tirsdag den 13. april 2010

The 200 best players in the world: 128 - 122

For once these writeups were done pretty quickly and I can just about smell the top 100 now.

I haven't even done any real adjustments to the list in a while so no hours wasted on that either.

Expect another update tomorrow.

Introduction to the list

The list:

New order

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
151: Sebastian Giovinco - Juventus and Luca Cigarini - Napoli - Italy
150: Taye Taiwo - Marseille - Nigeria, Rod Fanni - Rennes and Benoit Tremoulinas - Bordeaux - France
149: Domenico Criscito - Genoa - Italy
148: Fernando Llorente - Atletic Bilbao - Spain
147: Juan Roman Riquelme, Juan Sebastian Veron, Lucho Gonzalez, Pablo Aimar and Javier Pastore - Boca Juniors, Estudiantes, Marseille, Benfica and Palermo - Argentina
146: Alexis Sanchez - Udinese - Chile
145: Tom Huddlestone - Tottenham - England
144: Gerard Pique - Barcelona - Spain
143: Raul Meireles, Porto - Joao Moutinho - Miguel Veloso, Sporting Lissabon - Portugal
142: Bacary Sagna - Arsenal - France
141: Eljero Elia - Hamburger SV - Netherlands
140: Marko Marin - Werder Bremen - Germany
139: Giuseppe Rossi - Villarreal - Italy
138: Raul - Real Madrid-Spain and Ruud Van Nistelrooy - Hamburger SV-Netherlands
137: Konstantin Zyryanov - Zenit Saint Petersburg - Russia
136: Simon Rolfes - Bayern Leverkusen - Germany
135: Ze Roberto - Hamburger SV - Brazil
134 - 129
134: Mauro Camoranesi - Juventus - Italy
133: Simone Perrotta - Roma - Italy
132: Marcelo - Real Madrid - Brazil
131: Christian Chivu - Inter - Romania
130: Simäo - Atletico Madrid - Portugal
129: Marcell Jansen - Hamburger SV - Germany


Hatem Ben Arfa


Attacking midfielder/winger/forward - France


Goran Pandev


Attacking midfielder/Forward - Macedonia

Ben Arfa, right from a very early age compared to none other than Zinedine Zidane, a supremely gifted 23 year old started the season mostly coming on from the bench but during Marseille's recent title challenge surge in Ligue 1 thankfully coach Deschamp has had him featuring more, including starting resulting in a player of the month award, giving me all the excuse I needed to include one of the best dribblers in the world.

Ben Arfa has speed, agility and ball control in abundance. So much so that he is second to only very few players when it comes to those kind of difference-making skills.

What he hasn't had so much is consistency and his history already in his young career of various trouble with teammates and not least coaches haven't helped either when it comes to fulfilling his enormous potential.

If something like his team work will ever improve is doubtful since he has already had every chance to improve both for Lyon and Marseille yet failed, but the individual difference-maker he can be in attack, at a level probably higher than anyone on the list so far not named Ronaldinho (and no even Arfa is not as bad as Ronaldinho when it comes to hurting his own team) I think justifies putting him ahead of many more complete players ranked so far.

I feel Ben Arfa with the kind of attacking skill-set he has is someone who "just" needs the right setting suiting his strengths and then we will really see him explode to a point where I'm sure lots of people will be calling him one of the best in the world. Then perhaps it will be me only having him in the top 60 or so while he'll be in the top 30 or whatever for everyone else.

Well who knows but he is another player who's star I could see really rise for an attacking team in the Bundesliga, La Liga or EPL.

On to Pandev who missed most of the season forced to sit out when he was involved in a contract dispute with his club at the time Lazio and their boorish president Claudio Lotito.

Lotito getting so worked up that Pandev refused to extend his contract that he ordered him isolated from the first team.

That went on for months and mainly resulted, in one: Lazio's attacking game without Pandev stagnating to such an extent that they spent much of the season battling relegation, and two: Pandev taking the matter to the courts eventually winning his freedom and being free to go (for free!) to whatever club interested in his services.

He went to Inter of course where he quickly became another piece in getting the passing game working that the Ibrahimovic-less Inter so desperately needs.

