Scoring and conceding goals is a part of the beautiful game. Even with the deployment of a defensive approach, there is no assurance that goals will not be conceded.
Modern-day football may have changed and tactics may have been tweaked, but it takes a lot of effort to keep any opposition at bay. Even the best of defenses have leaked goals against the most unexpected teams.
With defending being such an important job, top teams in Europe have spent big on signing top-quality defenders and goalkeepers. One of the keys to success these days is having a strong defensive unit.
Last season, we saw some top performances at the back in Europe's top five leagues. On that note, we take a look at the top clubs who have conceded the least number of goals and had the best defense in the 2021-22 season.
Note: Europe's top five leagues are considered
#5 AC Milan
After struggling for 11 years, the Rossoneri finally secured the Serie A title in the 2021-22 season. It wasn't easy for them as their local rivals and last season's defending champions Inter Milan put up a strong fight. In fact, the title race went on until the final day of the campaign.
Eventually, it was a season to remember for AC Milan and much credit goes to their defensive players for their triumph. With new signing Mike Maignan between the sticks, Milan had a rock-solid custodian between the sticks. He kept 17 clean sheets in his debut season - the most by a goalkeeper in that season.
Defensive contributions from Fikayo Tomori, Pierre Kalulu, Davide Calabria, Theo Hernandez, and others ensured Milan conceded just 31 goals last campaign, joint-best in the league with Napoli. It was truly a team effort from the Rossoneri which helped them secure this fabulous title win.
#4 Real Madrid
Real Madrid recorded their 35th league victory after triumphing in the 2021-22 campaign. The Spanish giants hardly faced any competition as the runners-up Barcelona ended 13 points behind them.
Los Blancos were very impressive in attack and despite allowing both Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane to leave last summer, they looked quite solid in defense. They did stutter coping at first but as the season grew, the team matured into a collective unit.
The Spanish giants conceded just 31 goals in the 2021-22 season. Along with the defense, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois played an important role in not letting the opposition score easily with some stunning saves.
Sevilla, more often than not, have been known to be a strong defensive unit in the past few years. Their chemistry at the back has helped them pose a strong challenge for the opposition to score.
In the 2021-22 season, Sevilla managed to draw 16 games in La Liga, the most in the league. Their defensive approach saw them either win games by a small margin or end matches on level terms.
Nonetheless, they managed to qualify for the Champions League play-offs at the end of the campaign. Their highlight of the season was their defense, which conceded just 30 goals, the least number of goals in La Liga.
The Premier League saw an intense title race in the 2021-22 season which went on until the last day of the league. Eventually, Liverpool had to settle for the runners-up spot but their performance did merit the highest level of acknowledgement.
The Reds were devastating in attack, having scored 94 goals in their 38 league matches. While their forwards did damage to the opposition, their defense provided a lot of stability and comfort to their play.
With the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip in central defense, Liverpool looked rock solid at the back. Full-backs Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold too played their part in restricting opposition attackers. The Reds conceded just 26 goals in the Premier League's last edition.
#1 Manchester City
It was a close finish but ultimately Pep Guardiola's men ended up as the rightful winners of the 2021-22 Premier League edition. Manchester City secured their fourth league title win in the past five years.
Their dominance on the pitch was evident in most matches with their fine attacking play and immense control of possession. While the attackers did their job, City's defenders left no stone unturned in contributing to their triumph.
Manchester City scored 99 goals in the league and conceded just 26 goals. The partnership between Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte, combined with contributions from Joao Cancelo, Kyle Walker, John Stones, and others, were key to the club's success.