3 of the greatest midfield partnerships in football history – including treble winning Manchester United pair

Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard  had their problems playing together in the England  midfield, it just never seemed to work for the pair. But here are three  modern midfield pairs worked brilliantly together. Which combination was the greatest?

Keane and Scholes

Roy Keane and Paul Scholes were central to United’s success in the 90s culminating in United’s treble winning season  . Paul Scholes  had the vision and flair, while his ability to pick out a pass  was unrivalled and he never wasted  possession. Undoubtedly, England’s most talented  midfielder ever, in my opinion. Scholes could not tackle, but Roy  was more than able to stick his foot in.  The Irishman  was much more than a midfield  enforcer.   He dictated the tempo  of the game and his simple presence on the pitch as almost as good as a goal advantage. Not only did he have  a presence on the pitch, he had a football brain  and was great passer of the ball  under 20 yards.  Both  players also had that canny knack of scoring goals on the big stage.  Keane and Scholes’s skills set complemented  each other perfectly. Manchester United are still looking for a combination as good as the pair, and you get the feeling they will be looking for some time.

Makelele and Zidane

Claude Makelele and Zinedine  Zidane  are in the same mould  of Keane  and Scholes.  Makelele  was   the holding man of  the Madrid midfield – as the Galacticos  streamed forward  in attack after attack, Makelele  plugged the holes. He did  the hard  dirty work of the Madrid midfield. He tackled,  tracked and put his body on the line. He played efficiently and effectively, yet, he was  not appreciated by many in Madrid, especially by the boardroom hierarchy. After  he was sold to Chelsea in 2003,  Los Blancos  were  never   able to  replace the Frenchman .   Zidane was the one player who  benefitted  the most  from Makelele’s  ability to break play up and to distribute the ball quickly. This extra time on the ball  allowed the imperious Frenchman to work  his magic. Zizou had all the football skills that any football player would wish for. He was quick, strong and technically brilliant.  His temperament was sometime questionable, but in Makelele  Madrid had  a player who they could always rely on. Upon Beckham’s arrival at Madrid  and  after Makelele’s exit , Zidane remarked “Why put another layer of gold paint on the Bentley when you are losing the entire engine.” Quite a complement from  the most revered player of  this generation.

Xavi and Iniesta

Unlike the other two  combinations, Xavi and Iniesta  are quite similar players.  Despite their lack of  physical stature , they more than make up for it  with their ability on the ball. The pair enjoy nothing more than  having the ball at their feet, even with two  or three  opposing players pressurizing  them. Xavi is a wonderful passer of the ball. Short or long passes never go astray and he has that amazing ability to spot a pass  that no one else seems to see on the pitch. Iniesta is more of an all rounder. He can pass, dribble, shoot, and of course pop up with important  goals, we all remember the 2010 world cup . But what makes the pair great?  They have an almost telepathic  understanding  of each others’ movement . They are the engine of Spain’s midfield and the heartbeat of the Barcelona team – take one of them out  of the  line up and neither team plays to their full potential such is their importance.

Chris Callaghan