“Goals win games, but Defences win tournaments” is a saying every football fan knows, and every great football manager adheres to. All of the greatest sides in the contemporary game have been built on rock-solid defences. And those defences, had in their heart, a general who would lead, command, organise, and tackle.
Good defenders need a number of traits to be successful. Pace, power, tactical intelligence, technical capability, strength on set pieces, leadership at the back, and organisational skills are just some of the skills that a defender needs to be deemed ‘great’.
Be it Bobby Moore, Franco Baresi, or Franz Beckenbauer, certain players have given their teams a strong base and made them fortresses which were extremely hard to breach.
Here, we look at the top 5 centre backs in the game today.
#5 Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)
He has oodles of pace to match the quickest strikers in the game, he is a leader at the back, and he is as strong as they get. The Frenchman’s tackling is aggressive and he also has the knack of nicking a goal.
His statistics don’t do full justice to his ability as a player as Koscielny plays in a team which employs an attacking style and a high line, with great space in behind which opposition strikers look to exploit.
He comes out on top against most opponents in individual duels, and it must not be forgotten that he plays in the most difficult league in the world for defenders, where the tempo of play is high, and referees let forwards get away with physical play in the box.
Koscielny has also chipped in 34 goals in his career and is extremely useful in the opponents’ box during set-pieces.
He was a solid figure at the back for France in their journey to the final of EURO 2016, without a stable partner in central defence, which in itself is a feat.
Koscielny has won the FA Cup twice and the Community Shield twice. At 31 years of age, he still has a couple of good years in him yet.