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SerieAWeekly On May - 12 - 2011

Vote For The Team Of The Season ~ Central Defence

Serie A Weekly readers will be able to choose their own Team of the Year, voting for players nominated by the writing and editing team. The team will line up 4-3-1-2, the most common used formation in Serie A in recent times. Next up for your selection are the central defenders so read on as our writers give you their choice and tell you why. Please leave a comment and remember to vote for the two you want to see in the team.

You can also go back and vote for the Goalkeeper here Rightback slot here and Leftback here

Davide Astori - Cagliari (Nominated by Julian De Martinis)

Astori has been quite superb for Cagliari all season. He’s made 34 appearances for the side in all competitions, has won sixty-fix percent of aerial duels that he’s entered, and has firmly established himself as one of the more solid center-backs in Italy. Playing for a mid-table team may undermine much of his potential, and thus his feats this season should only improve if a team such as AC Milan buys him and allows him to play consistently with better talent.

The one blip on his season’s radar has been in his Azzurri debut in a friendly against the Ukraine, where two yellows in quick succession saw him sent off. That stands as merely one negative in an otherwise very impressive campaign for Astori, however- he did catch Cesare Prandelli’s eye to earn the call-up, after all. Next campaign will be a true test of his merit, but for this season he stands as one of the reasons that Cagliari avoided the intense relegation battle at the bottom of the table.

Thiago Silva - Milan (Nominated by Giancarlo Rinaldi)

You don’t win a Scudetto without a solid defence and the outstanding Brazilian has been the cornerstone of Milan’s 18th league title. His anticipation of the play is almost clairvoyant, his technique flawless and distribution better than many a midfielder. Indeed, in emergency circumstances he put in a shift as a centrocampista this campaign and did not look out of place.

The Rossoneri have been spoiled for central defenders over the years with Franco Baresi, Billy Costacurta, Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Nesta all filling that role. But it appears they have found another gem who can stand comparison with the greats. At the age of just 26, and with the Milan Lab still working its wonders, he could be a star of the San Siro for another decade or more.

Giuseppe Biava - Lazio (Nominated by Lorenzo Vicini)

It isn’t often that a defender puts forth one of the best seasons of his career at the tender age of 34. However, Giuseppe Biava has been one of the best central defenders in Serie A this season. While the name may come as a surprise - just like Lazio’s successful season, the fact is that the first year Lazio man has arguably outperformed virtually every other defender in Serie A this season. As Lazio boasts the second best defensive record in the league with only 35 goals conceded, much of the credit belongs to Biava who has performed better than expected at the back for the Biancoceleste. Perhaps even more impressive is how well Biava has fit in with Lazio’s four man back line after spending two seasons at the heart of Genoa’s three man defense.

Yet, Giuseppe has always had a knack for being reliable and consistent - and his first season with Lazio provides further proof. He may not make the spectacular play, but he is always precise and punctual. He leads Lazio in tackles and interceptions (averaging more than both Thiago Silva and Alessandro Nesta) while possessing a great awareness on the pitch. He has also proven to be an indispensable part of the club as his 33 starts this season are second only to the Biancoceleste keeper Fernando Muslera. Other Serie A defenders may have the famous names to give credence to their play, but Giuseppe Biava has quietly earned a place as on of Serie A’s best at the back.

Lucio - Inter (Nominated by TB)

To understand the importance of Lucio to the Inter squad, one does not need to look any further than two pivotal matches in the span of three days.  The Nerazzurri were handed their heaviest defeats of three goal margins in both games in early April, effectively ending any potential push for both the Scudetto and the Champions League.  Was it coincidence that both matches were played without the defensive rock?  The answer is most definitely, no. Due to the long term injury sustained by Walter Samuel this past November, Lucio has gone above and beyond any expectations in the Inter defense.

He has taken the reins in the back and is not only a leader, but has been a mentor to young Azzurri international Andrea Ranocchia as well.  Besides his keen sense for perfectly timed challenges, the limber Lucio contributes to the attack on a regular basis as he can be seen making runs through the midfield of the opposition, given the opportunity.  It is hard to believe that the Seleção captain has only been with the Milanese giants for not even two years, as it would be hard to imagine this Inter side without the fierce Brazilian barking orders from the back.  Bayern Munich president Franz Beckenbauer stated earlier this year that “selling Lucio was an error” and Interisti the world over are thankful the Germans realized their mistake two years too late.

