lørdag den 6. marts 2010

The 200 best players in the world: 151-148

The 200-150 rankings saw so many changes and running adjustment that looking at it now some of the order almost hurts my eyes...

To take it from the start, Sergio Ramos and Sergio Busquets are the first couple of players I did injustice.

Ramos and the various reasons for and against I already discussed at length in his write up but the combination of perhaps exaggerating against a little bit too much and simply comparing him to later entries, means I think, that he absolutely should be higher. Maybe even somewhere in this entry ranked say 148.

Busquets despite the occasional flashback to still not belonging at Barca level this season has such a good passing game and is decent enough defensively that he should also be higher. I would say around the 140 mark where we will see some players that he is comparable with.

Some of the central defenders also seem a little low but at least when it comes to those I don't really mind their internal order.

The most noteworthy jump any player would make though would be Marouane Fellaini.

Unfortunately right now he is injured which could hurt his ranking a little bit but before that he was so excellent that I would have him probably flirting with top 50 or 40.

Thankfully I don't see anyone else where I feel like I've made that big of a mistake but there are of course other players that I would like to move down some or up some.

Walcott, Wright Phillips, Lavezzi and Barnetta are too high. In Walcott's case I regret him making the list, even if my write up at least is pretty precise and to the point.
There are just too many flaws. In some ways he only ended up ranked cause I suddenly felt that I couldn't include the now sadly injured Aaron Ramsey and not the more proven Walcott, but then again I did do right and rank him behind Ramsey thankfully, so I should just have taken the full consequence of the holes in his arsenal and left him out entirely.

Srna is another one who should be a little higher. Pedro and Zhirkov quite a bit higher. Zhirkov around this entry and Pedro probably all the way up to the 120s where there are some comparable players.
At least with these two I have the excuse of them at the time of list-making either just not playing enough or uncertainty, in Pedro's case, if he was really good enough to continue to play. Quite a bit of that uncertainty is now gone therefore Pedro especially should be higher.

Anyway 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
166: Stiliyan Petrov - Aston Villa - Bulgaria
165: Amauri - Juventus - Brazil
164: Dirk Kuyt - Liverpool - The Netherlands
163: Bruno Alves - FC Porto - Portugal
162: Lorik Cana - Sunderland - Albania
161: Carlton Cole - West Ham - England
160: Lukas Podolski - FC Köln - Germany
159: Felipe Melo - Juventus - Brazil
158: Craig Bellamy - Manchester City - Wales
157: Simon Kjaer and Daniel Agger - Palermo and Liverpool - Denmark
156: Alessandro Nesta -Milan-Italy
155: Aly Cissokho - Lyon -France
154: Walter Samuel - Inter - Argentina
153: Diego Lugano - Fenerbahce - Uruguay
152: Mauro Zarate - Lazio - Argentina


Sebastian Giovinco

Juventus - Attacking midfielder



Luca Cigarini

Napoli - Midfielder


Two of Italy's best young players also have two very fitting nicknames, Giovinco is the "Atomic Ant" and Cigarini's team-mates at Napoli these days refer to him as the "Beautiful Mind".
Previous Cigarini nicknames include Toscanini and the Professor!

Those nicknames imply quite a difference between the two and more about those differences later, but first of all let us get out of the way the one thing they unfortunately have in common: limited playing time.

Giovinco especially is seeing so little that against all instincts I almost removed him entirely and Cigarini isn't an every single day starter either.

There are many reasons for that, tactical and so on, but the main one and the only one having to do with these two not being good enough (yet?), are excellent teammates who just happens to also be players who will either be significantly higher ranked or in some cases even be among the top ranked on this list, excellent players playing similar positions.

For Giovinco there is even added hindrance in that even if he is arguably better than another certain someone competing at his position, that certain someone just happens to be much loved club legend and team captain Alessandro Del Piero.
Tough obstacles for a young player who in person actually looks even tinier than his official 164cm (5 ft 4+12) measurement.

