In the third instalment of ten blogs over the upcoming week and a half, I will be continuing the Top 100 Players countdown from 80th-71st place on our chart. The Champions League last season was won unsurprisingly by the force that is Barcelona, in which they beat Manchester United 3-1 in the final at Wembley with goals by Pedro, Messi and Villa and with Rooney getting what turned out to be a consolation. This season, the Champions League has produced many shocks with Channel 5 and football fans (unless they’re from Manchester) delighted at the exits of Manchester United and Manchester City in the group stages and APOEL and Basel qualifying for the round of 16. The 2010-2011 Europa League saw Porto win after defeating Braga in the final, in which Falcao scored the winner; the Colombian striker bagged a tournament record of 17 goals, almost three times as many as the 3rd top scorer of the competition. This season has seen Shamrock Rovers qualify for the group stages of the tournament but they finished bottom of their group and Anderlecht remain the only team with a 100% record after winning six out of six matches. Now let’s get cracking on with the countdown from 80-71.
80-Micah Richards—Manchester City—England—Defender
How the defender wasn’t called up for the last England matches, no-one knows. He is returning to the form which saw him become the youngest defender to be capped for England at 18 years of age. He is strong defensively and even better going forward, with the speedy right back getting 5 assists and a solitary goal to his name in 14 matches so far. He is a key part of Roberto Mancini’s side and remains one of the few players to remain from the pre Sheikh Mansour times.
Moving on loan to Bolton for the latter part of last season was the best decision Sturridge has made in his career as he got plaudits for his performances as he got 8 goals in 12 games. He returned to Chelsea at the end of the season and he impressed Andre Villas Boas in pre-season, who said of the striker that “He is an extremely quick player, and he has technique at pace.” He has repaid his boss’ faith so far with 8 goals and 3 assists in 12 games and there is no doubt he will continue to improve.
78-Javier Hernandez—Manchester United—Mexico—Striker
Javier Hernandez adjusted quickly to life in the Premier League as he scored 13 goals in 27 games last season and 6 goals in 14 games so far this season. He is said to be the best poacher for Manchester United since Ruud Van Nistelrooy. His nickname ‘Chicharito’ translates to the ‘little pea’ which is a tribute to his father and grandfather, who were both professional footballers. He also helped Mexico to win the Gold Cup, in which he top scored with 7 goals in 6 games.
Whether he is deployed in his natural position of centre back or as a holding midfielder, Pepe continues to do the job excellently for Real Madrid. He started the season off as a centre back partnering Ricardo Carvalho but was used as a defensive midfielder to hold off Barcelona. He was controversially sent off against the Catalan side after what appeared to be a dive by Dani Alves. Pepe also signed a new contract for Real Madrid until 2016.
76-Demba Ba—Newcastle United—Senegal—Striker
The former Hoffenheim striker has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water. He joined West Ham in an unsuccessful attempt to keep them in the Premier League but he impressed with 7 goals in 12 games. He then joined Newcastle in the summer and has been central to the Geordie side’s brilliant start to the Premier League with 11 goals in 15 games. With the African Cup of Nations coming up, Senegal’s gain will be Newcastle’s loss.
What a year it has been for the Sochaux midfielder. Last season saw him get a staggering 17 assists and 3 goals in 37 games but he has struggled to match the form of last season with only 4 assists and a goal in 15 matches into the Ligue 1 season. Despite a notorious lack of goals, he is one of only four players to score a double on his international debut for France in June 2011 as he scored twice against Ukraine in a 4-1 victory. Martin is bound to move to a bigger club in the near future.
74-Phillip Lahm—Bayern Munich—Germany—Defender
The German full back continues to be an unrivalled player in his position of left back for both Bayern Munich and Germany. He is a natural leader which has helped him elevate to the position of captain for both club and country. He led Germany to Euro 2012 comfortably after winning ten out of ten matches, in which they only conceded seven goals along the way. Lahm will remain a key part for both club and country for years to come.
Every good side is built on a quality striker so when PSG got taken over by Qatari owners, striker Kevin Gameiro was one of the first to be signed in a £9.2 million pound deal after scoring 22 goals for Lorient in the 2010-2011 season. He has been paramount to PSG’s title challenge so far with 9 goals in 17 games, which makes him the 2nd top scorer in Ligue 1. He also got his first international goal for France in June against Ukraine, which should be the first of many for the energetic striker.
Real Madrid must regret selling Soldado after becoming one of La Liga’s best strikers at Valencia, where he has got 41 goals in 65 games in all competitions for the club in the past two seasons. Soldado is the top scoring Spaniard in La Liga this season with 11 goals and with Villa injured for a long period and Negredo and Torres underperforming, it is only a matter of time before Vicente Del Bosque gives into the calls to return Soldado to the national team for the first time since 2007.
71-Kevin Prince Boateng—AC Milan—Ghana—Midfielder
You would have laughed if 2 years ago, someone told you that Kevin Prince Boateng would be an integral part of an AC Milan title winning side. The Ghanaian was the trequarista for Milan last season and he has now added goals to his game this season, in which he has equalled the 3 Serie A goals he got last season. He retired from international football as Boateng said that “The physical demands of playing for both club and country at high levels are taking a toll on his health.”
Thanks for reading the Top 100 so far from the players ranked 80th-71st on the list. Please comment on what you think so far and if you think some players are being underrated or perhaps the opposite, tell me what you think. The next instalment of players ranked from 70th-61st will be uploaded on Thursday.
Also, can you sign this petition to help Barnet FC stay at Underhill for the foreseeable future as they have been told by the Football League they can’t stay there next season due to Barnet Council’s pathetic stipulations and hypocrisy. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/keeping-barnet-fc-at-underhill/
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