The Hard Tackle brings you our pick of the five best tackles made in 2016, featuring the likes of Gerard Pique, Hector Bellerin, Kurt Zouma and more

There is nothing in football quite like a tackle. Whether it be a well timed steal or a crunching tackle that leaves the opponent eating grass, the art of the tackle is an underrated one, often forgotten amidst the fantastic goals, assists and goalkeeping saves.

In a bid to give the ‘(hard)tackle’ it’s due, we have tried to compile a list of the top 5 best tackles from the past calendar year and they have been listed below in no particular order.

1. Toby Alderweireld: Borussia Dortmund 3-0 Tottenham Hotspur

The Belgian international, alongside compatriot Jan Vertonghen were the best center-back pairing in England last season. The 27-year-old grew to become one of the best center-backs in the world under Pochettino’s tutelage, and was an integral to their title push last season.

This tackle in the Europa League against Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang epitomized all of Alderweireld’s qualities in a matter of 7 seconds. His pace, composure, awareness, technique and skill were all on display as he dispossessed the striker classiest manner possible.

2. Kurt Zouma: Crystal Palace 0-3 Chelsea

The 22-year-old has endured a bad time in 2016 after he suffered a horrific knee injury, which kept him out of action for 11 months. The Frenchman has since recovered and made a successful return to action against Peterborough in the third round of the FA Cup.

He was one of the few shining lights of Chelsea’s disastrous campaign last season and his injury only added to their woes and further weakened an already demoralized defence. Christened ‘happy’ by the fans, his last ditch tackle on Zaha was easily one of the best in the EPL last season.

3. Gerard Pique: FC Barcelona 1-1 Atletico Madrid

The Spaniard has been one of Barcelona’s top performers this season and has been a rock in Barcelona’s defence. He has been one of Luis Enrique’s most consistent performers this season, and every time he steps on to the pitch, he never fails to prove his importance to the squad.

It was pieces of defending like these that have saved Barcelona on more than one occasion this season. His willingness to get back up and sprint back 15 yards to dispossess Carrasco for the second time in a matter of seconds, screams of passion, leadership and of course, quality.

4. Jerome Boateng: Germany 0-0 Poland

The 28-year-old was adjudged as the 2015-16 German footballer of the year and he continued his brilliant Bayern Munich form with his national team. His superb clearance against Ukraine will go down as one of the highlights of the tournament, but is not why he is in this list.

In their group stage match against Poland, Boateng would be coming up against a certain Robert Lewandowski, one of the world’s most feared strikers and his teammate at Bayern Munich. The match was touted to be a battle between the two big personalities, and it didn’t fail to disappoint.

The duo were going at it for last portions of the game, with Boateng tasked with marking Lewandowski and the big German did a fine job of keeping the Polish striker’s name off the scoresheet and their entire battle could be exemplified by this one superb tackle.

5. Hector Bellerin: Arsenal 3-0 Chelsea

Over the course of the past few seasons, the La Masia graduate has grown on to become one of the world’s finest right backs, at the mere age of 21. The Spaniard is blessed with super technical ability, vision and passing ability, but his biggest strength is his lightning pace.

He is one of the fastest players in the game, right up there alongside the likes of Aubameyang, Varane and Bale. This pace gives him a huge advantage over his opponents, as is evident by this tackle on Pedro in their 3-0 hammering of Chelsea at the Emirates earlier this season.

What makes this tackle so impressive, is that he starts his sprint well behind Diego Costa and Pedro, and managed to run around both of them in a matter of 3 seconds, before putting in a superb tackle with his left foot to dispossess the former Barcelona winger.

Honourable Mentions

Gabriel Paletta: Palermo 1-2 AC Milan

The 30-year-old, who has become an integral part of Vincenzo Montella’s side this season made this superb recovery tackle against Ilija Nestorovski when they visited Palermo. Despite slipping and falling, he adjusted his body in the knick of time to superbly dispossess the Macedonian.

Jerome Boateng: Germany 0-0 Poland

In the same match as the one mentioned before, the German international put in another brilliant tackle to dispossess Lewandowski when he was through on goal, after he had seemingly been played through by Milik.

Laurent Koscielny: Arsenal 0-0 Middlesbrough

One of the Frenchman’s many fantastic tackles this season. This one was done on Alvaro Negredo, with his trailing foot. Class.

Javier Mascherano: FC Barcelona 1-1 Atletico Madrid

The Argentine put in a superb last ditch tackle on Kevin Gameiro who was looking to lead an Atletico counter attack. However, after seemingly having beaten the former Liverpool midfielder with his pace, Mascherano timed his tackle to perfection to dispossess the striker.

Nicolas Otamendi: Manchester City 1-1 Borussia Dortmund

Borussia would go on to win this tie 6-7 on penalties, but as it was a pre-season friendly it was a result of little consequence. However, Otamendi did put in a world class tackle to prevent Emre Mor from bombarding down the channel.