Low Limit Futbol

2016-2017 Champions League Confidence Picks: Midfield

The midfield is where we see defense turn to offense, and many times, vice versa. Many times, if you control the middle third of the pitch, you control the game. A great midfield not only supports the back line of defense, but many times, create chances for the offense. Tonight, we’ll look and the remaining midfields in the tournament, and offer who we feel most confident in providing for both the offense and defense.

8. Leicester City

Riyad Mahrez, Leicester City

The surprise team of last year’s EPL title run maintained most of this part of the team through the transfer window, save one enormous piece, N’Golo Kante. Kante was the defensive part of the midfield that provided the transition piece into the attack. Since he has moved on to Chelsea, the midfield hasn’t looked the same, especially from a defensive standpoint. This midfield has had the worst passing percentage of the remaining teams at 72%, and they will certainly have to improve on that to advance.

7. Monaco

Bernardo Silva, Monaco

If Leicester was the worst passing midfield left in the competition, Monaco is second worst at 80% completion rate.They are also second to last in total forward passes (2097). The lack of quality could be partially blamed on the lack of overall experience, aka, youth. Bernardo Silva (22), Fabinho (23), Tiemoue Bakayoko (22), and Thomas Lemar (21) have all seen considerable time in this tournament, with Bakayoko scoring the goal that put Monaco through past Manchester City.

6. Atletico Madrid

Saul Niguez, Atletico Madrid

Atletico is not well known for their midfield, but in La Liga, it is certainly well respected.Koke has become much of a playmaker for the striker unit of Griezmann and Gamiero, but the full midfield supports both ends of the pitch. They may be formidable in league play, but their Champions League campaign hasn’t been as  kind. This team is third worst in pass completion percentage (82%) and assists from the midfield (8).

5. Juventus

Sami Khedira, Juventus

The front office has made huge strides in improving this midfield after the loss of Paul Pogba, Arturo Vidal, and Andrea Pirlo from previous teams, and we admit, we may have them a little low here. Since Max Allegri changed the formation from 3-5-2 to 4-2-3-1, essentially removing Patrice Evra and Mario Lemina in favor of Mario Mandzukic and Juan Cuadrado, Juve has had a much more potent midfield, performing on both offense and defense. They boast a second best 88% passing accuracy percentage for the remaining teams in the competition.

4. Barcelona

Ivan Rakitic, Barcelona

It’s no mystery how experienced this midfield is. In their 4-3-3 formation, they have all won this competition, and two of them have also won the World Cup. They are second in assists (16) of the remaining teams in the competition, and have a passing completion rate of 87%. Everyone knows how good Barcelona is at the striker position, but it is all controlled and built from their midfield during open play.

3. Real Madrid

Toni Kroos, Real Madrid

They are as stingy defensively as they are creative offensively. Luca Modric is experiencing one of his best seasons for Real on the offensive side, and Casemiro has been one of the strongest defensive midfielders in Europe. Like their Catalan counterparts, their strongest assets sit at the striker position, but this group is just as supportive offensively. We give them the nod here over the Blaugrana because of the defensive component they offer their team.

2. Borussia Dortmund

Ousmane Dembele and Christian Pulisic, Borussia Dortmund

Remember that bit about Monaco being young? Well, in part, this midfield is even younger, and better. Spearheading the attacking midfield are young starlets Christian Pulisic (18) and Ousmane Dembele (19). They are absolutely backed by experience with Gonzalo Castro (29) and Marcel Schmelzer(29). This team is tops in assists (19), and support one of the most potent attacks in European football. Their matchup against Monaco could be billed as a “Future Superstars of Football” match.

1. Bayern Munich

Arjen Robben and Arturo Vidal, Bayern Munich

Bayern comes in at the top spot on our list. They are incredibly dangerous in attack with the rebirth of Arjen Robben and the increased performance of Douglas Costa. Defensively, the eternal Xabi Alonso and ever youthful Arturo Vidal provide significant defensive support, controlling the middle third. This team is tops in passing completion percentage (89%), as well as total passes (3536). This combination has resulted in one of the most lethal attacking groups in this competition.

 

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