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Deportivo Cuenca V CA Monarcas Morelia, Mar 10
Deeq14 (Inter Milan) 4 years ago
Title hopes took a significant dent in Monaco, where they were held to a scoreless draw.

The Stade Louis II was the scene of one of last term’s greatest matches, with les Girondins coming back from a 3-0 deficit to snatch a 4-3 success, but there was none of that excitement on show on Saturday. In what was a fragmented and difficult to watch affair, neither side really created any meaningful scoring opportunities, though it was les Monegasques who looked the more potent side.

Girondins coach Laurent Blanc fielded a squad that will probably bare only limited resemblance to the team to face Olympiacos in midweek, so it was perhaps little surprise that the first period was largely dominated by the hosts.

Set pieces proved the dominant source of interest in the early stages of the match, but even Nene’s normally accurate delivery let him down somewhat. Lukman Haruna did angle an effort at Cedric Carrasso’s goal, but his strike wasn’t caught cleanly and ended up well off target.

Just as Bordeaux began to get something of a foothold in the game, winning a series of ineffective corners and free kicks, Monaco enjoyed the first real opening of a tight encounter. Yannick Sagbo, who was preferred to Moussa Maazou in attack, showed fine skill to get away from Fernando to crack a stinging shot at goal. Carrasso was equal to the effort, turning the ball safely away from the target.

There was no immediate fluidity after the break, with free kicks again providing the points of interest in the side. A Gregory Sertic set play ultimately broke to Yoan Gouffran, though the former Caen man wasted a glaring opportunity by sending his effort well over the top from close range.
Sertic was frequently involved in Bordeaux’s best moves, but these were few and far between, with Stephane Ruffier collapsing on a drive centre with some ease.

Blanc showed his dissatisfaction with his side with three quarters of the game gone, making a treble change that involved the entrance of Marouane Chamakh and Yoann Gourcuff, two of his leading lights.

By no means would the game burst into life, but Bordeaux did look a great deal more stable. Chances were still at a premium, so when Gouffran unleashed a low drive from distance on 79 minutes that narrowly missed the upright, it was one of the highlights of the game.

A couple of minutes later Monaco had the best opening of the game match. Substitute Maazou was on hand 12 yards out to steer an effort at Carrasso’s goal, but the visiting custodian made a terrific block to deny the Niger international. From Nene’s resultant corner, his header flirted with the post.

There was to be no winning goal from either side, and this was in truth a match that didn’t deserve either side to earn three points. Bordeaux remain top for the time being, though on such form it is a matter of time before they are usurped.
Barcelona star Lionel Messi has retained top spot in the latest Castrol Rankings. The tricky attacker dislodged Cristiano Ronaldo in January and managed to hold on to his lead this month.

Messi has maintained his position at the top of the Castrol Rankings thanks in part to his astonishing shooting accuracy that means he has hit the target with 70% of his attempts on goal, the best record across all five domestic leagues and the Champions League. He has been equally effective at creating openings, delivering 27 defence-splitting through balls, more than any other La Liga player.

Positioned closely behind Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, however, is Fernando Torres. The Liverpool striker has been affected by injury this season but marked his first Premier League start of 2010 with the winning goal in Liverpool’s victory over Blackburn Rovers on the final day of last month. The striker has 18 league goals in 23 league starts and has the best strike rate in England, scoring a goal every 107 minutes ahead of Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney who has struck every 115 minutes.

Liverpool are sure to benefit from the forward’s return. Rafael Benitez’s side have won 59% of their league games with Torres in the side, scoring an average of 1. 94 goals per game. Without him, they have managed to win just 36% of their matches, scoring 1. 09 goals per game.

Behind Torres in fourth position is his international team-mate David Villa and the pair’s standing shows why Spain will be one of the teams to beat at the 2010 World Cup. Valencia forward Villa is challenging Torres for the status of Spain’s top player after scoring three more goals last month and he has now struck 26 times in 32 matches from 128 attempts on goal. His average of 4 shots per game is second only to Ronaldo in La Liga.

Castrol Ambassador and 1998 World Cup winner Marcel Desailly had the following to say about the Spanish strikers:

“Torres and Villa are two different types of striker but their performances for the national team show how well they complement each other. The movement of both players mean they fit perfectly into Spain’s passing game. Midfielders of the quality of Andres Iniesta and Xavi are experts at delivering quality balls forward and both forwards knows exactly when to time his runs beyond defenders.
“You only have to see the number of times Villa finds himself in a one on one situation with the goalkeeper to know how good he is at getting behind the back four. Torres is a more physical forward and now he is back fit, we will once again see him at his best. He is brave and the way he has succeeded in two of Europe’s top leagues marks him out as a world class player. ”

Pressing the leading group are Premier League front-men Didier Drogba and Wayne Rooney, but it is Stuttgart’s Cacau who is February’s top performing striker. The Brazilian striker scored seven goals in only three games in February: four against Cologne and two against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga while he also scored the opening goal against Barcelona in the Champions League last 16 tie. Nevertheless, Mario Gomez (34) is the top ranked German player after hitting 11 goals in 11 starts for Stuttgart and 10 in 19 for Bayern over the past year, although the Bayern forward has dropped 20 places from last month.

La Liga continues to dominate the head of the Castrol Rankings, providing 11 of the top twenty players although only three – Villa, Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol – are Spanish. The standing of Barcelona centre backs Pique (7) and Puyol (18) is a reflection of the club’s defensive strength. Barca have conceded just 14 goals in 24 league matches, the best record in La Liga.

The rise of Kaka stands out as this month’s biggest change, however. The Brazil star is up from 118th to 66th, and after a slow start to his Real Madrid career he is now beginning to find his form. In four games in February he scored four goals, made two assists and delivered to team mates more than 86% of his passes.

Castrol use objective analysis and highly advanced technology to measure every pass, every tackle and every single move of over 2, 000 players and games from Europe’s top five leagues over the last twelve months to create a ranking of the world's most effective players. For the full February Castrol Rankings, visit:



   
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