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Fernandinho and Casemiro lead the game's most underrated midfielders

Fernandinho is a classic box-to-box player but has adapted to life under Pep Guardiola at Man City. He's now more of a deep-lying creator.

Football has never been so obsessed with individual brilliance and star power given the quality on show, but not everyone can be the hero. There remains a place for the humble, workmanlike and dependable holding midfielder. Here are five who have been in particularly good form this season.

Fernandinho, Manchester City

City's title challenge seemed to falter during the Christmas period when they suffered back-to-back defeats to Crystal Palace and Leicester. Notably, it was also the first two...

Marcelo lurches from one disaster to another while Diego Simeone's renewal doesn't sit well

It's been a week of new beginnings in La Liga or at least, a week of new opportunities. One was merited, one is doubtful and one disastrous.

The three characters on stage are Ernesto Valverde, Diego Simeone and Marcelo, so let's start with the disastrous and build from there.

Even though it's the decision that, in all probability, cut the legs off Madrid's title chase, Santi Solari was well within his rights to think that Sunday's match against Girona was an acceptable opportunity to sharpen...

Ramos 4/10 as red card caps off Real Madrid's misery vs. Girona

Real Madrid appeared to be easing to a straightforward win against Girona in Sunday's La Liga clash at the Bernabeu -- but the Catalans turned the game around in the second half to take a deserved 2-1 victory.

Positives

It is difficult to take many positives from a performance which recalled many of the problems Madrid have faced all season. One bright spot was club captain Ramos' latest sending off means he will serve a suspension next week in La Liga, leaving him free for the following week's Clasico...

Vinicius and Real Madrid could win Champions League without Ronaldo

As the dust from that dust-up in Amsterdam settles there's a statistic that tells a very big story about Real Madrid after their 2-1 win against Ajax in the Champions League.

I only recur to dry numbers because in such a dramatic, picturesque, history-evoking football match there are a myriad of people stories which, I think, will obscure something important.

In Madrid's last 10 matches, across the Copa del Rey, La Liga and now the Champions League, five hugely important goals for Santi Solari's...

Karim Benzema, Vinicius Junior look sharp while Gareth Bale fails to fire for Real Madrid

Craig Burley compared Vinicius Junior to Kylian Mbappe following Real Madrid's 2-1 win at Ajax in the UEFA Champions League.
ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop believes Ajax's attacking mentality may have been to their detriment after Real Madrid beat them on the counter.

Real Madrid rode their luck at times but came out on top 2-1 in Wednesday's Champions League last 16 first leg at Ajax, with Karim Benzema, Marco Asensio and Hakim Ziyech the scorers.

Positives

The UCL winners of the last three seasons responded with character and skill to Ajax's spirited challenge, and are in full control of the tie ahead of the return at the Bernabeu on March 5.

Benzema's goalscoring run continued with a well-taken opener while, on the flanks, Vinicius Junior now has eight assists...

Real Madrid's resurgence owes a lot to the 'new' Karim Benzema

Real Madrid's resurgence under Santi Solari has been due to many factors, but the efforts of Karim Benzema have been central. He's in the form of his life at the moment, and just in time for Saturday's Derbi with Atletico, with his superb all-round performances serving as proof of his changed mindset on and off the pitch. Those closest to the player speak of a "new Benzema," scoring goals, always smiling, taking on a leadership role and increased responsibility within the team over recent months.

His...