Teams with the best defensive records in the 2020/2021 season

Josip Brajkovic
Josip Brajkovic
Published: 28. lipnja 2021.

Teams with the best defensive records in the 2020/2021 season

They say defences don't win games, let alone titles, but a look at this table of teams with the best defensive records in the 2020/2021 season is screaming otherwise. Looking at only teams from the top five leagues, Serie A, Premier League, La Liga, Ligue 1, and Bundesliga, four champions are in the top 10! Two top the list of clubs with the best defensive records in the top five leagues were also champions!

Honourable mentions go to Barcelona, Real Sociedad, and the overly defensive Arsenal who all conceded 38 goals over the course of the season. Juventus got one fewer, and surprisingly Bayer Leverkusen took in 36 while having a mediocre season at best.

10. Wolfsburg (Bundesliga) - 34 goals conceded

Surprisingly just one of the two Bundesliga teams on this list even though the clubs in the German championship have only 34 games. Even the champions of the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich, are long removed from being on this list with 44 goals conceded. Belgian keeper Koen Casteels played almost all the games, 32 of them, keeping 14 clean sheets. Making the defensive shield with Maxence Lacroix, John Brooks, Paulo Otavio, Jerome Roussillon, Kevin Mbabu, and Marin Pongracic.

9. Inter (Serie A) - 34 goals conceded

Same record as Wolfsburg, yet Inter deserve the higher placement because of the more games played and the success of being a champion. Samir Handanovic is starting still at 36 and played 37 of the 38 games, keeping 15 clean sheets. Having the help of defensive players Stefan de Vrij, Alessandro Bastoni, Milan Skriniar, Andrea Ranochia, Danilo D'Ambrosio, Achraf Hakimi, Ashley Young, Aleksandar Kolarov, and Matteo Darmian.

8. Chelsea (Premier League) - 33 goals conceded

Chelsea was battling for the top four spot until the end yet they managed to have a far better defensive record then would it seem. Interestingly, they've conceded 25% of their goals, eight of them, against West Bromwich Albion. Edouard Mendy started the majority of games, keeping 16 clean sheets in 31 games, with Kepa playing in seven matches. Most games in the backline were played by Reece James (32), Cesar Azpilicueta (28), and Ben Chilwell (27) while Thiago Silva, Andreas Christensen, Marcos Alonso, Antonio Rudiger, and Kurt Zouma did their parts too.

7. Sevilla (La Liga) - 33 goals conceded

Not only did Sevilla drop out of the title race only a week before Barcelona did, truly having the outside chance for it, Julen Lopetegui's side showed defensive prowess to achieve it. As far as goals scored are concerned, they are seventh in La Liga. Yassine Bounou played 33 games, even scoring a goal, while he kept 15 clean sheets. With the help of Jules Kounde, Diego Carlos, Sergio Escudero, Sergi Gomez, Karim Rekik, Marcos Acuna, Aleix Vidal, and Jesus Navas who transitioned to a right-back late in his career.

6. RB Leipzig (Bundesliga) - 30 goals conceded

Not surprisingly, RB Leipzig makes its place in the top 10 clubs with the best defensive records in the 2020/2021 season. The Red Bulls did sell two of their centre-backs, Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate for €82,500,000 combined. Peter Gulasci played in 33 matches and kept a clean sheet on 15 occasions. Konate played in just 14 matches, while Upamecano had 29 caps, same as Willi Orban, the second Hungarian in the defensive unit. Marcel Halstenberg plays at the left-back position, while Lukasz Klostermann kept the right-hand safe. Both had help from Benjamin Henrichs and Nordi Mukiele and somewhat Angelino who was mostly offensive-minded.

5. Manchester City (Premier League) - 29 goals conceded

Another champion enters the list at the midway mark, Manchester City had the best attack and best defence in England. Ederson was nearly untouchable with 3 games between the posts, getting 19 clean sheets! Although many would rightfully point to Ruben Dias as the main factor in City's newfound concreteness in the back, as the Portuguese played 32 games in his debut season. Making his partnership mostly with John Stones, although Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake made 16 and 14 Premiership appearances. Joao Cancelo was active on both sides with 28 games, Kyle Walker was the usual pick, and Benjamin Mendy was often the third pick at left-back even behind natural midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko.

4. Paris Saint-Germain (Ligue 1) - 28 goals conceded

No amount of success in specific statistics is going to make PSG players and fans feel better about the shocking failure to win the Ligue 1. The Saints have the best goalscoring record in the league, being second in the defensive rank. Keylor Navas played in 29 games only, yet he kept 16 clean sheets. That isn't enough according to the PSG brass and the Costa Rican will be replaced this summer with Gianluigi Donnarumma. Marquinhos, Presnel Kimpembe, Thilo Kehrer, Layvin Kurzawa, Abed Diallo, Alessandro Florenzi, Mitchel Bakker, and Colin Dagba did the helping in the defensive unit.

Real Madrid (La Liga) - 27 goals conceded

Zinedine Zidane didn't manage to make up a title in the end with Real Madrid's ageing team, yet the defensive record remains impressive. Especially considering that Sergio Ramos played in only 15 games. Thibaut Courtois was the constant, playing all 38 games, keeping 17 clean sheets. Raphael Varane played the most games in the back line after him, 31, making his desires to leave Santiago Bernabeu worrying.

Especially as even though Eder Militao played in only 14 games, he left an unimpressive mark. Nacho played more than him, even Marcelo who is the understudy for Ferland Mendy now. Dani Carvajal ended up playing 13 games and Alvaro Odriozola 13.

2. Atletico Madrid (La Liga) - 24 goals

The most unsurprising inclusion on this list, even for causal football fans. Atletico Madrid has become synonymous with an impressive defensive record in top five leagues. Diego Simeone's troops took in only 24 goals over the whole title-winning season and having a world-class goalkeeper like Jan Oblak helps a lot. The Slovenian played all 38 games, keeping 18 clean sheets.

Although former Simeone and Atleti general Diego Godin believes Stefan Savic's influence on the title remains understated, with the Montenegro player getting 33 caps in, more than all other defenders. Jose Maria Gimenez played 21 games, while Felipe and Mario Hermoso were Savic's main partner with 31 games each. Renan Lodi played 23 games, Kieran Trippier 28 at the other end, and Sime Vrsaljko played nine times in La Liga.

1. Lille (Ligue 1) - 22 goals

People saying you can't win a title in the top five leagues with a defensive approach were silenced this season, not only by Atletico, but primarily by Lille. The French side did what was thought impossible and took the title of PSG who boasts some of the biggest attacking stars in Kylian Mbappe and Neymar. Manager Christophe Galtier set up a side that scored the fourth-most goals yet they won Ligue 1 in front of such an ambitious project as PSG.

Mike Maignan was the commander between the posts, getting in 21 clean sheets in his 38 games played. Milan picked him up to replace Donnarumma immediately. Youngster Sven Botman and 37-year-old veteran Jose Fonte formed the partnership at centre-back, playing 37 and 36 of the games. Tiago Djalo was the backup at the CB position, with Zeki Celik the primary choice at right-back and Jeremy Pied. Reinaldo and Domagoj Bradaric played at left-back both almost equally.


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