Sir Alex Ferguson once famously said, “attack wins you games, defence wins you titles”.
Although this may not be true all the time, he has a point as three of the five teams that are leading Europe’s Top 5 leagues have the best defensive record in their respective league.
#5. RB Leipzig – 23 goals conceded in 30 games
RB Leipzig are currently third in the Bundesliga table and are on the verge of securing Champions League football for next season when Julian Nagelsmann takes over as manager.
Leipzig have the best defensive record in the Bundesliga having conceded only 23 goals in 30 league games while also keeping 15 clean sheets in the process.
Former Liverpool goalkeeper, Peter Gulacsi, has played in goal for the German club in every league game and he has a very young defence in front of him comprising of Willi Orban, Dayot Upamecano, Ibrahima Konaté, Lukas Klostermann, Nordi Mukiele, Marcel Halstenberg and Marcelo Saracchi.
#4. Juventus – 23 goals conceded in 33 games
Juventus recently won their eighth straight league title which is a record in Europe’s Top 5 leagues and in all these seasons, unsurprisingly, they’ve had the best defensive record in the league.
This season, the Serie A giants have conceded only 23 goals in 33 games and kept 16 clean sheets. Wojciech Szczęsny has started 24 of Juve’s league games and Mattia Perin has started the other nine games.
The Old Lady’s defensive stability comes as no surprise because of the quality and depth they have in that department. So far this season, 11 different defenders have played for Juve in the league of which seven players are Italians. However, Juve has an ageing defence and soon, they’ll need to find replacements for the likes of Georgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci.
#3. Manchester City – 22 goals conceded in 34 games
Manchester City under Pep Guardiola is mostly praised for their attacking prowess but when they won the league title during the record-breaking season 2017/18 season, they also had the best defensive record.
It’s not easy to score past Manchester City because they dominate possession and this season, the Citizens have conceded only 22 goals in 34 games and kept 17 clean sheets.
Aymeric Laporte has been a mainstay in the City defence this season and the Frenchman is nailed on for a spot in the PFA Team of the Year. Guardiola has rotated Laporte’s centre-back partner often and as a result, captain Vincent Kompany has only featured in 13 league games.
City had issues at left-back this season as Benjamin Mendy was out injured for most of the season but Fabian Delph and Oleksandr Zinchenko have proved to be able deputies.
#2. Atletico Madrid – 21 goals conceded in 33 games
Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid is renowned for its defensive stability and much of their success under the Argentine is built on their solid defence.
Atletico usually have the best defence in Europe’s Top 5 leagues at the end of recent seasons. If not, they at least have the best defence in the league and that’s the case this season but they are only ranked second in Europe’s Top 5 leagues.
Simeone’s side has conceded only 21 goals in 33 games but they are still nine points behind league leaders Barcelona because they’ve only been able to score 48 league goals. That being said, it is commendable that Atletico have kept 19 clean sheets as they’ve dealt with injuries to multiple defenders which is why no defender has played more than 23 La Liga games so far this season.
#1. Liverpool – 20 goals conceded in 35 games
For many years, Liverpool had one of the most maligned defences in Europe but that all changed when they signed Virgil van Dijk for a world record fee. Even though there was a vast improvement in the Liverpool defence, there was still scope for improvement and Jurgen Klopp achieved that by signing Alisson Becker for a hefty fee.
The Reds have mounted an amazing title challenge this season and the main reason why they’ve been able to sustain it is their defence which has conceded only 20 goals in 35 games.
Alisson has kept 19 clean sheets in only 35 games but his work has been made a lot easier due to the presence of Van Dijk who has arguably been the best players in the league this season.
Incredibly, Liverpool’s defence has also contributed at the other end of the pitch with eight goals and 26 assists in all competitions!