Top 10 best defenders in the 2022 World Cup

A good defense can be the difference between getting out in the group stage and winning the tournament. Scoring four goals in a game is all well and good until you turn around and realize that the other team scored five. Every successful team needs to be able to keep the ball out of their net. Defense is an art, and at the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™, many artists will be on display, putting their bodies to the test to ensure their team advances to the next round. But not all defenders are created equal. These 10 best defenders of the 2022 World Cup have set themselves apart from the rest and put their teams in a great position to take a deep tour in this fall’s tournament.

Top 10 best defenders in the 2022 World Cup

#10. Marquinhos, Brazil

Marquinhos, the first Brazilian players on this list, hopes to make a trip to Qatar this fall for his second World Cup. The 28-year-old central defender is entering his 10th season with the Parisians and has cemented his status as a key player and one of the best defenders in the world.

With 1.56 pieces per game, Marquinhos is a great guy behind the ball, but he has a bad habit of dribbling more than he expects to be. Together with Edir Militao, he and Brazil will be a force to be reckoned with in Qatar.

#9. Presnel Quimpembe, France

Maestro Kimpembe, as the song goes, is PSG’s second name on this list and he also has a lot of experience having spent his entire career with the Paris team. He’s great against dribbling, having passed on only 10 occasions this season, as well as scoring 1.89 interceptions per 90.

With France, he started most matches alongside William Saliba, but Kimpembe was the main man. He does a great job of keeping the ball with 95.9 percent of his passes. With Kimpembe distributing the ball to Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kanté and Aurélien Tchouaméni from behind, France will be in good shape for a long time to come.

#8. Joao Cancelo, Portugal

The only outsider on this list, Cancelo changed the way he plays his position. While other players like Raphal Guerreiro, Trent Alexander-Arnold and especially Alphonso Davies might be better in attack, Cancelo earns his place on this list as the best defender of the group. His 1.5 tackles all 90 make him among the center backs, even in his advanced role. He also adds 0.26 expected goals and assists in every 90, showing his impressive contribution on both sides of the ball.

Portugal enters Qatar as a real threat despite qualifying through the qualifiers. With Rúben Dias and Pepe, still playing at the age of 39, outside full-backs Cancelo and Guerreiro will be allowed to press and join the attack, making them a nightmare for anyone tasked with keeping tabs on them. His phenomenal speed and superb technical abilities make him a key player to watch this fall.

#7. Edir Militao, Brazil

After winning the Champions League with Real Madrid, Eder Militao is a huge part of Brazil’s hope of winning their first World Cup since 2002. The Brazilian averages 1.19 tackles per 90 and just over two tackles per 90, making him one of the most skilled defenders In the world.

With Brazil, he won the Copa América in 2019, and he has a strong chance to add more to this fall. The strikers will find it difficult to sleep knowing that there are two of the best defenders in the world between them and the goal. With the weak group, Brazil is sure to expect a deep streak in the fall.

# 6. Antonio Rüdiger, Germany

From one Real Madrid player to another, Antonio Rudiger signed Los Blancos Free transportation during the summer. The Germany international impressed during his time in London, and with his new move he will have played in Germany, Italy, England and now Spain.

Under coach Hansi Flick, Rudiger started alongside Niklas Sole to replace Germany’s Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels, who won the 2014 World Cup but were knocked out in the group stage four years later. The former Chelsea player has shown improvement and consistency for Germany as they look to return to their place as one of the world’s elite this fall.

#5. Jules Conde, France

The Koundé is among the youngest summer transfers on this list but he is by no means inexperienced. While Presnel Kimpembe and William Saliba were favored before Conde for France, the new signing of Barcelona has good reason to be the main man in the center of defence.

Compared to Kimpembe, Saliba and even Raphaël Varane, Koundé has been dribbled to say the least and has completed more tackles per 90 than any of them this season. With France, he is set on the right side where he can play perfectly, but he is at his best when playing centrally.

#4. Virgil van Dijk, The Netherlands

A controversial choice for fourth place, it is indisputable that Van Dijk has been one of the best defenders in the world since his move to Liverpool. However, when looking at the stats, his numbers aren’t quite as impressive as those around him. Although still quite impressive, his 0.91 interceptions per 90 and 1.38 interceptions per 90 are far less than many of the other pieces on this list. He is still arguably the best in the world against dribbling, dribbling only 0.12 times every 90 times.

Having lost the 2018 World Cup, the Netherlands will be looking to go on a deep run as they did in 2010 and 2014, finishing second and third respectively. Van Dijk is respected and brings a lot of experience to the younger Dutch team, and his direction and leadership could lead to a successful campaign in Qatar.

#3. Kalidou Koulibaly, Senegal

Kalidou Koulibaly, 31, is one of the oldest players on this list. Despite this, his time at Napoli was very successful and was enough to secure a $41 million move to Chelsea this summer.

For Senegal, Koulibaly was a key part of the team that won the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year, with 26-year-old Paris Saint-Germain defender Abdou Diallo playing alongside him for most of the tournament. The duo will be among the best at this fall’s World Cup, and in a group that includes the Netherlands, Qatar and Ecuador, Senegal will be hoping to advance thanks to their defensive master.

#2. Ruben Dias, Portugal

Manchester City signed Ruben Dias in 2020 for $74.8 million and he has been a huge success for the Cityzens. With 1.01 winning tackles per 90 and 0.77 expected goal allowed per 90 while on the pitch, Dias has truly shown that he deserves to be in the conversation as one of the best defenders in the world.

With Cancelo, Pepe and Guerreiro in the defense of Portugal, rival strikers will surely face them. At only 25 years old, he appears to be a suitable and capable replacement for his partner at full-back, Pepe, as he heads toward the end of his career.

#1. Matisse de Ligt, The Netherlands

At just 22 years old, calling Matthijs de Ligt the best defender in the World Cup might seem overkill, but the former Ajax man is no joke at all. His drive is incredible, his courage is formidable, and his ability is second to none. This season, he’s been dribbled into the ball over 0.2 times per 90, scored 4.38 clearances per 90, and had 1.62 cuts per 90. His pure consistency and wealth of experience at such a young age sets him apart from the rest.

This is set up to be the World Cup for Matthias. After moving huge funds to Bayern Munich from Juventus this summer, he will play in his first World Cup alongside Virgil van Dijk; The few who are not familiar with the young Dutchman will be informed on the world stage. With arguably the best defense partnership in Qatar, it’s certainly hard to bet the Netherlands this fall.

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