For long misunderstood as a winger, Mathieu Valbuena has established himself as an astute playmaker in recent years.

Mathieu Valbuena’s significance for the current French side can be estimated by the extreme criticism suffered by Didier Deschamps when he chose to leave the playmaker out for France’s 0-2 away loss to Ukraine in the World Cup qualifying playoff first leg. Valbuena was subsequently restored to the side and created a goal as France overturned the deficit at home.

For long misunderstood as a winger, the diminutive Olympique de Marseille player has established himself as an astute playmaker in recent years. Valbuena’s ability to unravel defences with perfectly-weighed through balls is exceptional.

Admittedly, the 29-year-old comes into the World Cup after a disappointing season for Marseille. Valbuena could manage only three goals and six assists in Ligue 1 as his club finished sixth.

Although mostly deployed behind the striker for Marseille, he will be seen as a wide playmaker in Brazil with a license to drift inside. In fact, Valbuena’s role is primarily creative as he rarely contributes through goals.

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