Éder Militão To Virgil Van Dijk: Defenders To Watch Out For In FIFA World Cup 2022
From aerial balls to interceptions, it will be a hard time for midfielders and attackers to score a goal past these defenders in FIFA World Cup 2022 at Qatar.
The FIFA World Cup is set to begin in 26 days. To many football fans in Europe and around the world, Sir Alex Ferguson needs no introduction. The Scotsman is often hailed as the greatest British footballing coach (in some occasions, the greatest of all). During his 26 managerial years at Manchester United, Ferguson amassed trophies and dominated the English league, where he guided United to Premier League glory for a record 13 times.
As a coach, Ferguson once said, "Attack wins you games but defence wins you titles," and this quote perfectly summarises the impact of defenders in the game of football. While the game and the watchers strive to see the ball end up in the back of the net, defenders ensure that it does not happen and make it more challenging for the opponent's goal scorer.
Defenders are more than just about keeping clean sheets and helping the keeper. They also play ahead and push the attack toward the opponent's goal. Defenders are also known for their heading skills which help them in clearing the ball away from danger and jumping to score a header goal for the team.
With 26 days left for the FIFA World Cup to begin in Qatar, here are some of the best defenders who will defend their national crest and stand tall on guard, blocking goals and aiming for clean sheets.
Marquinhos, Éder Militão - Brazil
Captain of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Brazil's number four, Marquinhos has played a vital role in all the teams he has featured in. For national coach Tite, Marquinhos will play a central role in defence, helping keeper Alisson Becker/Ederson keep the ball away from the goal and make it more difficult for the opponent to score a goal.
Marquinhos also gets the backing of Real Madrid defender Éder Militão who is known for providing multiple options to his coach (in this case, Tite). Militão can accompany Marquinhos and stand as a Centre-Back (CB). He can also take charge as the Right-Back (RB), making decisive runs, stopping the attack from taking control of the wing, tackling the ball away, breaking chances of a counter-attack, and pushing ahead towards the midfield.
Tite has delivered results with the duo and will aim to capitalise on their potential at the biggest stage in Qatar.
Virgil Van Dijk, Matthijs De Ligt - Netherlands
The Oranje will be aiming to bounce back at the World Cup after missing out on the 2018 edition in Russia and they mean serious business. For starters, the team will be playing another World Cup under the management of Louis Van Gaal. He coached Holland and guided them till the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup before losing to Argentina in the penalty shootouts.
In defence, Van Gaal has Virgil Van Dijk and Matthijs De Ligt, who present a great combination of experience and energy. Both the defenders stand tall at over six feet and have been a nightmare for many midfielders and attackers with their interceptions, man-marking, and tackling. Van Dijk is a Liverpool favourite and since his arrival, the club under Jürgen Klopp won the Premier League after 30 years and their sixth Champions League in 2019.
Van Dijk's defence speaks for itself. For starters, Liverpool never lost a single home match at Anfield in the Premier League when Virgil Van Dijk featured in Klopp's Starting XI for a record 69 matches. From man-marking to intercepting vital through balls, Van Dijk will ensure to make the opponent player goes the extra mile if they want to score a goal past him.
He will be accompanied by a young Matthijs De Ligt, who will also play his first World Cup at the age of 23. Currently playing for defending German league champion Bayern Munich, what sets De Ligt apart is the wealth of experience that the youngster has gained at such an age. His resume includes being part of Ajax Amsterdam. He was part of the team coached by Erik Ten Hag that was close to creating a Champions League underdog fairytale. Ajax lost to Tottenham Hotspurs in the heartbreaking semis but De Ligt's season was crowned with the Golden Boy title, awarded to the best young player of the season. His display at Ajax also earned him his visa to join former Italian league champions Juventus.
With Virgil Van Dijk and Matthijs De Ligt in defence, Louis Van Gaal has a defence like no one else. The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will be another platform for these two for showcasing why they are one of the best in business.
Rúben Dias, João Cancelo - Portugal
While the Portuguese struggled to qualify for the World Cup, they are always an opponent that cannot be underestimated. With Cristiano Ronaldo in attack and as the captain, things become difficult for opponents. It gets worse when they come across the Portuguese wall consisting of Manchester City defenders João Cancelo and Rúben Dias. Both Cancelo and Dias play a vital role in Pep Guardiola's plan at the club level and have delivered for the club at various levels.
During his national duty for Portugal, coach Fernando Santos will find one of the best central-back defenders in Rúben Dias, who will make it more challenging to score a goal past him with his aerial ability and defensive prowess. In João Cancelo, the Portuguese will find a versatile full-back, making it extremely difficult for opponents to dominate the wing. Cancelo will use his vision, strength and skill to help Portugal achieve the World Cup dream in Qatar 2022.
Presnel Kimpembe, Jules Koundé - France
The defending world champions will go to Qatar and aim to defend their title. Coach Didier Deschamps has Presnel Kimpembe and Jules Koundé to take care of the defence. In Kimpembe, manager Deschamps will get a World Cup winner and an experienced player who is likely to play a key role during the most vital games. The PSG defender is also known for making interceptions that stop the flow of the opponent's attack. For dribblers, it will be a hard time to take the ball past Kimpembe.
Jules Koundé will be heading to Qatar for his first World Cup but Deschamps will rely on the youngster's chemistry with Kimpembe and help captain Hugo Lloris in maintaining clean sheets. In the last three years, a young Koundé has been a popular prospect in football and this also earned him a club transfer to FC Barcelona in Spain. Kimpembe and Koundé together will make France a hard team to score a goal past.
Honourable mentions: Antonio Rüdiger (Germany), Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal).
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