Posts Tagged Atletico Madrid

Top Ten Players of 2009/10

This would normally have come at the end of May but being a World Cup year, I held it till the Mundial was over before coming up with players I feel deserve to be so recognised. Obviously, performances at the World Cup in South Africa has a lot to do with the players that have made this list; a lot, not all to do with who makes this list.

It’s a three-way tie here made of Luis Suarez of Ajax, Englishmen Jermaine Defoe and Bobby Zamora of Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham respectively.

Africa may not like him no thanks to his hand in Ghana’s quarter final exit, but Suarez is a fine player nonetheless as shown in the three goals he scored at the World Cup on the back of 47 goals in 46 starts last season for Ajax, putting him in good stead to replace Diego Forlán as Uruguay’s main man. Besides, if not for his handiwork, Forlán most probably wouldn’t have got the Golden Ball award because Uruguay would definitely have crashed out.

Defoe appears on this list thanks to his goals that helped Spurs reach the League Cup final, FA Cup semi final, finish 4th in the Premier League and qualify for a first ever UEFA Champions League. Redknapp’s continuous faith in him (from West Ham to present) has consistently being repaid in kind. Admittedly his World Cup was average but he did score a goal (more than Wayne Rooney).

And Zamora, whose crucial goals helped Fulham finish respectably in the league and imperatively in their amazing run to the final of the maiden Europa League, shushed his critics all in a season plagued by injury which ultimately cost him a place with England’s party to South Africa.

9. Sergio Ramos

Sergio Ramos

Sergio Ramos

It’s difficult to place a defender among the best of them all but Ramos in my view is an excellent defender and with an average of one goal in three games for underachieving Real Madrid last season coupled with a solid performance for newly crowned world champions Spain at the World Cup, fully deserves his place here.

8. Maiçon
It’s a pity Brazil met the Netherlands in that quarter final match either side could have won and had Brazil won, Maiçon would have come in higher on this list. He had a good World Cup, scoring quite a goal but it is his season with treble winning Inter Milan that catches the eye. Maiçon was consistent for the Nerazurri and was one of the stars that helped Inter to that treble.

7. Thomas Müller

Thomas Muller

Thomas Muller

The 20 year old has had a season to remember having broken into the German national team with top rate performances for Bayern Munich on the Bavarians way to winning the league and cup double as well as losing in the Champions League final. Müller capped his season with five goals and three assists at the World Cup to win the Golden Boot award ahead of David Villa and Forlán.

6. Lionel Messi
In my initial shortlist of players, Messi actually did not make the top ten…something definitely wrong there and this is the best I could do for the Argentine hope following a World Cup below expectations for country and a season parallel to our expectations. Messi remained true to his pace, menace and sheer will to disgrace opposition – until Mourinho came with his tactics and the Germans with their machines. Messi remains a fan favourite and his four goals against Arsenal (for me) in the quarter final of last season’s Champions League sums just why.

5. David Villa

David Villa

David Villa

Fernando Torres is regarded as the golden boy of la Roja but a month at South Africa surely must have changed perspectives with Villa running the show up front and from the flanks too, scoring five clinical goals and simply justifying the £30m or so Barcelona paid Valencia for his services. Asides scoring, Villa was a team player (sometimes) and had more shots on target at the Cup than anyone else – the move from modest, cash-strapped Valencia was only a matter of time and his form for Spain with his new club mates leaves the world to wonder, who will stop Blaugrana 2010/11?

4. Arjen Robben
He’s one of those Dutchmen that fall prey to injury season after season and he’s had his little fair share this season which gives his accomplishment this season even more credence in my books, helping Bayern Munich to a German double and the Champions League final as well as playing his part in the Netherlands run to the World Cup final despite missing the group stages (safe for the substitute appearance in the third match). He however will rue for a long time his missed chance one-on-one with Iker Cassilas (who by the way, finished at no. 11 on my shortlist or having more players at the number 10 spot would just have made this lose some cred) that most probably would have won the World Cup for Oranje…bygones I guess.

3. Xavi Hernandez
Xavi’s only flaw is the lack of goals in his games, safe for the occasional free kick and poachers effort otherwise it would be his name; and not Messi or CR9 (with all due respect), that would be on every football lovers’ lips. That said, he again was at the heart of affairs for Barcelona as Blaugrana won a Spanish double and fell short of retaining the Champions League against eventual champions Inter Milan with his ever pinpoint assists and overall vision and intelligence.

2. Diego Forlan

Diego Forlan

I’ve only heard Sir Alex Ferguson state his respect for players he sold twice – Jaap Stam and Forlan. Forlan without question was the spine behind Uruguay’s run to a fourth place finish at the World Cup, finishing with five goals and capping his campaign at South Africa with a goal that had class glossed all over it against the Germans. That, plus a season with Atletico Madrid that saw him lead the Spanish side to the Europa League trophy caps a terrific season for the late bloomer.

