The Hard Tackle brings you our pick of top five best tackles in the calendar year 2017, featuring the likes of Sergio Ramos, Diego Godin, Eric Bailly and more
Defending is an art that doesn’t always get its due credit in the modern game of football. Nowadays, it is all about the goals, the assists, the outrageous piece of skills on the pitch that take the limelight. However, a good tackle is something that still manages to get a fan on to the edge of the seat and leaves one in awe of the moment.
And to give the art of tackling its due, here we bring to you five of the best tackles from the calendar year 2017, listed in a chronological order;
1. Diego Godin: Atletico Madrid 2-1 Real Madrid (Champions League)
The Madrid derby. Semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League. Atletico coming on the back of a 3-0 loss in the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, put up a great fight and clawed their way back in and were leading 2-0, when the incident happened.
Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric got a loose ball in Atletico’s half and with no player close, the situation seemed dangerous for the home side. But the Rojiblancos‘ captain Diego Godin had different ideas altogether.
The Uruguayan defender, known for his no-nonsense approach to defending, charged down and put in a crunching sliding tackle to put the ball out of play and send Modric to ground.
Then, Godin, eager to get the play started, went on to lift and drag Modric who was flat on the pitch, which did not appease the Croatian. It was a moment that highlighted Godin’s tenacity and fighting spirit, but Modric had the last laugh as Real Madrid progressed to the finals.
2. Sergio Ramos: Juventus 1-4 Real Madrid (Champions League)
This one made the news more for what followed after the tackle, than the tackle itself, but despite all his flaws, one cannot deny Sergio Ramos is one of the best around.
The setting was the UEFA Champions League final in Cardiff. The Spanish and Italian champions going head to head, and the Galacticos were on the verge of creating history, to become the first club to retain the Champions League trophy since its re-christening.
Juventus, to muster up a fightback, threw in Juan Cuadrado in the second period, but it turned out a night to forget for the Colombian. The former Chelsea man was sprinting down the touchline in Madrid’s half, but only to be dispossessed with an inch-perfect sliding tackle from Ramos. The timing of it, the intensity, everything was just perfect.
However, what followed after grabbed the headlines as Ramos threw himself theatrically to the ground after Cuadrado appeared to touch him, leading to the Colombian’s sending off. It might have not been the most sportsmanlike behaviour, but take nothing away from the tackle that preceded it.
3. Javier Mascherano: Barcelona 2-0 Real Betis (La Liga)
When Pep Guardiola started utilizing former Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano as a centre-back at Barcelona, there were many who didn’t agree with the switch and were quick to brand the Argentine a liability.
However, over the years, Mascherano has time and again proven himself a more than reliable defender for the Catalans and has been integral to the amount of success they have achieved in recent years. And in 2017, he provided another evidence of his defensive prowess that made him such a hit at Camp Nou in the 2017/18 La Liga opener, against Real Betis.
Betis striker Sergio Leon was set through on goal with just the goalkeeper to beat and as he bared down the goal, lining up a strike. in comes a haring Javier Mascherano, lunging in for the ball and executing a brilliant last-ditch tackle that just manages to take the ball off his toe, right when Leon was about to pull the trigger.
He may have turned 33, but Mascherano has still got it.
4. Eric Bailly: Stoke City 2-2 Manchester United (Premier League)
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Eric Bailly has become somewhat of a cult hero at the Old Trafford since his move in the summer of 2016. The passion, the determination and the willingness to fight, that he exudes has endeared him to the United faithful a great deal.
The 23-year old is far from the finished article though and it was evident when Manchester United were held to a 2-2 draw by Stoke City away at the Bet365 Stadium back in September 2017. The Ivorian defender endured a difficult night and received some flak from the pundits for his performance.
But, there was one moment during the match that the fans absolutely loved. Near United’s by-line, Bailly executed a brilliant tackle to dispossess Kurt Zouma. The ball fell to Stoke’s Xherdan Shaqiri, who tried to outfox the United defender with some sleek footwork, as he attempted two elasticos.
However, Bailly was having none of it. He slid in hard and fast and took the ball away from the Switzerland international, who was left giving a confounding look to the linesman when no free-kick was awarded. It was some fantastic bit of defending from Bailly, bringing out his dogged determination and heart-on-the-sleeve style of play.
5. Phil Jagielka: Chelsea 2-1 Everton (Carabao Cup)
Chelsea were coming on the back of some not so convincing displays into the Round-of-16 clash of the Carabao Cup against Everton back in October 2017. But, they managed to eke ahead of their opponents thanks to goals from Antonio Rudiger and Willian.
However, with Everton bombarding Willy Caballero in the Chelsea goal regularly, things were far from over. This is when Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi had a great chance to put the game to bed once and for all.
The Belgian found himself on the end of a misplaced backpass and had just Everton goalie Jordan Pickford to beat. And he did so with ease, rounding off the England international as he trudged on his way to an open goal.
But, Everton captain Phil Jagielka had different ideas altogether. The veteran defender, not known for his ground speed, showed an incredible turn of pace to catch up with Batshuayi and executed a sliding tackle in the goal-mouth to send the ball out of play and the striker crashing into the post, denying Chelsea a certain goal, who did progress to the next round, despite a late Dominic Calvert-Lewin strike.