With his fine technical ability and final third movement he is someone very suited to complement Wesley Sneijder the new Inter centerpiece, as well as strikers Milito and Eto'o, both unlike Ibrahimvic dependent on good short passing surrounding them.

Position-wise Pandev can do a good job in all the attacking midfield positions as well as be more of a second striker. He also has a good work rate and will defend his position.

Unlike previously for Lazio and I assume unlike when he represents his country Macedonia, for Inter he is very much a tactical role player mainly present to the benefit of the even more skilled on the team, and as a result of that he might not shine as brightly there, but he has just enough skill, just enough pace, hard work and cleverness to make Mourinho prefer his contribution over for an example immensely talented Mario Balotelli. Even with Balotelli still being a total headcase often ruining his own cause, that is an achievement in itself.


Rafael Marquez


Central defender/Midfielder - Mexico

The Mexico captain and icon (and not least U.S soccer fans number one heel) has been an excellent player for something like 10 years now and in a number of those previous years, as well as even last season, would have ranked higher.
Perhaps even much higher considering his ability in two different positions which in many ways is what saves him some spots still.
Because this season much of his central defender play has been shocking and full of mistakes and with a seemingly lack of focus often resulting in bad decisions.

I suppose he is someone who could always lose his cool but more than that this looks to me like a classic case of a player when he starts losing some of his athletic ability, mainly pace (not a strong point to begin with), isn't adjusting well and still tries to do what he can't quite do any longer, resulting in at times bad timing both when it comes to positioning and tackling.
Crucial stuff for a defensive player and normal Marquez strong points along with his very good, not least for a central defender, technical ability.
Ability over the years enabling him to also do well in midfield.

His range of passing especially, has always been very impressive and he has to be one of the best defenders in the world at that making him a great fit for the way Barcelona plays where any defender with below par technique could mess up that all important passing fluidity.

Since he was never the fastest or strongest in the first place and it's not really what his game has relied on over the years, losing some athleticism shouldn't have as many bad consequences as it has looked like it really did this season for Marquez, so I wouldn't be surprised if it isn't just early stages or decline panic and that Marquez sooner rather than later will adjust (cut down on the mistakes) and with all the non athletic class still intact, enjoy quite a few more years at a high level.

All in all though the defensive parts of his central defender play lately just hasn't been good enough to justify a much higher ranking.


Nigel De Jong

Manchester City

Defensive midfielder - Netherlands

A pure defensive midfielder who doesn't offer much at all in attack.

I've noticed I've used the term two-way player quite a lot when describing various midfielders, well here finally is someone I can call a one-way player!

De Jong has one of the best work rates of everyone and his athleticism gives him good ball winning ability.

Importantly his short passing game is secure and he has good tactical movement consistently defending his position throughout a game.

He'll be a key player in Roberto Mancini's likely project of installing better defensive discipline or balance into what's mostly been a wild Manchester City side and also at the World Cup for Holland De Jong's defensive contributions will be vital playing behind plenty of attacking talent.




Striker - Brazil

The above goal wasn't only goal of the year in Germany it became kind a symbol or exclamation of Wolfsburg's incredible title run last season and the travesty that was Klinsmann's Bayern team. One team Wolfsburg had a great attack providing endless highlights. The other Bayern a defense that provided holes to whoever their opponents.

Now to be fair it should be said that in reality just about every Bundesliga defense was kind of like that last season as the league quite simply exploded with goals and attacking play.

But it was Wolfsburg through the brilliant trio of Misimovic, Dzeko and Grafite who was the best attacking team of all and provided goals galore with none less that 80 in all.

Grafite himself became league top scorer with 28, his partner Dzeko had 26 and playmaker Misimovic provided an incredible 20 assists

This season compared to all of that has been a disaster and while both Dzeko and Misimovic generally have shown good form on what's an incredibly inconsistent Felix Magath-less team, Grafite has really seen his form plummet and that he kind of came out of nowhere (or journey man career) at an advanced age to begin with could suggest a much lower ranking would be more correct.

Still, while Grafite will probably never reproduce anything like we saw last season and given that he is 31 would no doubt continue to drop in the rankings if indeed this list did become neverending (more than it is already!)he is still an impressive looking striker with excellent tools worthy I think of a spot.

