lørdag den 4. juli 2015

The 50 Best Players at the European U21 Championship (PART 1)



This is not a list of who played the best in the tournament itself (in fact a few of these hardly played at all), though the tournament is a factor of course (I posted my team of the tournament on twitter), but more deciding who of these players from this tournament are at the highest level in their career right now.

Quite simply who is the best?


50: 

Ricardo Pereira - Portugal - Winger - FC Porto

The other winger Ivan Cavaleiro stole the spotlight at times but I thought Pereira's game had less weaknesses especially on the ball where his thinking was both quicker and not least more intelligent. Cavaleiro the physically stronger but Pereira more overall talented which is perhaps why he is still at Porto and not at Deportivo like Cavaleiro.

49: 

Oscar Lewicki  - Sweden - Midfielder - Malmö

Edges out his captain Hiljemark. Both of them worked really hard in midfield and showed ingrain tactical awareness of the conservative Swedish system. Hiljemark has shown some weaknesses with the ball for PSV though so the more promising Lewicki makes the list.

48:  

Vaclav Kadlec  - Czech Republic - Striker - Frankfurt/Sparta Prague

Hailed as a very promising player yet he didn't make it in the Bundesliga but I spot good sign with Kadlec's above average technique and ambitious ideas within his direct style of play.

47: 

Alex Pritchard -  England - Winger - Tottenham/Brentford


46: 

Carl Jenkinson - England -  Right-back - Arsenal/West Ham

It's very well known what he can do. Strong and athletic enough to consistently get up and down the wing during a game and when he is up he has one of the better right-footed deliveries among right-backs in England.

His big size for a right-back helps defensively but overall you wish he'd have more dimensions in his game which could be the reason that he'll never have a great future at Arsenal. Too simple.

45: 

Matthias Ginter - Germany - Defender/Midfielder - Dortmund

He was one of the best players during the previous U21 tournament but despite a place in the German World Cup squad he's flopped ever since and it has come to the point where he has played games for Dortmund II. How is that for a World Cup winner?

A lot of Dortmund's underwhelming season has been blamed on the new strikers unable to replace departing Lewandowski's very complete striker contributions, but overall if even some of their promising players like Ginter, Hofman, Durm and even Jojic though he had some good games, had fulfilled more of their potential that could also really have helped.

With all that said, it's obviously too early to give up on Ginter and he wasn't too bad this tournament which would have been a very bad sign of regression.

44: 

Filip Helander  - Sweden - - Central Defender - Malmö

There is no way I'm going to ignore his partner's Milosevic severe mistakes, even if he brings determination and leadership to the side. Helander also held up well in the Champions League for a young player.


43: 

Tomas Kalas  - Czech Republic -- Central Defender  - Chelsea/Middlesbrough


42: 

John Guidetti - Sweden - Striker - Celtic/?


For all the good things he does as a striker and he did plenty this tournament there are serious doubts whether he can function outside a more traditional striker-duo. That's problematic and more than hints limitations to his overall talent when we're talking highest level of football.


 41: 

Moritz Leitner - Germany - Midfielder - Dortmund/Stuttgart

Neat midfielder with good football IQ and fine overall technique but he couldn't have been more harmless (a problem at times also in the Bundesliga) this tournament and was quickly replaced by new talent offering more in terms of movement and aggressiveness.

40: 

Davide Zappacosta - Italy -  Right-back - Atalanta

There is a lot Christian Maggio to his intense and well timed off-ball sprints attacking the opponent half. Often going deep and then with the ball he seems more well-rounded and talented really than Maggio - not quite like say prime Zambrotta (who had way more attacking midfielder to him early on) but there are good similarities I think.

A not untypical question mark when it comes to Italian left and right-backs is whether he is really good enough outside a wing-back role, is he too much of a specialist?


39: 

Julian Korb - Germany - Right-back -  Mönchengladbach

Solid and proven right-back in the Bundesliga. That's more than a lot of players in contention for this list can lay claim to.


38: 

Viktor Fischer -  Denmark -Winger/Forward  - Ajax

Coming back from injury he hasn't lost his talent as a very dangerous wide forward with high-level of technical tools and a born instinct to be dangerous including where time and space is short, but for a wide-forward more consistent, even relentless, influence and high level of threat, during the game would be desirable.

Arguably too much of a poacher exclusively deep in the opponent half for a wide player and I'm guessing still doesn't have the all-round game to play as the lone number 9 in a 433 for a very good club.

Can easily still become a star though.

