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Goals ... the game would not be the same without them. The latest issue of Champions, the official magazine of the UEFA Champions League, has invited the best in the business to talk about them in a special edition dedicated to the art of goalscoring
Cover star, Real Madrid CF's Robinho, speaks exclusively about life at the Santiago Bernabéu under coach Bernd Schuster, how he now has freedom to play his way, and how it is best not to play against people you like. "Playing against friends can scratch a friendship," said the Brazil forward. "It is better if you don't like the defender."
Olympique Lyonnais hotshot Karim Benzema tells Champions that he honed his striking skills playing with older kids. "You need great technique to survive on a small pitch with bigger lads. I stood up for myself and they accepted me." It worked, as he is already considered one of Europe's most complete attackers – aged just 20.
Reaching the top
Continuing the theme of making it to the top, European champions Henrik Larsson and Ian Rush share their thoughts on what it takes to be the best; Sandro Mazzola, star of a great FC Internazionale Milano side of the past, offers his verdict on today's leading marksmen; and Brazil's free-scoring goalkeeper Rogério Ceni maintains he is not crazy – he just enjoys taking free-kicks.
As Africa's élite nations contest their continental cup, Champions asks how long it will be before a team built around African players conquers Europe. Malian international Frédéric Kanouté has rediscovered his touch at Sevilla FC, where his striking ability has helped to capture five trophies. It is, he says, down to "football intelligence".
Champions also measures how Europe's foremost coaches have fared in the transfer market; chats exclusively to Internazionale's main men, learning that their resurgence owes much to South American heart; honours the Swedish trio, collectively known as Gre-No-Li, who starred for AC Milan in the 1950s; catches up with Arsenal FC midfielder Aleksandr Hleb, who on manager Arsène Wenger's advice shoots on sight; and meets VfB Stuttgart sharpshooter Thomas Hitzlsperger.
The new issue also remembers Manchester United FC's Busby Babes of the 1950s, exploring how Sir Matt Busby's young charges set about revolutionising the English game. The England manager of the day said he could identify them in a corridor, by hearing the "Manchester United stomp".
Giraffes and gnats
On a lighter note, Champions looks at football's "giraffes and gnats" – the big and not-so-big guys; digests the ever-changing footballers' diet; recalls seven goals that never were; and revisits the group stage high, and low, lights. Champions, official magazine of the UEFA Champions League, is on sale on newsstands and at stadiums across Europe.
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