Sports

Top 5 defenders who left their mark on European football in 2021

Bonucci, Dias, Alaba, Alexander-Arnold, Maguire stand out with performances last year

Fatih Erel   | 14.01.2022
Top 5 defenders who left their mark on European football in 2021

ISTANBUL

Last year saw some defenders in European football leave their mark on their leagues and national teams with their impressive performances.

Here is a list of the top five defenders who shined on the pitch last year:   

Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus, Italy)

Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci played in 35 games in all competitions last season and 21 this season

In the UEFA Champions League, Juventus completed four of six matches this season and three of six last season -- Bonucci played in all of these -- without conceding a single goal.

The Italian Serie A side also did not allow their opponents to score in five of Bonucci's 26 games last season, as well as in four of 15 this season.

The 34-year-old was also an integral part of Italy, which won the 2020 European Football Championship (EURO 2020) for the first time in over 50 years by defeating England on penalties in the June 2021 final.

He also scored in the second half of the final match and became the oldest scorer in European Championship finals history.

Bonucci was named in the EURO 2020 best 11.

He scored two goals in 35 games last season, but has not scored so far in 27 games this season.  

Ruben Dias (Manchester City, Portugal)

The 24-year-old Portuguese footballer Ruben Dias played in a total of 53 games last season, along with 27 so far this season.

Manchester City finished 15 of last season's 32 Premier League matches in which Dias played without conceding a goal.

The Citizens also conceded no goals in 11 of Dias' 20 league games so far this season.

Dias contributed to the side's Premier League and League Cup titles, as well as their qualification to the UEFA Champions League final.

Manchester City finished six of 11 games played by Dias in the 2020-2021 UEFA Champions League with their opponents scoring zero goals.

He was named Defender of the Season for the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League.

Dias scored twice in 53 games in all competitions last season and twice more in the total 27 games this season.  

David Alaba (Bayern Munich/Real Madrid, Austria)

David Alaba, a 29-year-old Austrian, played in 45 matches in all last season with Bayern Munich, while he took to the pitch in 26 matches this season after his move to Real Madrid.

Playing in the Bundesliga last season, Alaba helped his team finish eight of 32 matches without conceding a goal.

Real Madrid conceded no goals in seven of the 19 matches Alaba played in La Liga so far this season.

He played in four matches with the Austrian National Team, which made it to the round of 16 in the EURO 2020.

Real Madrid frustrated all their opponents attempts in four of Alaba's six matches in the UEFA Champions League this season.

Alaba scored two goals in his 45 matches with Bayern Munich last season.

After his transfer to the Spanish side this season, the Austrian scored two goals in 26 matches.  

Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool, England)

English football player Trent Alexander-Arnold, 23, played in 45 games in all competitions last season. This season, he has so far taken part in 21.

He is currently the season's player with the most assists (nine) in the Premier League.

Liverpool finished 10 of 36 games last season and eight of 18 this season without conceding a single goal in the English Premier League matches with Alexander-Arnold.

In the UEFA Champions League, the Reds passed six of Alexander-Arnold's eight matches last season, along with one of his three so far this season, with no goals on the other side.

With the Englishman, Alexander-Arnold scored two goals in 45 games across all competitions last season, as well as scored two goals in 21 matches in all competitions this season.  

Harry Maguire (Manchester United, England)

The 28-year-old English footballer Harry Maguire played in 52 games overall last season, appearing 20 times in all competitions this season, so far.

Last season, Manchester United finished 13 of Maguire's 34 matches in the English Premier League with no goals conceded.

So far this season, Manchester United they have not conceded a single goals in four of 16 matches that Maguire appeared in the Premier League.

The captain of the Red Devils helped finish three of six games he played with Manchester United, which had reached last season's UEFA Europa League final, without conceding a goal.

He was part of the English national team in the 2020 European Championship, which also played the final.

England did not concede any goals in the first five matches in EURO 2020, in which the star defender also played, and reached to the semifinals with no concessions.

The British were also selected in the best 11 of EURO 2020.

Maguire scored twice goals in 45 games in all competitions last season and scored once in 20 matches overall this season.

*Writing by Selcuk Bugra Gokalp

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