37: 

Filip Djuricic - Serbia -- Attacking Midfielder -  Benfica/Mainz/Southampton

His eye catching attacking and playmaking talents have really struggled coming through ever since leaving Holland and he has arguably flopped everywhere he's been since. I strongly disagreed with Southampton getting him and giving him minutes over considerable better players at this point, but not unpredictably his talents (but also disturbingly early cramping) did come through against players of this age-group and he showed plenty of flair with his touches and playmaking ideas, whether for himself or for teammates.

For someone similar for inspiration on how to get it done, I think he could look to Javier Pastore.


36: 

Yussif Poulsen - - Denmark - Winger/Forward - Red Bull Leipzig

Exciting athletic winger/forward who is pacy, strong both in endurance and combat so to speak + a great aerial leaper.

His technique is up and down. There is pace being maintained ALSO with the ball at his feet which is a good thing but his first touches and I guess anticipation in smaller spaces can improve a lot.

35: 

Jannik Vestergaard -  Denmark - Central Defender - Werder Bremen

Pretty spectacular young modern centreback who's ranged diagonal passing (with both feet I believe!!!) is a sight to behold and one day could make him ideal for a top club playing ambitious football.

Strong defensive leader with a body that can still grow even stronger I think. He has well advanced defensive instincts in his interventions in and around the box while weaknesses could very well be 1v1 duel play where you want someone this talented to be even better/stronger and I also think there is something off (smoothness??) with his turns when quickly challenged in smaller spaces. Someone this young should be less like John Terry when it comes to those aspects.


34: 

Tiago Ilori - Portugal - Central Defender - Liverpool/Bordeaux

I had not seen him play before this tournament but came away very impressed with his many talents.

I almost want to say this is how the young Thiago Silva might have looked like but that's very premature talk and a dangerous comparison to clearly the best defender of the last few years.

But Ilori is nicely composed both in his defending and with his time on the ball.

In his duel play I was surprised how few problems that he generally had (stronger than he looked) and he was intelligent both when being pro-active and more positional defensive. Generally I don't think he really did get those decisions wrong though I'm sure some of the credit should also go to his partner Paulo Oliveira who seemed to be the leader.


33: 

Stefano Sturaro - Italy - Midfielder -  Juventus

Had an awful tournament but this is a very solid midfield-worker both physically and tactically.

32: 

Andreas Christensen -  Denmark - Defender/Midfielder - Chelsea

When you're this talented and impressive both as a centreback and playing the midfield-anchor you're bound to get a good ranking.


31: 

Carlos Mane - Portugal -  Forward -  Sporting CP

He didn't really fit in tactically in Portugal's system but a very dangerous young forward who I also watched in Europe last season. Mane oozes danger with his speed and skill.



30: 

Pione Sisto - Attacking Midfielder/Winger - Denmark - Midtjylland

The most exciting talent to emerge from the Danish league in years and even after a major injury setback big clubs are swarming for his signature.

I don't watch the Danish league normally, so I'm sure there are many more well versed in Sisto than me, but he is obviously very athletic and can be decisive on very few meters which is something you want from an elite talent. Definitely a shotmaker which the best players in the world tend to be so complaining about ability to create your own shot and insisting on taking it, many times during a game, is often misplaced. Unless you're complaining about Andros Townsend that is :) but generally it's what the best players in the world just happen to do.

Anyway, talk has it that Sisto also provide good teamwork and intelligence both on and off ball for a player of his type, so really there are many many things to like when it comes to this player.

29:

Ruben Neves -  Portugal - Midfielder - FC Porto

Easily one of the strongest and most solid teenage central midfielders around. I think even physically comparable to Emre Can at this age. Is there upside left when it comes to his power? Then watch out.


28:

Robin Knoche  - Germany - - Central Defender - Wolfsburg

He hasn't really impressed lately whenever I've watched Wolfsburg. Sure enough he is strong and reasonable with the ball but also too slow and error-prone at times with his defending.

It's unreasonable and probably not all that logical though if a starting centreback for the second placed team in one of the strongest leagues can't get a solid ranking on a U21 list so here he is.


27: 

Jan Kliment - Czech Republic -  Striker -  Vysocina Jihlava/Stuttgart

A previously unknown who was shockingly the best striker of the tournament.

Maybe this ranking is too generous and he won't be that good, in the real world so to speak, but Kliment looked complete and decisive enough on and off-ball, both in smaller and longer spaces with compact athleticism and sound fundamental technique, that he was quickly signed by Stuttgart.

26: 

Pavel Kaderabek -  Czech Republic - Right-back - Sparta Prague/Hoffenheim

A left or right back who is strong, fast and skilled enough to actually be decisive individually is always very interesting and Kaderabek will get a chance to prove his worth up against converted (and pretty solid) right-back Sebastian Rudy next season at Hoffenheim.

