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10 Midfielders to watch at the 2010 FIFA World Cup

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kaka2.jpgA midfielder forms the crucial connecting link between attack and defence. Omnipresent in the centre of the park, his job generally revolves around winning the ball, breaking down opponent play and then driving his team forward. He subconsciously lets those tackles fly in, with little consideration of his physical well being, ever keen on hanging on to the footbal. It is quite obvious then that the midfielder is the engine of the team, running around the pitch creating plays while at the same time stifling opponent attacks, easily the most essential component of his team.

While a defender generally is a strong, sturdy and bull-headed player who pays little heed to style and finesse and whose only job in the game is to ensure the opponent doesn't get an eye into the goal, a striker ought to be swift, nifty and cunning and needs to ensure his team ends up with the higher number of goals. A midfielder is an amalgamation of the two, needing to possess the qualities of both a defender and a striker, as he might have to contain as well as score goals, depending on the situation. Despite the versatile role they play, it is baffling that midfielders are given little credit for the goals scored as well as that hard earned clean sheet, which is quite astonishing considering that they of all players have played a part at both ends of the pitch.

In the next few paragraphs, we bring to you a list of potentially the most influential midfield maestros in the FIFA World Cup this year. They occupy a variety of positions including defensive, attacking, central, left and right midfield roles. We've left out the wingers-cum-forwards like Arjen Robben and Cristiano Ronaldo, as much as you love them, they don't really belong in this field and we've clubbed them with the strikers. We've also limited this list to one per country - to ensure that there is no Premier League or La Liga bias setting in, which means sadly if Frank Lampard is there Steven Gerrard is not!

Here then, is the list of the Top 10 ‘Construction Workers' would be central to their teams aspirations and ambitions.

Kaka: 28 year-old playmaker Kaka is, on his day, the best player in the world. Having already been recognized as both 'European Footballer of the Year' and 'FIFA World Player of Year' in 2007, Kaka has little left to prove to the footballing universe. The Brazilian is a direct attacking midfielder who relies on his pace for going past defenders, unlike most of his compatriorts who rely on a display of footballing skills, something that comes naturally to the Samba Boys. He is a regular goal scorer for both club and country and also creates a huge chunk of chances with his accurate passing and vision. After an injury riddled first season at Real Madrid, one hopes that Kaka is able to redeem himself at the grandest stage of them all.

Club- 22(8)          International- 73(26)

Frank Lampard: Throughout his career, Lampard has been a prolific goalscorer, having scored bucket full of goals for both club and country, more so in the last 5 seasons where he has notched up a minimum of 20 goals every single season. A free kick and penalty expert, Lampard also is a fairly decent tackler of the ball. His all round skills are quintessential to both England and Chelsea and are primarily responsible for him being hailed as one of best midfielders in the world. He has won every possible domestic honour with his club side excluding the elusive UEFA Champions League which a player of his calibre must win before he bids adieu to the game. A World Cup conquest will place Lampard in the league of the greatest players the game has ever seen.

Club- 50(27)       International- 78(20)

Xavi Hernandez: The Barcelona midfielder is arguably the greatest midfielder of his generation. After winning Euro 2008 with Spain and being named the tournaments MVP, Xavi returned to lead Barcelona to a historic season which saw them win every possible domestic as well as international club honour. He is an elegant midfielder who dictates play for both club and country and also helps create goals via his set piece expertise. Barring the FIFA World Cup, Xavi has won every tournament there is to win and the drive to win in South Africa will be ever so intense for the Catalan.

Club- 53(7)           International- 86(8)

Andrea Pirlo: The 30-year old Italian is well aware of how exhilarating a FIFA World Cup triumph is. Having been instrumental in his team's conquest in 2006, Pirlo will be looking to emulate the great Italian side of the 1930's who won consecutive trophies. He was named man of the match in that controversial Berlin final and was also handed the tournament's bronze ball (3rd best player). Pirlo is a creative player who is also one of the most venomous set piece experts. He has representated his country at every level and at all major tournaments but is still one of the younger members of an otherwise ageing Italian team. There are slight fitness concerns over his participation at the FIFA World Cup, but we believe he should keep his place in the 23 even at the cost of missing the first game or two.

