A look at 10 of the best defenders in the world.
1. Nemanja Vidic (Serbia & Man United)
The Manchester United defender may not be playing in one of the most prominent national teams, but he helps form a defense that has been particularly stingy over the years. In qualifying for the 2006 World Cup, Vidic and his comrades conceded just one goal in 10 matches, a record that helped them top the group ahead of Spain. A commanding presence who can also pop up with headed goals from time to time.
2. Thiago Silva (Brazil & Paris Saint-Germain)
The Brazilian has almost everything. Strong in the tackle and commanding in the air, the former AC Milan center back was outstanding in the 2010-11 season as the Rossoneri won their first Italian title since 2004. Silva is so comfortable on the ball, that he was even deployed in midfield by coach Massimiliano Allegri when injuries hit the squad. His performances prompted PSG to pay 46 million euros for the player in July 2012.
3. Vincent Kompany (Belgium & Manchester City)
The Belgium defender was heralded as one of the most exciting defensive prospects in the game in his early years at Anderlecht. He has duly delivered on that promise, and is now regarded as one of the best in the world. The unflappable Manchester City defender is quick, strong and dominant in the air. In a team chock full of egos, he grabs few headlines but goes about his business with the professionalism that some of his teammates lack.
4. Gerard Pique (Spain & Barcelona)
Many at Barcelona believe this product of the club's La Masia youth system will go on to captain the club. He was a key protagonist as Spain won the World Cup in South Africa. A composed defender who is strong in the air and the tackle, Pique is also adept at launching his team's attacks. And he even claims to know all of Cristiano Ronaldo's tricks from their time together at Manchester United.
5. Philipp Lahm (Germany & Bayern Munich)
One of the mainstays of the Germany team for several years, Lahm's marauding runs from full-back are a good avenue of attack for Germany. The versatile Lahm is capable of shooting and passing with either foot, and enjoyed a fine 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
The Brazil defender's forceful runs down the right provide a great avenue of attack, not only for him to cross the ball, but for his teammates who can occupy the space vacated by opposition players trying to arrest Maicon's attacking sorties. A solid defender now entering the autumn of his career, Maicon completed a move from Inter Milan to Manchester City on deadline day of the 2012 summer transfer window.
7. Daniel Alves (Brazil & Barcelona)
Alves can consider himself unlucky that he has a player of Maicon's caliber ahead of him in the Brazil team. In any other national team in the world, Alves would be an undisputed first-choice at right-back. Supporters at Camp Nou see Alves dominate the right-side on a regular basis, his pace, crossing ability and free-kick taking prowess helping him score at least four or five goals a season. Sevilla signed him for less than $1 million from Bahia in 2002 and sold him at a huge profit in 2008. A double Champions League winner with Barca.
8. Ashley Cole (England & Chelsea)
Cole is one of the few players over the years to have got to grips with Cristiano Ronaldo. At Euro 2004 he had one of his best games in an England shirt, matching the Portuguese star in a captivating battle. Since then, Cole has developed into arguably the best left-back in the world. He can get forward, score goals, cross the ball, and is Mr Reliable when on the back foot.
9. Giorgio Chiellini (Italy & Juventus)
Fabio Cannavaro was famous for being an exponent of the classic style of rugged Italian defending, and in Chiellini Italy have a player to carry the baton forwards now that the great man has retired. The Juventus defender takes few prisoners, is strong in the air and firm in the tackle.
10. Patrice Evra (France & Man United)
Rivals Cole as the best left-back in world soccer. Evra is a tough customer who is reliable defensively and outstanding going forward as he regularly overlaps the midfielder before either crossing or passing the ball inside to a team-mate. A regular for Manchester United and France where he keeps Manchester City's Gael Clichy out of the team.