25: 

Calum Chambers - England - Defender/Midfielder - Arsenal

This might seem too good a ranking for someone where not a lot has been happening recently but let's have some perspective. He's already had a very good season for Southampton under his belt where he was fully on par with the likes of Clyne and Luke Shaw. All of them raising their values and wages to places where most in contention for this list can only dream of.

Needs to find a position to be really good at.


24: 

Milos Jojic - Serbia -  - Midfielder - Dortmund

I had not seen him this forward moving before and I think it's a very good sign for him as a central midfielder not just being restricted to more controlling and tactical work. He has very good technique with his touches, passes and ball-striking.


23: 

Lorenzo Crisetig -  Italy - Midfielder - Inter

Once Italy coach Di Biagio stopped playing all his worst midfielders and replaced them with the good ones, Crisetig played the regista role to such perfection almost that I just have to give him a good ranking.

Great decisions and execution with the ball (showing more than sound technique in the process) and exemplary movement both defensively and as a passing-option whether back or more forward.

I hope that he gets some chances playing with Kondogbia at Inter this season but we'll see.

22: 

John Stones - England - Central Defender - Everton

Obviously very talented not dissimilar to a young Cahill with great conviction in duels. There is also strength and pace.

Not bad with the ball either when it comes his touches (not sure about his passing where for Everton Jagielka handles the more ambitious ones) but Stones is more inconsistent with his marking in my opinion than his rapidly growing reputation would otherwise suggest.

21: 

Amin Younes -  Germany - Winger -  Mönchengladbach

His lack of success on club level is strange when you've watched him this tournament.

One of the most decisive attacking players of the tournament with lightning turns and strong accelerations while in full control of what he wanted to do with the ball. Looking at numbers per90 only Bernardo Silva has a case for better dribbling this tournament and if I'm not mistaken Younes was atually capable of impact deliveries with both feet. He could certainly dribble and turn both left and right directions which is a tremendous sign of promise.

Let's hope for a Marko Marin type of breakthrough... And then a much better sequel!

The top 20 coming up later.

onsdag den 1. april 2015

2014/15 Season Rankings: The 100 Best Left and Right-backs in the World (IN PROGRESS)

Before I eventually get to the 300 best players overall, I'm once again ranking different positions.

The following 2014/15 position-rankings have been completed:

Top 100 Central Defenders
Top 200 Attacking Midfielders and Wingers


This is the 100 best left and right-backs in the world.

A rundown featuring comments on the ranking can be found at the Sporting Events Forum HERE


2014/15 Season Rankings: The 100 Best Left and Right-backs in the World


100 Ivan Strinić - Croatia - Dnipro/Napoli
99 Pavel Kaderabek -Czech Republic - Sparta Prague 
98 Canar Erkin - Turkey - Fenerbahce
97 Christophe Jallet - France - Lyon
96 Jesus Gamez - Spain - Atletico Madrid
95 Ricardo van Rhijn - Netherlands - Ajax
94 63 Dmitri Kombarov - Russia - Spartak Moscow 
93 Sergio Escudero - Spain - Getafe 
92 Ivan Piris - Paraguay - Udinese 
91 Benoit Tremoulinas - France - Sevilla

90 Dusan Basta - Serbia - Lazio 
89 Sead Kolasinac - Bosnia and Herzegovina - Schalke 04  
88  Fabian Johnson - USA - Mönchengladbach
87 41 41 Ignazio Abate - Italy - Milan
86 Julian Korb - Germany - Mönchengladbach
85 44 Mattia De Sciglio - Italy - Milan  
84 Silvan Widmer - Switzerland - Udinese 
83 Luca Antonelli - Italy - Genoa/Inter 
82 Sebastian Rudy - Germany - Hoffenheim 
81 56 36 Maxi Periera - Uruguay - Benfica 

80 Hugo Mallo - Spain - Celta Vigo 
79 Benjamin Mendy - France - Marseille
78 Wendell - Brazil - Bayer Leverkusen
77 39 Marcel Schmelzer - Germany - Dortmund
76 Javi Manquillo - Spain - Atletico Madrid/Liverpool
75 Eugenio Mena - Chile - Universidad de Chile/Santos/Cruzeiro
74 Miguel Layún - Mexico - America/Watford
73 Abdul Rahman Baba - Ghana - Augsburg
72 Luke Shaw - England - Manchester United
71 49 29 Yuto Nagatomo - Japan - Inter

