Sir Alex Ferguson, the most successful manager in Premier League history has been quoted for saying one of the most infamous quotes, “Attack wins you games but defence wins you titles.” There’s no doubt that he knew what he was talking about. During his 26 years with Manchester United he won 38 trophies, including 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, and two UEFA Champions League titles. As 32 teams prepare to give it all on FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, we look at the top defenders to watch out for in the biggest event in the world.
Virgil van Dijk, Netherlands
Liverpool has started off the season with a below-average performance based on the standards they have set for themselves. But despite all that, Van Dijk still possesses the same technical and defending abilities that made him one of the best defenders in the world when he came second behind Lionel Messi for the Ballon D’Or. Netherlands failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup despite having such a star-studded side at their disposal, but this year Van Dijk will be eager to contribute to the success for his team as he captains a relatively young Netherlands squad in Qatar with the likes of Frenkie De Jong
Antonio Rudiger, Germany
Chelsea struck gold when they signed one of the best, tenacious and aggressive centre back in the world. But, when he signed for Real Madrid, he has become a dream for every coach. With his ability to cover large spaces, not afraid to do aggressive tackles and the ability to score long range goals, he is a danger in the opposition’s penalty box as well as enables his team to play a high line football. He will be hoping to make use of his abilities of being a technically gifted footballer for the duration of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
Ruben Dias, Portugal
Ruben Dias has been the anchor of Manchester City’s defence since his £50 million transfer from Benfica. Just being at the ripe age of 25, he already has won two Premier League titles with the mastermind coach Pep Guardiola. For his national team, he will be looking to partner up with the veteran of the game, Pepe forming an unbreakable parternship. He has a commanding presence and will no doubt be a force to be reckon with for the opposition’s attackers.
Matthijs de Ligt, Netherlands
Matthijs de Ligt was one of the breakout stars at Ajax when they beat the giants of Europe in the highly decorated competition of Champions League. Despite being just 22 years of age, he has become of the best investments Bayern Munich has made. Playing alongside the towering Virgil Dan Dijk, Netherlands possess a very strong partnership at the back that most teams dream about. He will be hoping to lift the trophy at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 given his immense talents.
Joao Cancelo, Portugal
Pep Guardiola has made Joao Cancelo into one of the best fullbacks going to the tournament at Qatar. He is the epitome of what a modern footballer should be like. He is an introverted wing back which does defensive duties as well as midfield duties when he’s on the attack which has resulted in him giving stunning performances for his club. Cancelo can also fire crosses in with either foot and his overlapping runs will provide Portugal with a valuable outlet in attack.
Presnel Kimpembe, France
Frances are the defending champions of the World Cup. It wouldn’t be normal for the best team last year to not have a strong defence lineup. PSG defender Kimpembe will take a more important role in the squad now that the Manchester United’s defender Raphael Varane is out with an injury. He has an excellent ball distribution rate at above 95 percent which will be crucial in FIFA World Cup. France are looking at Kimpembe for his performance to regain the crown of the champions at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
Kalidou Koulibaly, Senegal
Kalidou Koulibaly has been the best defender for his club Napoli before signing for the London’s giant, Chelsea FC. He now captains his national team with his high standards as they compete in the biggest event in the world. He was the key figure when Senegal won the AFCON title in February of this year. Having Sadio Mane upfront for their attacking arsenal, and Koulibaly a towering figure in the defence, Senegal will be looking to move much further in the competition as the underdogs and the first African nation to reach the world cup final 2022.
Thiago Silva, Brazil
Thiago Silva has now become a veteran of the game but still playing at the top level at Chelsea, despite being 38 years of age. He has accumulated 109 caps for Brazil and because of his excellent performances at Chelsea, he has deserved a call up at the national level. Silva will be vital for his coach as he has an excellent reading of the game while maintaining a quick burst of speed to stop the opposition’s attack. They will be hoping to end their 20 year wait to lift the trophy at the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Lisandro Martinez, Argentina
Lisandro Martinez has been the best defender for his former club Ajax as well as for his current club Manchester United. Due to his tenacious and aggressive playing style, he has earned himself the nickname of the “The Butcher”. He is a very technically gifted player who is confident from playing out of the back with quality passes. Despite many pundits and experts having concerns for his physical stature whether he would be a fit for the Premier League or not, he has become the heart of Manchester United’s defence. Even more so that he has made Harry Maguire, the most expensive defender purchased in history, a bench player. The former Ajax player will now be eager to impress his country with his defensive skills and win the next world cup at Qatar.