Take a look at this video:
Ignore the music please. Rapahel Varane absolutely destroys Barcelona. He not only intercepts the play but, boy, doesn’t he love his slide tackles. The way he tackled Messi and Fabregas was mind-boggling. There is a dearth of defenders like that now.
The game of football has changed so much in so few years. We have gone from full frontal counter attacking no holds-barred fast game to the possession games. All because of the Spanish. So clever of them, they knew they couldn’t produce a decent hard tackling defender after Puyol retires and Ramos fades way, they changed the whole game. Ok! I know I sound like a conspiracy theorist but who knows what is the truth! The change in the way the game is played has completely changed the dynamics of each position. Earlier we had poachers as strikers but now strikers who can dribble, pass and assist rather than just put the goddamn ball in the net are being preferred. One position, according to me, has the changed the most: DEFENDER.
A decade ago, being a defender meant now allowing the opposition anywhere near your D. You have to stop them whatever may come. Put your body on the line, injuries and scratches can be taken care later. Slide in. Rough up the strikers. You had giant defenders like Staam, Nesta, Maldini. Your fullbacks could defend and even attack better. It was relentless. You had Tony Adams, he could absolutely wreck any forward, make them beg for their lives and also crush any glimmer of hope they had of penetrating the Arsenal back four. All these defenders were never scared of any confrontations, they considered backing down from a tackle as a blasphemy to the art of defending. They were not scared of any player nutmegging them. Because the opposition knew that once it happens, next time you try any cheesy thing on the pitch of the ultimate manhood (football pitch!), you are going back to your family with a broken foot. Even the attacker were quite powerful, they never rolled down to the pitch crying for their mommas just because a defender touched. They knew tackling was part and parcel of football. A special mention to Cafu, Maldini, Roberto Carlos, Nesta and Vidic. According to me they are the best defenders I have ever watched. All these guys define to me what defending has been missing for the last few years. The tenacity, aggression and the dedication.
Most of the present day defenders look like rejected defensive midfielders and wingers to me. More emphasis is being given intercepting the ball and push the opposition back into their own half. I know, you can call me a hypocrite or an uptight old minded noob, but that is just not what defending to me. Look at the pathetic state of defenders of the top teams, all the teams have got attacking but everyone lacks a genuine legendary mode defender. I have seen Gerard Pique and heard so much about him. Personally I think he is over-rated. He has got no qualities of a good defender. He cannot take on any imposing striker. The way he looks completely lost without Puyol with him. I think that should be enough to prove my point. And then we have the “SWAG BOY” Danny Alves. Can someone go and tell him that he is a fullback, that defending is his main job rather than attacking. You can absolutely assume that he is going to nowhere in the vicinity of his own half. Let us move on to the costliest defender in the world, ‘SIDESHOW BOB’ David Luiz. He is like a school kid who has been told to defender but actually wants to play in attack, running to the opposition half with the ball rather than do his job, at every chance he gets. Another annoying trend recently started by managers is to play their defensive midfielder as centre backs (read: Emre Can & Javier Mascherano).
But some teams still revere the art of proper defending. Teams like Manchester United and Atletico Madrid still have good defenders in the form of Phil Jones and Diego Godin. But is always the Italian teams who always produce great nasty burly defenders. Cheillini, Nesta, Baresi and Maldini.