Who were the best defenders during the World Cup? Including de Vrij and Hummels

Manchester United targets, Aston Villa's captain and a surprising Brazil star all feature.

There were some superb defensive performances during the World Cup which both improved and backed up the reputations of players from leagues all over the world.

Germany’s back four will take most of the plaudits because their country won the tournament, but there were some solid performers from other nations who deserve a lot of credit.

We’ve assessed five different areas and taken a look at the best performers in each.


Mats Hummels Germany DF 2 6 508
David Luiz Brazil DF 2 7 660
Pablo Armero Colombia DF 1 5 416
Daley Blind Netherlands DF 1 7 670
John Anthony Brooks USA DF 1 1 45

Any defender who can weigh in with goals is worth his weight in gold. Manchester United target Mats Hummels and former Chelsea man David Luiz both appear at the top of this list, scoring at important times in big games for Germany and Brazil.

Outfield Blocks

  TeamPosOutfielder BlockAppsMins
Thiago Silva Brazil DF 9 6 570
Geoff Cameron USA DF 8 3 300
Daniel van Buyten Belgium DF 8 5 480
Johan Djourou Switzerland DF 7 4 390
Essaïd Belkalem Algeria DF 6 3 211

For all the criticism of Brazil’s defence during the tournament, no defender made more outfield blocks than Thiago Silva. That tells us that the PSG man was spot on in terms of his positional play all over the pitch, making it difficult for forwards to get clear shots away on goal.

Won Tackles

  TeamPosWon TackleAppsMins
Stefan de Vrij Netherlands DF 20 7 677
Cristian Gamboa Costa Rica DF 18 5 426
Marcos Rojo Argentina DF 17 6 615
Pablo Zabaleta Argentina DF 17 7 720
Daley Blind Netherlands DF 16 7 670

It’s clear to see why Manchester United are being consistently linked with Dutch defenders with Stefan de Vrij and Daley Blind both appearing in this section. However, bear in mind that Blind made performances in a holding midfield role.

Effective Clearances

  TeamPosEffective ClearanceAppsMins
Ezequiel Garay Argentina DF 70 7 720
Ron Vlaar Netherlands DF 63 7 690
Stefan de Vrij Netherlands DF 50 7 677
Giancarlo Gonzalez Costa Rica DF 47 5 510
Thiago Silva Brazil DF 47 6 570

Ezequiel Garay mastered the art of no nonsense defending for Argentina, clearing his lines when the situation dictated. Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert will also be very pleased to see Ron Vlaar in the mix as he’s a key figure in the Villa back four at the moment.

Defensive Duels Won

  TeamPosDuel WonAppsMins
Stefan de Vrij Netherlands DF 53 7 677
David Luiz Brazil DF 45 7 660
Marcelo Brazil DF 44 6 570
Benedikt Höwedes Germany DF 40 7 690
Ron Vlaar Netherlands DF 39 7 690

De Vrij also appears at the top of this list, winning more duels than any other player. If United are thinking about making a move for him, it will be interesting to see if they have much competition because the stats certainly suggest they should do.

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