Football

European football: Underrated XI

Martinez has been prolific at FC Porto (©GettyImages)
Martinez has been prolific at FC Porto (©GettyImages).

While there are many players in Europe who regularly steal the limelight, others often play a similarly important role but don't always get the credit they deserve.

Here are 11 players from around Europe who deserve more recognition for their outstanding performances.

Goalkeeper: Igor Akinfeev | CSKA Moskow 

The Russian shotstopper has been outstanding since 2008, recording more than 264 saves in the last five years. His saves-to-shots ratio has been world class in recent seasons and he has kept eight clean sheets in 13 games this season for CSKA. 

Right-back: Pablo Zabaleta | Manchester City 

When Maicon arrived at the Etihad, it looked like the beginning of the end for Zabaleta as the first-choice right back at City. With an injury early in the season to Maicon, Zabaleta could keep his place and has performed consistently all season consolidating his place as City's main right-back. He's scored in the Manchester derby this season and is one of the main reasons why City have the best defence in England. 

Centre-back: Miranda | Atletico Madrid

While Falcao gets all the credit for Atletico's breakthrough season, most credit should actually go to the defense as they have conceded just 25 goals making them the best defensive side in Spain. An integral part of this defence is Brazilian Miranda, who has really stepped up his game this season helping Atletico to an inevitable top-three finish this season. 

Centre-back: Felipe Santana | Borussia Dortmund

Santana has been sensational for Dortmund this season especially in the Champions League, forcing Jurgen Klopp to include Santana in the starting 11 instead of Mats Hummels or Neven Subotic who are usually the centre-back pairing.

Santana has started more than half of Dortmund's games this season and is slowly adapting to the first team, and his defensive performances have helped him retain his place despite the return of Subotic. Santana also scored the last gasp winner in Germany to help Dortmund advance to the semis of the Champions League. 

Left-back: Leighton Baines | Everton

Baines has created more goalscoring chances than any other player this season, highlighting his attacking abilities and he is also efficient when it comes to defending as his recovery runs have helped Everton escape some tense situations at the back. With 23 goals and 40 assists since 2008, Baines record is incredible for a wing-back. 

Right-wing: Patrick Herrmann | Borussia Monchengladbach

Herrmann is one of the young starlets in the Bundesliga and is known for his close control and precise dribbling. Herrmann's tally of 12 goals and 12 assists for his last two seasons is decent for a young midfielder. His style of play is often compared to Andres Iniesta and  he could move outside Germany if teams begin to acknowledge his incredible talent. 

Centre-midfielder: Blaise Matuidi | PSG

Matuidi has evolved as a player since his move to PSG and has easily been one of the best defensive midfielders this season. His performances in the Champions League have been incredible as he has helped protect his defence, resulting in PSG having one of the best defensive records in Europe. Matuidi has also scored seven goals this season, which is good for a defensive midfielder. 

Centre-midfielder: Michael Carrick | Manchester United

Carrick has been one of United's key players for the past two seasons and he is rated highly by his Manchester United teammates. This season Carrick has completed more forward passes than the likes of Xavi and Xabi Alonso, proving how good he has been this season.

His passing is extremely accurate and he orchestrates United's attacking moves in a similar way to Paul Scholes. His return of four goals and 10 assists since 2011 is respectable. 

Left-wing: Jakub Blaszczykowski | Borussia Dortmund

The Polish winger is one of the first names on the teamsheet for Borussia Dortmund. Jakub has been integral to Dortmund's success since 2011 and also enjoyed a good Euro 2012 campaign with Poland. Jakub has provided 21 goals and 14 assists in his last two seasons for club and country making him an invaluable asset. 

Centre-forward: Fabrizio Miccoli | Palermo

Miccoli has been one of the best Serie A players for the past five or six years and has helped Palermo become one of the most consistent teams in Serie A. A versatile forward, Miccoli always puts a shift in and contributes to goals and assists.

Miccoli has contributed to 72 goals and 42 assists since 2007 which is almost as good as Serie A legends such as Antonio Di Natale and Francesco Totti. 

Striker: Jackson Martinez | FC Porto

Martinez has been a prolific striker for half a decade now, becoming a key player for FC Porto. Most of his domestic career was spent in South America until he moved to Porto where he flourished.

In his first season at Porto, Martinez scored a staggering 23 goals in just 18 games in the league. He also scored three goals in the Champions League, making him Porto's top scorer. Martinez has scored exactly 100 goals since 2008 showcasing how good he is in front of goal. 

DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeFootball Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeFootball.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeFootball.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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