The top 10 centre-backs going to Euro 2020
In this article, we’ll reveal who we think are the 10 best centre-backs going to Euro 2020 this summer.
European Championships are often won on the back of good defences – just ask Greece, the 2004 winners, who won their three knockout games 1-0 to lift the trophy.
Whilst individual defenders do not make a great defence, they can certainly help to make their country harder to beat, while they also pitch in with the odd goal from set pieces.
With that in mind, here are the ten best centre-backs going to Euro 2020.
Also in this ‘going to Euro 2020’ series: 10 best goalies | 10 best midfielders | 10 best strikers
10) Aymeric Laporte
The list is starting off with a newly nationalised Spaniard: Aymeric Laporte.
Laporte is the first of three Manchester City defenders on this list, but he has found himself in and out of the Citizen’s side in the 2020/21 season. Laporte only made 16 Premier League appearances.
However, the defender has shown his quality for the Man City in the past, and he recently confirmed a nationality switch ahead of Euro 2020, meaning that he will now represent Spain and not the country of his birth, France.
Yet to make a senior national appearance, the switch makes it far more likely that we see Laporte feature prominently at this tournament, with La Furia Roja far less blessed in the centre of defence than the French side.
The shock omission of national captain Sergio Ramos has made Laporte’s Spanish debut at the tournament almost conclusive, and he will certainly have big boots to fill at the heart of the side’s defence.
9) Milan Skriniar
A name well-known to fans of Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, Milan Skriniar has been perpetually linked with a move away from Inter Milan, but such a move has as of yet failed to materialise.
That has not held back the Slovakian international, however, who this season helped Inter to their first Serie A title since the 2009-2010 season.
Whilst it will be forward Romelu Lukaku that takes the major plaudits for the success, Skriniar’s versatility to play across the I Nerazzurri back three has seen him rack up 32 Serie A appearances this season.
Slovakia will be reliant on his good form continuing into this tournament, with bookies having the Eastern European’s as high as 500/1 to win the tournament.
With Skriniar and the evergreen Marek Hamsik in their side however, the Slovakians are not a side to be taken lightly.
8) Mats Hummels
It feels as if Mats Hummels has been around forever. Still only 32, the decorated German international is already a World Cup winner with Die Mannschaft, and will be keen to add the European Championships to his collection.
Although Borussia Dortmund were unable to challenge Bayern Munich for the Bundesliga title this season, it was an impressive campaign for Hummels nonetheless. Appearing 33 times in the Bundesliga, the centre-back was a key component of a defence that was often left exposed by those in front of them.
At the other end too, Hummels was a threat. He provided six goals for Dortmund this season: the fifth-highest return in the squad and more than any other BVB defender.
In a relatively young Germany squad, the experience of Hummels at major tournaments could be a key asset for Joachim Low as they strive to demonstrate that they remain a force at the top level after recent unflattering results.
7) John Stones
The second Manchester City defender on this list, John Stones, has turned his career around this season.
Forming an ironclad partnership with Ruben Dias, the centre-back has made 22 Premier League appearances for Guardiola’s title-winning side.
Stones has largely cut out the mistakes that plagued his game since he moved to Manchester from Merseyside in the summer of 2016, and has rediscovered his stylish, on-the-ball tendencies, that once made him the most expensive centre-back in Premier League history.
Although Stones will be fresh off the back of Champions League heartbreak, it is hoped that he can continue his seasonal form into the Euros.
The Barnsley-born defender is a shoo-in to start for England, and whilst it remains to be seen how he performs away from Guardiola’s keen eyes, he has the potential to make the Three Lions defensively watertight.
If Stones partners Harry Maguire (who finished the season injured) this summer, England could go far at the Euros.
6) Caglar Soyuncu
Ah, what could have been for Arsenal. Linked with a move for Caglar Soyuncu in the summer of 2018, they opted instead for veteran centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who has since departed the club.
Arsenal’s loss was Leicester City’s gain, and Soyuncu has not looked back since his move to the Midlands from Germany.
The Turkish international has quickly established himself as one of the best defenders in the Premier League and, at just 25-years-old, is now entering the prime of his career.
Soyuncu will likely form a defensive partnership with Liverpool loanee Ozan Kabak for the majority of the tournament, and will need to step up to lead the youngster. However, he has impressed in his performances for the Foxes, playing his part in their FA cup glory this season alongside the equally impressive Wesley Fofana.
Now over the abductor tear that saw the Turk miss 17 games, he has featured in 23 Premier League games this season, and will be hoping to carry his form and consistency into the summer tournament.
According to Whoscored there have been 17 interceptions in the game. Five by Chelsea, 12 by Leicester.
10 of those have been by Soyuncu and Fofana. They’ve been phenomenal.
— James Benge (@jamesbenge) May 15, 2021
5) Manuel Akanji
Another important cog in Dortmund’s defence, big things are expected of Manuel Akanji this summer.
Set to form a strong partnership in central defence with Borussia Monchengladbach’s Nico Elvedi, it is the defensive half of the Switzerland side that looks the strongest.
