Midfielders : The Unsung Heroes

Monday, May 22, 2017

        So the thing about football is that there are only so many that get the limelight for the games that a team wins, but the build up to the final touch that puts the ball in the back of the net is negated. Yes ! I am talking about the midfield . The midfield acts as the engine that constantly works to provide the inch perfect pass that creates the goal scoring opportunity or the perfectly timed tackle that help the team stay afloat. This is the job of the Unsung Heroes that work tirelessly to make the life of the team easy throughout the 90 minutes.

        Being the backbone of the team, not only does the midfield do the job that is dirty enough to win the nastiest of tackles but also create chances needed to win a game. However, the credit that the player gets is negligible. The world has seen some of the greatest of midfielders, however, these are my top four picks - Golo Kanté, Sergio Busquets, Yaya Toure and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for the concluding season of 16/17. These players constitute the link up play that become vital to the goal that wins the match in the dying seconds. The final pass or a crucial tackle is just the tip of the iceberg. The work rate, intelligence, timing, shooting, dribbling, decision of passing, perfect weight on the ball, are the real traits of a footballer.

N'Golo Kanté

N'Golo Kanté in action

       The kind of distance that Kanté covers in 90 min makes you question if he really is human.  Putting in the right tackles at the right time, helping the team time and again, and saving face even if he's up against forces like Agüero or Sánchez. Kanté in his 1st season with Leicester City that went on to lift the Premier league had an astonishing defensive play with 175 tackles. The 5' 5" star had the most interceptions in the league with 157, more than any other player. He dominated the midfield during his 1st season and earned his name in the PFA Team of the Year. Kanté left Leicester for Chelsea in the 2016/17 campaign and became an influential part of the  team almost immediately after setting foot on Stamford Bridge. Kanté won his 2nd consecutive Premier league Title with Chelsea. Not only did he ensure his place in the PFA Team of the Year but was also named the PFA Player of the Year in his debut season for Chelsea. He was also named as the Premier League Player of the Season.

Sergio Busquets
     
Sergio Busquets in action
        Another player who skips the limelight for the relentless amount of work he does on the pitch is Sergio Busquets. Despite being 6'3" he is very swift in the midfield and the man to call out for when Barcelona is cut short defensively. His intelligence on the ball is exquisite and he makes the distribution of the very famous Tiki-Taka look effortless. His flawless tackles and work rate make him the core pillar of Barcelona since Xavi left. His contribution to the team hasearned him 24 trophies with Barcelona over the course of 9 years. With the National team, he's won the FIFA World Cup 2010 and UEFA European Championship in 2012.

Yaya Toure

Yaya Toure in action

        Yaya Toure is an underrated midfielder even after playing for the European giants Barcelona and being a part of the sextuple winning season. Currently playing for Manchester City, the 6'2" central midfielder is a dominating figure on the pitch and one of the most fierce opponents to play against. His presence on the pitch is felt with or without the ball. His aggression to win the ball helps him play a strategic game and sudden bursts of speed make him a terrifying opponent. The last thing defenders expect to see is the freight train Yaya with full speed heading their way.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in action

        Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is another player with blistering pace and exceptional skill on and off the ball. Blessed with that pace he possesses the skill to glide past defenders with surreal control on the ball. The runs that Ox provides off the ball makes life easier in the midfield and his work rate going up and down the flanks aids the wing backs. Combination of such speed and strength makes him volatile on the pitch. He cuts through defenders like a knife through butter and provides decisive crosses that always keep the goalkeepers on their toes.

- Abhay Thekkany

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