But they're just too skilled to be left out I feel. So skilled I think, that they'd be fully ready to step in and likely become key players and major stars on a lot of other teams. Not just in Serie A but they're a couple players I could easily see instantly become major stars and key contributors for various La Liga or Bundesliga teams.

Beautiful mind/Toscanini Luca Cigarini is something of a midfield passing maestro able to create and read the game. He is a technical wizard with vision and can make quality passes in midfield or in the final third, long or short. I don't even think he is below average defensively or anything. He has a good work rate, is rather disciplined when it comes to position (but maybe not enough) as well as being a decent tackler while obviously not being physically imposing or anything like that. But he is not your average fragile made out of porcelain genius playmaker.

I think that when he doesn't play for Napoli their attack can become a little too stereotypical and in Bergamo, Atalanta who cashed in on or him before this season, Cigarini is severely missed and one of the reasons I think that they look to be on their way down to Serie B.

As far as improving goes what comes to mind is his rather limited ability to create for himself and maybe lack of dictating the game even moreso through his passing. A lot of that is the style of play of the team though and so far Cigarini has only found himself on teams playing quite direct which considering his impressive range of passing isn't a bad thing anyway, but still it would be interesting to see him on team with more prolonged possession.

Giovinco is all about pace and dribbling. His low center of gravity, acceleration and great technique gives him an ability to go past defenders like very few others these days and I won't hesitate at all calling him one of very best at dribbling in the world!

The negative of course is his lack of strength which means once a good defender has physical contact the best Giovinco can often hope for is a freekick.

Another great quality is that the little fellow has dynamite feet. He has a very good quick release shot and deliver crosses full of impact.

Being perhaps the physically weakest player on this whole list there is a clear limit to what he can do defensively but I really am impressed with his workrate and last season I noticed when playing on the wing how he went from being almost literally nothing but air defensively, to a hardworking little ant often in good position defending his zone.

Things to improve could be his general passing game and decision making even it's already better than what the likes of comparable dribblers Zarate and Lavezzi are capable of.


Taye Taiwo - Marseille


Rod Fanni - Rennes



Benoît Trémoulinas - Bordeaux



And here we have a Ligue 1 fullback special. Taiwo and Tremoulinas operating on the left and Rod Fanni who plays on the right.

Taiwo has arguably been the best fullback in French football for a couple of seasons now. He is very athletic and in both defense and attack is a powerful presence that's a tough match-up for anyone.
He also has a very powerful shot that's quite the spectacle.

Tremoulinas doesn't have Taiwo's strength but has quick feet and mind as well as being skilled technically when going forward (good ball control and passing) where for French champions Bordeaux he has a very effective two-way, companionship almost, going on the left with Wendel.
It's just difficult to prevent one of them doing something useful like for an example Tremoulinas getting a quality cross in and if they're stopped it's often with a foul resulting in a dangerous set piece.
Tremoulinas impressively has a league leading 7 assists in Ligue 1 so far this season.

On the defensive front Bordeaux under Laurent Blanc's superb guidance is arguably the best organized team defensively in Europe and I haven't noticed any weak points coming from the way of Tremoulinas.
Man against man supposedly his lack of strength could get exposed, but if he is rarely caught out of position or on his heels, defending is a whole lot easier and I just haven't seen that a lot from him, if at all even. Something he also deserves credit for. He really does seem to consistently bring quality (finesse even) to attack and defense without missing much beat at all.

When defending, instead of raw strength, Tremoulinas uses great quickness, defensive instincts and discipline as his contributions to what's a great defensive team.

Rod Fanni unfortunately is a player I don't even know that much about or have a clear impression of simply because I haven't seen him play very often.

He is something of a last minute entry that I had originally decided against for the reasons above but when making this a shared placing between Taiwo and Tremoulinas I suddenly remembered Fanni who is a player I strongly suspect is around the same level.
That's of course a little weak but I don't like the idea of players at whatever position ranked somewhat high being very comparable in terms of ability and position to various players not even making the list. I want as a little as that as possible and by including Fanni I do believe there indeed is a little less...

