The number 10 is historically recognised as the player who leads the team to glory and also gets the most attention, both on the field and off it. Lionel Messi, Wesley Sneijder, James Rodriguez, Bryan Ruiz and Neymar illustrated just what a 10 should do. Brazilians know the importance of this player – they’ve had Pele, Zico, Rai, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho, but without the injured Neymar their doubts about not winning a sixth World Cup will be greater than their hopes.
The fleet-footed Neymar is always the player leading attacks for the host nation and often seen gliding past players but, just as often, being cynically tackled. A knee to the back ended his participation in the World Cup and football for at least two months. With four goals to his name, the Barcelona player has taken Brazil to the semi-finals and it is only in his absence that his genius will truly be missed.
Before the World Cup, Colombia’s Rodriguez was unknown to the world but after proving his ability to create and score goals, every major club in Europe wants his signature. His first goal against Uruguay exemplified his first touch, vision and confidence -- attributes that are essential for a number 10. But it was the way he clicked with his team-mates that really made Colombia tick.
Ruiz is probably the quietest of the 10s and only netted twice. A simple, no frills attacking midfielder, his positional play and passing – 158 passes completed - allowed the Costa Ricans to take on and defeat Uruguay and Italy. It was Ruiz’s solitary strike against the Italians that gave them victory and signified another important trait for number 10s: when the opportunity presents itself, finish it convincingly.
Sneijder only has one goal to his name thus far but 200 passes suggests that in the Netherlands camp his primary role is to supply, although his blistering strike against Mexico showed he has the temperament to score vital goals and to lift his team from what looks like a losing cause. A grafter like no other number 10 on this list, Sneijder, however, still has to show the world his best.
Argentina rely on a solid defence, with Messi scoring goals … that pretty much sums up their game plan. Closely marked in every game, Messi still has four goals to his credit. Against the Swiss it seemed he would not be an influence, but a mazy run with a through-ball to Angel Di Maria settled that match. Quick, dexterous and with an eye for goal, Messi ticks all the boxes that makes him the perfect number 10.