Midfielder of the month: The nominees
Taking stock of the first few months of the footballing season and the entertainment has never been better. While big names across Europe like Barcelona, Bayern, Chelsea etc. again are showing the pedigree they are known for, surprise names like Eintracht Frankfurt, Toulouse and others have crept up at the top of the table from seemingly nowhere. Others like reigning Ligue 1 champions Montpellier have fallen by the wayside.
The midfield, the engine room, has always been the key to fortunes of most clubs. If the midfielders, whether they be of the creative type, dogmatic defensive ones or wingers, don’t perform, the team looks like a ragged bunch and the end result most of the times isn’t pretty.
Below, Sportskeeda highlights some of the most impressive midfielders from the first rounds of European competitions as well as in their domestic leagues in the month of October. These players stood out above the rest due to their consistency and top-notch performances.
The Spanish genius took a back seat in the early parts of the season as Chelsea’s new signing Eden Hazard ran the show for the opening months. The month of October finally saw the Spaniard come to the fore, and come to the fore he did. Chelsea looked even more threatening as the Mata show hit the town. The left footer was in imperious form and 10 goals in 3 games in the Premier League, which included a controversial loss to Manchester United, is a testament to how he propelled Chelse’s offense in this period.
Key Stats: 89% passing accuracy, 11 chances created including 3 goal assists from open play, 5 goals with a shot accuracy of 89% are some of the key stats that propel Mata into the discussion for midfielder of the month.
The second Spaniard to be on the list and another magician at that. The great ones have a way of silencing the doubters. Coming into the season many doubted whether he would fit into Tito Vilanova’s scheme of things. His performances this previous month should be enough to silence his critics. The Catalan giants romped home to a 5-0 victory against Rayo as Fabregas put on a clinical display of play-making, as he provided two assists and scored one himself. His hat-trick of assists against Deportivo in the 9-goal thriller certainly leaves no doubt of his inclusion in the list. His absence was felt as Barca found it difficult to break down a stubborn Celtic defense.
Key Stats: Passing Success-87%, Assists from open play – 5, Goals – 3, 3 goals from 4 shots on goal.
“Legend has it that the last time Juventus lost, dinosaurs committed mass suicide. #UnbeatenRun”
The above comes from a friend and just shows how utterly impressive the Old Lady of Turin have been this season. Andrea Pirlo in the deep playmaking position acts as the vital cog to the polished machinery that Juve have turned into. The puppet master is pulling the strings as ever for his side, creating havoc in defenses by his through balls and nonchalantly brilliant from set-pieces. Pirlo is most probably the most influential midfielder in Europe right now. The Italian has to take an average of 95 touches per game while being able to complete 85% of his passes.
Key Stats: A modest total of 1 goal and 2 assists may not be much but this area would have seen a great enhancement if not for Juve’s ever-faltering forward line consisting of Bendtner, Quagliarella, Vucinic and Giovinco.
Schalke see themselves at the top of their group in the Champions League while only trailing Bayern in the Bundesliga table. The tricky Peruvian winger makes his way into contention this month with a series of stellar performances in both competitions.
A couple of “man of the match” performances against Arsenal in Europe and Nurenberg in Bundesliga along with sterling displays against Wolfsburg and Montepellier seals his spot as one of the nominees in the running for midfielder of the month. His pace has been a case for concern for most full-backs. A 87% pass completion rate along with an average of 72 touches per game shows how much of the Schalke attack flows through the winger.
Key Stats: Couple of goals and assists along with an average of 3 successful dribbles per match does his selection no harm.
While most football fans and Parisians alike revel in the trickery and exquisite football on show by PSG, it’s easy to overlook the man doing the dirty work and holding it all together. Blaise Matuidi does not have the panache and class that Ibrahimovic, Menez or Pastore bring to the table, but it’s his gritty work in the middle of pitch that allows the attacking trio to express themselves to the fullest without having to have an afterthought.
An astounding 93% pass completion rate, Matuidi rarely gets stripped of the ball. The Frenchman provides a shield for his defense and breaks up the play with an average of 4 successful tackles per game.
His recent endeavours didn’t go unnoticed as he was rewarded with a place in the staring line-up for France by new coach Didier Deschamp against Spain.
Alexander Meier was instrumental in bringing the b back into the Bundesliga this term. The club along with Meier has so far taken to the big league like a duck to water.
The Bundesliga newcomers find themselves in the unfamiliar place of 3rd in the table, above big boys such as Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen and Hamburger SV. A large reason for their lofty position has been due to the excellent play of their attacking midfielder Alexander Meier. The 25-year-old has been playing in the hole just behind the striker in Frankfurt’s 4-2-3-1 system and has excelled in that role. 4 goals in his last 4 matches at a 50 %conversion puts his name in contention for midfielder of the month along with the heavy-weights such as Pirlo, Fabregas and Mata.