The highest of soccer IQ’s. Tacticians who are one step ahead of the opponents.
In any sport it is hard to get attention when you play for the defense. In soccer, no player will ever get as much attention as the much flashier goal scorers of the game, even if they only end up touching the ball a handful of times per game.
In Bayern Munich, you will hear about Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Lewandowski, and Müller before you hear about their captain and leader Philipp Lahm. In USWNT the spotlight early on in the entire World Cup tournament was on the likes of Wambach and Morgan, who combined for a less than stellar 2 goals in the entire tournament, despite the defense being the reason they won many of their games. In a world where it’s not just about who scored the goals, Becky Sauerbrunn would be the no brainer for MVP of the team and Ballon D’or finalist. That’s fine, it is what it is.
While both players certainly have the respect of their peers, maybe the fact that they’re so good is why people don’t notice just how good they are. Because they never have a mistake they have to clean, never a fire they have to put out. People notice Rampone when she shows her speed while having to make up ground on an opponent who’s beaten her. With Sauerbrunn, the opponent never had a chance because Sauerbrunn never gave her a chance. While you may not be aware of Broon during the game, you will certainly notice her absence. (*COUGH COUGH*)
Okay, yes, I will admit, Broon has put out fires. For her teammates.
The same is said for Philipp Lahm. There may be no more consistent player over the last 10 years than the Munich right back, who spent all of last season being a defensive midfielder. Lahm locks down his side of the field so much that if you go search for gifs of him, you’d be hard pressed to find any of actual gameplay. Because, quite frankly, it’s not as exciting to see a guy who has so little problems to deal with on the pitch.
While the Ballon D’or has not been won by a defensive player since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 (& he is only the 3rd to do so), for Sauerbrunn and Lahm it seems suffice to know that they’re respected by the men and women on the pitch with them. A World Cup medal doesn’t hurt either.