Ranking Champions League Midfielders by Their Average Distance Run This Season

Richard Morgan@Richiereds1976Contributor IFebruary 15, 2014

Ranking Champions League Midfielders by Their Average Distance Run This Season

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    All smiles: The Juve duo of Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba make our final top 10, but at which positions though?
    All smiles: The Juve duo of Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba make our final top 10, but at which positions though?Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

    Finally, the UEFA Champions League makes its long-awaited return to our screens next week as the much-anticipated round-of-16 ties get under way on Tuesday night.

    And ahead of the commencement of Europe's premier club competition, we take a look at the most hard-working midfielders in the tournament by ranking those players by their average distance run in the group phase earlier this season.

    (All statistics are provided by European football's governing body UEFA.)

10. Mohamed Salah (Chelsea)

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Matches: 6

    Mins played: 532

    Total distance run: 67,405 metres (m)

    Average distance run per match: 11,234m

    Despite the diminutive wide man's hard running for FC Basel during the group stage, it was still not enough to see the Swiss champions qualify ahead of Schalke 04 as runners-up in Group E.

    The 21-year-old has since left St. Jakob-Park for Stamford Bridge, and the switch means he will play no further part in this year's competition as he's now ineligible.

    That means he will not get the chance to continue to shine on Europe's biggest stage when Chelsea take on Turkish giants Galatasaray in the knockout rounds.

    And the Blues might wish they had the Egyptian Messi's lung-busting runs when they travel to Istanbul in particular on Feb 26.

     

     

9. Arturo Vidal (Juventus)

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    J Pat Carter/Associated Press

    Matches: 6

    Mins played: 533

    Total distance run: 68,219m

    Average distance run per match: 11,370m

    The highly rated Chile international is without doubt one of the finest central midfielders on the Continent on current form.

    However, it is not just the 26-year-old's impressive goalscoring abilities that catch the eye—Vidal netted five times for the Old Lady of Italian football during the group phase.

    But it is the fact that Vidal manages to marry those outstanding technical gifts with an unbelievable work rate, as these stats clearly demonstrate, making the player a classic box-to-box modern-day midfielder par excellence.

     

     

8. Paul Pogba (Juventus)

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    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    Matches: 6

    Mins played: 540

    Total distance run: 69,082m

    Average distance run per match: 11,514m

    Another one of the Serie A champions' stand-out performers from their ultimately failed group-stage campaign earlier on this season.

    The Frenchman, whose game has really hit new heights since swapping Old Trafford for Turin on a free transfer in July 2012, ran an incredible 11,514 metres on average per match for Juve in their Group B contests.

    However, in the end, despite the 20-year-old's two assists and a number of all-energy performances in the centre of the park, Antonio Conte’s men could only finish a disappointing third in the table behind eventual group winners Real Madrid and runners-up Galatasaray.

     

     

7. Gabi (Atletico De Madrid)

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    Gabriel Pecot/Associated Press

    Matches: 6

    Mins played: 540

    Total distance run: 70,427m

    Average distance run per match: 11,738m

    Again, any regular watcher of Diego Simeone's in-form outfit this season will not be surprised to find the Spaniard's name appearing in this top 10, with Gabi's high-energy pressing style a staple feature of his game in both La Liga and the UEFA Champions League.

    And while the 30-year-old may not score too many goals, one would not expect that from a holding midfielder.

    But what one would expect to see from such a player is a huge amount of distance covered in every match, something the water carrier managed in abundance during his six group-stage fixtures as Atleti easily won their section to set up a mouth-watering clash with AC Milan.

     

6. Tomas Horava (Viktoria Plzen)

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    Petr David Josek/Associated Press

    Matches: 6

    Mins played: 526

    Total distance run: 71,079m

    Average distance run per match: 11,847m

    One of the main characteristics of Dussan Uhrin's side in their spirited Group D performances earlier on this season was the amount of ground covered by each and every player, and none more so than Horava.

    The Czech Republic international ran a total of 71,079 metres during Plzen's six matches against the likes of Bayern, City and CSKA Moscow, which works out at a mind-boggling average of 11,847 metres per game.

    And despite the fact that the Czech champions won only one of those six encounters, the 25-year-old has still made it into this final top 10 at an impressive No. 4 position.

     

5. Pontus Wernbloom (CSKA Moscow)

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    Epsilon/Getty Images

    Matches: 6

    Mins played: 540

    Total distance run: 71,425m

    Average distance run per match: 11,904m

    Perhaps a surprise entry in at No. 3, although the experienced defensive midfielder's game is all about putting out fires in front of his back four.

    And boy, did the Swede have a lot of CSKA fires to extinguish during the group phase, with the Russian giants finishing bottom of their section with just three points, having lost five of their six contests.

    However, the 27-year-old managed to run on average 11,904 metres in each of those Group D matches against the likes of Bayern, City and Plzen, which is quite some achievement by the player when you think about it.

     

     

4. Nuri Sahin (Borussia Dortmund)

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Matches: 6

    Mins played: 540

    Total distance run: 72,404m

    Average distance run per match: 12,067m

    No surprises really to find the name of a Dortmund player on this list, with Jurgen Klopp's side famed for their high-energy pressing game all over the field but particularly in midfield.

    And to that effect, the 25-year-old Turkey international managed to cover a hugely impressive 72,404m in total during his side's six group-phase contests, more than any other Dortmund midfielder.

    In the end, though, it was all worth it as last season's beaten finalists just managed to squeeze through right at the death to face Zenit St. Petersburg in the round of 16.

     

     

3. Thomas Delaney (Copenhagen)

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    EuroFootball/Getty Images

    Matches: 6

    Mins played: 526

    Total distance run: 73,689m

    Average distance run per match: 12,282m

    Only two other midfield players ran further than the Denmark international did in the group phase of the UEFA Champions League.

    However, despite all the 22-year-old’s hard running for the Danish champions, Copenhagen still finished bottom of the pile in Group B and out of Europe altogether.

     

     

     

2. Claudemir (Copenhagen)

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    Matches: 6

    Mins played: 532

    Total distance run: 73,926m

    Average distance run per match: 12,321m

    The first player so far in this list to break the 12,000 metres mark for average distance run per match in the group phase, although ultimately all that ground covered by 25-year-old did not keep Copenhagen in Europe beyond Christmas.

    But nonetheless, the Brazil-born central midfielder still enjoyed an impressive campaign for the Danish champions, netting once in the process as his team won one of their six outings in Group B.

     

     

     

1. Nemanja Matic (Chelsea)

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    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    Matches: 6

    Mins played: 540

    Total distance run: 78,926m

    Average distance run per match: 13,154m

    The hugely impressive Serbia international was a shining light at the base of Benfica's midfield during the group stage of the competition earlier in this campaign before he made a £21 million switch to Chelsea last month.

    And you can see exactly why the West Londoners' manager Jose Mourinho was so desperate to bring the water carrier back to Stamford Bridge based on these incredible numbers.

    Matic, 25, ran on average more than 800 metres more per match than second-placed Claudemir managed in the group phase, which is quite some feat indeed.

    However, add the player's ability also to pop up with the odd goal here and there to his extraordinary physical attributes, too, and you are left with a beast of an all-action midfielder.