"Attack wins you games; defence wins you titles," said Sir Alex Ferguson. Fans expect teams to drive forward in search of goals. But teams with stable defences are the ones who usually emerge from the perilous group stages at international tournaments.
In the recently concluded Euro 2020, the two finalists - England and Italy - were both among the top three defences out of the 24 participants. Teams try to refrain from rotating at major tournaments. But a deep squad helps them get there in the first place by navigating the gruelling qualification stage.
On that note, here's a look at the five national teams with the best defensive depth at the moment:
The current Spain team's defence arguably isn't as good as it should be. On paper, there is a wealth of experience.
Most defenders in La Furia Roja's squad are above the age of 25. Eric Garcia (20), Pau Torres (24) and reserve keeper Robert Sanchez (23) being the only exceptions. All their defenders are regular starters at club level, including back-up keeper David de Gea.
Spain weren't particularly solid at Euro 2020, keeping only two clean sheets in six games while conceding six goals. Five goals conceded in eight 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers makes for slightly better reading. Spain did concede in both their recent Nations League games as well.
Options in defence: Unai Simon, David de Gea, Cesar Azpilicueta, Daniel Carvajal, Aymeric Laporte, Eric Garcia, Pau Torres, Inigo Martinez, Diego Llorente, Jordi Alba, Jose Gaya, Sergio Ramos, Nacho, Raul Albiol.
Euro 2020 champions Italy are another team with a veteran defence, but their defenders are ageing like fine wine.
The Azzurri were the third-best defence at this summer's tournament. They conceded four times in seven games while keeping clean sheets in all three of their group stage fixtures. Italy didn't concede more than one goal in any of their outings.
Italy also boasted the joint-best defence in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, conceding just twice in eight games. Unfortunately for Roberto Mancini's side, their defensive record was matched by Switzerland, who pipped Italy to top spot in Group C. As a result, Italy must get through the tricky playoffs to make it to Qatar.
Meanwhile, six of Italy's 12-man defensive unit at Euro 2020 were older than 30. Only superstar keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and Inter Milan centre-back Alessandro Bastoni, at 22, were below the age of 25. Although Italy don't have as many big names at the back as Spain, the Azzurri's defenders are hardened by playing in the physical Serie A.
Options in defence: Gianluigi Donnarumma, Salvatore Sirigu, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Leonardo Spinazzola, Emerson Palmieri, Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Alessandro Bastoni, Alessandro Florenzi, Rafael Toloi, Gianluca Mancini, Davide Zappacosta.