Best defenders at the Euro 2024

Best Defenders at the UEFA Euro 2024

The UEFA Euro 2024 is set to commence on June 14 with hosts Germany taking on Scotland. The tournament will witness Europe’s top countries compete with each other for around a month to get their hands on the coveted trophy.

Germany will hope their home advantage helps them while Italy will look to defend their crown, having won it in 2021. France and England are widely considered the favorites while Portugal and the Netherlands are the dark horses.

The UEFA Euro 2024 will witness a host of stars take the field for their nation, including some of the best defenders in the world. Defenders are crucial to any side, especially in a tournament. As legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had once said, “Attack wins you games, defense wins you tournaments.”

Also Read: Top 10 Goalkeepers in UEFA Euro 2024

Most of the sides at the upcoming Euros have some top-quality defenders in their squads and will look at them to guide their team to success. On that note, let’s take a look at some of the best defenders at the UEFA Euro 2024:

5. Alessandro Bastoni

Alessandro Bastoni
Alessandro Bastoni (Pic credits: Getty)

Italy comes into UEFA Euro 2024 as the holders, having won the 2020 edition by beating England in the final on penalties. They have, however, had a rough patch since then, as they failed to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

As the Azzurri hope to retain their trophy, Alessandro Bastoni will certainly be one of their most important players. The center-back had a stellar season with Inter Milan, who won the Serie A title by a whopping 19 points.

Bastoni’s defensive ability along with his brilliant passing and ball-carrying skills make him one of the best defenders in the world. Moreover, with Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini’s retirement, Bastoni will hope to lead Italy’s backline.

4. Jonathan Tah

Jonathan Tah Euro
Jonathan Tah (Pic credits: Getty)

Jonathan Tah had an excellent season with Bayer Leverkusen, who won the Bundesliga title without losing a single game. They also won the DFB-Pokal but lost in the UEFA Europa League final against Atalanta, making it their only defeat of the season.

Tah played a major role in Leverkusen’s success, making 48 appearances. He is a dominating figure in defense and a great header of the ball. He scored six goals for Leverkusen last season.

Germany hasn’t selected Mats Hummels in the squad for Euro 2024. They will, hence, expect a big performance from Tah.

3. Rúben Dias

Ruben Dias Euro
Ruben Dias (Pic credits: Getty)

Rúben Dias had another excellent season with Manchester City as they created history by becoming the first team to win four consecutive Premier League titles. City had the second-best defense in the league, conceding just 34 goals in 38 games, of which Dias played 30.

Portugal still have the veteran Pepe dominating the pitch as their center-back. However, the 41-year-old has some limits and they will hope for Dias to complement and cover Pepe throughout the tournament.

Portugal won each of the 10 Euro 2024 Qualifiers and will look to continue this streak. While they have a stunning attack, the likes of Rúben Dias will be expected to hold the fort at the back.

2. Virgil van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk  Euro
Virgil van Dijk (Pic credits: Getty)

The Netherlands have arguably the best defensive depth among all the teams participating in Euro 2024. They have Nathan Aké, Micky van de Ven, Stefan de Vrij, Matthijs de Ligt, and Daley Blind as center-backs. However, one name that still stands amidst this is Virgil van Dijk, who also captains the side.

Many regard Van Dijk as one of the best defenders in the world in recent years. While his form may have dipped after an ACL injury four years ago, he had an excellent 2023-24 campaign with Liverpool. The Dutch defender also helped his side win the Carabao Cup last season.

Van Dijk is strong, pacey, and good on the ball. He is very hard to get past for an attacker and is also a leader on the pitch. The Dutchman also offers a big threat from set-pieces. The Oranjes will hope their captain can inspire the team to a Euro victory.

1. Antonio Rüdiger

Antonio Rudiger Euro
Antonio Rudiger (Pic credits: Getty)

Antonio Rüdiger has arguably been one of the best defenders in the world in the 2023-24 season, especially considering Real Madrid’s injury issues. The German was the only remaining fit center-back for the Spanish giants for most of the campaign as Éder Militão and David Alaba suffered ACL injuries.

Rüdiger performed brilliantly despite his partners changing often. He helped Real Madrid be the best defense in La Liga last season as they conceded just 26 goals and kept 21 clean sheets. The German defender won the La Liga title, Supercopa de España and the UEFA Champions League trophy with Los Blancos.

Rüdiger likes to dominate opponents by getting close and physical with them. He has great pace and great heading ability and the center-back is also adept at last-ditch defending. Germany will hope that Antonio can re-create his Real Madrid form at the Euro 2024.

Also Read: Manchester United defender Harry Maguire left out of England’s final Euro 2024 squad

Honorable Mentions

There are some defenders who didn’t make the list but have performed brilliantly for their clubs in the 2023-24 season:

  • William Saliba (France)
  • Kyle Walker (England)
  • Micky van de Ven (Netherlands)
  • John Stones (England)
  • Federico Dimarco (Italy)