A look at 10 of the best defenders in the world.
1. 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 and he quickly helped the club to their first Ligue 1 title since 1994.
2. 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. A commanding presence who can also pop up with headed goals from time to time, Vidic has been beset by injuries in recent years but when he and Rio Ferdinand are at their best, they possess all the experience and know-how to keep even the most dangerous Premier League strikers at bay.
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. At club level he has won almost everything there is to win, including the 2013 Champions League.
6. 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 dribble, get forward, cross the ball, and is Mr Reliable when on the back foot.
7. 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.
8. Sergio Ramos (Spain & Real Madrid)
The uncompromising Ramos has been a mainstay in the Real Madrid defense since his move from Sevilla in 2005 for 27 million euros – a record fee for a Spanish teenager. Ramos has excellent pace and is reliable in the tackle. His commitment often sees him getting in trouble with referees, and it is rare that he completes a season without getting at least one red card. A pillar of strength for club and country.
9. Daniel Alves (Brazil & Barcelona)
Alves had to play second fiddle to Maicon for the Brazil right-back slot for several years, but now turns out more regularly for the Selecao. 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 US$1 million from Bahia in 2002 and sold him at a huge profit in 2008. A double Champions League winner with Barca.
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 France and Manchester United where he scored a career high four goals in the 2012-13 season.