2018-19: Top 5 centre-backs in Europe
"Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles."
Sir Alex Ferguson said this and we totally agree with him. For instance, have a look at Liverpool and Manchester City. Both the teams have scored goals in a large chunk but at the same time conceded the least amount of goals. Out of 38 games, Alisson and Ederson kept clean sheets in 21 and 20 games respectively. The strong defence, with the aid of Virgil Van Dijk, helped Liverpool to win their 6th European title by defeating Tottenham Hotspur.
There was a period in the second half of the season when City was struggling to score goals but was taking three points by winning games with a scoreline 1-0. Grabbing those three points helped them to defend their league title by one point.
A striker gets applauded for every goal he nets, but a centre-back is left unappreciated for every tackle he makes. Harsh reality. But today, we bring you a list of the top five centre-backs who have been on another level. These five defenders have been rock solid for their team and deserve to get a special mention.
#5 Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City):
Laporte has been the first choice centre-back for Pep Guardiola last season, and with the departure of legendary Vincent Kompany, his importance will only going to be increased in the upcoming season.
He is a typical Pep Guardiola defender - comfortable in ball possession, intelligent with ball distribution, and having the skills to win the aerial battle in the opposition's box. The French international was ever-present for the Blues in the Premier League, starting 34 games out of possible 38. His pass success percentage stands at 92.3% and he has also contributed on the other side of the pitch by scoring three goals and registering three assists in the domestic campaign.
The only thing which he has to develop further in his third season at City is to become the leader of the backline.
#2 Gerard Pique (Barcelona)
This man needs no introduction. The veteran centre-back has been a long-term servant for FC Barcelona and is set to continue the role of a leader in the next season as well. Even if they are able to sign de Ligt, Pique will be their first man. He is not as quick as other modern centre-backs, but he has a great sense of positioning and is also a brilliant reader of the game.
Just like Laporte, Pique was a stalwart for his side, starting 35 games in La Liga, making 1.2 tackles and 1 interception per game respectively. He was dribbled past only 0.4 times per match and had an average of four clearances per game in La Liga.