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Which team has the best defence at Euro 2024?

Here, Sports Mole takes a look at three of the top teams with the best defences heading into Euro 2024, based on player performances at club level in the 2023-24 season.

Euro 2024 is nearly upon us and the excitement is building among the 24 nations bidding to come out on top at this summer's tournament.

While every team needs goalscorers that can fire them to victory, major international tournament successes tend to be decided by the sturdiest of defences.

A host of defenders will be looking to transfer their impressive club form at the back onto the continental stage, and with that in mind, Sports Mole takes a look at three of the top teams with the best defences heading into Euro 2024, based on player performances at club level in the 2023-24 season.


Germany

Germany's Joshua Kimmich reacts after the match on June 3, 2024© Reuters

Most likely defensive setup at Euro 2024:


Neuer (GK); Kimmich, Rudiger, Tah, Mittelstadt

Host nation Germany will hope that their pursuit of a record-extending fourth European Championship title can be built on the foundations of a rock solid defence that is set to include veteran goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who kept seven clean sheets in the Bundesliga for Bayern Munich last season and has been a reliable shot-stopper between the sticks for 15 years on the international stage.

Although Joshua Kimmich featured regularly in midfield for Bayern last season, helping the German giants keep nine clean sheets, the 29-year-old is set to be deployed at right-back for Germany, while Maximilian Mittelstadt, who won 319 duels and helped Stuttgart register 11 shutouts, is set to play at left-back.

Antonio Rudiger was a mainstay in Real Madrid's La Liga title-winning side in 2023-24 and he contributed to 19 of their 21 top-flight clean sheets, winning 80% of his tackles, while fellow central defender Jonathan Tah was also a title winner with Bayer Leverkusen, helping the Bundesliga champions keep 13 clean sheets and go the entire top-flight campaign undefeated.


France

France players pose for a team group photo before the match on June 9, 2024© Reuters

Most likely defensive setup at Euro 2024:


Maignan (GK); Kounde, Saliba, Upamecano, T. Hernandez

Regarded by many as the favourites to go all the way at Euro 2024, France boast one of the strongest squads heading into this summer's tournament and Didier Deschamps has an abundance of strength in depth across the pitch, including in defence.

Following the retirement of Hugo Lloris, Mike Maignan has taken the number one jersey for Les Bleus. The 28-year-old kept 11 Serie A cleans sheets and recorded a 77.5% save percentage during an impressive 2023-24 campaign with AC Milan.

The right-back position is up for grabs under Deschamps, but Jules Kounde - who helped Barcelona keep 15 La Liga clean sheets last season while predominantly playing on the right side of defence - may just get the nod ahead of Benjamin Pavard and Jonathan Clauss, especially if the French boss opts to take a more pragmatic approach should his side progress deeper into the tournament.

William Saliba should have done enough to force his way into the first XI; the Arsenal centre-back kept more clean sheets (18) than any other Premier League player last season and he could be partnered at the back by Dayot Upamecano, who has been favoured by Deschamps on countless occasions and registered 10 shutouts at Bayern Munich in 2023-24.

Theo Hernandez is all but guaranteed to operate at left-back, and not only did he help AC Milan keep 11 Italian top-flight clean sheets last season, he posed a regular threat going forward, contributing with five goals and four assists.


Spain

Spain's Rodri celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on March 26, 2024© Reuters

Most likely defensive setup at Euro 2024:


Simon (GK); Carvajal, Le Normand, Laporte, Grimaldo

One of the strongest backlines at Euro 2024 could be Spain's as a number of their defensive assets enjoyed successful 2023-24 campaigns at club level, including Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Unai Simon, who kept a La Liga-high 16 clean sheets and boasted a 73.8% save percentage.

Dani Carvajal is expected to start at right-back and the 32-year-old heads into Euro 2024 on a real high after winning the Champions League and La Liga title with Real Madrid, contributed to 16 of their 21 top-flight clean sheets.

Alex Grimaldo, meanwhile, could be rewarded for his magnificent campaign at Bundesliga winners Bayer Leverkusen with a start at left-back. Although he predominantly played as a left wing-back last season, scoring 10 goals and providing 14 assists, Grimaldo also helped Xabi Alonso's side record a league-high 16 clean sheets in 2023-24.

In central defence, Robin Le Normand and Aymeric Laporte could be the pairing selected by head coach Luis de la Fuente. Atletico Madrid-linked Le Normand was a standout performer for Real Sociedad last season and was part of a side that kept 10 La Liga clean sheets, while Laporte helped Saudi Arabian giants Al-Nassr register eight shutouts.


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Euro 2024 fixtures header
Sunday, June 16
 
5pm
Monday, June 17
 
2pm
 
5pm
 
8pm
Tuesday, June 18
 
5pm
Wednesday, June 19
 
2pm
 
5pm
 
8pm
Thursday, June 20
 
2pm
 
5pm
 
8pm
Group Stage
Spain
vs.
Italy
Friday, June 21
 
2pm
 
5pm
 
8pm
Saturday, June 22
 
5pm
 
8pm
Sunday, June 23
 
8pm
 
8pm
Monday, June 24
 
8pm
 
8pm
Tuesday, June 25
 
5pm
 
5pm
 
8pm
 
8pm
Wednesday, June 26
 
5pm
 
5pm
 
8pm
 
8pm
Saturday, June 29
Sunday, June 30
Monday, July 1
Tuesday, July 2
Friday, July 5
Saturday, July 6
Tuesday, July 9
Wednesday, July 10
Sunday, July 14
Tables header RHS

Group A

TeamPWDLPTS
1 Germany Germany11003
2 Switzerland Switzerland11003
3 Hungary Hungary10010
4 Scotland flag Scotland10010

Group B

TeamPWDLPTS
1 Spain Spain11003
2 Italy Italy11003
3 Albania national flag Albania10010
4 Croatia Croatia10010

Group C

TeamPWDLPTS
1 Denmark Denmark00000
2 England flag England00000
3 Serbia Serbia00000
4 Slovenia Slovenia00000

Group D

TeamPWDLPTS
1 Austria Austria00000
2 France France00000
3 Netherlands Netherlands00000
4 Poland Poland00000

Group E

TeamPWDLPTS
1 Belgium Belgium00000
2 Romania Romania00000
3 Slovakia Slovakia00000
4 Ukraine Ukraine00000

Group F

TeamPWDLPTS
1 Czech Republic Czech Republic00000
2 Georgia Georgia00000
3 Portugal Portugal00000
4 Turkey Turkey00000


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