With defensive-minded Denis Zakaria and Granit Xhaka in front of them, it could prove very tricky for opponents to score past the Swiss side at the Euros.
Coming off the back of a strong season with Dortmund, 25-year-old Akanji made 28 Bundesliga appearances for the Black and Yellow last season.
Solid both in and out of possession, Akanji possesses a good turn of pace which means that he isn’t often left behind in a foot race. Although, his decision-making does occasionally get him into trouble.
Being partnered with the reliable Nico Elvedi however, may bring the best out of the Dortmund defender, and it is a partnership that Switzerland will need to rely on if they are to make it out of a tricky group.
Manuel Akanji: Probably our most improved player. His distribution, composure on the ball and positioning have all been excellent this season. Once he removes the odd error from his game and improves aerially, we may have our Hummels successor. Great season! pic.twitter.com/iHsP3iivKX
— Football Pulse (@FootballPulse_) May 19, 2021
4) Matthijs De Ligt
It would be unfair to suggest that Matthijs De Ligt has flattered to deceive since his move from Ajax to Juventus in 2019, but his performances have been headline-worthy far more infrequently. This is in part due to Juventus’ struggles as a whole, and in part due to higher expectations in Turin than Amsterdam.
With Virgil Van Dijk ruling himself out of the Netherlands squad a cruel blow for the Oranje, expectations could weigh heavy on the shoulders of 21-year-old De Ligt ahead of this summer’s tournament.
Despite making 27 Serie A appearances in Juventus’ disappointing season, De Ligt has often struggled with fitness issues, missing 16 games across all competitions through a combination of injuries and contracting Covid-19.
However, he has still performed well in a defence that conceded the second-fewest goals in the Serie A, and has been a guaranteed starter when fit.
With his injury and illness now firmly behind him, De Ligt will have to play a vital role if the Netherlands are going to make it far in the tournament.
Matthijs De Ligt. ⚪️⚫️
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: His passport may read Dutch, but that’s an Italian defender.
— Inconvenient Truth (@ITruth98) May 21, 2021
3) Giorgio Chiellini
Now 36-years-old, Giorgio Chiellini is almost certainly competing in his last major international tournament for the Azzuri this summer.
Chiellini has made 106 appearances for the national side since his debut in 2004, and the defensive lynchpin is set to leave Juventus this summer after 16-years at the club.
An established winner, Chiellini has been in and out of the national side recently, with Alessandro Bastoni and Francesco Acerbi sometimes preferred to the veteran.
Come the summer, however, Chiellini is likely to feature heavily for the Italians, with much of the squad made up of players inexperienced at major international tournaments.
The Italian has struggled for game time this campaign, featuring just 17 times in the Serie A for Juventus, but his experience, leadership and nous could prove essential to Italy’s hopes of success in this tournament.
2) Raphael Varane
A world-class defender, Raphael Varane has cemented his place in Real Madrid’s defence over the past few seasons, whilst also making 73 appearances for France since his debut in 2013.
Varane is constantly linked with a move away from the Spanish capital, and the French international only has a year left on his contract.
It’s not difficult to foresee many top clubs fighting to sign Varane this summer should he perform to his abilities at Euro 2020.
Varane is locked-in at the heart of the France defence. He’ll play on the right side, and Pascal Kimpembe will slot in the left centre-half position.
Chelsea’s German forward Timo Werner (L) vies with Real Madrid’s French defender Raphael Varane during the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg football match between Real Madrid and Chelsea at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium in Valdebebas, on the outskirts of Madrid, on April 27, 2021. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP) (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images)
1) Ruben Dias
For us at 101, the best defender in world football right now is Ruben Dias after his transformative season at Manchester City.
Signed from Benfica in the summer of 2020, Dias appeared in 32 of City’s 38 Premier League games in his first season for the club. Dias has pushed Aymeric Laporte out of the side in the process.
The effect that the Portuguese international has had on the Citizens was such that he was voted FWA (Football Writers Association) footballer of the year, ahead of compatriots Joao Cancelo and Bruno Fernandes.
At Euro 2020, Dias is set to feature alongside veteran Portuguese defender, 38-year-old Pepe.
Named man of the match in Portugal’s Nation League final win over the Netherlands, Dias is a natural-born leader, and a player that Portugal fans will be hoping can ensure a strong Euro campaign.
One thing is to win it, another is to lift it! It’s home! C’mon city! One more to go! 🏆🦈💙 pic.twitter.com/GDwICeGqwS
— Rúben Dias (@rubendias) May 23, 2021
Summary: 10 best centre-backs going to Euro 2020
- Aymeric Laporte
- Milan Skriniar
- Mats Hummels
- John Stones
- Manuel Akanji
- Matthijs De Ligt
- Giorgio Chiellini
- Raphael Varane
- Ruben Dias
I was a fool’ to turn down Arsenal – Giorgio Chiellini speaks of his regret at not joining the Gunners
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