Anyway from what I've seen of Fanni he is another guy who is very athletic and good technically, at least when it comes to ball control. I'm actually not sure about his general passing game.
He is currently the second choice right-back for France behind Arsenal's Bacary Sagna. Not bad!


Domenico Criscito

Genoa - defender/midfielder


Maybe unfairly just ahead of the others mainly because of his versatility.

Based on the last part of the previous season where his club Genoa impressively finished 5th in Serie A with as many points as Fiorentina in 4th, as well as the start of this season where Genoa were pretty much my favorite team out of anyone to watch, I was ready to catapult Criscito much higher. He just looked very good.
Since then with Genoa being much more up and down and Criscito joining in on all that instability, I've had a really difficult time placing him.

Criscito is someone who is good at just about anything almost anywhere on a football pitch but not particular great at anything either. He can play positions in both defense and midfield. He has a great work rate currently in full flow as a left wingback/midfielder. He is a good marker and tackler. Passes the ball well and there is nothing wrong with his ball control or pace. There really is no weakness. And all of those attributes can be put to good use deep in his own half, in midfield or the final third.

The only complain I can come up with, other than nothing is excellent, would be lack of serious threat coming from him on attack. That's also the one thing that might still mean veteran Fabio Grosso might very well keep his left-back starting job for Italy a little while yet.
Pirlo making a deep pass to Grosso is still so much better than what Criscito has to offer. I thought I saw improvement from him there early in the season and was just about ready to have him in or around the top 100, it was after all the only part of his game I'd hesitate calling good, but unfortunately it's still the case that without and especially with the ball his runs just aren't up to the level of a lot of very good wide players who really do excel in that area.
It's a shame cause he is definitely a better overall player than someone like Grosso and other specialists at whatever, he just lacks specialties in his own game to really become special, so to speak!

Hopefully something will improve. I should note that shortly after I had been so impressed with his play, on the forward front as well, he did suffer an injury and missed some time, so who knows if that played in.


Fernando Llorente

Athletic Bilbao - Striker


The tall target-men type of strikers almost have their own internal ranking going on this list and Llorente hereby is the highest entry so far.

He shares qualities with the others when it comes to strength and aerial ability but what makes him the current leader is that I think he has a little bit more acceleration and pace than the others ranked so far at least potentially making him more of a goal scorer able to better get in front of defenders compared to the other ranked big men.
Having said that I do suspect Zigic is be the best goalscorer of all the +190 cm guys (Huntelaar btw is 186) ranked so far, not cause he isn't the slowest out of everyone, he certainly is, just because potentially he is so dominant head and shoulders above virtually anyone, but of course Zigic just isn't playing much, which is a shame.

Technically someone like Pogrebnyak is even better than Llorente when it comes to passing and probably ball control but Llorente is good for his type of player. From the typical position of having his back to the goal he is even able to make good turns and get decent shots in. Better than those ranked so far. Also in his favor when comparing to some of the others is that at 25 years of age he has now been very consistent at a high level basically 3 years in a row now playing in a strong league.
And that with the substantial burden on his shoulders of leading the attack for all Basque Athletico Bilbao. He is also having maybe his best season, if he can keep it up he has an excellent case for a better placing, though I'm not sure if that's a symptom of him or the club improving. Some kind of combination of the two is the most likely I guess. Anyway, no matter what it's not a bad thing.

With 5 recent caps for Spain Llorente is a candidate for the World Cup but of course face very strong competition and will have quite a few Spanish strikers ranked ahead of him on this list. And then there is the absurd number of attacking midfield candidates likely tempting Spain coach Del Bosque to select one less striker.

What Llorente does have going for him though is that he does at least offer something different compared to the others but then again just how much of a need is there for that on current Spain? Probably not a whole lot but I do think it's possible at least that he could still steal the spot from the guy who also just happens to be the next (but ranked quite a few places higher) Spanish striker on this list. At least of those even in the picture (oops potential spoiler)! We shall see.

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