No footy around most of Europe except for the UK, and we continue our Top 5 in the world by position rankings, this time listing the best central defenders in world football today.
Number 5 – Gerard Pique, Barcelona & Spain
The 22 year old Catalan player has made an amazing transformation since leaving United and returning to the club he grew up in, transforming from an unwanted sub on Ferguson’s bench to a regular starter on one of the best side’s Europe has ever seen under Pep Guardiola. He’s a bit slow, but other than that, Pique is a fantastic player to have in your back four – tall, clever, strong and a fantastic aerial game on both sides of the pitch. When Puyol retires, Pique will probably be the new heart of Barcelona’s defense.
Number 4 – Rio Ferdinand, Manchester United & England
So far an injury-riddled 2009-2010 campaign for Rio (only 5 league appearances), but despite his recent absence and shaky form when on the pitch, he’s still one of the premier defenders in the world, and not just because of his ability. Ferdinand is probably the main reason Vidic is in this top 5, as seen in the last two seasons. He does suffer from the occasional lack of concentration, but not as much like in his younger days, and generally beams of confidence and leadership, with a knack of being in the right place and the right time to put in that crucial tackle.
Number 3 – Nemanja Vidic, Manchester United & Serbia
Always considered an excellent centre back, it seemed that 2008-2009 finally saw Vidic get the recognition he deserves, finally being put in the argument of the best central defender in the world. If it wasn’t for his temperament (which usually involves getting burnt by Fernando Torres) and certain “blackout” games, he’d be number one on this list. He’s got it all, and when partnered together with Ferdinand they form what is probably the best CB duo in the world, like last season’s 14 consecutive clean sheet run, helping Vidic to win the Manchester United Fans’ and the Players’ player of the year award.
Number 2 – Carles Puyol, Barcelona & Spain
Heart and passion. No other footballer in the world has those qualities in him in the amounts that Barcelona’s captain has. Every tackle he dives into, every header he elevates towards, he goes into with full force, and usually wins it, first to get up when the dust clears. He gets shifted from Center to right back, depending on how healthy Dani Alves is at the moment, but even thought he doesn’t own the pace he used to have, he can shut down anyone (2009 Champions League final for example), including the world’s best (Cristiano Ronaldo). He’s not immune to an occasional blunder or mistake but he tends to make up for them with his non-stop effort during the whole 90 minutes, and despite all the flashy names playing upfront for Barca, Puyol is the heart & soul of this club.
Number 1 – John Terry, Chelsea & England
So he missed the penalty in the 2008 Champions league final, ruining Chelsea’s best shot at winning their first UCL title. Like Puyol, Terry is Chelsea, the only London-born homegrown player in the first team and usually the senior squad unless some youth team player gets involved somehow. There’s no shot he won’t get in it’s way, hardly ever beaten in the air and probably there’s no one who can shove him around (good thing to have Drogba on your team). Even if there is, Carvalho will be there to stop them with a dirty tackle. So he isn’t lightning-bolt fast, it doesn’t stop him from being the top defender in the Premiership and the world.