied by Ronaldinho, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Cristiano Ronaldo in recent years. He is widely regarded as one of the most graceful football players ever, and among the best midfielders of his generation. The move is made by pushing the ball sideways with your foot and then quickly planting the same foot ahead of the ball’s path. The ball strikes the planted foot and goes the other way. This move will tie your defender in knots if you can pull it off.

Preki (Roll/Drag Step Over) Move

This move is a feint named after Preki. Predrag Radosavljević, commonly known by the nickname Preki, is a former American international soccer player of Serbian extraction. The move was invented by him and is a side drag to the inside followed by a step over with the opposite foot. You will see Christiano Ronaldo perform the skill regularly in competitive matches.

The Bunny Hop

Signature move of Cuauhtémoc Blanco, the bunny hop can be used when two or more opposition players are trying to take the ball, the ball is trapped between your two feet then jumped through the defenders – releasing the ball in the air.

The Hocus Pocus

This is a two-touch move, the first is a behind the back crossover, followed by a Rabona style kick forward past the defender. This move being very elaborate and extravagant is more commonly performed as a time wasting tactics near the corner flag.

The Seal dribble

This move is performed by getting the ball up onto the head, then balancing the ball on top of your forehead, imitating a seal. The seal dribble makes it very hard for the defending team to challenge legally. Although not very famous in European circuits, it was shown by Kerlon against Atletico Mineiro.