As the dust settles on a thrilling campaign, FOX Sports Asia football editor Gabriel Tan takes a closer look at the Top 5 Defenders of the 2018/19 Bundesliga season.
They may not get as much of the limelight as they deserve but, as the game of football continues to evolve, the importance of defenders continues to grow rapidly.
Centre-backs are now expected to be comfortable with the ball at their feet and initiate attacks, while a full-back’s primary jobs in this day and age would almost certainly involve bombing forward and weighing in with their fair share of assists.
But, at the end of the day, they still have to be good at one thing: defending.
Top 5 Defenders in the 2018/19 Bundesliga season
Which is why, as we look back at the Top 5 defenders of the Bundesliga season, they have been ranked by the most basic of statistics for the position in percentage of challenges won.
5) MATS HUMMELS (BAYERN MUNICH) – 66% challenges won
He may no longer be an automatic starter for Bayern Munich following the rise of Niklas Sule but, when the season reached the business stage, Mats Hummels was still a player that Niko Kovac relied upon as the club secured a 7th consecutive Bundesliga crown.
And, when he does get the nod, Hummels never disappoints as he won 66 per cent of his challenges and still looks like he could have a couple of years at the top level left in him.
4) JONATHAN TAH (BAYER LEVERKUSEN) – 67.2% challenges won
Playing a key role in the Bayer Leverkusen side that made a late-season surge to seal UEFA Champions League qualification, Jonathan Tah’s 67.2 percent success rate when it comes to challenges is even more impressive given he only conceded just 16 fouls all season long.
While he is powerfully-built, Tah’s greatest strength is arguably his speed that allows him to match it with even the quickest of opponents and he promises to be an important player for Germany in the years to come.
3) KARIM REKIK (HERTHA BERLIN) – 67.4% challenges won
Having come through the ranks at Manchester City, Karim Rekik looks to be settling in nicely at Hertha Berlin following spells in spells in Netherlands and France with PSV Eindhoven and Marseille respectively.
The Netherlands international was restricted to just 24 games in the Bundesliga this season but certainly caught the eye whenever he was on the field.
2) SALIF SANE (SCHALKE) – 69.2% challenges won
After five years at Hannover, Salif Sane decided to make the move to Schalke last summer and has hardly looked back since.
The instant impression made by the towering Senegalese meant that former hero Naldo’s absence has barely been felt, with Sane proving to be the best header of the ball in the Bundesliga having won 80 per cent of his aerial duels.
1) DAN-AXEL ZAGADOU (BORUSSIA DORTMUND) – 70.4% challenges won
Despite only featuring in 17 games, Dan-Axel Zagadou made each of them count as he emerged as one of the the Bundesliga’s brightest defensive prospects.
The 19-year-old’s was the only player in the entire competition with a challenge success rate of over 70 per cent and one can only imagine how good the 19-year-old will be when he actually reaches his peak in a few years.