Defense wins championships, or so the saying goes.
But what is defense? Is it the line of full-backs and central defenders in front of the goalkeeper? Is it something more encompassing—an idea the team has to buy into as a group?
When analyzing an aspect of football in which players are involved it can often be easy to fall into the reputation trap. Gerard Pique and Carlos Puyol have each won World Cups, European Championships and Champions League titles with Spain and Barcelona, but do they actually make a more effective tandem than Malaga’s Martin Demichelis and Weligton?
Reputation would suggest so, but reputation is a far less worthy indicator of effectiveness than statistics, and it’s statistics we’ll be relying on to rank the defenses of the last eight teams remaining in the Champions League.
Here is the metric we’ll be using:
-Goals conceded in the Champions League divided by matches played equal A.
-Shots conceded in the Champions League divided by matches played equal B.
-Goals conceded in domestic league divided by matches played equal C.
-Shots conceded in domestic league divided by matches played equal D.
We will then divide B into A to get the number of shots it takes the opposition to score in the Champions League, and we’ll do the same with the domestic league.
Given that the Champions League is the competition we’re most concerned with, we’ll assign the resulting number a value of 60 percent. The domestic league number will be valued at 40 percent. The final number is the team’s defensive score, and the higher the better.
Our equation will look like this:
E x 0.6=X
F x 0.4=Y
The following slides include the starting goalkeepers and defensive units of the eight participants remaining in Europe’s most prestigious club competition, arranged in ascending order based on the results of our metric.