Ron Vlaar's defensive work in the Netherlands football team's unsuccessful World Cup semifinal clash against Argentina on Wednesday evening was the best shift a centre back had put in throughout the whole tournament, according to former Manchester United and England mainstay Rio Ferdinand.
A 29-year-old from Hensbroek, Vlaar has competed in England since 2012 when he transferred to Aston Villa from Feyenoord. Vlaar is continually in the first-team set-up at Villa Park, coinciding with his senior-level status in the Oranje camp.
Against the Argentines, Vlaar was exceptional as he shackled one of the top two consensus footballers in the world, Lionel Messi.
While he missed his nation's first penalty in the shoot-out, that should not detract away from the fine work he achieved prior to sudden-death as he was responsible for four tackles, six interceptions, eight duels where he won the ball (three of which aerial) and also had a 92% passing accuracy. He gave away just two fouls and was one of the reasons the Dutch kept their sheet clean.
These statistics are no freak occurrences, though, as he has returned similar numbers throughout the tournament - see below.
|Nation||Min / Tackle||Min / Intercept||Min / Duel||Min / Aerial||Foul||Clean Sheet||Pass Acc||App||Min|
Ferdinand has long scouted the World Cup for the finest defensive talent and, while he believes "immense" Vlaar's performance against the Argentines was the best of the tournament to date, he claims the best overall defender is Brazil's Thiago Silva.
Vlaar has been immense. Best CB performance of the tournament so far for me.— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) July 9, 2014