Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A position of Nationality? Which countries specialise in which soccer positions

Styles of soccer vary greatly between different countries. Nothing is either right or wrong, no one country wins the world cup every time. However it does seem that some countries seem to produce more world class players in one position rather than another. For example noone would ever accuse Nigeria of being a conveyor belt of reliable defenders, but their attacking players are powerful and skillful. In this article I am trying to identify which country produces the best players for each position.

The world is riddled with great American goalkeepers. Hanhemann, Friedel, Keller, Howard - to name but a few. Other countries specialise in this position as well such as Italy, and it is a close call. The American goalkeepers are not only numerous but also extrememly good consistently. The reasons behind this is that US sports in general suit the mentality of a goalkeeper. American football involves catching footballs, basketball is soccer with the hands. These sports provide the perfect lessons for a budding goalkeeper


Appologies for lumping in all eastern european countries into one, but the mentality is perfect for this role. Vidic has changed Manchester United, as Skrtel did liverpool and Ivanovic is great for Chelsea. These defenders bring a no nonsense approach and keep the ball away from the goal. What sets these defenders apart is their fearlessness, to look at the nose of Vidic is to know he is not scared of putting his head in the way, a moments hesitation and all is lost

To not award this to France shows how good Brazilian full backs are. Cafu, Roberto Carlos, Maicon to name just three. The idea that Dani Alves of Barcelona is not a starter for his country is testament to the abundance of talent that Brazil have in this position. Fabio and Rafael of Manchester United are some of the most exciting players that have come through the ranks recently. What sets Brazilian full backs apart is their attacking mentality, they are fast, great at crossing, can score and are fantastic defenders.


To be honest this was the hardest to award, wingers are mavericks and they can come from anywhere. Portugal have a great tradition of wingers with Eusebio being the most celebrated, there is huge competition for a starting berth on the wing with Nani, Quaresma and Simao, but with Ronaldo having just won the Ballon d'Or from the wing, perhaps they are worth their value.


Not awarding this to France is surprising once again. Great midfielders have to be great leaders and organisers. Even though traditionally associated with the 'long ball' technique, Englands most famous players have ofter been midfielders since Bobby Charlton through to Bryan Robson, and little has change today with Gerrard, Lampard, Barry, Hargreaves, Carrick all offering something a little different and they are all extrememly important players for their clubs in a very competitive league.


Fabio Capello has coached nearly every famous player of the modern era, he thinks Van Basten is the greatest he has worked with. Van Basten is definitely not the only great Dutch striker, they currently have Kuyt, Van Nistelrooy, Huntelaar, Babel, Van Persie and many others. These are all great players and all competing for two places. Finishing requires a cool head and for some reason or another the Dutch seem to be able to deal with all situations.

Although a few eyebrows may be raised by the absence of a mention of Italy, Argentina and Germany, this is because their teams seem to be more well balanced, they are strong in every position which explains their great success over the years.

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