"Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles." It's a cliche, but it is one for good reason. The greatest football teams have been built around strong defensive units. Stability and formidability at the back lets each and every individual on a team express themselves to the fullest.
These days, a three-at-the-back system is being widely used but a traditional four-man defence with two centre-backs is still very much in vogue. To form a solid partnership in defence, a team needs two defenders who can complement each other and play to each other's strengths.
The duo need to be dynamic and simply stopping attackers in their tracks won't do. They need to be able to dominate all aspects of defending and be able to help their teams in building from the back. We have seen plenty of incredible centre-back partnerships in football.
Picking the five best centre-back partnerships is a near-impossible task, but we'll give it a shot anyway. Without further ado, let's dive straight into it.
#5 Gaetano Scirea and Claudio Gentile (Juventus/Italy)
Gaetano Scirea and Claudio Gentile formed one of the most dominant defensive partnerships we have seen at both club and international level. Juventus are famous for fielding some of the best defenders in the game and Scirea and Gentile epitomized their eliteness.
Gentile was a tough-tackling, rowdy defender whose style of play fit that of a traditional centre-back. He was a powerhouse and was as aggressive as any player to have graced the game. Gaetano Scirea, on the other hand, was the perfect foil to Gentile.
He was measured in his ways and was as classy and polished a defender as any. Scirea has never been sent off in his career. He was so good that he kept the legendary Franco Baresi out of the Italian national team for a good while.
Together, Scirea and Gentile were indomitable. They played together at Juventus for ten years, winning six Scudettos. They were also Italy's first-choice centre-backs in their 1982 World Cup triumph.
#4 Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United)
Arguably the greatest centre-back pairing of the Premier League era, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic dominated the English top-flight for years. The technically astute Rio Ferdinand had already made a name for himself at Manchester United as a great modern day defender since joining in 2002.
Then Sir Alex Ferguson roped in a Serbian named Nemanja Vidic in 2005 and the rest is history. They were a centre-back duo that complemented each other perfectly. Ferdinand provided the flair with his wonderful technical ability while Vidic added the steel. Vidic was fearless, intimidating and an incredible physical presence.
Ferdinand and Vidic helped Edwin Van der Sar create a record of going 1,103 minutes without conceding a goal in the Premier League in 2009. Together, they won the UEFA Champions League in the 2007-08 season and five Premier League titles. They also won three English League Cups together.