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Players and Team of the Month for April

As the season reaches its climax across Europe, strength in depth is vitally important for any team. A manager able to rotate and keep his players fresh so they can maintain fitness and form right through to this crucial part of the season ca...

Player Focus: Players of the Month for April

As the season reaches its climax across Europe, strength in depth is vitally important for any team. A manager able to rotate and keep his players fresh so they can maintain fitness and form right through to this crucial part of the season can be the difference between success and failure, and it makes for unsurprising reading that this month WhoScored’s top 20 players sees some unfamiliar names pop up.

The likes of Luis Suárez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Eden Hazard and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have had fantastic seasons, but to keep up form throughout a full campaign is an ask too great even for them. Injuries and an over-reliance on their input has seen form dip, while Leo Messi is back in the top 20 having had a rest in the middle of the campaign when sidelined through injury. The result of these absences? Some intriguing inclusions in the best performers in April 2014.

Marco Reus is the highest-rated player with an average rating of 8.99 over 4 matches in the past month. The unfortunate thing for Dortmund is that their rich vein of form has come far too late with Bayern long since having sewn up the Bundesliga title, and they must be hoping that their talented winger is not raising the level of his performances to increase his chances of winning a move away in the summer. Reus both scored and set up a goal in each of his 4 league appearances in April, obtaining 3 man of the match awards in the process, while his brace against Real Madrid in the Champions League was simply the icing on the cake.

Juan Cuadrado had an extraordinary month for Fiorentina, in which he helped his side all-but secure a 4th-placed finish in Serie A and Europa League qualification that comes with it. The Colombian scored 4 goals from 8 shots on target in his 4 appearances, also completing 12 successful dribbles, and in doing so he maintained an average rating of 8.66.

Player Focus: Players of the Month for April

Hoffenheim’s defence have had rather little to shout about this season, having shipped 66 goals in 32 games so far, but things have picked up of late with two clean sheets in their last 3 games. Jannik Vestergaard has been a contributor to their recent form, with the burly youngster having picked up two man of the match awards in 3 appearances during April. He made a colossal 33 clearances in those matches, also making 14 tackles and 14 more interceptions.

Former Barcelona youngster Nolito has returned to Spain this season after a hiatus in Portugal with Benfica, and has hit form of late with an impressive average rating of 8.47 this month. He directly contributed to 6 goals (5 goals, 1 assist) as Celta climbed into the top half of the table with only a few games to go. What is so impressive about the winger is a work rate and willingness to track back that will certainly stand him in great stead for the future of his career.

Isco has stepped up with Ronaldo having missed a couple of games through injury, maintaining a rating of 8.42 this month, while Crystal Palace’s rather less glamorous central midfielder and captain Mile Jedinak is the Premier League’s player of the month.

No secret has been made of the wonders Tony Pulis has worked since he took over at Selhurst Park, but Jedinak deserves credit for his part in organising his team into a unit that is extremely difficult to break through, with two solid banks of four offering the necessary protection to their goal. The Australian ranked first across the top 5 European leagues in April for both tackles (26) and interceptions (27), having broken up play consistently and effectively to help his side to 11th place and safety for another season.

Asier Illarramendi played 3 times in La Liga in April, and Real Madrid won each game by the same 4-0 scoreline. The youngster and supposed heir to Xabi Alonso scored at Real Sociedad and set up another against Almeria as Madrid kept up their hunt of rivals Atlético at the top the league.

Player Focus: Players of the Month for April

Raheem Sterling comes in at 11 after another month in which his stock continued to rise, though he wasn’t able to prevent Chelsea from wrenching the title from Liverpool’s hands. Nonetheless, his performance at Norwich was worthy in itself of a place in the top 20 players of the month.

Aritz Aduriz was on fire yet again, netting 5 goals in 4 appearances, including one at the Nou Camp (although Bilbao eventually lost that game). Braces in a 2-1 win at Levante and in a 3-0 victory over Malaga have helped the Basque side into fourth place and with it almost certain passage into the Champions League qualifying rounds.

Jason Puncheon and Fabián Orellana join respective teammates Jedinak and Nolito in the top 15, while Swiss striker Admir Mehmedi extended the run of form that saw him rank fifth in Europe in March, netting 3 times and picking up a man of match award for Freiburg in April.

Attacking midfielders with links to Chelsea make up the bulk of the rest of the top 20, with Kevin De Bruyne having created more chances (21) than any other player in Europe’s top 5 leagues during April, and Juan Mataenjoying his most successful period since moving to Old Trafford, netting 4 goals and setting up another one. The knowledge that former Chelsea players are hitting form in the month that José Mourinho’s side dropped valuable points in the title race will hurt Blues fans, though there is some solace to be taken from the performances of Willian (8.02).

Published with permission from WhoScored.

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