5 Best Holding Midfielders in the Champions League This Season
The UEFA Champions League has been an exhibition for new talent and unheralded stars this season.
Bleacher Report brings you the top five holding midfielders in the competition so far and there are some genuine surprises in store. Just one household name can found among the Group Stage's best so far.
Enjoy the slideshow!
Midfielders are a diverse pack nowadays with multiple terms for each and every variation of the position.
For the purposes of this article, "holding midfielder" is defined as the anchor man sitting in front of a defensive line.
It is not a box-to-box supremo such as Arturo Vidal, Claudio Marchisio or Romulo.
It does not incorporate those such as Kwadwo Asamoah and Mauricio Isla, who currently play out of position.
Lastly, it does not include anyone playing as a pure central midfielder in a flat formation such as 4-4-2.
5. Marco Verratti
According to Carlo Ancelotti, Marco Verratti is the new Andrea Pirlo (via Football-Italia.net).
The Italian boss is quick to press home that his Paris Saint-Germain regista will need time, but Verratti clearly has other ideas regarding the speed of his own development.
He's excelling for les Parisiens in Ligue 1 and the UEFA Champions League, while also strutting his stuff on the international stage for the Azzurri.
He's more than a deep-lying playmaker, he's an all-round star. His 4.3 tackles and 1.8 interceptions so far show good ability to break up play, but on top of that he's averaging just under 80 passes per game with a 90 percent accuracy rate.
It's Javi Fuego combined with Xabi Alonso!
4. Victor Wanyama
Victor Wanyama's physical presence on the field is only going to become more apparent as the season wears on.
He is essentially 6'2" and over 170 lbs of pure muscle tearing its way around the pitch to disrupt the flow of the game and make tackles.
Celtic were not fancied by many to make waves in Group G, and the Kenyan's consistent excellence has been a big factor in the seven points accrued so far.
His performances against Barcelona alerted major European forces to his potential availability (via The Daily Mail), and rightly so—this guy is a beast.
3. Fernando Gago
Where has this Fernando Gago been over the past few years? He failed to pull up any trees at Real Madrid and flopped badly at AS Roma. Third time lucky for los Che.
The Argentinian's statistics are through the roof in this year's competition, totaling a monstrous six interceptions and four tackles per game.
Valencia find themselves atop the Group F standings, and despite Roberto Soldado's prolific campaign, Gago has been the standout performer.
2. Ignacio Camacho
Ignacio Camacho has made huge strides this season after appearing to fall behind in his development last year.
It was initially believed he was playing above average due to the presence and guidance of Jeremy Toulalan, but an injury to the Frenchman has seen Camacho play just as well alongside Manuel Iturra.
Malaga currently hold top spot in Group C and have conceded just one goal in a 1-1 draw away to AC Milan. While Martin Demichelis has been sensational at centre-back, he's also enjoying some of the best protection of his career to date.
1. Bastian Schweinsteiger
The UEFA Champions League has thrown us many surprises so far, but one player remains in unassailable form.
Bastian Schweinsteiger has been typically imperious for Bayern Munich, racking up passes and tackles at a lesser rate than the likes of Victor Wanyama purely because he exerts control over the game so easily.
It's no anomaly that the only game "Schweini" hasn't started is the shock 3-1 loss to BATE Borisov.
Statistics via WhoScored?