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Explained: Why is football called the beautiful game?

Football is considered the world's greatest sport and "the beautiful game".

There is no set universal explanation of exactly why football is referred to as the beautiful game, but it is widely accepted that the sport is so beloved for its sheer unpredictability, ability to bring communities together through fanhood and how visually pleasing an excellent game of football can be.

Why is football called the beautiful game?

First and foremostly, football is considered the beautiful game because it is, quite simply, beautiful to watch. 

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There is the beauty of the goals scored - through free-kicks, open play and out-witting several defenders single-handedly - as well as the artistry of the build-up play, the final pass, the link-up of players combining together to put it in the back of the net.

The skilled mastery of football legends such as Johan Cruyff, Pele, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldinho and Diego Mardona only add to the sport's allure.

The manner in which fantastic goals are scored are also part of its charm - volleys, chips, lobs and headers.

Some of the greatest partnerships in football produced some of the most dazzling football. Think of Spain's tiki-taka football that won them two European Championships and one World Cup in a row, or the Barcelona force that was made up of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi masterminded by Pep Guardiola.

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Arsenal's Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp are widely regarded as one of the greatest strike partnerships that has graced football, and the same goes for Liverpool's front trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.

Football's unpredictable nature is also a reason why it is considered the beautiful game.

Knockout competitions such as the Champions League, World Cup and even cup competitions have the ability for a "giant-killing" - where lower-ranked clubs ultimately get the best of elite opposition.

The likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-German are considered the great European powerhouses, but in football, there is always a solid chance for the underdog to do the unlikely and defeat a Goliath.

It does not matter how many goals a team has scored, or how expensive an assembled team might be, or even how much possession a side has in a match - the only statistic that truly matters in a game is the scoreline at the end of the 90 minutes.

Some of the greatest comebacks of all-time in football have happened in the Champions League.

Both Roma and Liverpool were heavily considered underdogs when they faced off against perennial favourites Barcelona in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 Champions League semi-finals respectively, but both managed to shock the world and knock out a side thought to be the best in football.

Ajax emerged as dark horses in the 2018-19 Champions League when they defeated giants (and competition favourites) Real Madrid and Juventus in the knockout rounds.

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Even in the Premier League, surprises are always in store. Relegation-threatened Watford handed 2019-20 league leaders Liverpool a shocking first defeat of the season, and Wolves recorded a double over defending English champions Manchester City.

Nothing is ever guaranteed in football, no matter how rich or lucrative a football club might be, or however superior on paper.

The way football manages to unite international fans from all walks of life across the world is also what makes the sport so beautiful.

The passion from supporters is what makes football so great - and how a singular team can have dedicated fans from all over the world, hundreds and thousands of miles away from the stadium.

Such a united support for a team or a player unifies those from contrasting backgrounds, and football is the universal language.

The ways in which supporters reacts to their team - be it the jubilation and ecstasy of a win or victory or the devastation or sadness that comes with a loss - are shared.

It doesn't matter if you are a fan supporting a European side from across the world, or a supporter having grown up two streets away from the ground - everyone reacts the same when it comes to loving their club.