The 10 best defences in Europe in 2022-23: Barcelona miles clear…

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Jules Kounde during the Premier League match between Valencia and Barcelona at Mestalla, Valencia, October 2022.

As the old saying goes ‘attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.’ Several of Europe’s top clubs have run a tight ship this season when it comes to keeping the ball out of their net.

However, you might be surprised to find out that only two of the five of the teams currently leading the way in Europe’s major leagues make an appearance on this list of the best defences.

We’ve gone through each of Europe’s top five leagues and picked out the 10 teams this season who have conceded the fewest goals.

10. Nice – 21 goals

The Jim Ratcliffe-owned Ligue 1 club, who have Kasper Schmeichel between the sticks and Premier League old boys Aaron Ramsey and Ross Barkley in midfield, are averaging less than a goal conceded this season.

Results are improving under caretaker coach Didier Digard following the sacking of Lucien Favre last month. They look particularly obstinate on current form, with just one goal conceded in their last six league outings.

=7. Lens – 19 goals

PSG might be the outright favourites in Ligue 1 this season, but Lens have put up an impressive. Franck Haise’s side beat the reigning champions last month and currently boast the best defensive record in the French top flight.

Former Nottingham Forest shot-stopper Brice Samba has been between the sticks this season and he has had a huge impact so far.

=7. Roma – 19 goals

Of course there’s Jose Mourinho representation in the top 10.

=7. Lazio – 19 goals

The Biancocelesti might be more known for the goalscoring prowess of multiple Capocannoniere winner Ciro Immobile and the fluid, easy-on-the-eye tactical approach of head coach Maurizio Sarri, but they also have a mean defence.

Lazio have conceded just 19 goals in 23 Serie A outings. It’s thanks to that that they’re up there in contention for Champions League qualification.

=4. Atletico Madrid – 17 goals

Of course there’s Diego Simeone representation in the top 10.

=4. Real Madrid – 17 goals

Carlo Ancelotti’s Blancos haven’t quite been as defensively solid as league leaders Barcelona but just 17 goals conceded in 22 outings is still a more than respectable return.

Thibaut Courtois underlined his credentials as one of the best goalkeepers in the world with his show-stealing performance in last season’s Champions League final against Liverpool, and he’s been every bit as impressive in 2022-23 so far.

=4. Juventus – 17 goals

Juventus no longer look like the side who won nine league titles on the bounce, but they have shown improvement this season.

Were it not for their 15-point penalty, they’d currently be sat second in the Serie A table – with results largely down to their stoic defence.

=2. Newcastle United – 15 goals

Eddie Howe’s transformation at Newcastle has been nothing short of miraculous.

Nick Pope ranks as one of the best goalkeepers in the league with a save percentage of 79.7% – which is only bettered by Bournemouth’s Neto and Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga. A huge miss for the Magpies’ Carabao Cup final.

Newcastle are the only Premier League outfit in this top 10.

=2. Napoli – 15 goals

Luciano Spalletti has his Napoli side playing some great football at the moment as they currently top Serie A. Along with being one of the best defensive units in the league, they’re almost any Europe’s top-scoring sides.

Their march to the Scudetto is turning into a procession.

 

1. Barcelona – 7 goals

Most commonly known for their possession-based tiki-taka game, Xavi’s Barcelona side have been the best defensive outfit in Europe by a country mile. With just seven goals conceded across 22 matches, they haven’t given a sniff to the opposition.

If they manage to maintain their current rate of conceding just 0.31 goals per game, they will only concede 12 goals all season. To put that in context, Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea of 2004-05 conceded just 15 Premier League goals.

The current La Liga record for the fewest goals conceded over an entire season currently sits at 18. Atletico Madrid in 2015-16 managed to match the record which has been held by Deportivo La Coruna since 1993-94.


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