mandag den 28. december 2009

The 200 best players in the world: 166-163

In between these updates I really want to make a follow up to the Season so far entry that focused on England (which is looking really interesting this year btw), as well as some kind of half season review of at least some of the other leagues.

So yeah, stay tuned to see if I eventually get around to that.

But on with the list:

First the Introduction (zzz) to the list.

And as usual the list so far:

200: Alberto Zapater - Genoa - Spain
199: Nikola Zigic - Valencia - Serbia
198: Sergio Ramos - Real Madrid - Spain
197: Lucio - Inter - Brazil
196: John Obi Mikel - Chelsea - Nigeria
195: Sergio Busquets - Barcelona - Spain
194: Philippe Mexes - Roma -France
193: Anatolij Tymoshchuk - Bayern München - Ukraine
192: Theo Walcott - Arsenal - England
191: Aaron Ramsey - Arsenal - Wales
190: Pepe - Real Madrid - Portugal
189: Sergei Semak - Rubin Kazan - Russia
188: Alberto Aquilani - Liverpool - Italy
187: Clarence Seedorf - Milan - Holland
186: Diego Capel - Sevilla - Spain
185: Yossi Benayoun - Liverpool - Israel
184: Riccardo Montolivo - Fiorentina - Italy
183: Kolo Toure - Manchester City -Côte d'Ivoire
182: Yuri Zhirkov - Chelsea - Russia
181: Martin Demichelis - Bayern Munich - Argentina
180: Marouane Fellaini - Everton - Belgium
179: Cristian Zapata - Udinese - Colombia
178: Tim Cahill - Everton - Australia
177: Paul Scholes - Manchester United - England
176: Arda Turan - Galatasaray - Turkey
175: Ezequiel Lavezzi - Napoli - Argentina
174: Klaas Jan Huntelaar - AC Milan - The Netherlands
173: William Gallas - Arsenal - France
172: Shaun Wright Phillips - Manchester City - England
171: Pavel Pogrebnyak - VBF Stuttgart - Russia
170: Darijo Srna - Shakhtar Donetsk - Croatia
169: Bojan Krkic and Pedro - Barcelona - Spain
168: Ronaldinho - AC Milan - Brazil
167: Tranquillo Barnetta - Bayer Leverkusen - Switzerland


Stiliyan Petrov - Aston Villa



The current Aston Villa captain was voted Aston Villa's player of the year last season by his teammates as well as their fans and he is rewarding Martin O'Neill's confidence in him with some very solid play.

Petrov and O'Neill of course go back to when they were together at Celtic. Petrov won four league titles there but it's interesting how his role and play has changed almost completely from what he was known as then (at least by me who didn't see Celtic that much) and what he does now at a higher level being the captain for a top 4 contender in England.

For Celtic I saw him as a dynamite attacking midfielder who was talented enough to rack up both goals and assists. He scored 55 goals for Celtic in 228 games while for Aston Villa he isn't anywhere near that pace and has just 4 in 106.
Now obviously club and league wise those are two different situations but so is clearly Petrov's role.

While Aston Villa has good depth on their wings and when it comes to more attacking players, in central midfield with Gareth Barry leaving and Steve Sidwell being a flop, they would be in terrible shape if Petrov hadn't been able to do as good a job there like he has. Maybe you could even go as far as to say that they'd have no realistic challenge for the top 4.

In fact it doesn't really look like they miss Barry much at all and while that most certainly also has a whole lot to do with some Villa players still to come on this list, I think a former primarily attacking player like Petrov deserves huge credit for going in as comfortably as he has, doing a great job of good all round technical and physical midfield play.


Amauri - Juventus

(at least for now)


Oh how he has fallen since I started making this list...

Amauri along with the rest of his team is struggling terribly at the moment and very few things are working, including the play up front where Amauri is still the most usual suspect.

He has great athleticism, not least strength but also decent pace for someone with his target-man characteristics.

He actually used to be able to play a pretty good wide forward in 3 forward lines but a serious knee injury while still at Palermo took away some of his speed I think.

When he came back though he showed so much quality as more of target-man type of forward that Juventus still did not hesitate signing him for big money. In what at the beginning didn't look like a bad move.

In his first season for Juventus with a partner up front (either the similar Iaquinta or the not similar at all Del Piero) in Ranieri's 4-4-2 he at times performed at a very high level.
The kind of impressive level not only suggesting, depending on citizenship, filling out the hole left by the fading Luca Toni for Italy as well as a much higher placement on this list.

Since then it's all gone to hell though and while I very much against popular opinion, thought he kept his performances at an admirably decent level, on a team with a new inexperienced coach that just wasn't functioning, in the beginning of this season, he has since then fallen to pieces along with most of his surroundings and whether or not a lot of it is really out of his hands and his situation in the Juventus attack would be tough to overcome for almost anyone, it would be very hard to justify any higher ranking for someone playing as poorly as Amauri is at the moment.

He is definitely a lot closer to joining Juventus forward-fallouts from this list like Del Piero and Iaquinta than climbing any higher, but at least he has his health going for him which was the final piece of undoing for the other two.


Dirk Kuyt - Liverpool

The Netherlands


And here is another player who has found himself in a very bad situation this season and the poor performances that tends go along with that.

Generally Kuyt is not very kindly looked upon by a lot of fans in the first place. What's the use of a forward who doesn't score goals anyway, right?

And then this season with his team really struggling and him obviously not being able to do anything even coming close to changing that, is something that surely hasn't done much to change all the negative opinions about him.

But what I like about Kuyt is his running and work rate. That he is very good without the ball basically all over the pitch. Whether that's defensive work like putting pressure on the opponents and/or defending his wing, or if it's offensively in the final third where his tireless running diagonal or deep, take your pick, presents teammates with a mobile target.
Then when he gets it (current Liverpool it's really much more a case of IF) he is capable with both head and feet to do good things.

Now I'm not claiming Kuyt is a good passer or anything like that but he has good enough ball-control to make sharp turns with the ball enabling him to get either shots on goal (FWIW like everyone else he DID score in abundance in Holland) or makable passes.

Mind you this is in the final third with the ball, because while Kuyt has a lot of value without the ball almost anywhere, with the ball he is pretty useless in most places (this is one area where someone like Rooney is so much better) and can actually be pretty destructive to quality possession if he keeps getting it in places he shouldn't.

Fortunately at his best with his great stamina he is able run himself into right positions without the ball and the right positions in the final third where can be constructive if he gets it or if he doesn't at least create space for the likes of Torres and Gerrard.

Unfortunately this season a lot of that work just seems wasted and in what I suspect is a damaging combination of Liverpool having lost Xabi Alonso, their one midfielder with a great range of passing, and having acquired an attacking right-back in Glen Johnson, it does seem like Kuyt more than ever is getting the ball where he just isn't any good.

Either because he finds himself somewhat further back cause the new fullback loves to come forward a lot, or because the two remaining central midfielders Lucas and Mascherano just doesn't have the deep pass, or any playmaking ability, in their arsenal but time and time again instead passes it short, often sideways, which is where we find Kuyt then, standing still, not making forwards runs and unable to do much positive at all.

And last and possibly least here is a random Dirk Kuyt fact:

He finished 2nd in the Actim Index last season behind Nicolas Anelka and ahead of Frank Lampard who was 3rd.


Bruno Alves - FC Porto



To be honest I don't see all that much of Bruno Alves.

FC Porto isn't on tv a lot here with the exceptions being when they occasionally play a European giant in the Champions League group stage or of course when they've qualified for the knockout stages.

I saw more of him this year for Portugal though (they were in Denmark's qualifying group) where manager Carlos Queiroz started playing Pepe as a defensive midfielder which made room for Alves to play alongside Carvalho in the central defense.

Alves had started playing there already alongside Pepe filling in for Carvalho when he had been out injured and I guess did so well that he kept the spot when Carvalho eventually came back.

The Carvalho/Pepe partnership had already suffered an early very unfortunate 2-3 disaster home against Denmark and while following that they struggled mightily scoring goals, some of it I remember as bad luck, defensively for what its worth after Alves took his place in the central defense, they only allowed 2 more goals in the remaining 8 group games and went unbeaten.

So with that and Pepe's recent season ending injury it does look increasingly likely that it will be Bruno Alves we'll see in central defense for Portugal during the World Cup where they'll face Cote D'Ivoire and Brazil in the group of death.

For Porto where he is the captain he has been the defensive stalwart for years and is currently on 4 consecutive league titles.
He is athletic, strong in the air, a tough tackler and last season he won the Portuguese footballer of the year award!

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