During a surreal year ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, many teams in Europe's top five leagues have displayed admirable defensive resilience despite a belated end to the previous season and a very short turnaround before the start of the current campaign.
Real Madrid put on an uncharacteristic defensive masterclass to win their first La Liga title in three years; Inter Milan conceded the fewest goals in the 2019-20 Serie A to finish only a point adrift of champions Juventus; Atletico Madrid have been frugal in the defensive third all year; the top four teams in the curtailed Ligue 1 season all conceded less than a goal per game.
This season, the likes of PSG, Rennes, Leipzig and Atletico Madrid have been stingy at the back, thanks to the impressive performances of their defenders. On that note, let us have a look at the ten best defenders this year.
Ten best defenders in 2020
Apart from the quartet mentioned above, many other teams in the continent's top-five leagues have featured mean defences featuring a mix of experienced campaigners and promising greenhorns.
So, without further ado, let us have a look at the ten most impressive defenders in 2020.
#10 Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid)
Daniel Carvajal has been a key player for Real Madrid for the most part of the last decade. The 28-year-old has flourished under several managers at the Spanish club, winning 16 trophies which includes two La Liga titles and four Champions League titles.
Renowned for his pace, work-rate and ability to conjure key passes, Carvajal has scored six goals and produced 48 assists in almost 300 games in all competitions for Real Madrid.
Carvajal has been omnipresent for the La Liga giants at the right-back position. Despite injuries limiting him to only four appearances this season, Carvajal has already produced two assists after playing a stellar role in Real Madrid's title run in the second half of last season.
The Spain defender continues to be the first-choice right-back for embattled Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, who has been under the spotlight for his side's indifferent 2020-21 La Liga campaign.
#9 Thiago Silva (Paris Saint Germain/Chelsea)
Thiago Silva may not have played much this year, as the 2019-20 Ligue 1 season was curtailed owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the veteran Brazilian played his role in the centre of defence, helping PSG to a successful title defence and taking his side to a maiden Champions League final.
After moving to Chelsea in the summer, the 36-year-old has belied his years to provide the Blues their new-found defensive resilience. Silva has had two assists for his new club in the Premier League this season.
The Brazilian defender has already become a key man in Frank Lampard's team who have emerged as one of the most exciting teams in the Premier League this season despite faltering in their last few games in the competition.
#8 Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig)
Dayot Upamecano is arguably one of the best young defenders in the game at the moment.
The 22-year-old Frenchman has a great physical presence in the box and can close down the most formidable of attackers. He has been a standout performer for RB Leipzig since his arrival at the club in 2017, especially this year in various competitions.
With his impressive performances at the heart of the RB Leipzig defence this campaign, Upamecano has attracted the attention of a bevy of top European clubs, one of them being Manchester United.
#7 Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint Germain)
Presnel Kimpembe has been described as the future of the French national team and is already a regular for his club side Paris Saint Germain (PSG).
After breaking through to the serial league winners' first team last season, the 22-year-old centre-back has already racked up over 50 appearances for PSG in various competitions.
One of the key players for both PSG and France, Kimpembe has had a stellar year. He helped his club to a successful title defence and a run to the Champions League final last season while this season, the French defender has simply continued from where he left off last campaign.