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World Cup 2010 Players To Watch – Defenders

Hello again TFM readers. As you may already know by now, the World Cup is just around the corner and the tournament takes place in Africa for the first time in its 70-year history.

We all know that football is a team sport and it is not necessarily about attacking and scoring goals all the time. A solid defence is the key to a teams success and we’re sure there will be certain defenders who will shine this time around.

We at TFM had earlier made a review on the strikers and midfielders to watch at the 2010 World Cup.

We now compile for you the list of defenders who we think will make their mark in this year’s World Cup.

Check it out.

Jerome Boateng (Germany)
Age 21

Boateng has played several times for the German U-16, U-17 and U-19 national teams. On 5 July 2007 he was called up to the German under-19 squad by coach Frank Engel for the 2007 UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship held in Austria, from 16 July until 27 July.

Boateng is also a former Germany U-21 and won with the team the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship.

He made his debut with the Germany national football team on 10 October 2009 against Russia and was sent off on his international debut in the second half for a second booking.

Boateng has a powerful physique and is versatile enough to play in any defensive position.

Giorgio Chiellini (Italy)
Age 25

Chiellini made his debut for the Italian national team in November 2004 against Finland, and has since become a regular squad member.

He won the European Under-19 Championship with Italy in 2003, and was also a member of the Italy team that won the bronze medals at the football tournament of the 2004 Summer Olympics.

He was named in the ‘UEFA Team of the tournament’ of the 2007 U-21 Championships held in the Netherlands where they qualified for the 2008 Summer Olympics.

During 2010 World Cup qualifying, Chiellini cemented his place as undisputed first-choice in Marcello Lippi’s squad.

His performances has earned him recognition as a favourite to lead both the azzurri and Juventus backline in coming years.

He has so far played 28 times for the Italian national team and has 2 goals to his name.

Patrice Evra (France)
Age 29

Patrice Evra plays for English Premier League side Manchester United and the French national team. He is a left wingback who can also operate on the left wing.

At Euro 2008, Evra was left out of the starting line up in the first fixture against Romania to accommodate the Barcelona left back Éric Abidal.

He was then called in for the next game against the Netherlands after a poor 0–0 draw against the Romanians.

France lost 4–1 in a thrilling encounter. The final group game was a must-win against Italy. France lost 2–0 and were eliminated in the group stage.

Lúcio (Brazil)
Age 32

Lúcio is the Brazilian national team captain and is known for being a part of the 2002 FIFA World Cup winning Brazilian national team.

In the 2006 FIFA World Cup, he set a FIFA record by playing 386 consecutive minutes without committing a foul, a streak which was finally broken in Brazil’s 1–0 quarter-final loss to France.

In August 2006, Lúcio was appointed as captain by current Brazil manager Dunga.

On 28 June 2009, Lúcio scored the game-winning goal in the 84th minute for Brazil in the finals of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup against the United States. Lúcio converted on a header from an Elano corner-kick which beat American goalkeeper Tim Howard.

Gerard Piqué (Spain)
Age 23

Piqué has represented the Spanish national team, making his debut on 11 February 2009, and as of September 2009, he has earned 13 caps, scoring 4 goals.

On 6 February 2009, Piqué was called up to the senior squad for the friendly against England on 11 February. He played the entire match in a 2–0 win, in Seville.

On 28 March 2009, he was called-up as a replacement for injured teammate Carles Puyol, and ended up scoring the only goal in Spain’s victory in the 2010 World Cup qualifier against Turkey in Madrid, in what was only his second appearance.

Four days later, he also started in Istanbul in a 2–1 win, also in the group stage.

Nemanja Vidic (Serbia)
Age 28

A Yugoslavian youth international, he made his senior debut on 12 October 2002 against Italy in UEFA Euro 2004 qualification. Vidic was part of the Serbian and Montenegrin national team’s “Famous Four” defence, alongside Mladen Krstajic, Ivica Dragutinovic and Goran Gavrancic, that conceded just one goal during the ten 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification matches, setting a new record for the fewest goals conceded.

Vidic played a major part in the last qualification game, against Bosnia and Herzegovina. Serbia and Montenegro won 1–0 and secured qualification, despite Vidic picking up a red card five minutes before the end. Vidic missed out on Serbia and Montenegro’s opening group stage match against the Netherlands through suspension from his red card in last qualifying game, and on 12 June 2006 he injured his left knee ligaments during training and he did not play any games at the 2006 World Cup.

After the 2006 World Cup, Vidic went on to represent the national team, now independent as the Serbian national team. He was a regular during 2010 World Cup qualifying when fit and was instrumental as Serbia finished top of their group ahead of the likes of France and Romania with the best defensive record.

Simon Kjær (Denmark)
Age 21

Simon Kjær is a Danish professional football player, who plays as a centre back for Palermo.

Kjær got his Palermo debut on 26 October 2008 as a half-time substitute against Fiorentina in Serie A. His performance won praise despite Palermo’s 3-1 home defeat.

He scored his first goal for Palermo in his third appearance on 2 November in a 3–0 win over Chievo. His excellent performances ensured him more first team football and a new contract with the Sicilian club.