70 34 20 18 Patrice Evra - France - Juventus 
69 Jetro Willems - Netherlands - PSV  
68 70 21 15 Domenico Criscito - Italy – Zenit
67 Henri Bedimo - Cameroon - Lyon
66 Nacho - Spain - Real Madrid
65 43 Cristian Ansaldi - Argentina - Atletico Madrid
64 52 NR 28 Kyle Walker - England - Tottenham
63 40 Marcos Rocha - Brazil - Atletico Mineiro 
62 Jeremy Mathieu - France - Barcelona
61 Jordan Amavi - France - Nice


60 55 Roberto Rosales - Venezuela - Malaga
59 58 Kieran Gibbs - England - Arsenal 
58 45 47 Davide Santon - Italy - Newcastle/Inter
57 Bryan Oviedo - Costa Rica - Everton 
56 21 14 06 Bacary Sagna - France – Manchester City 
55 67 28 Nacho Monreal - Spain - Arsenal  
54 Guilherme Siqueira - Brazil - Atletico Madrid
53 42 Atsuto Uchida - Japan - Schalke 04
52 30 38 Martin Montoya - Spain - Barcelona
51 Tin Jedvaj - Croatia - Roma/Bayer Leverkusen

50 61 Lucas Digne - France - PSG 
49 Andre Almeida - Portugal - Benfica
48 Antonio Valencia - Ecuador - Manchester United 
47 32 26 29 Rafael - Brazil - Manchester United
46 53 30 Mario Figueira Fernandes - Brazil - CSKA Moscow
45 Hector Bellerin - Spain - Arsenal
44 Alex Telles - Brazil - Galatasaray
43 33 19 25 Gael Clichy - France - Manchester City
42 Mario Gaspar Pérez - Spain - Villarreal 
41 31 35 Aleksandar Kolarov - Serbia - Manchester City

40 Jonathan Silva - Argentina - Sporting Lisbon
39 36 Kwadwo Asamoah - Ghana - Juventus
38 68 Layvin Kurzawa - France - Monaco 
37 47 24 24 Mathieu Debuchy - France - Arsenal
36 46 Alberto Moreno - Spain - Liverpool
35 64 Nathaniel Clyne - England - Southampton
34  69 Gregory Van der Wiel - Netherlands - PSG
33 Fabinho - Brazil - Monaco
32 07 07 12 Łukasz Piszczek - Poland – Dortmund 
31 66 Rafinha - Brazil - Bayern München

tirsdag den 10. marts 2015

2014/15 Season Rankings: The 100 Best Central Defenders in the World

Before I get to the 300 best players in the world I'll be doing position rankings.

Completed:

Top 200 Attacking Midfielders/Wingers


Now it is time for the centrebacks!

A rundown of the ranking containing various thoughts on the defenders. who's rankings are always subject to much change, can be found and followed on the Sporting Events Forum HERE


The 2014/15 Season Rankings: The 100 Best Central Defenders in the World



100 Andreas Granqvist - Sweden - Krasnodar
99 Samuel Umtiti - Cameroon - Lyon 
98 Giancarlo Gonzalez - Costa Rica - Palermo 
97 Paulo Oliveira - Portugal - Sporting CP
96 Weligton - Brazil - Malaga
95 Chancel Mbemba Mangulu - DR Congo - Anderlecht
94 Jeison Murillo - Colombia - Granada
93 Loic Perrin - France - St. Etienne  
92 Raul Albiol - Spain - Napoli 
91 Andreu Fontas - Spain - Celta Vigo

90 69 Fabian Schär - Switzerland - FC Basel
89 Emre Can - Germany - Bayer Leverkusen/Liverpool
88 34 38 Sylvain Distin - France - Everton  
87 Martin Hinteregger - Austria - Red Bull Salzburg
86 Oscar Duarte - Costa Rica - Club Brügge
85 19 20 05 Nemanja Vidic - Serbia - Inter 
84 Federico Fazio- Argentina - Tottenham  
83 Alessio Romagnoli - Italy - Roma/Sampdoria
82 39 23 20 Fabricio Coloccini - Argentina – Newcastle 
81 Yaroslav Rakitskiy - Ukraine - Shakthar Donetsk

80 Ron Vlaar - Netherlands - Aston Villa
79 64 Bruno Martins Indi - Netherlands - Porto
78 Phil Jones - England - Manchester United
77 48 39 Kyriakos Papadopoulos - Greece - Bayer Leverkusen
76 Martin Skrtel - Slovakia - Liverpool
75 Joel Veltman - Netherlands - Ajax 
74  70 Martín Demichelis - Argentina - Manchester City  
73 67 Federico Fernandez - Argentina - Swansea
72 Virgil Van Dijk - Netherlands - Celtic
71 Toby Alderweireld - Belgium - Southampton 

