La Liga has been home to some of the greatest defenders in the game. Even though it's the least glamorous of roles on a football pitch, defenders are the unsung heroes of the game. In a world that's becoming increasingly obsessed with numbers, the contributions of the rearguard can easily slip under the radar.
But one thing all the dominant teams in history have had in common is a strong defensive unit. Midfielders and forwards need a reliable set of defenders at the back to be able to express themselves to the fullest. If the team is leaking goals at the back, it can not only make their jobs difficult, it can take their confidence away.
La Liga has featured some of the most technically proficient defenders of all time
La Liga has a reputation for featuring the most technically accomplished players in the world. The expansive nature of the Spanish game has urged its defenders to broaden their style of play. As a result, brute strength and tenacity started to be complemented by control on the ball and good passing range.
Without further ado, let's take a look at five of the best La Liga defenders of all time.
#5 Gerard Pique (Barcelona)
One of the best examples of a modern centre-back, Gerard Pique has marshaled the Barcelona backline to great effect over the course of his career. The Spaniard is one of the toughest characters in the Barcelona dressing room and has been a leader for the young crop for more than a decade now.
Standing at 194 cms, it's easy to see why he dominates aerial duels. What he lacks in pace, he makes up for with his anticipation and tactical intelligence. He is incredibly strong and is a great tackler. But what has truly earned him his status among the greats is his ability to compound the physical aspects with the technical side.
Pique is good with the ball at his feet and possesses a great passing range. Thanks to his aerial ability, Pique can also contribute on the other end of the pitch and is a constant threat from set-pieces.
The 34-year-old has won eight La Liga titles, three Champions League titles, seven Copa Del Reys and five Supercopa de Espanas. He also won the 2010 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2012 with Spain. Pique is undoubtedly one of the greatest La Liga defenders of all time.
#4 Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid)
If you've seen Roberto Carlos' incredible strikes, you wouldn't be surprised to learn that the Brazilian started out as a striker. But he eventually shifted positions and went on to write his name into the history books as one of the best left-backs of all time.
One of the best attacking full-backs to have graced the game, Roberto Carlos enjoyed an illustrious career. He joined Real Madrid in 1996 at the age of 23. After that, there was no looking back for El Hombre Bala ("The Bullet Man").
Carlos was a strong, pacy presence down the left flank and was an excellent passer of the ball. He could also ping accurate crosses into the area which made him all the more dangerous. The Brazilian was also a tireless worker and this enabled him to help out on both ends of the pitch to equal effect.
In the eleven years he spent playing for Real Madrid, Carlos won numerous major trophies. He won four La Liga titles, three UEFA Champions League titles and three Supercopa de Espanas.