Look at midfield players like Fabregas, Iniesta and Xavi, when they recieve the ball, their first touch is golden. Thats the most important thing.
When your in a crowded area the move important thing is to not panic, keep your head up looking around to see where your team-mates are and the defenders are and where they are coming from. This sense of centremidfield radar will be off huge benefit to your game what ever position you play, because if you know where everything is in the game then you can assess how to beat it the best way possible.
Close control is essential, you need to have 200% control over the ball with both feet, if a defender is running towards you from an angle and one from the back then you should have the ball control ability to keep the ball moving away from the defenders, into space and keeping it closer to you using both feet effectively.
Also strength is very important, when you are between the defender and the ball he cannot get the ball, simple as that, when he cannot get the ball you have more time to think and play a pass or to try and turn.
Been able to turn effectively when you recieve the ball, even under pressure is in my opinion the most important aspect of first touch and ball control. If you can recieve, back to defender and spin and control the ball effortless in one touch then you are golden.
To make a good pass, shot or dribble on goal, you need time and space to evaluate your options and execute the best one, good players make that space and time for themselfs by positioning themselfs properly, keeping their head up so they know where the space and defenders are and then most importantly been able to take complete control of a difficult pass in less than a fraction of a second. Two touchs to control the ball is not good enough, you need to be able to do it in one every time with both feet, wether your turning or trapping.
Don't underestimate a dummy either, earlier in my five a side match i had skinned a defender about 10 times earlier by turning on a pin point using one touch to get me past him or to shoot and score, but one time i knew he was staying tight on me as i ran across the pitch for the ball, as it was passed to me i felt him get even tighter as he tried to anticipate the turn/trap. Instead i went for the trap and just let the ball go through my legs, through his legs and ran round him for a one on one to score.
Thats how to be smart controlling the ball, you have to be able to adapt to any situation and also to be unpredictable. When you see world class footballers like Ronaldinho, you never know what he is going to do next, that level of unpredictability is so valuable and so powerful that it will kill most defenders purely on its own.