Euro 2016: 10 best defenders in the tournament
A look at the best defenders competing in the European championships in France.
How often have we heard over the years that defending is a dying art? There was a time when forwards would be over the moon with a goal-scoring ratio of a goal every two games. Luis Ronaldo stunned the world with his 47 goal haul for Barcelona in the 96-97 season. He was a phenomenon, an anomaly. A 20 goal a season striker was considered immensely hard to get, a player like that could win you the league.
Times are different now, scoring records are being shattered across Europe and we’re having to get used to the best players in the world scoring more goals than games played, a truly mind-bending reality that we’re still growing accustomed too. Luis Suarez got 40 goals in 35 games, Cristiano Ronaldo bagged 51 in 48 games in all competitions and Gonzalo Higuain banged 36 in 35 in Serie A and broke a 67-year-old record in the process. Lewandowski and Aubameyang were almost as prolific and the list goes on.
In the times of these unreal goal ratios, world class defenders are much more difficult to find. Even in today's inflated market, the prices quoted for young defenders like John Stones and Marquinhos to interested clubs are above 50 million euro mark, truly enormous sums. They’re both young talented players, but it’s clear that the paucity of good defenders has led to an immense inflation in their market values.
So with all the focus on the forwards and their scoring exploits, and the swagger of the modern day midfielders who can seemingly do it all, our focus is going to be on the defenders who stand tall in a game that is increasingly attacking and open.
These players have learnt to saunter out of the defense with the ball at the feet and harry down an elusive opponent in equal measure, and when the top European nations battle it out in Euro 2016, they’ll be organizing and commanding their defenses and making sure their team has a solid foundation to have a real shot at winning the tournament.
Here is the list of the top 10 defenders on display in Euro 2016:
#10 Jose Fonte (Portugal)
With the focus on the scoring exploits of Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal’s upcoming midfield stars like Andre Gomes and Renato Sanches, Jose Fonte will quietly go about marshaling the Portuguese defense.
Fonte has had a good season at Southampton, and at 32 years old he might not have many international tournaments ahead of him so he will be determined to make this opportunity count.