Varane is the best defender of 2018

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Post by Thimmy on Tue Jan 01, 2019 5:13 am

I'm not so sure I agree with the rest of the list, but my national newspaper agrees with me that Varane was the most solid defender in 2018. Better than Van Dijk, better than anyone else I watched. He does the job without much glitz and glamour. He's not without his faults, but in 2018 he was second to none. Who's your pick for the best defender(s) of 2018?

10. Andy Robertson

Who would have thought? Scottish Robertson came to Liverpool from Hull for modest 8 million pounds last summer. It took a while for him to get comfortable, but he especially marked himself as one of the top defenders in the world, after the turn of the year. The 24 year old has the ability to be defensively disciplined, but excels first and foremost through his many offensive contributions.

9. Giorgio Chiellini

Previously, Gianluigi Buffon and Leonardo Bonucci have stolen the attention as the most important pieces in the Juventus defense. But this year, and especially during the fall, Chiellini the veteran has assumed the role as captain and the most important defensive cog. Italian media describe him as better than ever. Won "the treble" in Italy for the fourth year in a row.

8. Lucas Hernández

This was the year when the 22 year old's career suddenly took off. He was picked for the french national team for the first time ever in march, all while establishing himself as a starter for Atletico Madrid. Since then, the French-Spanish warrior, who can both play as a left-back and a center-back, won both the Europa League and the World Cup. Possesses his greatest strength in defense, and also has an extreme winner's instinct.

7. Daniel Carvajal

The most underrated in Real Madrid's back four. The technical and hard-working right-back often delivers when it matters most – assisted both in the quarter-final against Juventus, and in the semi-final against Bayern München i the Champions League. Is described as one of the most important leaders in the Madrid- dressing room.

6. Diego Godín

The rock-hard uruguayan sustains his great level of performance year after year. In 2018 he contributed to Atletico Madrid winning the Europa League after barely having conceded any goals in the knockout rounds. During the summer World Cup, Uruguay kept a clean sheet in their 3 group stage matches before they sent Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal crashing out in the final eight. Godín captains both his club and country.

5. Samuel Umtiti

The frenchman's career has sky-rocketed since his move from Lyon to Barcelona in 2016 for 25 million euros. In two years he's established himself among the top center-backs in the world, which resulted in Barcelona rewarding him with a new contract with a buyout clause of 500 million euros.

Strong in duels, quick og technically adept Umtiti was spectacular for Barcelona when they won La Liga during the spring. During the summer's World Cup, he was also without error – and he remains as one of the greatest heroes after the winning goal against Belgium in the semi-final. He has sadly been plagued by injuries this fall.

4. Sergio Ramos

Ramos’ popularity in the world of football has not grown any larger in 2018: The Mohamed Salah-duel which caused the egyptian's elbow injury, in addition to questions about doping which have emerged with Football Leaks, have characterized the headlines regarding the controversial defender.

But it's unavoidable to mention that the Real Madrid-captain has, yet again, been among the planet's greatest defenders. The reckless, aerially strong, smart and attacking-minded warrior is obessed with winning, and was, again, privileged with the honor of lifting the Champions League trophy this year. It's worth noting that he hasn't been sent off in 2018 – surprising enough for the man with 24 red cards in his career.

3. Marcelo

He's not the world's third best player, in terms of defending. The brazilian left-back has – and with good reason – been criticized for weak, defensive involvements in important matches this year, against Bayern München among others. However, this «defender» has a lot more to offer.
Marcelo might perhaps have been Real Madrid's most important player on their course for the Champions League trophy back in spring. He scored during the final eight against PSG, in the quarter-final against Juventus, and in the semi-final against Bayern – before he put the icing on the cake with two assists in the final against Liverpool. If he's not already the greatest left-back of all time now, he's certainly not far off it.

2. Virgil van Dijk

Liverpool started the season by making the dutchman the most expensive defender of all time. The transfer was branded «lunacy», but Jürgen Klopp got exactly what he needed – and then some.

