It is the heart of the team.
Creativity flows from it; safety depends on it.
It’s the communications hub—the nerve centre. Quite often the smartest players in football make it their home.
The central midfield is typically where buildup originates or, conversely, where defense collapses. And it comes in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Some managers prefer to have a pair of midfielders between the defense and attack in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Others favour a duo in the core of a 4-4-2. Then there are the trios that operate in each of a 4-3-3 and 3-5-2, and more recently in a 4-1-4-1.
But whatever its composition, it can win and lose championships.
Following are the 20 best central midfield combinations from Europe’s top five leagues.