Cristian Zapata - Udinese (Nominated by Scot Munroe)

The Colombian centre back has been a rock at the back in an improving Udinese side; he has also managed to grab some very important goals. Everyone in Italy and in the rest of Europe have been raving about Antonio Di Natale and Alexis Sanchez in the attack but its Zapata who should be getting the plaudits with his monster displays at the back in a three man backline. The Colombian is a stalwart at the club now and he has starved off interest from AC Milan in the past to stay at Udine. This season the club hopes to get into the champions league and Zapata performances at the back has helped.

Leo Bonucci - Juventus (Nominated by Adam Digby)

It has been a remarkable rise from promising youngster at Bari to first team regular at the peninsula’s grandest club, but one Bonucci seems completely at ease with. In recognition of this rapid and fantastically impressive progression, UEFA named him to the shortlist for their Team of the Year. Quickly becoming one of the more vocal members of this new look Juventus, he has displayed some much needed leadership too.

Fitting into his new surroundings perfectly, adapting from playing for a team expected to battle against relegation to one destined to challenge for the top honours, playing with a determination that belies both his young age and lack of top level experience, while displaying the grit as synonymous with the club as the black & white stripes of their kit, Leonardo Bonucci looks every inch a typical Juventus player and that is as much an honour as any UEFA accolade.

Alessandro Nesta - Milan (Nominated by Francesco Pizzolla)

With a medal haul most players can only dream of Nesta too is approaching the end of his career but is still hugely respected by his peers, Andrea Ranocchia recently saying he rates the Milan man as the best in the world even today. However at 35 years old and having another injury plagued season there has been much speculation the player would retire at the end of the season, but he quickly dispelled these rumours, telling reporters he is ‘near the end, but not at the very end’. With another Scudetto now earned – his third – taking his total haul to eighteen major trophies between his two clubs and just four behind the legendary Franco Baresi. Nesta is the epitomy of class.

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  • Ryan Ross

    Nesta and Silva deserve it. Lucio shouldn’t be on the list (and I say this as an Inter fan).

  • Ted

    I’m surprised that Lorenzo didn’t nominate Bovo, or Munoz.
    Adam, Bonucci, are you kidding me? He’s not even a regular in Juve’s lineup anymore. Barzagli has took his place in the 11. He’s also kicked Legro to the curb!
    Thiago Silva’s the best central defender in Serie A and has been the best CB this year. As for his partner, either Astori or Nesta for me. Of course, my personal bias is thrown to the side..LOL.
    Paolo Cannavarro deserves a shot out to.

  • Francesco Pizzolla

    Paolo Cannavaro deserved to be on this list in my opinion. Giuseppe “at least 1 yellow card per game” Biava could have made way.

  • Ted

    I agree Francesco. People need to put their personal bias on the side. Thank God, Julian didn’t nominate Juan.

    • Adam Digby

      Yeah, except Francesco nominated Nesta & Silva!! Ha. Of course I was just bringing some variety to the table & Bonucci one of only three Juve players even worth a mention (Melo & Matri being the others) Writers free to nominate anyone they choose

      • Ted

        Relax Adam, I was only joking.haha

    • Julian

      Oh c’mon I’ve been one of Juan’s harshest critics all season! For what it’s worth I voted for Astori and Nesta.

  • Julian

    Also Lorenzo voted for Biava and he’s a Palermo fan, what in the world does that have to do with club bias?

    • Ted

      Adam and Lorenzo tend to only nominate players from their favorite clubs.
      I expect Matri/Hernandez nominations, when strikers are nominated.

      • Julian

        You better expect a Totti nomination as well from me.

  • Pingback: Vote For The Team Of The Season ~ Central Midfield | Serie A Weekly

  • Zouma

    As a Lazio fan I can’t understand why Biava is on that list and Dias isn’t.

    Don’t get me wrong, I was pleasantly surprised with his good form at the beginning of the season but there was always a feeling the bubble would burst and he’d dip back to the previous season’s form. Over the months his partnership with Dias continued to improve but if his Brazilian mate wasn’t on the park, Giuseppe’s performance noticeably suffered. I can’t remember seeing the same thing happen when it was the other way round.
    So overall I’d say Biava’s good form was largely dependent on him having Dias in there with him and over the course of the season it was the Brazilian that was the bedrock of our impressive defence with guys like Biava and Radu (clearly not 100% confortable in his old position on the flank) benefiting from his consistent form.

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