Liverpool's defensive transformation has been spectacular – largely thanks to Van Dijk's qualities, both as an individual and as a leader and «glue» in the defensive back four. From being a chaotic and skewed team that habitually conceded simple goals, Liverpool have perhaps been Europe's most solid team in 2018. 7 conceded in the first 17 Premier League-matches this season is modestly sensational.

Van Dijk has also contributed towards the emergence of the dutch national team, who won their first Nations League-group ahead of the two, previous world champions in France and Germany.

1. Raphaël Varane

The only one who won this year's two most prestigious trophies: WC with France, and the Champions League with Real Madrid. And Varane played an important part in both title winning campaigns.

With blistering pace, excellent physique, a low margin for error, a good ability to read the game, and a clinical passing ability, the 25 year old has all of the attributes required in a complete center-back. This year, he's also shown that he's become tougher and meaner – in a positive way. He has the ability to function just as well with two completely different, defensive partners, Ramos with Madrid and Umtiti with the national team.

Most memorable moment, is the important header in the WC quarter-final against Uruguay, which gave France the lead in a fairly evenly matched game.
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Post by sportsczy on Tue Jan 01, 2019 8:48 am

Ramos and Marcelo shouldn't be that high imo. Laporte of Man City needs to be on there. Chiellini needs to be higher. Carvajal doesn't belong at all. Andy Robertson? Please.

Thiago Silva was a monster in 2018 too and needs to be on there. He's a top 3 CB imo.

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Post by The Demon of Carthage on Tue Jan 01, 2019 9:21 am

Why do you think Carvajal doesn't belong at all? Are you talking purely about last season or overall? If we're talking about the best fullbacks playing today, he's definitely one of the best.

Defensively and offensively, he's very complete and his work rate as well as grit are second to none. I wouldn't swap him for anybody else and I'm sure many fans of other elite clubs would die to have him.

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Post by sportsczy on Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:12 am

We're talking best defenders... not best by position.  He's not one of the best defenders in the world.  Not at all.  He's severely overrated these days imo.  Marcelo is so unique and ahead of the class on offense that you have to respect his genius. With Carvajal, he's become very error prone on defense and inconsistent on offense (has to do with his bad touch & technique).

My ranking would be:

1-  Varane
2-  Chiellini
3-  Silva
4-  Virgil van Dijk
5-  Godin
6-  Marcelo
7-  Ramos
8-  Umtiti
9-  Laporte
10-  Lucas Hernandez

You can throw in there Gimenez, Kimmich, Alderweireld, Alaba and Koulibaly for the last 2 spots.  Just personal preference there. I omitted Benjamin Mendy because he's a complete knucklehead despite the immense talent.

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Post by vanDEEZ on Tue Jan 01, 2019 4:01 pm

I really don’t see how VvD doesn’t take this list hands down. He’s completely changed Liverpool in such a short period of time. Look how many goals they have conceded this season. Varane is a solid number 2 behind him but there’s just no way. And I agree Ramos and Marcelo shouldn’t be that high. Hernandez should be higher, and there are probably other names that should be in imo.
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Post by sportsczy on Tue Jan 01, 2019 7:15 pm

Deez... he struggled against Madrid in the CL Final while Varane didn't against Liverpool.  Also, Varane was absolutely monstrous from start to finish in the WC.  

In these types of comparisons, the differentiation occurs on the biggest stages of them all.

Varane had Pavard to contend with too as the fullback on his side during that entire WC... and Pavard was really not very good in that role.  What Hazard did to Pavard was illegal in that semi yet Varane covered it.  Perisic raped him too.

In short, there's very light emphasis on what happens between September and January. You really get rated between January and July... regardless of position.

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Post by vanDEEZ on Tue Jan 01, 2019 9:25 pm

Well despite the fact that you are talking about 1 game, I didn't think VvD struggled in the CL final, they had 2 Karius brain farts. If you just want to look at 1 or 2 games to define a player, then why isn't Ramos number 1 or Pavard for that matter?

I think you have to look at the year overall and the impact that player contributes to defense. Varane was great in the WC and great in the back half of last season, but this season has not covered him in glory- yes this is a team issue, but VvD has been phenomenal overall throughout 2018. He took one of the worst defensive teams in Europe and turned them into one of the best. There is a reason it started to happen as soon as he signed.

For me he is clearly the best defender in the world for 2018, Varane 2nd.
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Post by sportsczy on Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:14 pm

You're missing my point.  Varane has played in probably 20 absolute crazy elite games between the WC and CL... and been a monster in all of them.

VvD has probably been in 3 of them during the same timespan (Barca semi games and Madrid final).

And VvD got the summer off as the Netherlands wasn't in the WC... and we all know that WC players who end the summer very late almost always start slow (the entire France and Croatian players have looked off to start the season).

There really isn't an argument Deez.  Varane has been the best defender of the year and by a pretty sizeable margin.  PLUS, Liverpool hasn't won a single trophy while Varane's teams have won CL and the WC with him being the best defender on both those teams.

You have an argument in regards to Chiellini and Silva...  but not Varane.

I personally also have a bias against EPL defenders... they tend to be very overrated. I'm thinking Kompany, Terry, Otamendi, Vertonghen, Koscielny, etc. Heck, Lovren and Matip even looked good lol.

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Post by vanDEEZ on Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:58 pm

3 elite games? Are you trying to say there are more elite teams in LL than EPL?

And this discussion is best defender not most trophies won.

I guess we will just have to agree to disagree, but you throw this thread up on the general section and I doubt you have the majority agreeing with you.
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Post by titosantill on Wed Jan 02, 2019 12:53 am

john terry wasn't overrated. a jerk he is, but he was also a heck of a defender.......carry on
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Post by Doc on Wed Jan 02, 2019 1:29 am

The unfortunate thing about rating Thiago Silva is that he is playing on a team that literally has no competition to test them either defensively or offensively.

I am sure he is pretty good in Ligue 1 though.

As for the list, Carvajal has no business being there. Love the dude but in 2018, he really wasn't the bestest of fullbacks (or defenders). Ramos was surprisingly good last season but he has gone back to his usual madness so he probably has some merit being there. Also, Godin struggles started in 2018 and should have been replaced by Gimenez, personally. Besides those 3, it's a fair list. Varane or VVD being no. 1 works either way.

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Post by titosantill on Wed Jan 02, 2019 2:49 am

is thiago silva really that good? he seems to me like someone who never lived up to the hype he got when he was set to leave milan. when you think about a rock in your defense, thiago silva isn't one of the names that comes to mind. it just seems like he hasn't lived up to expectations that where lauded his way when he was younger
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Post by Doc on Wed Jan 02, 2019 4:19 am

Probably. Sure Milan/Serie A fans would say something if they are interested in this topic. I just have him as a good defender who can be very good now and then. I could be wrong but I could be right as well.

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Post by sportsczy on Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:33 am

He's a beast tito... he went through a swoon from 2014 after the WC in Brazil until I'd say mid 2016. Then he was back to what he was.

To me, he's the best on the ball CB I've personally seen over the last 20 years period. Better than prime Bonucci, Pique, Vidic, etc. Laurent Blanc has an argument as far as ball playing CBs and that it.

Difference is that Silva is also a monster defensively. Positionally excellent, not afraid, physical, etc.

His problem is emotion on the biggest of stages. He's been either excellent (with Milan against Barca, PSG v Chelsea, PSG v Liverpool, etc.) or just melts down (WC 2014 crying and refusing to take PKs, PSG v Barca, etc.).

He was widely, and rightly, considered the best CB in the world while with Milan. Since then, people discount him due to Ligue 1... but he's the same.

Just to put it in perspective, he would walk into Real Madrid's starting lineup... and that's with Varane and Ramos.

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Post by sportsczy on Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:35 am

@titosantill wrote:john terry wasn't overrated. a jerk he is, but he was also a heck of a defender.......carry on
I actually meant Rio Ferdinand... sorry lol.

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Post by Hapless_Hans on Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:02 am

Imagine calling first John Terry, then Rio Ferdinand overrated while bigging up Varane

Sports continues to outdo himself

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Post by Myesyats on Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:08 am

@Hapless_Hans wrote:Imagine calling first John Terry, then Rio Ferdinand overrated while bigging up Varane

Sports continues to outdo himself

Hurts me eyes to read this honestly
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Post by sportsczy on Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:22 am

@Hapless_Hans wrote:Imagine calling first John Terry, then Rio Ferdinand overrated while bigging up Varane

Sports continues to outdo himself

Have you see Ferdinand perform with England?  He looked like a mid table player....  just like Bekham, who was hailed as a great CM while playing in England, looked decent but nothing special when he played at Real Madrid.

Terry was very good.  He was one of the few, along with Paul Scholes and Michael Owen, who I rated highly.  Steven Gerrard was overhyped too.  Lampard the same.  etc.

The level of the EPL until recently was all hype imo.  Past 2-3 years, it has raised itself quite a bit.

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Post by Doc on Wed Jan 02, 2019 6:21 pm

Rio was a boss Sports, are you still groggy from New Year's celebrations lol?

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Post by sportsczy on Wed Jan 02, 2019 6:45 pm

Vidic was the boss...so was Evra. Rio was good but he benefited immensely from how good those others were.

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Post by Unique on Wed Jan 02, 2019 6:49 pm

terry rio and gerrard overated Shocked lordy lord

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Post by sportsczy on Wed Jan 02, 2019 7:05 pm

I made a mistake with Terry as I mentioned.. i meant Rio.  But Gerrard and Lampard, although good, seemed overrated to me.  Were they among the best in the EPL in their era?  Absolutely.  But the world stage had better midfielders.

I will say Gerrard was better than Lampard.  But Scholes trumped them both.  

My problem with all EPL midfielders in that era was that...  the EPL style bypassed the midfield basically.  Midfield play was about either defending or attacking + playing long balls.  Box to box with nothing in the middle.  Midfield play was trimmed down to its barest bones.  So on the world stage, whether with NT or in CL, you rarely saw these guys show like they did in EPL (other than Scholes).  They just didn't need the technique, short passing and ball skills in their domestic play so, of course, it was exposed outside England. The exception were SAF and Wenger teams. That was it. 2 teams out of 20 that played the midfield properly. Carlo adapted to EPL too unfortunately.

I still feel that the midfield is still thing overall in the EPL... but it's getting better.  There's a reason England lacks midfielders on their NT.

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Post by Doc on Wed Jan 02, 2019 7:09 pm

@sportsczy wrote:Vidic was the boss...so was Evra. Rio was good but he benefited immensely from how good those others were.

As far as opinions go, this one is definitely top 5 in questionable stuff. Rio and Vidic complimented each other extremely well but they were both world class defenders in their own right. Rio benefited from having a CB partner that was as good as him, I agree, but he was always a fantastic CB.

You sure you not confusing him with his brother?

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Post by Unique on Wed Jan 02, 2019 7:53 pm

rio was one of the best centre backs of his generation the guy had absolutely everything

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Post by Hapless_Hans on Fri Jan 04, 2019 6:31 pm

@sportsczy wrote:
The level of the EPL until recently was all hype imo.  Past 2-3 years, it has raised itself quite a bit.


Dude, when Terry, Ferdinand, Gerrard etc were in their prime, English teams provided 75% of the CL semifinalists, while Real Madrid couldn't get past the last 16.
You talk about levels and then you come with National Team performances, I mean I know WHY you do that Laughing , but it's completely evident that international level is nowhere near club level, not even comparable.

Schürrle assisted a World Cup final winning goal, my friend, THAT'S how highly I rate your French NT players if all you want to invoke here is NT football

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