April 16 – An analysis of defensive aerial challenges across Europe by the CIES Football Observatory ranks Olympique Lyonnais defender Marcelo Guerdes as the continent’s leading defender winning 85.5% of aerial challenges.

Leicester City and England centreback Harry Maguire ranks second, 0.3% behind Guerdes and ahead of Liverpool’s Virgil van Dyke. Maguire lost 16 out of 93 aerial challenges while van Dyke lost 29 out of 153.

Brighton and Hove Albion’s Shane Duffy ranks fourth in the Big 5 League table.

“The top ranked players for the remaining big-5 European leagues are Dimitris Siovas  (CD Leganés), 37-year-old Bruno Alves (Parma) and Mats Hummels  (Bayern). Three other world champions are in the top 50 table: the Spaniards Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos, as well as the French Raphael Varane,” say the report authors.

Outside the Big 5 leagues, SPL’s Heart of Midlothian centre back Christophe Berra, leads the ranking winning an impressive 233 of his 268 defensive aerial challenges: 86.9%.

Only footballers with at least 80 challenges were ranked in the analysis.

To see the full report go to http://www.football-observatory.com/IMG/sites/b5wp/2018/259/en/

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Paul Nicholson