5 national teams with the best defensive depth currently


#3 Brazil

Miranda (#3), Fernandinho (C), Marquinhos (#13) and Thiago Silva (#2)
Miranda (#3), Fernandinho (C), Marquinhos (#13) and Thiago Silva (#2)

Typically known for their flair and attacking prowess, Brazil have been transformed by Tite into a formidable defensive unit. Despite their heartbreaking loss in this year's Copa America final to Argentina, the Selecao were the joint-best defence in the tournament, along with their bitter rivals. Both teams conceded just thrice in seven games.

Brazil are firmly on top in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, though. Tite's men are unbeaten in 13 qualifiers they have played so far, conceding only four goals.

HOJE É DIA! 🇧🇷🇦🇷

The Selecao's defence is balanced. Eder Militao, Gabriel and Renan Lodi are all only 23. Alex Sandro and Danilo are 30, while Marquinhos is in his prime at 27. Miranda (33) and Thiago Silva (37) are the oldest defenders in the squad.

Options in defence: Alisson, Ederson, Alex Telles, Alex Sandro, Danilo, Gabriel, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Emerson Royal, Miranda, Renan Lodi, Eder Militao, Diego Carlos.

#2 France

France suffered a disappointing Euro 2020 exit against Switzerland.
France suffered a disappointing Euro 2020 exit against Switzerland.

Armed with numerous elite defenders who start regularly for their clubs, France have enough depth at the back to rank first on this list. Unfortunately for Les Bleus, their defence in 2021 failed to replicate the form that helped them clinch the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Didier Deschamps' men kept four clean sheets in seven games in Russia three years ago. At this year's Euro 2020, though, France kept one clean sheet in four fixtures and crashed out after conceding thrice to Switzerland in the Round of 16.

One more match to go. Let's end the year on a high! 👊 #FiersdetreBleus #FINFRA🇫🇮🇫🇷 | Kick-off 20h45 CET

Things, however, have gone much better in FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying. France have secured a direct ticket to Qatar after conceding just thrice in eight games. They are tied with Denmark and England for the second-best defence in the qualifying round in Europe.

Time is firmly on France's side. Apart from captain Hugo Lloris (34) and his back-up Steve Mandanda (36), none of the defenders in Les Bleus' Euro 2020 squad were above the age of 30. With Jules Kounde, Dayot Upamecano, the Hernandez brothers, and Benjamin Pavard all 25 or younger, the French defence's future is secure.

Options in defence: Hugo Lloris, Alphonse Areola, Benjamin Pavard, Lucas Hernandez, Theo Hernandez, Ferland Mendy, Lucas Digne, Dayot Upamecano, Raphael Varane, Jules Kounde, Presnel Kimpembe, Kurt Zouma, Clement Lenglet, Ibrahima Konate.

#1 England

England watch on during the Euro 2020 final against Italy
England watch on during the Euro 2020 final against Italy

Say what you want about Gareth Southgate. But there's no denying he has turned England into one of the finest defensive units in the world. The Three Lions are usually associated with star midfielders, but it is the current squad's backline that has impressed with its resilience.

England had the best defence at Euro 2020 by some distance, conceding just two goals in seven games. More impressively, they didn't concede from open play even once, with both goals they conceded coming from set-pieces.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers were no different. England have secured direct qualification for next year's tournament after conceding just thrice in ten games. The Three Lions were tied with France (who played two games fewer) and Denmark for the second-best defensive record in Europe.

The #ThreeLions scored 52 goals in 2021 — more than in any other calendar year in our history. 💥

Gareth Southgate has an exciting group of youngsters to choose from. Of England's Euro 2020 squad, only Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker, at 31, were over 30.

Their most recent squad comprises Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James and Ben Chilwell, who are aged 25 or under. Meanwhile, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Jordan Pickford and Tyrone Mings are all in their prime.

Options in defence: Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale, Dean Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Harry Maguire, John Stones, Fikayo Tomori, Ben White, Conor Coady, Tyrone Mings, Luke Shaw, Ben Chilwell.

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Edited by Bhargav
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