Who were the best defenders from the World Cup group stage? Featuring Efe Ambrose

A current Celtic star and a key Manchester United transfer target both feature.

The business end of the World Cup kicks in tomorrow as the pressure of the last 16 and the knock out rounds takes over.

The group stage produced no shortage of drama with some high profile sides already back on home shores while Liverpool forward Luis Suarez did something, which has affected his club hugely.

We’ve decided to take a look at the best defenders throughout the group stage of the competition across several statistical areas.

Tackling Accuracy

  CountryPosTackles Won %AppsMins
Harrison Afful Ghana DF 100.00 2 180
André Almeida Portugal DF 100.00 2 70
Efe Ambrose Nigeria DF 100.00 3 270
Santiago Arias Colombia DF 100.00 3 124
Souleymane Bamba Côte d'Ivoire DF 100.00 3 270

Several players won 100% of the tackles they went in for during the group stage but we’ve chosen to focus on Efe Ambrose, as he was one of the players to appear in all three group games. He’s a consistent and reliable defender for Celtic and will be important for Nigeria in the last 16.

Aerial Duels

  CountryPosAerial Duels Won %AppsMins
Harrison Afful Ghana DF 100.00 2 180
André Almeida Portugal DF 100.00 2 70
Santiago Arias Colombia DF 100.00 3 124
Daley Blind Netherlands DF 100.00 3 270
Jason Davidson Australia DF 100.00 3 270

Several players also showed dominance in the air with perfect results in terms of the number of aerial duels they won. Manchester United transfer target Daley Blind gets a mention because if the Ajax man moves to Old Trafford, the aerial part of his game will be thoroughly tested. However, bear in mind that the majoruty of his work came through protecting the back four.

Outfield Blocks

  CountryPosOutfielder BlockAppsMins
Daniel van Buyten Belgium DF 5 3 270
Bruno Alves Portugal DF 4 3 270
Geoff Cameron USA DF 4 2 180
Johan Djourou Switzerland DF 4 3 270
Frickson Erazo Ecuador DF 4 3 270

Daniel van Buyten made more outfield blocks than any other defender during the group stage. What that tells us is that his positional play was superb, which is remarkable considering he didn’t play consistently over the course of last season under Pep Guardiola.

Effective Clearances

  CountryPosEffective ClearanceAppsMins
Hong Jeong-Ho South Korea DF 38 3 252
Sergei Ignashevitch Russia DF 35 3 270
Jorge Guagua Ecuador DF 29 3 270
Gary Medel Chile DF 28 3 270
Rafik Halliche Algeria DF 27 3 270

Hong Jeong-Ho was superb in terms of effective clearances. He tried to instil a brand of no nonsense defending across the South Korea back four but was largely unsuccessful. It will be encouraging for Cardiff City fans to see Gary Medel featuring, which bodes well for next season.

Successful Interceptions

  CountryPosInterception WonAppsMins
Jonathan Mensah Ghana DF 15 3 270
Jason Davidson Australia DF 11 3 270
Rafik Halliche Algeria DF 10 3 270
Emir Spahic Bosnia and Herzegovina DF 10 3 270
Harrison Afful Ghana DF 9 2 180

Jonathan Mensah is a player that several teams could be looking at after the World Cup if he maintains his impressive initial form. He was able to read the game effectively and step in to intercept the ball before it developed into a goalscoring chance for the opposition.

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch