Defender of the month: The nominees
“Strikers win you matches defenders win you championships.”
The defence is the bedrock upon which any champion side is built. The defence can mean the difference between all three points or a sordid draw, the group in the team that may bring that one extra point out of the game when the creative forces couldn’t conjure up much for the side. The defence may define a season, winning you silverware or keeping a side safe from relegation.
Taking stock of the defensive performances in the month of November, here are your nominees for Defender of the Month.
Vote for your favourite defender for the month. Polls close on December 5!
The 6’2″ powerhouse of a defender from the land of the Samba has lent the Bayern defence solidity and has been the stalwart at the centre of the backline. Dante’s transfer to Bayern went under the radar as the Bavarians pulled off a coup, signing the Brazilian for a paltry 4.7 million euro after impressing mightily last season at Borussia Mönchengladbach.
The Bayern defence has been water tight in the Bundesliga so far, having conceded only 5 goals in 14 games so far this season, and 1 goal in 5 games in the month of November. The Breazilian also provides a big target for free kicks into the box. Recently voted among the Bundesliga’s best players for the 2011/2012 season, the Brazilian has carried on his fine form into this season. The defender is a strong passer completing 91% of his passes.
Notable stats: 91% pass completion, 4 cleans sheets in 5 games in Bundesliga, 75% tackling success, 1 goal.
Coming into the season, Siena were hot favourites to go down this season in the Serie A. They started with a 6 point handicap due to their involvement in the Calcio scommesse (football bet) scandal that rocked Italian football over the summer. Neto may one of the youngest (age 24) in the squad in Siena which mainly comprises of Serie A veterans and journey men, but he is the leader at the back.
Under the tutelage of Cosmi, Siena have a new-found solidarity especially defensively as they were able to create four straight shut-outs. Siena didn’t concede a single goal in the month of November playing a back-three in which Neto is a mainstay. The Portugese lad’s effort hasn’t been overlooked as he was rewarded for his efforts by his first call up for his country.
Notable stats: Zero goals conceded in the month of November.
The Canaries’ backline has been in form in the month of November and Sebastien Bassong finally is re-capturing the form that saw him go from an unknown to a 8 million pound transfer to Tottenham. The Cameroonian has made an appearance twice in our Team of the Week because of his stellar play at the back. The Canaries kept Manchester United scoreless while a formidable show at the back against Everton made sure they come with a vital away point. Bassong scoring that equaliser at Goodirson park was just the icing on the cake.
2 clean sheets against Reading and Stoke as well and you get an understanding why Bassong ends up in the list.
Saint Etienne has emerged as the surprise package of this season’s Ligue 1 action. Their rise has been mainly based on the defensive performances which sees them in second place at the moment, above the big boys like PSG, Marseille and Bordeaux.
The experienced right-back Clerc arrived at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard with a wealth of experience that he has been able to bestow upon the backline, having won 3 Ligue 1 titles during his time at Lyon. François has been able to bring a lot of intelligence, control, serenity and calm. This calmness at the back has seen them pluck out results one after another, beating the likes of PSG on their way to 3 clean sheets in the month and only 3 goals conceded.
Manchester City seems to be getting back to their stride and that has coincided with them being able to find a stable pairing at the centre-back position. Vincent Kompany as usual has the sheet anchor in the side, leading them to three clean sheets this November with the young Serb, Nastasic his accomplice-in-chief.
The Uruguayan has been arguably the best central defender in the La Liga this season. Godin enjoyed impressive outings in November, and was able to keep 3 clean sheets in 4 matches. Along side Miranda, Madrid’s “other” team has a formidable force at the back. Godin’s best game came against Getafe where he put out a man of the match performance that included 5 precisely performed tackles and 13 clearances.
Real Madrid may have been unable to keep clean sheets this month but Sergio Ramos to his credit has put in one tremendous shift after another. In their last game Betis Ramos was solid at the back and even went up to play centre-forward in the late stages of the game. His impressive form saw him score a goal against Bilbao and was unlucky to hit the crossbar against Levante with a back heel.
Except for a difficult game against the rampaging Borussia Dortmund, Ramos had a solid month. His prowess in the air was really evident as he went on to win 64% aerial duels on the field, while his tackling was more than 90% successful in the La Liga.