Power Ranking Football's 5 Most Effective Suffocos
After witnessing an enthralling 2012-13 season and the rise of a new position, who are the best suffocos in world football?
"Suffoco" is a relatively new role in which the midfield No. 10 expands his responsibilities. No longer will he simply create, but also man-mark, tackle, intercept and hold the ball up.
It's just the next part in the series that will soon see every position on the football field require an all-round talent at the top level. For more information on it, click here.
He did an amazing job nullifying Xabi Alonso at Old Trafford this season, but Nani's red card pulled him over the left wing and Alonso was set free.
Rakitic has fulfilled the role on several occasions for Sevilla this season, most notably against Real Madrid.
Left-sider Duda was fielded centrally by Manuel Pellegrini to stop Ilkay Gundogan dictating the game when Malaga played Borussia Dortmund. He did a super job.
Juergen Klopp has experimented using Goetze in a disciplined role such as this against Real Madrid, but he never looked truly comfortable doing it.
While his stint as a suffoco against Juventus lasted just 16 minutes before tearing his hamstring, Kroos' all-round game is one to envy. He's not the traditional No. 10 people believe him to be and remains criminally underrated.
5. Marouane Fellaini
Marouane Fellaini has repeatedly stated that he is not comfortable in an attacking midfield role, but David Moyes used him there for the entire season regardless.
He is the perfect foil for Leighton Baines, Kevin Mirallas and Steven Pienaar to play off and represents a matchup nightmare for holding midfielders contesting his size and strength.
His forté is tackling, intercepting and playing out from the back. Moyes has used those strengths higher up the pitch in 2012-13 and Fellaini is better for it.
4. Moussa Sissoko
Moussa Sissoko made his name as a defensive midfielder at Toulouse, but quickly developed into his explosive frame and began to let loose during games.
In a sense, he became too undisciplined to play as a screen in front of the back four, and Toulouse manager Alain Casanova replaced him with Etienne Capoue. This released Sissoko into a box-to-box role.
Alan Pardew went one further, and upon signing him for Newcastle started playing him as a disruptive attacking midfielder.
He turns the ball over in advanced areas and runs in straight lines: Simple, but effective (just ask Chelsea).
3. Thomas Mueller
Thomas Mueller is one of the hardest workers in football, so it shouldn't be a surprise to see him acing a new role.
His versatility and team ethic make him a perfect fit for the suffoco role, but it took Toni Kroos' injury against Juventus for Jupp Heynckes to give him a shot at it.
He excelled, combining with his striker to suffocate Andrea Pirlo in both legs—less doggedly than Kroos, but just as effectively—and his positional work against Barcelona was sublime.
2. Fredy Guarin
Fredy Guarin was one of the first to trial this role, but doesn't get a lot of coverage due to Internazionale's fall from grace.
Andrea Stramaccioni has played the Colombian, who is known for his all-action style, just behind a striking pair and slightly ahead of the flat midfield three all season.
Guarin excels at winning the ball high up, nullifying deep-lying creators and playing the simple pass once the ball is won.
He's a little inconsistent, but he ranks in second on this list due to the fact he's had (arguably) the most exposure to the role.
1. Mario Mandzukic
Mario Mandzukic set the bar for the suffoco coming into the 2012-13 season having excelled in the position at Euro 2012.
He played as a second striker in Croatia's game against Italy, becoming the first in the last 12 months to truly lock down Andrea Pirlo.
The maestro found it impossible to escape Mandzu's tenacious grasp, and despite the Croatian not playing in this role for Bayern Munich this season, his hardworking nature has seen him assume the positions a suffoco would anyway.
His double-team job on Pirlo with Toni Kroos—and later with Thomas Mueller—was phenomenal, and that's why Jupp Heynckes picks him over Mario Gomez every week.