The 2020 Underrated XI in World Football

Goalkeeper: Jesse Joronen – Brescia

The 2019/20 season saw Finnish goalkeeper Jesse Joronen have an incredible season, despite the former Fulham man being relegated to Serie B with Brescia. Joronen made 123 saves in 29 matches, an average of 4.2 saves per game with a shot to save percentage of 71%. He also kept five clean sheets in 29 appearances, which doesn’t sound a lot, but considering Brescia only managed 25 points in 38 matches and conceded ten penalties, it was a very good effort from the former Stevenage loanee.

Right-Back: Kenny Lala – Strasbourg

Kenny Lala is a right wing-back that plays for Ligue 1 side Strasbourg and considering the 29-year-old has a high goal output since moving to the French side in the summer of 2017, with 30 goal contributions in 126 matches, he also has good defensive capabilities, with a tackle success rate of 67%, winning 16 of his 24 tackles this season, as well as averaging 1.3 clearances per game.

Centre-Back: James Tarkowski – Burnley

Burnley defender James Tarkowski can count himself unlucky not to have made the Premier League Team of the Season in 2019/20, as he was part of a strong defence that lost out on the Premier League Golden Glove on that last day of the season, keeping 15 clean sheets compared to Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson’s 16. In 38 matches last season, the former Brentford man made 200 clearances, as well as winning 307 duels, on top of 198 areal duels which he won for his side.

Centre Back: Yunis Abdelhamid – Stade Reims

Moroccan centre back Yunis Abdelhamid has had a solid season for Stade Reims, despite his side currently sitting just outside the Ligue 1 relegation zone in 17th place. The 33-year-old is known for being a good reader of the game, with 1.7 tackles per match with a success rate of 78%, having won 28 out of 35 attempted tackles, whilst also making 1.6 interceptions per 90 minutes this season. Abdelhamid was named in Ligue 1 Team of the Season last year, having performed to identical standards as he has so far this season, helping Stade Reims to an impressive sixth-place finish.

Left Back: Philipp Max – PSV

So far this season former Augsburg wing back Philipp Max has had a great campaign at PSV Eindhoven, having helped them have the third-best defensive record in the Eredivisie, conceding just ten goals in 13 matches, just one shy of Ajax and Vitesse Arnhem. Max is known as being an attacking full-back, with eight-goal contributions in 16 matches in all competitions for the Dutch side, this is on top of the eight goals and six assists the 27-year-old made for Bundesliga outfit Augsburg last season.

Right midfielder: Marinho – Santos

30-year-old Santos right-winger Marinho has been a standout performer in the Brazilian Serie A in the last two seasons, and none more than this. The former Esportia Clube Vitoria man has scored 14 goals and assisted seven for his side in the league in 21 appearances, despite Santos currently loitering in 8th place. Marinho’s 21 goal contributions means that he has participated in 57% of Santos’ 37 goals.

Central Midfielder: Nemanja Maksimovic – Getafe

Serbian central midfielder Nemanja Maksimovic is known for being a robust player at the heart of the Getafe midfield. The 25-year-old currently averages 1.4 tackles per game this season, as well as 1.3 interceptions per game for both club and country. The former Astana man made 49 tackles in 33 matches last season, providing an important shield to Getafe’s defence, which helped his side finish in 8th place in La Liga; having also impressed in the UEFA Europa League where they were knocked out by Inter Milan in the round of 16 in a closely contested 2-0 loss at the San Siro.

Central Midfielder: Maximilian Arnold – Wolfsburg

27-year-old German midfielder Maximilian Arnold also makes the cut for this underrated 11, as the Wolfsburg man had a barnstorming 2019/20 season, having scored four goals, as well as making nine assists from central midfield. The Wolfsburg academy product scored important goals against FC.Koln and Borussia Monchengladbach in 2-1 wins last season, as his side scraped into the final Europa League qualification place by a point, ahead of SC Freiburg, with the German participating in 27% of his side’s league goals. So far this season Arnold has got two goals and two assists in 11 Bundesliga matches.

Left Midfielder: Diego Rossi – LAFC

Diego Rossi had a very good season with Los Angeles FC, despite his side being knocked out in the first round of the MLS playoffs following a 3-1 defeat by eventual runners-up Seattle Sounders. The 22-year-old Uruguayan inside forward scored nine goals and assisted two in 16 matches, which meant that he participated in 30% of Los Angeles’ goals this season, an incredible feat by the former Penarol man.

Striker: Artem Dzyuba – Zenit St Petersburg

You may recognise this name from the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, having scored against Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Spain for the home nation. But, since then the Zenit St Petersburg striker has been on fire, having notched up an incredible 16 goal contributions in 17 league matches in the Primier Liga this season, as well as getting 31 in 28 league games last campaign, captaining Zenit to the title, as they finished 15 points clear of Lokomotiv Moscow in second place. The 32-year-old participated in 48% of Zenit’s league goals last season.

Striker: Gerard Moreno – Villarreal

Villarreal striker Gerard Moreno has arguably been one of the best performers in La Liga since the start of last season, as he scored 18 goals in 35 matches for the Yellow Submarine in 2019/20, helping the yellows finish in fifth place, ahead of Real Sociedad and Granada in the Europa League qualification places. This saw the 28-year-old finish as La Liga’s third top scorer, just three goals behind Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and seven behind Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. So far this season, Moreno currently has eight goals in 12 league games so far which means that the Spanish striker is the top scorer in the division.


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