Europe's Most Underrated Centre-Back Partnerships This Season


To borrow the old cliche, 'offence wins games, defence wins championships'.

While it's important for any club to be able to hit the back of the net regularly, it's just as important for a team to be able to shut up shop and keep the opposition from scoring.

While attackers will get a lot of praise for the work they do and the goals they score on the way to guaranteeing their team a successful season, more often than not, a team's rock solid defence tends to be forgotten.

Here are some centre-back partnerships throughout Europe this season that have been in incredible form, but for one reason or another, may not have gotten the praise they deserve.

Lukas Klostermann & Dayot Upamecano - RB Leipzig,w_684,h_912,f_auto,q_auto,g_auto/shape/cover/sport/Bayer-04-Leverkusen-v-RB-Leipzig---Bundesliga-be1c78864856c2609e3f48f0c2015cb4

With promising young defender Ibrahim Konaté going down injured five games into the Bundesliga season, Dayot Upamecano was thrust into the starting lineup and hasn't looked back since.

Alongside fellow youngster Lukas Klostermann, Upamecano has forged an incredibly strong partnership at the back and the pair have played a key role in Leipzig's title challenge, helping the team to the best defence in the Bundesliga.

Matches Played: 28
Goals Conceded:

Yunis Abdelhamid & Axel Disasi - Stade de Reims,w_684,h_912,f_auto,q_auto,g_auto/shape/cover/sport/Paris-Saint-Germain-v-Stade-de-Reims---Ligue-1-6d645e9e48e5f430d7be4e063f7e7b07

A perfect blend of veteran leadership and youth, Abdelhamid and Disasi have quickly forged one of the most underrated centre-back partnerships in Europe.

With the best defence in all of Europe's top five leagues, the pair have been ever-present at the back - for a Reims side who have way exceeded expectations - with Abdelhamid playing in every single minute of the season and Disasi only missing one game.

Matches Played: 32
Goals Conceded:

Amir Rrahmani & Koray Günter - Hellas Verona,w_684,h_912,f_auto,q_auto,g_auto/shape/cover/sport/Hellas-Verona-v-Juventus---Serie-A-779d9781dc7434abbdc592a5b1e66589

In what will probably be their only season together - with Rrahmani heading to Napoli at the end of the season and Günter set to return to Genoa after his loan spell - the pair have solidified Verona at the back and been pivotal in the club having one of the best defences in Serie A.

With only Juventus, Lazio and Inter conceding fewer times than Verona, the club have far exceeded pre-season expectations and are currently eighth, only four points away from a possible Europa League qualification place despite being a newly-promoted side.

Matches Played: 22
Goals Conceded:

Yeray Álvarez & Iñigo Martínez - Athletic Bilbao,w_684,h_384,f_auto,q_auto,g_auto/shape/cover/sport/Athletic-Bilbao-v-Real-Sociedad---La-Liga-Santande-742ecd47d5761b06a78c5b90b2dbbb48

Despite Bilbao's struggles in La Liga this season, Álvarez and Martínez have impressed at the back in the pair's second full season together.

Only the two Madrid clubs - Real and Atlético - have conceded fewer times than Bilbao, which is pretty impressive considering the side's 11th place standing in La Liga. Álvarez and Martínez have played key roles in that as - with only a total of five league games missed between the two this year - they've been ever-present for Bilbao.

Matches Played: 27
Goals Conceded:

Stefan Radu & Francesco Acerbi - Lazio,w_684,h_384,f_auto,q_auto,g_auto/shape/cover/sport/SS-Lazio-v-SSC-Napoli---Serie-A-9b02a66f12dafd8e1ee3de09d969225c

With Lazio currently second in Serie A, only trailing league leaders Juventus by a solitary point, a lot of the credit for the club's success has gone to Ciro Immobile and his goalscoring exploits.

Immobile deserves a lot of credit as the forward has enjoyed a fine season and does lead the goalscoring charts in the Serie A, but the superb defensive work the club has produced throughout the season shouldn't go unnoticed.

With Serie A's best defence, Stefan Radu and Francesco Acerbi have been a formidable partnership at the back for Lazio and with both men set to be at the club until at least 2022, we should expect to see more of the same next season.

Matches Played: 22
Goals Conceded:

Joris Gnagnon & Damien Da Silva - Stade Rennais,w_684,h_384,f_auto,q_auto,g_auto/shape/cover/sport/Lille-OSC-v-Stade-Rennais---Ligue-1-37b04676326ce0cbdeadb2ebe6ca97b6

With Gnagnon set to return to Sevilla from his loan deal now that Ligue 1 has finished, we've probably seen the last of this centre-back partnership. But that's all the more reason to appreciate what we did get to see.

Rennes far exceeded expectations and finished the season in third, with only Reims conceding fewer goals than Rennes throughout the year. Gnagnon and Da Silva were superb at the back for the side and it's a shame we've seen the last of them together.

Matches Played: 18
Goals Conceded:

Rúben Dias & Ferro - Benfica,w_684,h_384,f_auto,q_auto,g_auto/shape/cover/sport/SL-Benfica-v-Shakhtar-Donetsk---UEFA-Europa-League-03ec1323e326b4e7427fde66932ed64e

In the first full season at the back together, Dias and Ferro have taken the league by storm and have played a huge role in Benfica conceding an outstanding 14 league goals in 24 games - a league best - as Benfica aim to win their second straight Primeira Liga title.

With both defenders just 23-years old, Benfica will be hoping they can hold onto them for the foreseeable future, despite interest beginning to mount throughout Europe's elite.

Matches Played: 34
Goals Conceded: