Top five right backs in the world

Philipp Lahm – Bayern Munich

Despite being listed as a right-back and being right footed, Lahm is equally adept at playing either right or left back, cutting in to pass or shoot.

He is well known for his pace, dribbling, stamina and his tackling abilities as well as his excellent reading of the game, his qualities have seen him widely regarded as the best full back in the world due to his consistently reliable displays for both club and country which saw him made captain for both.

Lahm’s club career has seen him rack up 484 appearances to date, scoring 16 goals as well as winning five Bundesliga titles, five DFB-pokal titles, two DFL-Supercups, one DFL-Ligapokal and a Champions League title. He was made Bayern Munich club captain in 2011 after the departure of Mark Van Bommel.

He has also captained the Germany national team since 2010 and he has made 98 appearances, scoring five goals.

 

Lukasz Piszczek – Borussia Dortmund

Yet another underrated defender in the Dortmund backline but has recently come to prominence with his performances for both Dortmund and the Polish national team.

His defensive attributes are never put in question but his real talents lie in attacking where his buccaneering runs and excellent delivery have often led to goals. Piszczek fits the mould of the modern day full back with his energy, pace and technique on the ball.

He has made 309 career club appearances, scoring 33 goals; as well as winning a Polish league title, two Bundesliga titles and one DFB-Pokal. He has made 34 appearances for the Polish national team, as well as notching two goals.

 

Sergio Ramos – Real Madrid

This will probably cause controversy because he’s seen as a centre back nowadays but I will always see Sergio Ramos as a right back, despite his versatility at being able to play anywhere across the back four as well.

Ramos could be seen as the complete defender with his versatility, pace, strength, aerial ability as well as his reading of the game and signature last-ditch tackles and blocks.

To date he has made 401 club career appearances, scoring 44 goals and winning three La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey and two Supercopa de Espana titles.

Since his move from Sevilla to Real Madrid he has been an ever-present not just in the Real Madrid team but also the Spanish national team, earning his first cap aged 18, notching up 108 to date, scoring nine goals. He has been a huge part of the historic Spain team which has won a World Cup and two European Championships.

 

Branislav Ivanovic – Chelsea

Ivanovic is another one on this list which is equally adept at playing in another position, providing suitable cover at centre back as well.

The big Serbian defender is known for his brute strength, pace and unbeatable aerial prowess. Whenever playing at right back he could also gallop forward and put in an excellent delivery.

Ivanovic’s fine 2012-13 season was topped off when he scored the winning goal in Chelsea’s Europa League final against Benfica in which they won 2 – 1, Ivanovic was also named man of the match in this encounter following his heroics.

He has made 347 career club appearances to date, scoring 35 goals. He has won one Russian Cup, one Premiership title, three FA Cup titles, one FA Community Shield, one Champions League and one UEFA Europa League. He has also made 61 appearances for the Serbian national thus far, notching seven goals.

 

Pablo Zabaleta – Manchester City

Zabaleta has earned himself a cult hero status amongst City fans because of his commitment to the club, hard-working attitude and tenacity as well as his consistency and versatility.

Zabaleta was Man City’s Mr. Reliable this season. He was even named stand-in captain when club captain Vincent Kompany was sidelined between January and March. After a superb season he was named Manchester City’s Player of the Year as well as being in the PFA Team of the Year at right back.

He has made 340 career club appearances to date, scoring 17 goals; as well as winning an Argentinian Cup, a Copa del Rey, one Premiership title, one FA Cup, one Community Shield.

The full back has also made 31 appearances for the Argentina national team, winning an Olympic Gold Medal along the way.

 

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Top five players of the 2013 Confederations Cup

The Confederations Cup was a nice little break from the agony of no football which we have had to put up with since May. Here are my top five players from the tournament and why they impressed me.

Neymar – Brazil

This is probably the most blatant name on the list. Neymar entered the Confederations Cup still with a lot of doubters due to only really making a major name for himself in his homeland of Brazil. But after a recent big money move to Barcelona people were intrigued to see the lightweight Brazilian maestro.

He didn’t disappoint; during the opening game he hammered in a terrific half volley from outside the area in just the third minute. The rest of his performances followed suit as he scored four goals in six games as well as winning the golden ball for best player of the tournament.

His performances helped guide Brazil to victory, putting a man of the match performance in for the final. He played a big part in two goals and also grabbed one of his own, one of his trademark skilful bursts also saw the sending off of Spain centre back Gerard Pique, further compounding Spain’s misery.

Emanuele Giaccherini – Italy

One of the surprise packages of the Confederations Cup was Italy’s Giaccherini. He wasn’t really in favour at club team Juventus but it is well documentede that Italy manager Cesare Prandelli doesn’t take club form into account.

Giaccherini is a shining example of Prandelli’s policy as his performances were hard-working but most importantly, a key part to Italy’s play. Deployed in a role just behind the striker meant Giaccherini could shift across in his attacking midfield role offering support for strikers or popping up on either wing.

He scored one goal over the tournament but that doesn’t reflect the hard working nature of Giaccherini’s overall play for the Italian national team – one of the major reasons Prandelli uses him so readily.

Jordi Alba – Spain

Despite being on the losing side in the final, Jordi Alba can walk out of this competition with his head held high after another set of dazzling displays which only helped further his reputation as one of the finest left backs in world football.

Alba’s constant running and blistering pace up the left hand side were a key component of Spain’s attacking play. Defensively he’s no slouch either as he played a part in two of Spain’s three clean sheets.

Alba finished the tournament with two goals of his own after a set of performances in which he flourished with his pace, stamina and defensive attributes which were more than assured.

Andres Iniesta – Spain

If there was a player anyone would want for the big occasion in centre midfield it would be Iniesta. Like Alba, he was on the losing side in the final but he was one of few players who fought until the final whistle and that added to the qualities which the playmaker no doubt possesses.

Iniesta registered no goals at the tournament but his importance to Spain’s play going forward was paramount as he consistently dictated the tempo of matches he played in. He completed 337 passes of the 390 he attempted in the entire competition.

The creative midfielder was voted man of the match during Spain’s first game of the tournament in a 2 – 1 win over Uruguay which the Spanish dominated.

David Luiz – Brazil

His defensive attributes are usually questioned at Chelsea but while playing in his home country for his national team, David Luiz seemed to turn into a defensive genius.

His time at Chelsea has been inconsistent, he can go on forays forward from the back leaving gaps, or make mistakes which get exploited but Luiz became a defensive wall with the heart of a lion for La Selecao, his tournament being encompassed in one moment by his goal-line clearance in the final against Spain.

His popularity for both club and country though will never seem to waiver as he is a fans favourite among both Chelsea and Brazil fans, his popularity even more so following his performances in this competition.

How did the signings fare? (Part two)

Part two of how did the signings fare including Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Newcastle United.

Fulham

Dimitar Berbatov – Excellent first season in London from the Bulgarian striker who turned out to be a bargain at just £4million. The gangly striker managed to notch up 15 goals in 33 games, all of those coming in the Premiership, making him Fulham’s top scorer for the 2012-13 season.

Mladen Petric – Started off as an excellent signing with a two goals and an assist in his first game in a 5 – 0 thrashing of Norwich but his form dipped immensely as he only mustered five goals in 20 appearances all season. Released by Fulham at the end of the season.

Hugo Rodallega – Another bad season in front of goal for the Colombian who could only manage three goals in 28 games. If Fulham can sign someone to help Berbatov I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rodallega leave too.

Kieran Richardson – Only made 17 appearances over the whole season, grabbing two goals. Unfortunately had his season scuppered by injuries.

Ashkan Dejagah – Made 24 appearances in all competitions grabbing no goals but troubled a few defences along the way. Had his season cut short by injury at the beginning of April.

Giorgos Karagounis – Added steel and experience to the Fulham midfield. Made 28 appearances, scoring two goals. Plenty of his trademark dogged, hard-working displays. Released at the end of his one-year contract.

Sascha Riether – Signed on a one-year loan deal initially which was made permanent after a successful first season in English football. Made 38 appearances in all competitions, even grabbing a goal from right back. Voted Fulham Player’s Player of the Year ahead of Berbatov and Karagounis.

Emmanuel Frimpong – Signed on loan from London rivals Arsenal and made six appearances. Gave Fulham an extra and more youthful option in defensive midfield.

Urby Emanuelson – Signed on loan from AC Milan. Made 13 appearances and scored one goal. The quality which must have been needed to make 51 appearances in two years previous for AC Milan didn’t really tell for the Dutchman, making many appearances from the bench.

Stanislav Manolev – Signed on loan and only made five appearances at right back/right midfield.

Eyong Enoh – Signed by former manager Martin Jol on loan from Ajax, made nine appearances.

Liverpool

Fabio Borini – Signed for £10million from Roma and unfortunately missed out on three months of the season with a broken foot which he suffered in October. Only made 20 appearances, scoring just two goals and hasn’t really won over the Anfield faithful.

Joe Allen – Signed for £15million from Swansea, following manager Brendan Rodgers. Made 37 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions, grabbing two goals. Not seen as the midfielder that Liverpool fans really craved to help Steven Gerrard. Season cut short in March after he required surgery on a shoulder injury.

Oussama Assaidi – Was hailed as an exciting acquisition by Brendan Rodgers but only made four appearances, failing to break into the Liverpool first team.

Dan Sturridge – Signed to give Luis Suarez a helping hand in the frontline and delivered superbly with 11 goals in 16 games after his £12million move from Chelsea in January.

Coutinho – An excellent signing by Rodgers at just £8.5million from Inter Milan. Already struck up a wonderful partnership with star man Suarez. Scored three and assisted seven in 13 games and is an exciting prospect for Liverpool fans.

Nuri Sahin – Signed on loan from Real Madrid with heavy expectation. Scored three and assisted three in 12 games but left Merseyside after being unhappy at Liverpool.

Manchester City

Jack Rodwell – Signed for £12million from Everton, had a disappointing, injury-laden first season with City after he was stricken with injuries from October to February. Only made 15 appearances, scoring two goals – both goals actually coming in his best performance in a City shirt, a 3 – 2 defeat to Norwich on the final day.

Richard Wright – Made no appearances, so, just… why?

Scott Sinclair – For me, made a mistake in leaving former club Swansea. Only made 14 appearances in all competitions, scoring no goals. Should look to leave Manchester City if he wants to further his career at his still relatively young age.

Maicon – Limited to 11 appearances in all competitions owing to the fine form of Pablo Zabaleta, another questionable signing for me by City.

Matija Nastasic – Signed in a player-plus-money deal involving Stefan Savic who went the other way and quickly performed better than the hopeless Montenegrin. Pushed Joleon Lescott out of the team and became a fan favourite. Made 25 appearances in all competitions.

Javi Garcia – Alongside Nastasic, pick of a relatively poor bunch for me. Signed for £17million and added more steel and solidity into Man City’s midfield. Made 25 appearances in all competitions, scoring two goals.

Manchester United

Robin Van Persie – Made former club Arsenal see what they were missing out on as he continued his fine form. Scored 30 goals in 48 games and fired Man United to a 20th league title. Also won the Man United Matt Busby Player of the Year award.

Shinji Kagawa – An excellent signing from Man United who bought a really exciting and creative player. Made 26 appearances, scoring six goals. Unfortunately missed out on two months of the season with a knee injury.

Nick Powell – One for the future for United. Made six appearances and scored one goal; goal came on his debut though when he came on as a substitute, netting just 11 minutes later.

Alexander Buttner – Exciting left back prospect which is unfortunate given Man United’s interest and bid in Leighton Baines. Made 13 appearances, scoring two goals. Should be loaned out if United do sign Baines, considering Fabio Da Silva is also set to return after QPR his loan spell at QPR.

Angelo Henriquez – Signed and immediately loaned out to Wigan.

