Euro 2012 is here; it is looming over us and we have been engulfed by it’s long shadow of open training sessions, press conferences and commercial interests.
So to spark the fuse that should lead to an explosion of golazos, jinking runs, reducers and corridors of uncertainty we got…..Poland v Greece!
Ok, so not exactly a glamour tie but at least the tournament has now arrived and we can get down to the business of being underwhelmed for the first week and a half where teams aren't quite desperate enough to actually take any risks.
Not taking risks usually centres on solid defensive displays, which got GMF thinking; a dangerous pastime, we know.
A solid defensive performances requires organisation and talented rear guard personnel, but who will be the most impressive of defenders at the tournament?
GMF has deliberated long and hard to predict who will be the five best defenders at Euro 2012. Here they are:
Philip Lahm, Germany
Germany manager Joachim Loew has confirmed that Lahm will switch from his preferred position at right-back to the opposite end of the defence, allowing one of Jerome Boateng and Lars Bender to slot in. Lahm is predominantly right-footed but has excellent technique and has played at left-back on numerous occasions in the past.
He is quick and supports the attack well, rarely giving away possession. Lahm has developed into an undoubted leader of the side and was named captain when Michael Ballack withdrew from the World Cup 2010 squad due to injury, becoming the youngest man to captain Germany in a World Cup.
Ashley Cole, Engand
Another full-back, but Cole has to be included after a terrific season reaffirmed many peoples’ belief that he is the best left-back in the world. There were doubts last year about whether he could still perform consistently at the highest level, but fitness issues have been resolved and he has once again shown why he is often referred to as being one of the few world class talents in the England squad.
Cole excels in defending one-on-one situations, but also gets forward to devastating effect – a prime example of an elite modern-day full-back.
Giorgio Chiellini, Italy
The Juventus defender wasn’t always the most sparkling of names in a nation that is famous for producing some of the most talented and disciplined defenders in the world. Chiellini has spent most of his career at Juve and was one of the players to stick with the side when they were relegated to Serie B following the Calciopoli scandal.
A versatile defender, he has spent much of his career playing at left-back, but his strongest position in the centre of defence. Incidentally, talk coming out the Italy camp has been suggesting Daniele De Rossi will line up in the middle of a back three, so Chiellini could well be on the left them. He has developed a reputation for being exceptionally dangerous at set-pieces and is also considered to be one of the hardest tackling stoppers around.
Gerard Pique, Spain
The Barcelona man did not have the best of seasons but his importance to Spain has increased since Carles Puyol was forced to withdraw from the squad due to injury. This means he will likely line up next to Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos at the heart of the defence. Pique will need to be at his serene best, as Ramos is prone to the off rush of blood to the head.
The former Manchester United man is a manager’s dream when on song, as he combines solid defensive attributes with fantastic technique – as is typical of most Barca bred defenders.
Daniel Agger, Denmark
There may be a few eyebrows raised at this decision, but many of the GMF team were adamant Agger would prove his worth as an outstanding centre-back in when he takes on a host of the best attackers in the world thoughout the course of Group B fixtures – this year’s ‘Group of Death’.
Agger’s season at Liverpool was overshadowed by the travails of the team as a whole, but many have forgotten that the Reds defence was the best in the league for much of the first half of the season, until his partnership with Martin Skrtel was interrupted by injury. The Danish team has been improving steadily over the past two years and could well spring a surprise by making it out of the group. The sight of Agger gliding out of defence with the ball at his feet is sure to be a memorable sight, regardless of their fortunes.
The GMF team are sure we have annoyed some of you with our selections, but we are keen to hear who you think the best defenders at Euro 2012 will be.
Let us know by leaving a comment below…