His great strength (or should I say power) technique combination made him almost impossible to stop last season, isolated 1on1 with a defender it was impossible, and even when struggling this season it's something that still gives him 1 goal about every other game and from what I can see this effective skill combination of his looks as good as intact.


Pablo Hernandez


Winger - Spain

25 year old Pablo actually had his breakthrough a couple of seasons ago for Getafe and was even a contender for Spain's EURO 2008 squad, but following that when he came back to Valencia last season, where he had originally been a youth product, the right wing was still occupied by (mostly former) star Joaquin and Pablo saw limited playing time.

This season however Pablo impressively has managed to reverse those roles and it's him who is the first choice right winger at Valencia and in the process even winning a few hotly contested Spain caps.

Pablo is in many ways a typical wing, who unlike for an example even more talented teammates Juan Mata and not least David Silva, it is hard to see really excel more central in tighter space.
While he is a good dribbler he is not David Silva good and his pace is best used when there is space to exploit on the wing. He is far from a Theo Walcott though and is a much more complete player with plenty of excellent technical skills to use whenever he gets the ball. His first touch especially is exquisite.

Without the ball he is actually a hard working player who can pull his weight defensively, really valuably for a skillful winger I think, and that little bit of more robustness in his game plus the seemingly very common theme for Spanish skill players of very good team work, make him for the time being more complete than his younger maybe even more talented winger rivals, and is what has him ahead of the pack so far.

My one concern about him would be consistency. He started this season very well and I was ready to place him even higher but being very good every single game has lately turned into something like being good every other game and with some really bad performances also thrown in, actually opening a little door for some more playing time for Joaquin.


Daniel Guiza


Striker - Spain

Guiza has been Spain's third choice striker (with a big gap to the obvious two) for quite a few years now but is hard to rank because for the second season running he plays his football for Turkish giants Fenerbahce where I have close to zero idea how he is currently doing.

His numbers alone of 16 goals last season and 16 so far this one I suppose look decent enough but perhaps to Fenerbahce fans quite the contrary and very disappointing if you consider Guiza joined them as the reigning top scorer in La Liga.

Anyway, without seeing him and the team in action they're not worth much standing alone and could have to do with all sorts of things depending on his role on what kind of team, their tactics and style.

Guiza is a hard working striker who is probably best with another striker or forward he can work together with. Complement and vise versa. I don't know if he has quite enough individual quality (physical or technical) to play alone up front and be an integral part of a really good attack.

However he does have just enough size and strength to be a threat in and around the box and also just enough acceleration in order to in typical good striker fashion be able to make good runs between defenders seeking passes from behind. I wouldn't say either of those departments are elite or anything but nonetheless it's a good combination to possess.

A Guiza specialty worth noting is his chipping ability, so goalkeepers be careful to step too far out or you gonna get chipped!

It does look like Guiza will make the Spain World Cup squad but I do think he has been surpassed as the third striker option by someone still to come and I would also think the earlier ranked Llorente with the size and strength he could bring should be a tempting option to at least have in your attacking arsenal.





From one tough player to rank to the next!

First time I saw Ramires for Brazil I noticed what you usually notice about Brazilian players, some nice technical skills.

Then I was impressed by his running and how it looked like he fulfilled his defensive duties on the Brazil right wing quite well. There was definitely stamina and plenty of raw athleticism as well.

In the meantime Ramires made the move to European football joining Benfica and as the hype surrounding that team and its success started spreading, with Ramires a part of that (though a smaller part than teammate Di Maria), I was pretty sure Ramires had to make the list.

Not hurting either is my growing suspicion that roughly speaking it's Ramirez physique that Dunga will prefer for the World Cup over Elano's technique for the starting Brazil right central midfielder spot, but we shall see.

Less encouraging was when I watched Ramires against Liverpool over a couple of games where he didn't really impress in either of the two.

The work rate was definitely there but the technical skills didn't look as good as my earlier impression and not all that much dynamic play came from him either.

Still the suspicion of a very good player is just too strong. I've seen physical and technical ability. Two-way play and the impressive versatility meaning he can play different midfield roles.

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