Defenders of the Month for May: The Nominees
May was a month with more drama and more excitement than any other, with cup finals being played throughout the continent. The team that scores the most goals wins but to do that, you must make sure the defence is solid, to quote legendary Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman.
Here are the top five nominees for Defender of the Month for May:
Jeremy Mathieu, Valencia and France
Although Valencia lost one game in May, they kept four clean sheets in their five games. Those clean sheets came courtesy of some solid defending by Mathieu and his defensive partners.
The Bats began May with a solid 4-0 win against Osasuna before repeating the feat away at Rayo Vallecano. Mathieu rose to the occasion when he struck a minute before half time to score the only goal of the game at Getafe to collect three clean sheets and three wins in as many games. Los Che then collected their fourth clean sheet with a 1-0 win against Granada to give them a chance at entering the Champions League berths, ending May on a perfect streak.
But their last game of the season against Sevilla resulted in a 4-3 defeat at the Ramon Sanchez Pijuan, missing out on the Champions League to Real Sociedad by a point.
Omer Toprak, Bayer Leverkusen and Turkey
Leverkusen went through May unbeaten to solidify third place and confirm automatic representation in the UEFA Champions League.
Bayer 04 began their final month of the Bundesliga season with a 2-0 win away at Nurnberg, with Toprak opening the scoring in the 26th minute. Another win followed with a 3-1 win at home to Hannover before the Bay Arena side finished their season a point behind second-placed Borussia Dortmund with a 1-0 win away at Hamburg.
*I would have included someone from Bayern Munich here, but the Bavarians have been included in several Defenders of the Month poll and it didn’t seem fair to ignore those below them.
Cristian Zapata, AC Milan and Colombia
The only constant in an otherwise changing Milanese rearguard, Zapata marshalled the San Siro back four to ensure Milan went unbeaten in May to ensure Champions League football.
The Rossoneri beat Torino via Mario Balotelli’s late strike (1-0) before Milan thrashed Pescara 4-0 away. The Lombardy side were held to a 0-0 draw by Roma in what turned out to be a game that would not govern a situation wherein Milan would overtake the top two. They were, however, nearly denied a place in Europe’s elite next season when they conceded early at Siena but late goals from Robinho and Philippe Mexes provided them euphoria.