He confirmed his reputation as first team regular also in the following 2009–10 season, where he formed a strong defensive partnership with fellow centre-back Cesare Bovo, also scoring twice in the first half of the season.

Kjær was first called up to the Danish national team in February 2009.

Gregory van der Wiel (Holland)
Age 22

Gregory van der Wiel is a Dutch international footballer who plays professionally for Ajax and the Netherlands national football team.

A more recent product of the renowned Ajax youth system, he is an attacking right back known for his speedy runs down the flank.

Van der Wiel has been capped at the under-21 level and participated at the 2007 Toulon Tournament. He made his senior debut for the Netherlands on February 11, 2009, coming on as a substitute for former Ajax teammate John Heitinga in the friendly game against Tunisia.

He made his first competitive debut on March 28, 2009, being in the starting lineup for the 3–0 2010 World Cup qualification victory over Scotland.

He again played the whole match for the 4–0 World Cup qualification victory over Macedonia on April 1, 2009.

Oguchi Onyewu (USA)
Age 28

Oguchialu Chijioke “Oguchi” Onyewu is an American soccer player who plays as a defender for Milan of Italy’s Serie A and the United States national team.

Onyewu has become a mainstay on the United States national team. Prior to this, he also represented the U.S. at various youth levels, including at the 2001 World Youth Championship. He made his first appearance for the senior national team on October 13, 2004, against Panama.

During the 2009 Confederations Cup, Onyewu was paired with Jay DeMerit due to the injury of his normal partner, Carlos Bocanegra, who was unable to play in the group stage.

Onyewu played well against Egypt, helping lead the U.S. to a 3–0 win that earned them a berth in the semifinals. He also had a standout performance in the 2–0 semifinal victory over Spain.

In a World Cup qualifier draw against Costa Rica on October 14, 2009, Onyewu suffered a patellar tendon rupture, and is expected to miss three to four months.

As of mid-April Onyewu was set to return to play for Milan about a month before the beginning of the World Cup in South Africa.

Martín Cáceres (Uruguay)
Age 23

José Martín Cáceres Silva is a Uruguayan professional footballer who plays for Juventus F.C. in the Italian Serie A on loan from FC Barcelona. His primary position is central defender, but has also featured at right back and left back.

Cáceres played with the Uruguay under-20 team in the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, held in Canada.

He now plays for Uruguay’s senior team. For Uruguay, he has featured at both, centre-back and left-back. He got booked and was given a red card while he was playing against Argentina.

Maicon (Brazil)
Age 28

Douglas Maicon Sisenando commonly known as Maicon, is a Brazilian football player, currently playing for Italian Serie A club Internazionale.

Maicon was first called up for Brazil squad for the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2003 as part of Brazil U-23 team, which was sent to represent Brazil senior team at the Gold Cup.

On July 13, 2003, he made his first international appearance in the opening match against Mexico. In his second international appearance, he scored his first international goal in a match against Honduras.

In January 2004, he capped for 2004 CONMEBOL Men Pre-Olympic Tournament with Cruzeiro EC team-mate Heurelho Gomes, Edu Dracena, Wendel and future team-mate Maxwell.

He was also on Brazil squad for Copa América 2004 and 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup, which Brazil successfully won both competitions.

However, he was not called up for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, with Cicinho chosen as the primary backup to Cafu at right-back. After the retirement of Cafu and the appointment Dunga as the new coach, Maicon became the first-choice right-back for Brazil.

Sergio Ramos (Spain)
Age 24

Sergio Ramos García is a Spanish footballer who currently plays for Real Madrid and the Spanish national team. He is a hard-tackling defender known for his attacking and goal-scoring ability. He usually plays as right or centre back.

In 2005, Ramos became an instant hit for Spain’s under-21, for whom he played six international matches.

On March 26, in a friendly 3–0 win over China, in Salamanca, he played for the senior side at only 18 years of age, making him the youngest player to play for the national team in the last 55 years.

Ramos held this record until it was broken by Arsenal’s Cesc Fàbregas. Just seven months later, he scored his first two international goals in a 6-0 thrashing away to San Marino.

Ramos’ most recent goal for the national side occurred in a friendly match against the French Football team. Spain proceeded to be the victors of that match, finishing with a 2-0 win. David Villa scored the first of the pair.

John Terry (England)
Age 29

John George Terry is an English professional footballer. Terry plays in a centre back position and is the captain of Chelsea in the Premier League. Terry was also captain of the England national football team from August 2006 until February 2010.

On August 20, 2003, Terry made his full international debut for England at Portman Road, Ipswich, in a friendly against Croatia. England won the game 3–1.

His main defensive partner is Rio Ferdinand. He played for his country at Euro 2004, and England Manager Sven-Göran Eriksson stated that Terry was the first-choice centre back, ahead of Sol Campbell.

On 5 February 2010 following allegations regarding Terry’s private life, Fabio Capello announced that Terry was removed as the captain of the England team.

He was replaced by fellow defender Rio Ferdinand
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