70 John Stones - England - Everton
69 52 Niklas Moisander - Finland - Ajax 
68 55 Iñigo Martínez - Spain - Real Sociedad
67 Jose Fonte - Portugal - Southampton 
66 Tin Jedvaj - Croatia - Roma/Bayer Leverkusen 
65 Winston Reid - New Zealand - West Ham 
64 Antonio Rüdiger - Germany - VBF Stuttgart  
63 Karim Rekik - Netherlands - Manchester City/PSV  
62 Kalidou Koulibaly - France - Napoli
61 38 28 23 Daniel Agger - Denmark – Brøndby 

60 23 14 18 Neven Subotic - Serbia - Dortmund 
59 Jeremy Mathieu - France - Barcelona  
58 56 31 25 Holger Badstuber - Germany - Bayern München 
57 Mateo Musacchio - Argentina - Villarreal 
56 Daniele Rugani - Italy - Juventus/Empoli 
55 Ivan Marcano - Spain - FC Porto
54 Nicolas Pareja- Argentina - Sevilla
53 Naldo - Brazil - Wolfsburg
52 37 24 Leandro Castán - Brazil - Roma 
51 Shkodran Mustafi - Germany - Valencia

50 54 30 22 Dede - Brazil - Cruzeiro
49 60 Aleksandar Dragovic - Austria - Dynamo Kiev
48 43 13 31 Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa - France – Roma
47 20 Dejan Lovren - Croatia - Liverpool 
46 31 48 Eliaquim Mangala - France – Manchester City 
45 35 26 30 Jonny Evans - Northern Ireland - Manchester United  
44 12 11 Dante - Brazil - Bayern München  
43 30 36 Phil Jagielka - England – Everton 
42 Marc Bartra - Spain - Barcelona
41 27 40 Matija Nastasic - Serbia - Manchester City/Schalke 04 

40 57 32 Benedikt Höwedes - Germany - Schalke 04 
39 36 42 Nicolas N'Koulou - Cameroun - Marseille 
38 Ömer Toprak - Turkey -Bayer Leverkusen 
37 58 Aymeric Laporte - France - Athletic Bilbao   
36 26 18 13 Branislav Ivanovic - Serbia – Chelsea    
35 63 Sokratis - Greece - Dortmund  
34 62 Stefan De Vrij - Netherlands - Lazio
33 21 22 16 David Luiz - Brazil – PSG 
32 53 Luisao - Brazil - Benfica  
31 08 21 Per Mertesacker - Germany - Arsenal 

30 24 NR 26 John Terry - England – Chelsea    
29 13 Javi Martinez – Spain – Bayern München 
28 25 Gary Cahill - England - Chelsea    
27 Kurt Zouma - France - Chelsea    
26 Aymen Abdennour - Monaco - Tunisia  
25 32 37 28 Andrea Barzagli - Italy - Juventus 
24 16 07 Gonzalo Rodríguez - Argentina - Fiorentina
23 41 44 27 Mamadou Sakho - France – Liverpool 
22 Marcos Rojo - Argentina - Manchester United 
21 44 33 Javier Mascherano - Argentina - Barcelona

20 José Maria Giménez - Uruguay - Atletico Madrid
19 15 09 12 Pepe - Portugal - Real Madrid 
18 Kostas Manolas - Greece - Roma
17 14 06 09 Giorgio Chiellini - Italy - Juventus
16 46 Marquinhos - Brazil - PSG 
15 61 50 Nicolas Otamendi - Argentina - Valencia  
14 17 10 08 Gerard Pique - Spain – Barcelona 
13 10 15 Miranda - Brazil - Atletico Madrid  
12 05 05 03 Vincent Kompany - Belgium - Manchester City  
11 07 03 11 Jan Vertonghen - Belgium - Tottenham 

10 06 16 Ezequiel Garay - Argentina - Zenit 
09 18 Mehdi Benatia - Morocco - Bayern München 
08 22 41 Jerome Boateng - Germany - Bayern München 
07 09 47 Raphael Varane - France - Real Madrid  
06 02 02 04 Mats Hummels - Germany - Dortmund 
05 28 34 Leonardo Bonucci - Italy – Juventus 
04 11 45 Diego Godín - Uruguay - Atletico Madrid
03 04 04 02 Sergio Ramos - Spain - Real Madrid
02 03 12 07 Laurent Koscielny - France - Arsenal
01 01 01 01 Thiago Silva - Brazil - PSG