Club- 40(1)              International- 66(8)

Franck Ribery: ‘The Jewel of French Football' burst on to the footballing arena with his performances in 2006 that propelled France to the finals. He has since made a name for himself at German giants Bayern Munich and became only the 2nd foreigner to be named the 'Footballer of the Year' in his debut season. His club went through a historic term in 2009-2010 but Ribery missed a crucial chunk of it through injury. With France's golden generation on the decline, a whole nation is expecting this successor of Zinedine Zidane to rise to the occasion and lead 'Les Blues' to glory.

Club-30(7)             International- 45(7)

Javier Mascherano: This young defensive midfielder is not only crucial to the plans of both Liverpool and Argentina, but has also emerged as one of the most talented central midfielders ever at a tender age. It is not surprising then, that he is one of Diego Maradona's favourite players, so much so, that the coach handed him the armband in November 2008. Mascherano played every single minute of Argentina's campaign in the 2006 World Cup, and is not surprisingly the first name on the team sheet. This time around, he would position himself behind an extremely talented frontline, and his main task would be to ensure that the forwards can play their natural game without having to worry about what is happening behind them.

Club-45(2)           International-57(2)

Bastian Schweinsteiger: In the absence of Michael Ballack, Schweinsteiger though only 25 is one of the most experienced lads in the German midfield. A versatile right footed player, the Bayern Munich star loves to be deployed on the left where he can have a crack at the goal while also create some excellent chances for the strike force. He started off for both Germany and Bayern at a young age and hence is now a key component of both teams. He is coming off an excellent domestic season with Bayern Munich and has all the confidence in the world behind him. Part of the German squad that finished third in 2006, Schweinstiger scored a brace in the 3rd place playoff game against Portugal to seal the battle for the hosts.

Club- 48(3)             International-75(21)

Wesley Sneijder: After a forgettable 2 years at the Santiago Bernabeu, Sneijder seems to fit perfectly in the Inter jigsaw puzzle becoming the man for all seasons for the first team. The Dutchman was well recognized in Europe, during his tenure at Ajax Amsterdam where he played on the left of midfield. He is ambidextrous, and is a more than capable passer of the ball while also being a dead ball specialist. He has 56 caps for his national team and has contributed with 12 goals. Despite the Oranje's quarterfinal exit in Euro 2008, Sneijder was named in the team of the tournament for his displays in the group stages where the Dutchman looked extremely menacing.

club- 34(8)             International-62(14)

Tim Cahill: Australia's most popular player Tim Cahill is an attacking midfielder who can intimidate even the most deadliest of defenders. He averages a goal every other game for his country and can play anywhere in the midfield and forward line owing to his aerial ability and physical presence. He was Australia's first goal scorer in both the World Cup Finals as well as the Asia Cup, and is considered one of best players ever from down under. Cahill's tenure at Everton has made him a fan favourite with a number of clubs always on the lookout to sign him during the summer. Everton though, have now tied up the Australian to a long term contract and he shall continue to grace Merseyside for a long time to come.

Club- 42(10)            International- 40(20)

Park Ji-Sung: A passionate midfielder who can run the course of the 90 minutes plus extra time if the need arises for his team. He is the only Asian player to have played in the UEFA Champions League final and also the only one to have won the coveted trophy. The 29-year old was an important member of his national team's semi-final run in 2002 and has been noted to be one of the greats from the Asian continent of his generation. Park scored in the last two editions of the World Cup and also had a rich haul of 5 goals during qualification. The South Korean captain will look to energize and inspire his team to greater heights as they look to emulate their grand performance of 2002.

Club-26(4)              International-88(12)

Notes- Club statistics pertain to the 2009-2010 season

Legends- Appearances(Goals)

Also Read:

10 Defenders to watch for at the FIFA World Cup

10 Forwards to Watch at the FIFA World Cup

File Photograph Copyright: Daly3d

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