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Player Focus: Perfect Timing - Europe's Cleanest Tacklers

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Player Focus: Perfect Timing - Europe's Cleanest Tacklers

 

A familiar sight this weekend saw Sergio Ramos receive his marching orders for the 11th time in his La Liga career. Only 11 players have committed more fouls than the Real Madrid man in Spain this season, but here we’re looking at the opposite end of the spectrum.

In an attempt to collate a list of Europe’s cleanest tacklers we’ve looked at those to make the most tackles per foul this season, with a number high profile names making the top 10.

We have only considered players who have made at least 50 tackles this season (of which there are 249 over Europe's top 5 leagues) to ensure that those analysed are frequently making challenges. When fouls are mentioned in the piece this excludes handballs due to their irrelevance in this study.

10. Ashley Cole (Chelsea) - 4.5 tackles per foul

It seems Chelsea's left-back is staying in London this summer after signing a one-year extension on his contract, with the 32 year old proving this season that defensively he is still up there with the best full-backs in Europe. Cole has made 54 tackles this season - second behind Ramires at the Bridge - yet only committed 12 fouls, with his timing in the challenge often immaculate.

9. Zdenek Pospech (Mainz) - 4.53 tackles per foul

Veteran right-back Zdenek Pospech has been a key player for Mainz this season in helping his club push for a Europa League place. The 34 year old Czech has also made the second most tackles for his club (68) and only committed 15 fouls in the process. In turn he has received just 1 booking all season, despite making 21 appearances.

8. Matteo Darmian (Torino) - 4.71 tackles per foul

23 year old full-back Matteo Darmian has made more tackles per game than any other player in Europe's top five leagues (5.2), so the fact that he should make this leaderboard suggests that the young Italian is remarkably impressive in the challenge. He's committed just 21 fouls all season having made 99 tackles and a tally of 8 yellow cards seems very harsh looking at these figures.

7. Michele Canini (Atalanta) - 4.91 tackles per foul

A January signing from Genoa, 27 year old Michele Canini has cemented his place at centre-back immediately for Atalanta, and his tackling may well have played a large part in their interest. The defender has made 54 tackles in 20 appearances in total over the season and committed just 11 fouls, with 5 yellow cards also a little misleading with regards to his discipline.

6. Phil Jagielka (Everton) - 5.1 tackles per foul

It's fair to say that England international Jagielka's average of 2 tackles per game isn't particularly outstanding but the cleanness with which he has won the ball is laudable. With an overall tally of 51 tackles this season the centre-back has been called up for just 10 fouls - an incredibly low figure for a player in his position, which has seen him pick up just 1 yellow card in 26 appearances.

 

Player Focus: Perfect Timing - Europe's Cleanest Tacklers

 

5. Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund) - 5.42 tackles per foul

At 24, Dortmund centre-back Hummels looks like being a mainstay in the German national side for many years to come and his form this season has been superb. The defender has won more tackles than any teammate (65) yet only Lukas Piszczek has committed fewer fouls per game than his lowly average of 0.6. He, like Jagielka, boasts an exceptional disciplinary record with just a single yellow card this season.

4. Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton) - 5.58 tackles per foul

Many saw Southampton's capture of Nathaniel Clyne as somewhat of a coup in the summer, with the young right-back attracting a number of suitors. If there were any who felt that his defensive game may need some work they have been muted during the course of the campaign and the 21 year old's tally of 67 tackles is the second most at the club, while he has committed just 12 fouls and received only 2 bookings.

3. Javier Zanetti (Inter) - 5.7 tackles per foul

The evergreen Javier Zanetti has made more league appearances for Inter than any other player this season at the age of 39, missing just one game thus far. It isn't hard to see why when looking at his statistics, with the versatile Argentinian committing just 12 fouls - the second fewest of regular outfielders at the club - despite making 57 tackles. He's picked up just 1 caution in the process.

2. Carlos Cuellar (Sunderland) - 7.63 tackles per foul

A free transfer from Aston Villa in the summer, Spaniard Cuellar has been reunited with Martin O'Neill and impressed in his first season in the North East. His average of 3.2 tackles per game is the most for the Black Cats but he has committed just 8 fouls - fewer than any outfield teammate to make more than 5 appearances. The 31 year old's timing is a real strength and only one player can better his remarkable record here.

