Just as no mighty building can stand without a solid foundation, so is football – no great team can stand without a solid defence. Barcelona have often found it difficult against Chelsea because of their inability to break down Chelsea's rock solid back line.
So, even though defenders are not celebrated like attackers, they should not be under-appreciated. Here are five top defensive duos that will remain in our memory for a long time.
John Terry/Ricardo Carvalho
While John Terry is the uncompromising, risk taking tackler, Ricardo Carvalho accompanied him with his hard tackling and perfect sliding tackle. Although, not the neatest pair, they were a nightmare for attackers. The pair had a solid partnership at Stamford Bridge.
Terry is fearless and unfazed by any approaching aerial ball and will always stick his neck out to prevent a goal.
Paolo Maldini/Alessandro Nesta
If there ever was a text book for defending, Paolo Maldini must be the author. He could play a whole 90 minutes without making a single tackle. Maldini had composure, stamina. No wonder Sir Alex Ferguson wanted him.
Nesta, on the other hand was the careful type who read the game to perfection. He was in the UEFA team of the year four times. Although Maldini started as a left back, his combination with Nesta at the heart of the defense was a masterpiece. A collector’s item.
Samuel Kuffour/Thomas Linke
Given that Samuel Kuffour had great and agility, Linke boasted hard tackles and great aerial ability. This combination of strength and hard tackles produced a machine at the heart of Bayern’s defense, of only German ingenuity.
Steve Bruce/Gary Pallister
This is a combination of power, physicality and brute-force. They dominated the early stages of Premier League churning out important goals. Guided by Sir Alex, they became uncompromising and intimidating. What United fans would give for something like this again.
Manuel Sanchis /Fernando Hierro /Ivan Helguera
Manuel Sanchis is easily recognised as one of the greatest defenders of his time. A rare one club player, and born to a footballing family, he graduated from the Real Madrid academy and became house-hold name in Spain. An old school type defender (better referred to as a “sweeper”), Sanchis would sniff and clear out any threat around. After captaining Madrid for thirteen years, he passed the captain’s arm-band to another Madrid legend and his defensive soul-mate (Fernando Hierro).
Hierro took over and continued diligently. Known for scoring as a defender, Hierro was also good at penalties and later partnered Ivan Helguera admirably after Manchis’s retirement. A great line of succession.
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