The FIFA World Cup 2010 could very well be decided on how well a team's midfield fares. Midfield is always a crucial part of football, so strong and skillful midfielders are a must to make a greater impact. The domination in midfield means more possession and in turn more scoring opportunities.
Here is my list of top 10 midfielders who could single-handedly decide the fate of a game.
1. XAVI (Spain): Xavi is the heart of Barcelona and Spain. He has been hailed as one of the best, if not the best, midfielders in the world at the moment. A brilliant playmaker with an eye for a deadly pass. He plays both as an attacking midfielder and a deep lying playmaker. His vision and long range passing skills are second to none. His composure is also noteworthy and helps keep the possession with infallible passes. Controls the pace of a game in his very own unique style. A near perfect playmaker.
2. KAKA (Brazil): One of the strongest midfielders in the world. Kaka's dribbling skills are amazing which would make a winger proud. His galloping runs, dribbling past a number of defenders, are the trademark of this Brazilian's game. An artistic playmaker with a lethal finish. Tailor-made for the attacking midfield slot and also for the tip of a diamond formation.
3. GERRARD (England): Gerrard means versatility. The major highlight of his game is long-range shots. His dead ball abilities are just mind-boggling. His preferred position is a box-to-box role but he can also play as a defensive midfielder. The role most suited is that of an attacking midfielder. Gerrard's vision and passing abilities are praiseworthy but he does struggle to beat players on dribbles. His tackling prowess also needs a mention.
4. RIBERY (France): He's a clever playmaker but prefers to play more on the wings. The important part about this Frenchman's game is his propensity to take the game on to the wide areas. He enjoys running at defenders and beating them. Also a free kick specialist. His pace and work rate makes him a deadly all-round player.
I have included Ribery's name amongst the midfielders, even though he is a winger, because he's a playmaker and plays more like an attacking midfielder.
5. INIESTA (Spain): Iniesta means ball control and technique. He has the potential to blossom into the best midfielder in the world within the next few years. His quick feet and mesmerising dribbles make him a dangerous proposition for the defenders. He can play on the wing as well as on the midfield, but he has a natural tendency to make a pass too many.
6. FABREGAS (Spain): A talented, young goal scoring playmaker who can beat players on the dribble. Good set-piece abilities and controls the tempo of the game. He does lack the defensive aspect of the game. His inch-perfect passes and good vision makes him a really good attacking midfielder.
7. LAMPARD (England): Nothing outstanding about Lampard. He's a hard-working central midfielder with an eye for the goal. Very good at taking penalties and free-kicks. His long range abilities makes him a goal scoring threat even from a distance. His defensive part of the game is also pretty good. A complete central player with immense energy.
8. SNEIJDER (Netherlands): Operates from just behind the strikers. A clever, old-fashioned playmaker. His diminutive stature doesn't allow him to stamp his authority but has vision and immense passing range. A master of long-range shooting and precise set-piece delivery. Like most of the Dutch players, his technique is top-notch with impeccable ball control.
9. PIRLO (Italy): Played a big part in Italy's 2006 World Cup triumph. The term "deep-lying playmaker" is meant for Pirlo. Pirlo has wonderful ball control and great vision. He controls the tempo of a game from a deep position. He's not the one known for galloping into the box and beating players on the dribble. He likes the patient game of passing and does keep the possession well. A free-kick specialist too.
10. ESSIEN (Ghana): Undoubtedly the world's best defensive midfielder. He plays as a holding midfielder but is also quite capable of contributing box-to-box. Immense energy and strength and has a powerful long-range shot. A complete midfield package with right mixture of attack and defence.
HONORABLE MENTION: Xabi Alonso (Spain), David Silva (Spain), Yoann Gourcuff (France), Daniele De Rossi (Italy), and Javier Mascherano (Argentina).