Ranking Europe's 20 Best Tacklers Based on Stats

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistSeptember 19, 2013

Ranking Europe's 20 Best Tacklers Based on Stats

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    The art of tackling is something that may not ever be perfected, but there are plenty of players who are talented at the difficult skill. 

    We all know about the big-name players who are notorious for their tackling, but which of those players rank in the list of top tacklers when the list is based on statistics. 

    Here is a statistical look at the 20 best tacklers in Europe right now. 

How the List Was Determined

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    The list of 20 players was compiled based on statistics gathered from WhoScored

    They are ranked based on the number of tackles made per game this season. 

    In the case of a tie, the players are separated by the number of interceptions they have made on the defensive side of the ball. 

    For a player to be eligible, they must have had played in the majority of their club's games to begin the 2013-14 season.

    The leagues that were examined for this list were the English Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Eredivisie, Ligue 1 and the Russian Premier League. 


20. Javi Lopez

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    Statistics: 4.8 tackles per game; 2.5 interceptions per game

    The first player on this list is the only player on the list who has made less than five tackles per game. 

    Espanyol's Javi Lopez has started off the season on the right foot with 4.8 tackles, 2.5 interceptions and just two fouls committed per game.

    As a right-back in La Liga, Lopez must be able to be physical without costing his club any penalties or dangerous free-kicks. 

    So far this season, Lopez has limited that from happening, and that is one of the many reasons why Espanyol sit in sixth place in the Spanish table at the moment. 

19. Ivan Temnikov

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    Statistics: 5.0 Tackles Per Game; 1.3 Interceptions Per Game 

    The first player with at least five tackles per game on this list comes from Russian Premier League club  Terek Grozny.

    Right-back Ivan Temnikov has played in four of his club's eight Russian Premier League matches this season, and he has done an admirable job for his team that are currently in the relegation zone. 

    Temnikov has made five tackles per game, and from that total, he has earned 1.3 interceptions per game. 

    One statistic that is holding the 24-year-old full-back from being further up on this list is his 2.5 fouls per game. 

    If a player like Temnikov wants to be an efficient tackler, he must cut down on his fouls. 

18. Aaron Ramsey

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    Statistics: 5.0 tackles per game; 1.4 interceptions per game 

    Aaron Ramsey has been a major reason why Arsenal have recovered from their season-opening loss to Aston Villa in fine form. 

    Not only has Ramsey netted five goals in all competitions, but he has also played a part in the Gunners' defensive efforts. 

    The 22-year-old defensive midfielder has averaged five tackles per game, a number that includes his five-tackle effort against Marseille on Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League. 

    Just like Temnikov, Ramsey does have a propensity for committing over two fouls per game, which is something he can ill afford to do later in the season as the competition heats up. 

17. Andrea Luci

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    Statistics: 5.0 tackles per game; 1.7 interceptions per game

    Andrea Luci is the first of many players based in Serie A to find their way on to this list. 

    Luci, who plays in a central midfield role for Livorno, has played a huge part in the early success of his club's season. 

    The 28-year-old and his teammates have moved Livorno up to sixth place after three matches in the Italian top flight. 

    Another impressive statistic about Luci is his 0.7 blocks per game, which is a number that perfectly represents his physical nature of play. 

16. Yassine Ayoub

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    Statistics: 5.0 tackles per game; 1.7 interceptions per game

    At just 19 years old, Utrecht defensive midfielder Yassine Ayoub has made quite the impact on his club. 

    The Moroccan midfielder has played in all six of his club's Eredivisie games this season, two of which were appearances as a substitute. 

    Oddly enough, in the two games where Ayoub has come on as a substitute, his club lost once and drew on the other occasion. 

    In the last three matches that he has started, Utrecht have gone on a three-game unbeaten streak. 

15. Fabinho

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    Statistics: 5.0 tackles per game; 1.8 interceptions per game

    Another teenager who has made quite the impression early on this season has been 19-year-old Monaco right-back Fabinho.

    In a squad where there are plenty of expensive signings, it seems a bit ironic that a young Brazilian starlet has found his own place in the starting 11. 

    What is even more impressive about his early-season performance is that Fabinho has committed just 1.6 fouls per game. 

    Fabinho will face his first big challenge of the season on Sunday when Monaco square off against fellow big spenders Paris St. Germain. 

14. Cristian Raimondi

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    Statistics: 5.0 tackles per game; 2.0 interceptions per game

    Serie A club Atalanta have faced a rough start to the season, but their 32-year-old right-back, Cristian Raimondi, has not. 

    Raimondi has delivered worthy performances on the right side of the pitch during the first three Serie A games of the season. 

    The 32-year-old has played at both right-back and right midfield for Atalanta this season, and he has averaged two interceptions and five clearances per game. 

    Those numbers will need to stay where they currently are at throughout the season for Raimondi to survive the physical rigors of Serie A, and for his club to stay above the relegation zone. 

13. Joan Oriol

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    Statistics:  5.0 tackles per game; 2.3 interceptions per game

    The first left-back to make this list is Osasuna's Joan Oriol. 

    The 26-year-old Spaniard has averaged five tackles per game in his first three games of the La Liga season, and he has done so in a manner that has not affected his club in a negative way. 

    Mixed in with those five tackles per game are the statistics of 2.3 interceptions and 1.7 fouls committed per game. 

    However, the most eye-catching statistic of Oriol's comes in the clearance department, where he has averaged 10 per game so far this season. 

    Oriol certainly has some large numbers behind his cause at the moment, but if those numbers dry up, it will not help Osasuna much in the La Liga relegation struggle. 

12. Tiago

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    Statistics: 5.0 tackles per game; 2.5 interceptions per game

    Atletico Madrid midfielder Tiago is just one of the few recognizable names on this list. 

    The 32-year-old Portuguese midfielder has been around for what seems like an eternity, but he is still earning his paycheck the hard way in the center of the midfield.

    Not only has Tiago found the back of the net twice for Atletico at the start of the season, but he has also been a strong force when it comes to defending. 

    Tiago is currently averaging five tackles, 2.5 interceptions and just one foul per game. 

    With a strong back four behind him, whatever defensive efforts Tiago puts out this season will benefit his club's cause immensely, especially as Atletico try to break the stranglehold that Barcelona and Real Madrid have had on the top two spots in the La Liga table. 

11. Alessandro Lucarelli

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    Statistics: 5.0 tackles per game; 3.0 interceptions per game

    As is the case with most defenders on a struggling team, Parma's Alessandro Lucarelli has had to do his fair share of tackling this season. 

    Parma currently sit in 16th place in Serie A after a draw followed by two consecutive defeats. 

    In the two defeats, Lucarelli has gone up against strong attacking combinations from both Udinese and Roma, and despite earning a yellow card in each game, he has tackled efficiently. 

    The 36-year-old center-back has won more interceptions (3) than fouls he has committed (2.7) during a three-game span where he has made 23 total clearances. 


10. Fabian Delph

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    Statistics: 5.0 tackles per game; 3.8 interceptions per game

    One of the most pleasant surprises of the English Premier League season has been the development of Aston Villa midfielder Fabian Delph. 

    At age 23, Delph is at a point in his career where he needs to prove his worth to his club, and he has more than accomplished that in four early EPL games.

    Delph has established himself as a rock in the midfield for the Villains, while at the same time he has cut down on any disciplinary concerns around him. 

    The English midfielder has committed just 1.8 fouls per game this season, while his number of interceptions per game (3.8) has undoubtedly outmatched his disciplinary statistic. 

9. Arturo Vidal

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    Statistics: 5.3 tackles per game; 0.3 interceptions per game

    Over the last few seasons, Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal has blossomed into one of the most feared players at his position. 

    From his central midfield position, Vidal can do almost everything right, including tackling. 

    In three Serie A games this season, Vidal has played his role in 16 tackles. 

    However, one statistic that does go hand-in-hand with the number of tackles, fouls per game, is one that Vidal should hope to improve on as the season progresseshe currently averages 3.3 fouls per game. 

8. Joel Ward

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    Statistics: 5.3 tackles per game; 2.3 interceptions per game

    Since Crystal Palace's arrival back in the EPL, they have been forced to do a plethora of defending. 

    One of the main cogs in the Palace defensive machine is right-back Joel Ward, who is one of the most efficient tacklers on this list. 

    The 23-year-old Englishman has made 5.3 tackles per game, and unlike Vidal, he has committed just one foul all season. 

    If Ward and his Palace teammates want to survive to see another season in the English top flight, he must keep his good form and continue to tackle well. 

7. Victor Sanchez

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    Statistics: 5.5 tackles per game; 1.3 interceptions per game

    One of the primary reasons why Espanyol have conceded just three goals in their first four matches has been the play of defensive midfielder Victor Sanchez. 

    Sanchez, who is the second Espanyol player to find his name on this list, has been a defensive stalwart for the club, and he even contributed a goal in the season opener against Celta Vigo. 

    The 26-year-old has proved so far this season why tackling is his best attribute, making 5.5 tackles per game and converting them into 1.3 interceptions per game. 

    Just like some of his counterparts on this list, Sanchez is a common collector of yellow cards, and he has earned one while committing 2.3 fouls per game.

6. Kevin Strootman

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    Statistics: 5.5 tackles per game; 1.5 interceptions per game

    Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman is rapidly becoming one of the best signings from the summer transfer window. 

    The 23-year-old Dutchman has helped solidify the presence in the midfield that Roma have, and in the process of that stabilization, he has become quite the strong tackler. 

    Strootman has taken up the role as the defensive-minded player in the midfield of Roma's 4-3-3 formation, and so far it has been a successful move. 

    With creative playmakers surrounding him on the pitch, Strootman's job is rather simple: to retrieve the ball from opponents and send his team forward in attack.

    That strategy has thrived early in the season as Roma currently sit in second place in Serie A. 

5. Allan Nyom

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    Statistics:  5.5 tackles per game; 2.0 interceptions per game

    It is rare to see a French right-back being employed by a Spanish club, but that is just the case for Allan Nyom at Granada, who has starred at right-back during the first month of the season. 

    His most impressive match in the new campaign came against Osasuna on August 18, when he notched an assist during his first 90 minutes of the season. 

    Nyom has gone on to deliver three more standout performances at right-back since the season began, and everyone involved in his career must be pleased at what they have seen so far out of the 25-year-old. 

4. Lucas Leiva

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    Statistics: 5.5 tackles per game; 2.8 interceptions per game

    When he is healthy, Lucas Leiva is one of the best tackling midfielders in the world. 

    The 26-year-old Brazilian missed most of last season due to injury, but he has come back this season better than ever for Liverpool, who sit atop the EPL table at this moment. 

    Lucas has been involved in 5.5 tackles per game, but one thing that could raise concerns among Liverpudlians is his growing count of yellow cards.

    In the last three matches he has played, Lucas has been shown a yellow card by the referee. 

    If he is able to keep his yellow card count down and improve even more on his tackling as the season progresses, Lucas could find himself atop this list at the end of the season. 

3. Marco Parolo

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    Statistics: 6.3 tackles per game; 1.7 interceptions per game

    To say Marco Parolo has done a ton of tackling for Parma in his first three Serie A games this season would be an understatement. 

    Parolo has been all over the place tracking down opposing attackers from his defensive midfield position. 

    The 28-year-old Italian has been known throughout his career to find himself in the middle of a tackle or two, and when he has this season, he has made a positive impact for his team. 

    Parolo has committed just four fouls this season, which is a number that does not seem attainable given the number of tackles he has made. 

2. Olivier Veigneau

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    Statistics: 6.5 tackles per game; 2.3 interceptions per game

    Nantes left-back Olivier Veigneau is one of two players in Europe's top domestic leagues to average 6.5 tackles per game. 

    Veigneau has featured at left-back in four of his club's first five Ligue 1 matches, and in those matches he has not shied away from a tackling opportunity. 

    Overall, Veigneau has made 26 tackles, which has helped him earn his nine total interceptions on the season. 

    In Nantes' most recent match against Sochaux, the 28-year-old Frenchman was one of the best players on the pitch as he played his part in 11 tackles. 


1. Pablo Barrientos

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    Statistics: 6.5 tackles per game; 2.5 interceptions per game

    It comes as no surprise that the top statistical tackler on this list plays in Serie A. 

    However, Catania forward Pablo Barrientos is not Italian like the other Serie A participants that were previously listed.

    Barrientos is also the only player listed as a forward to be one of the top 20 tacklers in Europe. 

    Just like Veigneau, Barrientos is averaging 6.5 tackles per game in an efficient manner. 

    Barrientos has been called for a foul per game and has caused 2.5 interceptions in his two appearances for Catania this season.