1. Wesley Sneijder
Not saying he’s going to be named World Footballer of the year but then again, he won the Italian league and cup and the Champions League being the playmaker of the Nerazzuri before coming so close to lifting a first World Cup for the Netherlands…enough ingredients in my opinion to be named the best footballer for the year #nodisrespect. And to think he is a Real Madrid reject, along with Robben! Sneijder has come a good long way from his torrid time at the Bernabeu where ironically he won the Champions League.

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Some of the Most Unfortunate Football Strikers

This is a compilation of some of football’s best strikers who for one reason or another have seen their careers…or better yet, sight on goal become blind partially or totally. In plain English, I mean they have become a shadow of their former deadly selves or have been forced to retirement.

First on the list is Marco van Basten and believe me, there are a precious few who match the Dutchman’s strike rate, let alone beat it.

Marco van Basten in his hey days
Marco van Basten in his hey days

218 league goals in 280 appearances for AFC Ajax and AC Milan speaks volumes in the Hall of Football Fame which also has numerous Dutch league and Cup titles along with Lega Calcio shields and ultimately the Champions League with Milan.

It then IS very unfortunate he did not get to inflict more damage on opposing defenses when at the ripe age of 28, his career came to an end no thanks to an ankle injury.

His coaching stint also has not been so successful, but not so bad, after leading a promising Oranje team to the Euro 2008 quarterfinal before finishing third behind surprise packages AZ Alkamaar and FC Twente in this season’s Dutch Eredivise…he resigned his post from Ajax afterwards.

Next is Dario Silva of Uruguay who among other clubs played for Malaga, FC Sevilla and Portsmouth before the worst happened.

Dario Silva in training with Alvaro Recoba
Dario Silva in training with Alvaro Recoba

In September of 2006, the striker along with two ex-footballers was involved in an accident when Silva lost control of his pick-up truck.

Sliva survived, but at the cost of his right leg which was amputated from knee down after he was thrown out of the truck, thus fracturing his skull and leg.

Martin Palermo however did not suffer like Silva did but his ego took a bit of mud when in the 1999 edition of the Copa Libertodores, he missed three penalties for Argentina against Colombia, a feat that earned him an unenviable place in none other than the Guiness Book of Records.

Palermo also never came to terms with his scoring boot in Europe as stints with Alaves and Villarreal show but his average with Boca Juniors is phenomenal with over 200 goals in under 250 appearances in two spells at the club.

He unfortunately has played seven times only for Argentina and scored three goals and while it may seem his world record feat ended his national team career, a spate of injuries at the time was the actual cause and with players such as Messi and Tevez and Aguero (who has a child-to-be with Maradona’s daughter, Maradona being Argentina boss now), it is hard for Palermo to break back into the national team.

So what other forward of high profile could have suffered career disappointment and there came Miguel Mista of Spain and more specifically, Valencia CF.

Full name Miguel Angel Ferrer Martinez, Mista was Rafael Benitez number one forward during their time at the Santiago Bernabeu with Real Madrid’s reserves.

Both then moved on to Tenerife where Mista’s goals helped the modest club to promotion into the Primera Liga in 2001 before both again moved onto bigger turfs with Valencia where two league titles and a UEFA Cup trophy was won.

Miguel Mista in the good days of los Che
Miguel Mista in the good days of los Che

Mista finished top scorer in the la Liga; earning the Pichichi title, in 2004 with los Che before finally parting ways with Benitez who left for Liverpool while he went ot Atletico Madrid.

Bad move that was as the man he replaced, Fernando Torres, flourished at Liverpool with Rafa while Mista failed to make any impact AT ALL with Atletico, crashing into obscurity faster than the moles dig into the earth.

Next in the list of unfortunates is former Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink who unknown to many, began his career quite poorly before a move to Boavista proved his break in front of goal, scoring 20 goals in 29 league matches for the Portuguese club.

That earned him just the Portuguese Cup though and a move to England with Leeds United for whom he continued his prolific scoring form and after two seasons; coinciding with Leeds downturn, he moved to Atletico Madrid.

At Atletico, he amazingly scored 24 league goals and 10 more in other competitions, yet was unable to save the club from the ignomity of relegation that season, prompting a move to Chelsea.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink

At Chelsea, he finished top scorer in three of the four seasons spent at Stamford Bridge but failed to land the league title with the Blues.

Hasselbaink NEVER won a major title at his sojourn round Europe; except the Portuguese Cup and Super Cup with Boavista and Community Shield with Chelsea, also failing to make any impact with the national team with the likes of Ruud van Nistelrooij, Dennis Bergkamp, Roy Makaay and Patrick Kluivert well ahead in the pecking order.

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