Wilfried Zaha – Signed in January and loaned back to Crystal Palace for the remainder of the season, helping them to gain promotion to the Premiership.

Newcastle United

Romain Amalfitano – Only made two appearances in European competition.

Gael Bigirimana – Young, tough-tackling centre midfielder. Made 25 appearances in all competitions, scoring one goal and generally impressed with his work-rate.

Curtis Good – Bought for a reported £500,000 from Melbourne Heart and loaned out to Bradford for whom he made three appearances for.

Vurnon Anita – Made 37 appearances in his first season, scoring one goal. Good signing as a squad player but doesn’t really possess the class to help lift Newcastle back to their previous heights.

Mathieu Debuchy – Signed after much speculation on the Frenchman’s future. Made 14 appearances and the French international impressed in his first half season in English football. Defensively sound and a handy outlet going forward.

Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa – Made 20 appearances for Newcastle after signing from Montpellier in January. Showed excellent versatility as he was able to play anywhere across the backline well.

Yoan Gouffran – Signed from Bordeaux and added some excitement to the Newcastle frontline with his pace and trickery. Made 15 appearances, scoring three goals after his January arrival.

Massadio Haidara – Made four appearances after signing from Nancy. He was the player who was stretchered off after a high tackle from Wigan’s Callum McManaman. Filled in well for the injured Ryan Taylor and Davide Santon when required.

Moussa Sissoko – Good January signing from Toulouse. Scored three and set up five in 18 appearances. Playing style very similar to that of Yaya Toure with thunderous runs and good range of passing.

 

Top five centre backs in the world

Sorry for the length of time between the two posts in this series, but have no fear, everything will be a lot more up-to-date.

Jan Vertonghen – Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham’s Belgian centre back impressed in his first season in the Premiership after a long-awaited transfer to Spurs. He started out at Spurs at left back after an injury to regular Benoit Assou-Ekotto but after an injury to Younes Kaboul and a drop in-form for veteran William Gallas it was down to Vertonghen to form an impressive partnership with club captain Michael Dawson.

After initially being linked with Spurs’ North London rivals Arsenal, Vertonghen quickly started showing Arsenal what they were missing out on with some dominant displays in defence, whether it be at centre back or left back.

Vertonghen’s displays were rewarded as he was named in the PFA Team of the Year alongside Rio Ferdinand, Leighton Baines and Pablo Zabaleta.

Vertonghen has made 288 club career appearances to date, scoring 38 goals; winning two Eredivisie titles and a KNVB Cup in his time at Ajax. He has also made 49 appearances for the Belgian international team, scoring four goals.

Mats Hummels – Borussia Dortmund

Over the last few years, Hummels has emerged as one of the top defending attributes of a Dortmund side that has boasted a lot of attacking talent and some under-rated defensive players.

Hummels is a player who enjoys bringing the ball out from the back and begin attacking moves. His technique in the tackle is excellent and he has an aerial and physical prowess which allows him to out-muscle opponents. His style of play has been compared to legendary German sweeper Franz Beckenbauer as his reading of the game is one of his biggest strengths.

He has made 190 career club appearances, scoring 19 goals and winning two Bundesliga titles and one DFB-Pokal. He has also made 24 appearances for the German national team, scoring one goal.

Giorgio Chiellini – Juventus

Chiellini was a part of the Juventus defence which won the 2012-13 Serie A title and he was also a key part of the team which went unbeaten with the best defensive record the season before.

The Italian defender is known for his consistent displays, hard tackles and aerial dominance and this has gained him huge popularity amongst Juventus fans. He has made 364 career club appearance to date, scoring 23 goals and winning two Serie A titles, one Serie B and one Supercoppa Italiana.

Chiellini has also been a main part of the Italian national team since 2008, he is currently with the national team at the 2013 Confederations Cup with Italy playing World Cup holders Spain tomorrow. To date he has made 61 appearances for the Italian national team, scoring three goals.

Thiago Silva – Paris Saint-Germain

How PSG managed to sign Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic from AC Milan for just 60 million euros is mind boggling. But Thiago did state Milan’s financial difficulties as a reason he had to leave.

Thiago Silva’s first season in French football got off to a slow start as he didn’t make his first appearance until September 18th, but on his debut he scored in a 4 – 1 PSG win over Dynamo Kiev but he soon became a key part of the team which won their first Ligue One title in 19 years. He has made 299 career club appearances so far, scoring 23 goals

He is captain of the Brazilian national team and is also currently at the 2013 Confederations Cup, he has made 35 appearance for the national team (including tonight’s game against Uruguay) scoring one goal.

Raphael Varane – Real Madrid

I had to do this on form and my own personal views, and my own personal view is that despite Varane’s tender age of 20, he is one of the best defenders in the world already and can only get better.

Varane’s playing style is based on his excellent reading of the game and any game I’ve seen him play he has rarely made a mistake. Didier Drogba has also described him as the best defender he’s played against. He was also named in a ‘Best foreign eleven in Real Madrid’s history’ by Marca in April.

He has made 72 career club appearances to date, scoring six goals; winning a La Liga title and a Supercopa de Espana. He has also made two appearances for the French national team.

Top five left backs in the world

Felipe – Atletico Madrid

A surprise inclusion maybe but Felipe’s progress has been quiet but effective at Atletico Madrid as the club look to be playing Champions League football next season and he has also done terrifically to come back so well from a horrific leg injury he sustained in 2010.

Felipe’s ability in going forward goes hand-in-hand with his defensive stability which can be rare for a defender nowadays (believe it or not) and this is shown in his versatility down the left, being able to play either at left back or left wing.

He has amassed 256 career club appearances for Deportivo and Atletico Madrid, scoring 12 goals and he has four trophies to his name; one UEFA Intertoto Cup, one UEFA Europa League and two UEFA Supercups.

He has also made three appearances for the Brazilian national team.

Marcelo – Real Madrid

Marcelo has been compared to his legendary Brazilian compatriot Roberto Carlos in many quarters due to his impressive defensive ability, overlapping runs, composure, vision and his left foot strike isn’t too shabby either.

It was feared that Marcelo’s spot at left back may have become usurped by Fabio Coentrao when Real Madrid signed the young Portuguese left back but Marcelo (when fit) has been able to hang on to his spot in the team, even moving Coentrao over to a defensive midfield role for a portion of his Madrid career.

Marcelo has amassed 256 career club appearances, scoring 23 goals and winning three La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey, and two Supercopa de Espana titles. He has also made 18 appearances for the Brazilian national team, scoring four goals and winning two Olympic medals (one bronze and one silver).

Leighton Baines – Everton

Baines is the man who everyone believes will be Ashley Cole’s successor for the England left back spot, and it’s hard not to see why.

He has been in fantastic form for Everton over the past few seasons and is one of the hottest properties in England due to his defending abilities as well as his terrific delivery from open play and set pieces, with suitors including Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham.

In 2011-11 the Toffees left back played every minute of every game that season, a run which ended after 99 games. During the 2010-11 season he racked up 11 assists, making him the highest assisting defender in the league, 5th highest assister overall. His partnership down the Everton left with Steven Pienaar this season was widely seen, for a while, as the most effective in the Premiership.

He has made 405 club career appearances to date, scoring 26 goals, a great deal of those 26 goals coming from either penalties or free-kicks which Baines is a master of. He has also won a Football League Second Division title. He has made 15 appearances for England, scoring one goal.

Marcel Schmelzer – Borussia Dortmund

Firstly, Dortmund have been a breath of fresh air in European football and Germany over the past couple of season; secondly, what an under-rated player they have at left back!

Schmelzer’s ability in the tackle and reading the game has helped not just him, but it has helped his team’s meteoric rise to one of the biggest forces in European football. His left side partnership with Marco Reus is also one of the most solid in Europe.

He has made 153 career club appearances, scoring three goals; winning two Bundesliga titles and one DFB-Pokal. He has also made 11 appearances for the German first team.

