“You must stop either the ball or the man. Both must never get past you.”
A centre-back is one of the most crucial players in a team for its prolonged success, and no team is complete without one. In the modern game, with the increasing speed of play and more physicality involved, the centre-half is challenged immensely. His job in the team is harder than ever before. So, what exactly are the ingredients that go into making the ideal central defender? Let’s take a look:
Evidently, the most important characteristic that a centre-half should possess is awareness and sense of positioning. Having a keen eye for predicting a striker’s next move and sensing when to cut off the danger or make a vital interception allows defenders to win the ball without taking on the opposing player, thereby making up for a lack of pace, like in the case of Per Mertesacker.
The importance of positioning cannot be overstated: Having this quality goes a long way in being a great defender. Giorgio Chiellini and Jerome Boateng are perhaps the best examples of the same.