The cliché “defenders win you championships” has been stated before and as obvious as it sounds, a defender proves himself over the season with his consistency and moreover, ability to lead and organise the line.
It is a combination of spirit and the intelligence to see danger before it happens. Some players opt to cut off a move early and others rely on their ability to make last ditch tackles. Either way, the result is shown in the player’s team conceding fewer goals or not conceding when it matters the most. This is TheHardTackle’s attempt to give the top 5 defenders in Europe the recognition they deserve.
Who do you think was the best defender of the season?
Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)
Even those of us who don’t follow the Premier League have come to realize that Vincent Kompany was arguably Manchester City’s most important player. The Belgian international is known for his ability to dribble, pass and tackle. In fact, it would be safe to say that he has no significant weaknesses. His leadership qualities, however, trumps the rest of his virtues and as captain, Kompany led his team by example. On an average (over 41 games this season), Kompany has tackled 2.1 times PG and made 2.2 interceptions PG.
Andrea Barzagli (Juventus)
Well, nobody really expected Barzagli to play as many games as he did or play as well as he did. The Italian defender who was fighting for a spot in the national team has thoroughly impressed this season. The pairing of Barzagli with Chiellini can be compared to the Puyol-Pique partnership of the last few seasons. Barzagli is the cultured defender capable of making short passes out of defense to relieve pressure. The reinvigorated Italian is an intelligent defender who is capable of sensing danger and making interceptions. Juventus owe a large part of their title to Barzagli.
Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)
The statistics sticks out and says a lot about the kind of defender Giorgio is. On an average over 37 games for Juventus, Giorgio Chiellini has made 3.1 tackles PG and 3.6 interceptions PG. And they wonder why Italians defined the art of defending? Giorgio Chiellini has been a beast in defense and helped Juventus to the title. The Bianconeri went unbeaten throughout the season playing beautiful football and being compared to the likes of Arsenal’s invincibles and Barcelona (for their style of play). A possession oriented game depends a lot on the defenders as they are expected to play the ball out from the back, Giorgio Chiellini has a pass success rate of 87.4%.
Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund)
He is tall, elegant in his defending and Dortmund are extremely lucky to have him. The irony that he was a part of rivals Bayern Munich’s youth set up is there for everybody to see. Borussia Dortmund’s number 5, continues to make a name for himself and it’s safe to say they will have a tough time holding on to him if he keeps going at this rate. Hummels is a libero while also capable of playing in a defensive midfield role if necessary but his ability to help his team out in attack is only a distraction from his defensive capabilities. With 3.4 tackles PG and 2.2 PG interceptions over the season, Hummels definitely deserves to be on this list.
Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
2.2 tackles PG, 1.9 interceptions PG, 3.5 last ditch clearances PG, 87.6% pass success, 4 goals and 6 assists. Enough said. The Spanish International, however, is more than just the stats as he has shown a lot of maturity this season and starred in his new role as a Centre Back (as opposed to playing as a Right back last season) which only emphasizes his integral role in Real Madrid’s squad. With Carles Puyol’s recent injury, Sergio Ramos will almost certainly start for Spain (even if it is as a Right back) and he will look to continue his good season with the national team as well.