The Top 10 Defensive Environments in Football History

Defensive circles link defense to attack. They break the game of opposition and serve as a cover for their defense, but are also often the starting point of reliance.

Usually, in the shadow of more offensive or more creative players, they are the engine of a team. Their work not only helps to stop the progress of the opponents but also to create favorable counter-situations.

Physical power, commitment, recovery, Game vision, and anticipation are key elements of a good defensive environment. The players on this list are the ones who have developed these skills to become real nightmares for the opposing forwards.

  • Dunga Brazil

Dunga was a strong defensive midfielder, difficult to pass, with a good ability to read the game and anticipate passes or moves of opponents. He did not have the technical quality of traditional Brazilian circles but distinguished himself by his determination and efficiency.

He was best known for his role as captain of the Brazilian team that won the 1994 World Cup. In the club, Dunga has played for different Brazilian teams, Fiorentina and Stuttgart, but has never won a major title.

  • Edgar Davids

Edgar Davids was one of the most recognizable players of his generation. Thanks, both to his protective glasses and his very physical and creative play. He quickly gained a reputation as a typical defensive midfielder. His tenacity was such that he was nicknamed “The Pit Bull” by Ajax manager Louis van Gaal.

During a career Rich in trophies, Davids won three titles in Eredivisie, two cups from the Netherlands, a Champions League with Ajax Amsterdam. With the Juventus, he also won three Serie A titles and one Italian Cup. On the international scene, he made 74 selections for the Netherlands.

  • Patrick Viera

Nicknamed “The Octopus” because of its size and recovery skills, Partick Viera was one of the best defensive environments of the 2000s. Very physical and never stingy, he established himself as a true leader and wore the captain’s armband in almost every team where he played.

Viera became best known with Arsenal, with whom he won 4 FA Cups and 3 Premier League titles, including one season without a single defeat. In Italy, he won 3 Serie A with Inter Milan before ending his career at Manchester City. Along with the French team, he will participate in the victories at the 1998 World Cup and the Euro 2000.

  • Obdulio Varela

Obdulio Varela is a legend in Uruguay. He is the captain of the national team at the 1950 World Cup, where Uruguay created a surprise by winning the final at the Maracanã Stadium against the greater Brazil.

Varela was a tough, tough, very physical midfielder who could also dictate the game. He spent his entire career in two clubs in the Uruguay national championship, the Montevideo Wanderers and the CA Peñarol. It was with Peñarol that he won the national championship six times, between 1944 and 1954.

  • Didier Deschamp

Didier Deschamps was nicknamed The “Water Carrier” by Cantona. Every team needs a player who does the dirty work of recovery, and Deschamps knew how to do it perfectly. He was a gambler who never gave up, always willing with a strong personality. That’s exactly what made him captain of the France team.

Deschamps is one of the most Caped French players of all time, with 103 caps and of course a World Cup and a Euro on his charts. During his club career, he has won two Ligue 1, three Serie A and 2 Champions League with Marseille and Juventus of Turin.

  • Johan Neeskens

Neeskens played the supporting role for Johan Cruyff in the great Dutch teams of 1974 and 1978. It is considered one of the complete defensive environments in history, its ability to recover balloons and its endurance while being very precise in its reliance.

In the club, he won two Eredivisie titles, three Dutch Cups and especially three consecutive Champions League with Ajax Amsterdam. Transferred to FC Barcelona, he won a Copa Del Rey and a European Cup winner Cup with the Catalans.

  • Roy Keane

Known for being sometimes a little too aggressive, Roy Keane was nevertheless an exceptional player. His rage at defeating the outlaw, his murderous tactics and his mythical duels with Patrick Viera made him a legend in Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson even recognizes him as the best player he ever coached.

He spent most of his career with the Mancunians, much of it as a captain. With Manchester, he won seven Premier League titles, four FA Cup titles and a Champions League in 1999. Under the Irish colors, he played 67 games and scored nine goals.

  • Claude Makélélé

The third Frenchman on this list, Claude Makélélé, has long been underestimated. Extremely secure defenses, he was a master in the art of recovery and interception. No extraordinary or superfluous technical gesture, but it was remarkably effective.

It was in Chelsea that everyone saw how good a player he was. In many ways he was the perfect defensive midfielder, simply winning the ball and making a short pass to keep possession. He was so successful in this position that he is now known as the ” Makelélé Role “.

During his career, Makélélé won a league title with Nantes, two Liga titles and a Champions League with Real, and two Premier League titles and an FA Cup with Chelsea. He played 71 matches for France, including the final of the 2006 World Cup.

  • Frank Rijkaard

Frank Rijkaard is, without a doubt, one of the best defensive environments of all time. Physically powerful and very good recuperator, he did not hesitate to participate in the offensive game of his team. He was placed on Pelé’S FIFA 100 list.

Rijkaard has helped the Dutch to win the Euro 88 title, the first and only major title in the country, after all the disappointing results they have had in the past. With Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten, he formed a trio that dominates European football in the late ’80s.

In the Club, he plays mainly for Ajax Amsterdam and Milan AC and has an impressive record. In AC Milan, he won two Serie A titles and twice the Champions League. With Ajax, he is five times Dutch champion, 3 National Cups and a Champions League, won in the final against AC Milan.

  • Lothar Matthäus

Lothar Matthäus is certainly the best defensive midfielder in football history. He is a true leader of men, physically powerful with a good vision of the game and an iron will. Matthäus also stands out for his great ball hit and his ability on set pieces.

He played in a record number of 5 World Cups and helped the German team win the Euro 1980 and especially the 1990 World Cup as captain. Lothas Matthäus received the Ballon d’Or in the same year. Matthäus played most of his career as a defensive midfielder, but he could also be the libero. He is one of our top 10 central defenders.

Legend of both Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, he won 7 Bundesliga and 3 German Cups with the Bavarians, as well as a Serie A with Inter. He added 2 Uefa Cups to his list, one with each club, but failed twice in the Champions League final, the only trophy he missed.