Thursday, 12 January 2012

European "Rangliste" 2011/12 - Strikers (Part 1)

Lukas Podolski (Cologne and Germany) *

Consistently prolific for Germany, Podolski has never really delivered at club level. Until now that is. For in 2011/12 the striker has been unerring in front of goal, taking chance after chance provided to him. Rumours of a move to England in January were widespread but it is unlikely that he would jeopardise his chances for Euro 2012 with a risky move to a foreign country. A player who has always primarily excelled for the national team would be foolish to throw his place away with the team seemingly on the cusp of greatness. 
Antonio Di Natale (Udinese and Italy) *

The last few seasons have seen a transformation in the performance of Di Natale. For much of his career he was a good, if unspectacular , forward. Yet the last three years have seen him convert himself into a goalscoring machine. Few players have better movement or are more single minded when in front of goal. Indeed given the level of consistency he has displayed it is only surprising that he is still so regularly overlooked.  
Yakubu (Blackburn Rovers and Nigeria) *

Amidst the storms encircling Ewood Park one man has been a shining beacon. Indeed, while Blackburn currently sit bottom of the Premier League, were it not for Yakubu things would be immeasurably worse. The Nigerian striker has netted nearly half of the club’s goals, including two in the shock win at Old Trafford and all four in a victory over fellow strugglers Swansea. Things still look bleak for the Lancashire club, but if they do get out of the relegation mire then a debt of gratitude will be owed to Yakubu.
Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund and Poland) *

Last season it was Lucas Barrios that benefitted from Dortmund exceptional creative midfielders. This time out it has been the young Pole, Lewandowski. The front man has already scored 12 times in the league as he joins the hunt for the Bundesliga topscorer crown, but given so many prolific strikers currently plying their trade in Germany he will not get it without a fight. Could Dotmund’s Polish pair prove instrumental in their nation’s European Championships? Time will tell.
German Denis (Atalanta and Argentina) *

When at Independiente, Denis was among the best strikers at Argentina. Sadly for much of his time in Europe (following an initial move to Napoli he joined Udinese in 2010) it looked like he would never quite cut it. This season’s loan move to Atalanta has reaffirmed his ability to play in one of the world’s hardest leagues. In tandem with Maxi Moralez, Denis has shown himself to be a dangerous front man whose clinical finishes have helped a potentially struggling side into a position of relative security.
Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid and Argentina) *

Injury ruined last season for Higuain, but this season he has again demonstrated his credentials as one of the world’s best forwards. Although he has to share the duties up front with Karim Benzema his goals to games ratio for Madrid remains exceptional. In the last four seasons he has notched up over 70 goals in less than 100 league games, a remarkable achievement given that many of those appearances would have lasted less than 90 minutes. Despite that, there are still frequent suggestions that Los Merengues would be willing to let him go for the right price. Baffling.
Alexander Frei (Basel and Switzerland) *

As conquerors of Manchester United in the Champions League this season much focus has fallen on Basel. Naturally much of the acclaim has been devoted to their pair of young talents, Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaquiri, but nobody did more than veteran striker Alexander Frei to help the club into the knock out stages. The 32 year old scored five times in the Champions League and has already hit 11 goals in the league during a scintillating run of form.
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City and Argentina) *

The ease with which Aguero has settled in to the Premier League has been startling. Most players take some time to adapt, but the Argentine looked at home from his first game. Admittedly, it took a long time before he reached a level of fitness that allowed him to complete a game, but he always looked razor sharp in front of goal. When he was with Atleti the consistent rumours over his future made it inevitable he would one day join a club that could match his ambition. Next season will surely offer an opportunity for an all-out assault on the Champions League.
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid and France) *

When Jose Mourinho arrived at the Bernabeu it was clear that he had little faith in Karim Benzema. In fairness, the striker didn’t seem to have much confidence in himself after a difficult first season. The tail end of last season he went along way to regaining the manager’s trust, and this season he has continued that form. As with Gonzalo Higuain, the Frenchman is never sure of a starting berth, but like his Argentine clubmate his displays usually make him look the part. With two strikers as good as these Real Madrid are in a fortunate position.
Jeremy Perbet (Mons and France) *

Arguably the most impressive player currently in Belgium, striker Perbet has been in exceptional form in front of goal this season.  Signed on loan last season from Lokeren when Mons were in the Belgian second flight is goals helped secure promotion and were enough to secure a permanent transfer. This time out he has kept up that run of scoring and currently sits atop the charts in the Jupilier League.

No comments: