Saturday, May 29, 2010

Player Profile Number 1: Rafael Marquez

I am going to profile one player from each group who I believe will make a big impact on that group or indeed on the World Cup in general. I am not going to choose the likes of Messi, Rooney, Ronaldo etc - they will be someone who is perhaps less celebrated worldwide but crucial nevertheless.

My player for Group A is Rafael Marquez of Mexico.

To me it feels like Marquez has been around forever, yet he is only 31. I watched him closely at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups and I have watched him play a number of times for Barcelona who he joined from Monaco in 2003 for 5 million euros (what a bargain!). He is my favourite Mexican player, a team for whom I have a soft spot that I cannot explain.

Marquez is generally a centre-back. I say generally because whilst that is his best and usual position he offers a versatility that means he has also filled in quite successfully at right-back and defensive midfield. At centre-back he reads the game so well and is calm, composed and self-assured on the tackle and distributes the ball intelligently. He has an excellent cross-field ball and is strong in the air.

He is also Mexican captain and has been for many years. He is a true leader that leads by example and he marshalls his troops very well. He has made a total of 327 appearances in the league for Atlas, Monaco and Barcelona, 57 in European competitions and has 88 international caps.

Despite being a defender Marquez has contributed important goals for whoever he has played. He is more prolific at international level for whom he has ten. Don't be surprised if he adds another during the World Cup.

Marquez is mature, utterly dependable and an all round excellent player who is even capable of the spectacular. One doesn't become a mainstay for a mesmerising team like Barcelona without being a quality player. A brilliant centre-half and a consummate professional. Good luck for the World Cup Rafa.

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