Jordi Alba – Barcelona

The Barcelona youth product returned to his boyhood club after a seven-year absence and he has quickly established himself as the team’s first choice left back, as well as the Spanish national team left back.

The world started taking notice of Alba after he switched positions from winger to a more defensive role and was proving key to former club Valencia and their Champions League ambitions. A transition which has ultimately proved fruitful for Alba. His performances at Euro 2012 for the successful Spanish side saw Barcelona come back to swoop for their former youth product.

Since re-signing for Barcelona, Alba has been widely regarded as the best left back in the world, not just for his defending, but again like most of the left backs on this list, his ability to get forward and be a menace to other teams. His pace, vision and delivery have been a key part of Barcelona’s play this year while they try and take their La Liga crown back from Real Madrid.

Alba has made 183 career club appearances so far, scoring 15 goals, he has also made 17 appearances for the Spanish national team, scoring two goals. One of those goals came in the Euro 2012 final against Italy which saw Spain retain their European crown.

Best goalkeepers in the world

“Yay another top five series!” I hear you scream in delight. And yes, I am now doing a top five series but instead of saying my top five positional ever, I’m going to do them as a current selection, just one rule though, if there is a player in the top five ever, I can’t use them in the top five current series, simple! Again, just like the top five ever it will be based on my own personal opinion, backed by evidence.

Gianluigi Buffon – Juventus

To be honest, Buffon was unlucky to not get into my top five players ever, he was just pipped to the post by Spain and Real Madrid’s Iker Casillas. But he was the first name I thought of for greatest in the world.

He has been named IFFHS goalkeeper of the year four times and was also named the best goalkeeper of the 21st century by the same organization. He has made 661 career club appearances to date and became the most expensive goalkeeper ever in 2001 when Juventus forked out £32million for the stopper’s transfer from Parma.

Buffon is Italy’s highest capped Goalkeeper with 126 caps, only being behind Paolo Maldini and Fabio Cannavaro in overall stakes.

He has won a UEFA Cup, one Coppa Italia, four Supercoppa Italia, three Serie A titles and one Serie B title as well as the 2006 World Cup.

Petr Cech – Chelsea

Petr Cech’s form since his transfer to Chelsea in 2004 has meant that the London club have never had to worry about getting a replacement for the Czech international due to his consistent reliance between the sticks.

Cech’s impact on Chelsea was seen straight away in his first season where he set a Premier League record of 1,025 minutes without conceding a goal (which has since been broken by Edwin Van Der Sar). He was also given the Golden Glove award for keeping 21 clean sheets in his first season.

The Czech giant’s form dropped after a severe head injury suffered in a league match against Reading in 2006 after a challenge from Stephen Hunt but since his return Cech has been instrumental in helping Chelsea to a further eight trophies including a much craved Champions League trophy last year, a run in which Cech saved two penalties en route to the final.

Cech has made 561 career club appearances to date and has won three Premier League titles, four FA Cup titles, two League Cups and one Champions League trophy so far in his career.

Internationally he has made 100 appearances for Czech Republic so far.

David De Gea – Manchester United

After a hugely critical start to his Manchester United career, De Gea has since flourished into an excellent shot stopper. Signed in 2011 as a replacement for the retired Edwin Van Der Sar, De Gea was thrust into criticism after a few mistakes.

Since then De Gea has proved vital in helping Man United to this year’s league title as well as putting in an amazing performance in a 1 – 1 draw at the Bernabeu. Before Boxing Day, De Gea had kept nine clean sheets in 40 games, but since he has kept 10 clean sheets in 15 games. An excellent improvement by any standards.

De Gea has so far made 153 appearances in his short career and looks to be a promising ‘keeper in the future, not just for Man United but for the Spanish national team as well where he is regarded as the long-term successor to Spanish legend Iker Casillas. De Gea’s short career to date has also seen him win a UEFA Europa League, a UEFA Super Cup, one Premier League title and an FA Community Shield.

Manuel Neuer – Bayern Munich

The big German keeper has made a big name for himself after his transfer to Bayern Munich for £20million in 2011, making him the second most expensive goalkeeper ever. But it was easy to see why Bayern would pay so much for Neuer as his reflexes, shot stopping abilities and commanding nature have helped see them back to the summit of German football.

During his first few weeks at Bayern he already went on to break a club record of most clean sheets held in a row, going 1000 consecutive minutes without conceding a goal, a record which was previously held by Munich’s legendary goalkeeper Oliver Kahn.

So far he has made 295 career club appearances, winning a German League Cup, one German Cup, one Bundesliga and a German Supercup in the process. Also establishing himself as the German national team’s first-choice goalkeeper, already accumulating 38 caps for his national team.

Hugo Lloris – Tottenham

Is this a controversial decision? Oh well, I don’t care. I love Lloris as a goalkeeper and think his reflexes, shot stopping skills and effectiveness in one-on-one situations are incredible.

Despite a difficult first couple of months at Tottenham after his transfer from Lyon, Lloris has gone on to establish himself as first-choice goalkeeper over veteran Brad Friedel. His first league start for Tottenham spelled the end of Friedel’s 310 consecutive league game run, not in vain though as Lloris kept a clean sheet in a 3 – 0 win over Aston Villa.

Lloris’ career so far has seen him amass 318 career club appearances, as well as two trophies – one Coupe de France and a Trophee des Champions. He has also established himself as the French national team’s number one, making 45 appearances and being made team captain in February 2012.

There’s my top five goalkeepers in the world at the moment, what do you think? Also a big mention goes to Guillermo Ochoa who plays for Ajaccio in France. Youtube him if you can, incredible agility!

Champions League Semis – Spain vs. Germany

So after the first leg of the semi-finals in the Champions League we have learnt that German football has started taking Europe by the scruff of the neck. After Munich’s 4 – 0 destroying of Barcelona last night it was thought that Real Madrid could have salvaged some Spanish pride in Dortmund, but no, the well-oiled German machine juggernauted it’s way to yet another victory over Spanish opposition, this time a 4 – 1 lead.

Last night, Bayern’s defensive solidity was a key part in their dismantling of Lionel Messi and co. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez in front of the back four were the perfect shields and didn’t allow the likes of Andres Iniesta and Xavi space in the places they would need it to make a telling impact on the match. It was like watching industry against flair, and industry well and truly came out on top; you know a team is in an industrial mood when Arjen Robben is running his socks off in both an attacking sense and defensively.

On we come to Lionel Messi, it became horribly clear that the Balon d’Or holder is not 100% fit, judging on last night, it doesn’t even seem as if he’s 50% fit. But when you’re at the top it almost becomes second nature that you must perform game after game, and if I hear one more person say that Messi has lost it, or won’t be the same player I’ll scream.

So here we are, to tonight’s match. And what a match it was. Robert Lewandowski staked his claim as one of the hottest properties in the world with suitors including Man United and Bayern Munich lurking by scoring four goals, the pick of the bunch being his third. The place where I went to watch the match just stood and applauded, apart from one poor soul who had a bet on Madrid to win.

It all looked to be going in Madrid’s favour once, despite not playing well, they equalized through Cristiano Ronaldo (who else) and Dortmund had a penalty shout not given by the ref, who was promptly mobbed by three or four players resembling bees who just had their honey stolen.

Then the Lewandowski show continued after half-time and he rounded off a stunning night for Dortmund by scoring four goals and inflicting a defeat on Jose Mourinho’s men which makes it seem as if London is going to be bombarded with Germans come May (no jokes please).

The current Dortmund team looks to have no weaknesses in it, there’s pace, strength and hard-work throughout the team. Defensively they’re all sound, work for each other and going forward they have an excellent amount of flair as well as incisive play.

So, all German final at Wembley then? It looks to be that way, unless the Spaniards can upset all the odds and perform one of the greatest European comebacks of all-time.

I would also like to give a shoutout to Marco Reus who scored possibly the best disallowed goal ever earlier with a sublime chip over a stranded Diego Lopez.