Wednesday, June 1, 2011

INFTH Top 100: Numbers 96 and 95

96. Benedikt Howedes- Another brilliant up and coming German player, Howedes is the forgotten man of Germany's U21 team. At 6ft. 2, Howedes cuts an imposing figure on the football pitch, and he has imposed himself well on opposition attackers all season long.

Though Schalke's league season was anything but acceptable, Howedes will most likely remember 2011 for his side's performance in two cup competitions. Schalke were superb in the Champions League, reaching the semis before a resounding defeat to Manchester United over two legs.

A season that started with two red cards in his first three games ended with a first ever major club trophy for Howedes. Going into their German Cup final with Duisburg, Schalke were massive favorites, and Howedes helped them to take advantage of their superiority, scoring the German club's fourth in a five nil victory.

Going into next season, Howedes will hope that he forms part of a defense which yields far fewer goals, but for now, he will be content to sit back cradling his German Cup winnners' medal.

95. Alberto Aquilani- Alberto Aquilani's transformation from greatest enigma in football to a member of INFTH's top 100 list has been quite impressive. After an injury ravaged time at Liverpool, Aquilani was loaned back to Italy before the start of the 2010/11 season; with the grateful recipients of his services being Juventus.

A brilliant midfield passer, Aquilani excelled all season in the slow environment of the Italian midfield, scoring a respectable two goals from his deep lying position. Perhaps even more significantly, Aquilani managed to break back into the Italy squad, playing eighty-four minutes of a Euro 2012 qualifying win over Slovenia.

Heading into the summer, and eventually next season, Aquilani's future is still very much in doubt. Juventus  are hesitant to pay the original fee agreed for the purchase of Aquilani, and Liverpool (no doubt impressed by his performances) are now interested in retaining the player. It is quite obvious that Aquilani would prefer to stay in Italy, but whether that will be with Juventus is much less clear. Under new ownership, it wouldn't be surprising to see Roma make a move for Aquilani, Mexes has already left for Milan, and De Rossi could be on his way too. Even if De Rossi does stay on, the Roma management team would no doubt be interested in a player capable of replacing the creative capabilities of aging attacker Francesco Totti; especially one as ingrained in the culture and history of the club as Aquilani.

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