Trophies are won on the basis of a great defence, so goes the conventional wisdom! It is not a coincidence that teams with stingy defensive lines usually end up winning league titles. Yet, defenders are a sadly neglected lot. They rarely get spotlight or awards despite performing well. TheHardTackle will try to make sure that defenders who did well last season get proper recognition for their efforts.
Who do you think was the best defender of last season?
Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United)
The current Manchester United team is a prime example of how defensive solidity can help a team. United’s league campaign was marked by their unbreakable defensive record at Old Trafford. In eighteen games played, the Red Devils conceded just twelve goals. A big chunk of the credit should go to the Serbian rock – Nemanja Vidic. Despite missing his regular partner Rio Ferdinand, Vidic dished out flawless performances week in week out. When he donned the captain’s arm-band he led from the front. He was a pretty handy candidate from set-pieces also – scoring five goals. Vidic did extremely well against his alleged nemesis Fernando Torres this season – shutting out El Nino every time they squared off this season.
Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)
Filthy rich Manchester City experienced their best season in decades as they captured the FA Cup title while finishing in top-3 of the EPL table. City’s success was built on a water-tight defence which conceded just 33 goals in EPL – jointly the best record with Chelsea. Vincent Kompany was a standout performer for City this season with an incredible 37 starts out of 38 possible matches. While Joe Hart and Carlos Tevez walked away with awards, City manager Roberto Mancini picked out the Belgian as his player of the season. Kompany is still only 25 years old and can only get better with age.
Thiago Silva (AC Milan)
Was Thiago Silva the main reason behind Milan’s first Scudetto triumph in seven years? Possibly yes. AC Milan’s defence conceded a measly 24 goals all season, despite missing a stalwart like Alessandro Nesta for lengthy periods. Silva’s partnership with Nesta had worked wonderfully last season and the Brazilian struggled this season initially without Nesta’s calming presence. However, slowly he evolved as a defensive organizer and filled in Nesta’s void admirably. Silva was rewarded for his consistent performances when he was selected for the Armando Picchi award. He also got a contract extension in Milan which keeps him in the club till 2016.
Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund)
It’s ironical that Bayern Munich are struggling for the lack of good centre-backs while one of Academy products has turned out to be one of the best CBs in Germany. Hummels’ partnership with Subotic first flourished in 2009/10 season but the Serbian got more spotlight as Hummels got injured mid-season. The most curious aspect of Hummels’ play is that he fits into the role of a libero – a rarity in modern football. He often comes out of the defence to join Dortmund’s forward surges. His sense of positioning and long passes made him an invaluable piece in Klopp’s refreshing tactics. Hummels can be an answer to Germany’s often brittle defence in future.
Gerard Pique (Barcelona)
Still just 24, Pique has already won more winners’ medals than some footballers do in their entire career. Over last three seasons the La Masia product has developed into one of the best centre-backs in the world. Having played as a centre-half in his early days Pique’s close control is a delight and can cause embarrassment to a lot of established strikers. This season Pique was once again at his best form. He marshaled the Barcelona defence when Carles Puyol was absent. Pique also chipped in with important goals against Atletico Madrid and Villarreal. The Catalans conceded a mere 21 goals this season – while Barca’s reluctance to give possession to opponents was a major reason for this, Pique’s contribution cannot be ignored.
We have the first upset of the Awards! And that too, by a huge margin. Nemanja Vidic’s flawless season at Old Trafford has been overshadowed by Thiago Silva‘s splendid season in the Milan shirt. The Milan central defender helped his club win back the Serie A title from their closest rivals and has caught the eye of the whole world.