15 Best Defensive Midfielders in the World

Who is the best defensive midfielder in the world?

A position as defensive midfielder may not sound too glamorous than an attacking midfielder or a winger. Sometimes, a defensive midfielder should play harshly to shut down the opposing team's playmaker. This makes the position is regarded as a "destroyer" of the beauty of a football game.

However, the role of defensive midfielder cannot be underestimated. This position is very vital, and it acts as a bridge between defense and offense. Well, in this article, I will discuss some of the best defensive midfielders in the history of football.

15. Esteban Cambiasso

Cambiasso is a tough defensive midfielder from Argentina who won many achievements at Inter Milan and Real Madrid. This player not only plays an important role in stemming the opponent's attack, but also often scores goals for his team. With a record of total 23 titles he won at club level, Cambiasso became the number one Argentine player who won most title of all time, surpassing more famous names such as Diego Maradona and Gabriel Batistuta.

14. Didier Deschamps

Deschamps is a retired defensive midfielder and the captain of the French national team that won the World Cup 1998 and Euro 2000. Deschamps' role in the team did not really shine like Zidane, because he had to do the dirty work, for example stopping the opposing team's playmaker. Deschamps is the player who can connect the defense and offense very well. Until now, there has been no other French defensive midfielder (except Patrick Vieira) who has the ability as good as Deschamps.

13. Fernando Redondo

This Argentine player played for ten years in La Liga. The best moment of his career was when Redondo joined Real Madrid from 1994 to 2000. During this period, Redondo helped Madrid win La Liga twice and claimed two Champions League trophies. Redondo is the type of defensive midfielder who could play beautifully although he was still required to perform hard tacklings against the opponents. He was also twice elected as Real Madrid's Best Player of the Season.

12. Demetrio Albertini

Albertini's role in AC Milan was almost irreplaceable for more than 14 years. Throughout his career, Albertini presented five Serie A titles and three Champions League trophies for AC Milan. Albertini acted as the connector between Maldini and Shevchenko, a supplier of assists for the attackers and a reliable partner for the defenders. Albertini also possessed good long range shooting ability and scored many goals from penalty kicks.

11. Dunga

The defensive midfielder is the least attractive position in the Brazilian football team. How not, almost all positions in the Brazilian team allows players to show their wonderful skill. However, for the defensive midfielders they should concentrate more to tackle and stop the opponents' passing flows. During his career at the Brazilian national team, Dunga won two Copa America titles, one World Cup and one Confederations Cup trophy.

10. József Bozsik

Jozsef Bozsik was part of a golden generation of Hungary national team from 1947 to 1962. His position as a defensive midfielder complemented the offense ranks filled by talented players such as Ferenc Puskas and Sandor Koscis. Bozsik helped Hungary win a gold medal in Olympics 1952 in Helsinki, as well as leading his country reach the World Cup 1954 final. This player spent his entire career at Budapest Honved, one of the biggest clubs in the Hungarian League.

9. Edgar Davids

Both at club level and national team level, Edgar Davids acted as a vital figure. This player seemed to have unlimited stamina, where he was able to run for 90 minutes without stopping. Not only helping the defense, Davids was also quite active in building the offense. Throughout his career, Davids won the Dutch league three times with Ajax Amsterdam, plus a Champions League trophy. At Juventus, he won three Serie A titles.

8. Marco Tardelli

Marco Tardelli is one of the best defensive midfielders of all time that was ever owned by Juventus. Playing for La Vecchia Signora for ten years in the period 1975 to 1985, Tardelli presented five Serie A titles, one League Cup, one Cup Winners' Cup, and one UEFA Cup trophy for the club. At national team level, Tardelli had an important role in leading Italy national team win the 1982 World Cup.

7. Gennaro Gattuso

Italy has a lot of great defensive midfielders. In addition to Albertini and Tardelli, there is also Gennaro Gattuso. Just like Edgar Davids, the player also possessed incredible stamina. Gattuso seems never stop running for ninety minutes, and does not hesitate to perform hard tackles. Coupled with his frightening face, his toughness makes Gattuso was greatly feared by the opponents' players, especially the playmakers.

6. Pep Guardiola

Before being one of the most successful coaches in the world, Guardiola was one of the greatest midfielder of Barcelona and Spanish national team. At Barcelona, the player played a critical role in the midfield line, along with Phillip Cocu, Luis Enrique and Luis Figo. In a period of eleven years, Guardiola played for Barcelona for 236 times and scored six goals. He also won six La Liga titles and one Champions League trophy.

5. Andrea Pirlo

Andrea Pirlo is one of the few players who can take on the role as a defensive midfielder as well as a playmaker. The offensive and defensive ability that he possesses are equally good. This fact makes Pirlo is always given an important position in whichever clubs he plays for.

Pirlo was very crucial part in Italy national team when they won the World Cup 2006. He also played for three Serie A biggest clubs: AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus. Throughout his career, Pirlo has won four Serie A titles and two Champions League trophies.

4. Patrick Vieira

Speaking about harsh playing style, Patrick Vieira is one of the most brutal defensive midfielders ever. He often stopped the opposing team's attacks with an extremely hard tackling that sometimes looks dangerous. However, his courage to play that hard really helped his team, especially Arsenal. During his period of playing for Arsenal from 1996 to 2005, Vieira won three Premier League titles and four FA Cup trophies.

3. Frank Rijkaard

If Gullit and van Basten were the two maestros in Dutch national team's offense, Rijkaard was in charge of coordinating the defensive players of the Oranje team. Not only played as a defensive midfielder, Rijkaard was also frequently positioned as a central defender. Throughout his career as a professional footballer, Rijkaard won many titles. Among all of his greatest achievements are six Eredivisie championship, two Serie A titles, three Champions League trophies, and one European Cup trophy.

2. Roy Keane

Roy Keane is a former defensive midfielder from Ireland who is regarded as one of the best Manchester United's captains of all time. This temperamental player has an important role for the Red Devils, especially in securing the defense that allowed David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs built the attack from the midfield line. Keane played for 12 years for Manchester United and won seven Premier League titles, one Champions League trophy, and four FA Cup trophies.

1. Lothar Matthaus

Just like Andrea Pirlo, Lothar Matthaus is a defensive midfielder who could also act as a playmaker. This player was even quite prolific in scoring goals, making his position in the German national team was almost irreplaceable for 20 years. Matthaus spent most of his career with Inter Milan and Bayern Munich. He was also the team's captain who led Germany win the World Cup 1990.

Matthaus was also a very good free-kick and penalty-kick taker. He scored a lot of goals from set pieces situation that helped his team win the match. At the end of his career, Matthaus was mostly positioned as a center back rather than a midfielder.
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