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2016-2017 Champions League Confidence Picks: Defense

They say, defense wins championships. If that’s the case, the 2016-2017 UEFA Champions League will certainly prove many wrong. Many of the teams remaining in this competition boast some of the best defenses in Europe. These are defenses that are not only solid in defending the ball, but deadly in finishing on the other end of the pitch. In this article, we rate the defenses from worst to best in our confidence to bring home the title.

8. Monaco

Kamil Glik, Monaco

It’s no secret that Monaco play defense by offense. This defense conceded six goals to Manchester City in the Round of 16, and seven goals in the group stage, second worst in their group. They conceded the third most goals in the group stage of the remaining teams (Dortmund and Real Madrid were higher, but faced each other, and are high powered offenses). They are also tied for the most defensive errors in the tournament (4), and have the lowest defensive rating of all the teams remaining in the tournament.

7. Leicester City

Wes Morgan, Leicester City

Although Leicester have not committed an error leading to a goal from their defense in the tournament, they are not exactly deadly from the back line either. Their distribution accuracy is at 51%, lowest of the remaining teams in the competition. They conceded the second most goals (6) in their group that boasted weak offenses such as Club Brugge and FC Copenhagen, who combined, managed only nine goals in the group stage. They can hang their hat on the fact they held Sevilla to only two goals, but that may not be enough to advance from this point.

6. Borussia Dortmund

Marc Bartra, Borussia Dortmund

Dortmund play three in the back, and focus heavily on the midfield and offense, which we’ll see later in this series. Marc Bartra comes in from Barcelona with a wealth of experience from their system. This defense is rated lower than others on our list because they don’t add much to the offense, where the teams ahead of them on the list do. Holding Benfica to one goal in the Round of 16, and outlasting Real Madrid for the top spot in the group certainly add to the hope and focus this team has moving forward.

5. Real Madrid

Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid

Real Madrid have committed four defensive errors in the tournament, three of which have led to goals. They also conceded the most goals (10) in the group stage of any remaining team in the competition. However, this team is rated this high because of what they provide on the other side of the pitch. Marcelo and Dani Carvajal have provided great wing play all tournament long, and Sergio Ramos has been deadly in the air on set pieces. This team is surely capable of winning by defense.

4. Barcelona

Gerard Pique, Barcelona

Barcelona is another team that is as potent on offense as it is on defense. This team is extremely experienced with World Cup, Champions League, and La Liga winner Gerard Pique anchoring the defense. Paring him up in the back has been a slight adventure with Samuel Umtiti, but this team was quite strong in the group stages, conceding only four goals total. They duplicated that total in the first leg of their Round of 16 to PSG, but if they didn’t do that, we would never have that great comeback to speak of.

3. Bayern Munich

Mats Hummels, Bayern Munich

Despite some statistics, this defense is strong and experienced. Mats Hummels, the transplant from Dortmund, leads the line along with Javi Martinez. Wing play from Alaba and Rafinha has also been a great accent to an offense that led Group D with 14 goals, while only conceding six. In the Round of 16, they embarrassed Arsenal while only conceding two goals in the home on home series.They have committed four defensive errors, three of which led to goals, but have a 85% passing accuracy rate, third highest of the remaining teams.

2. Atletico Madrid

Diego Godin, Atletico Madrid

A defense that is the embodiment of their head coach, Atleti only committed two errors, none of which led to goals in the tournament. Jose Gimenez and Diego Godin create a young-and-old defensive combo that many teams fear. They only conceded two goals in group play, tied for the best total in group stages among remaining teams. They have committed two errors defensively, none of which led to goals against. According to Squawka, they are the highest rated defense remaining. This team truly wins matches on defense.

1. Juventus

Leonardo Bonucci, Juventus

It’s hard to argue against this defense. They have committed no errors on defense in this tournament, and have a 100% distribution accuracy rating. They have only conceded two goals in this entire tournament, including the Round of 16, one on the roan, and one at home. They have recently changed from a 3-5-2 to a 4-2-3-1, affording more rest to the Italian BBC of Barzagli, Bonucci, and Chiellini. But with the depth of Rugani and Benatia, combined with the wing depth Behind Alex Sandro and Dani Alves, they have the where with all to withstand an injury or a suspension, and still impose their defensive will.

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