1. Carlos Martinez (Real Sociedad) - 7.71 tackles per foul

Right-back Carlos Martinez has established his place in the Real Sociedad having shared playing time with Daniel Estrada for much of last season. The 26 year old has made the third most tackles (57) for the Spanish Europa League hopefuls but committed just 7 fouls all season. Such clean tackling has helped the defender to an excellent WhoScored rating of 7.63 - enough to see him take his place in the La Liga team of the season thus far.

Comments (3)

 
  • These numbers are skewed and should be adjusted for differences in style of play or referee-ing in each league. When you look at - for example - the ratio of tackles to fouls in each league, I bet there are massive differences. I didn't have the time to do a more in-depth calculation, but if you use the median team's number for fouls / tackles per game in each league, you'll find that there are more tackles/fouls in the PL (1.68) than in the Bundesliga (1.48). I'm sure these numbers are off, but indicate a solid trend - making some of the numbers presented above much more impressive (e.g., Mats Hummels) and others much less so (e.g., the PL players). Of course, there are plenty additional factors you can't control for, but this is one you should control for IMO.

  • I was always under the impression that Per Mertesacker was one of the cleanest tacklers, at least that was his reputation when he signed for Arsenal. Was that a misconception, or has he begun to foul relatively more often since joining the Gunners? Or has he simply made less than 50 tackles?

  • While everyone is focused on Angelo Obgonna, Torino apparently has an impressive Matteo Darmian flying under the radar. I hadn't heard of him until now.

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Mark Gower Blackburn Emanuele Calaiò Zlatan Ibrahimović Germán Denis Jose Jurado Nicolas Anelka Edgar Barreto Alexandre Song Shaun Wright-Phillips Nicolas Maurice-Belay Jhon Jairo Culma Kevin Anin Sebastien Corchia Kevin Theophile-Catherine FC Cologne Julien Feret Jaroslav Plasil Yann Jouffre Tomas Rincon Kevin Davies Giampiero Pinzi Tamas Hajnal Camel Meriem Frederic Bulot Gokhan Tore AS Nancy Gabriel Torje Lynel Kitambala Florent Sinama-Pongolle Idriss Saadi Oscar Trejo Botelho Juanlu Axel Bellinghausen Gonzalo Castro Andrea Cossu Marcel Schafer Marco Hoger Timothy Chandler Bolton Wanderers Ivan Klasnic Paris St Germain Wolverhampton Wanderers Wigan Athletic Micah Richards Javi Varas Blackburn Rovers Stephan Lichtsteiner Anotnio Cassano Scott Sinclair Nenad Milijas Anatoliy Tymoshchuk Luis Gustavo Ruud van Nistelrooy Benoit Cheyrou Lucho Gonzalez League Analysis Walter Samuel Christian Chivu AS Roma Stephen Warnock Martin Kelly Gary Caldwell Karl Henry Kevin Doyle England National Football Team Charlie Adam Javi Venta Vicente Iborra Sergio Ballesteros Bobby Zamora Jonas Gutierrez Dariusz Dudka Youssouf Hadji Christian Abbiati Alvaro Dominguez Phil Neville Senad Lulic Filip Daems Ezequiel Schelotto Victor Ruiz Jonathan Pereira Anthony Reveillere Santiago Gentiletti Cheikh Diabate Nicolas Spolli Luciano Fabian Monzon Mauricio Isla Ignazio Abate Titus Bramble Ritchie De Laet Leroy Lita Christian Lell Philipp Wollscheid Milivoje Novakovic Tottenhman Hotspur Johan Cavalli Eliseu Serdar Tasci Ryan Babel Aleksandar Ignjovski Chechu Dorado Djamel Mesbah Arsenal Swansea Ashely Williams Piscu Eden Dzeko Emmerson Boyce Auxerre Phil Bardsley Jose Bosingwa Gretar Steinsson Mattia Cassani Jonathan Woodgate Germany National Football Team Gasperini Mauro Zarate Diego Forlan Estaban Cambiasso Juraj Kucka Marco Faraoni Joel Obi Benedikt Howedes Clemens Fritz Chris Lowe Daniel van Buyten Albania Yann M’Vila Baptiste Reynet Angelo Palombo Eric Tie Bi Faouzi Ghoulam Chris Mavinga Anderson Aaron Hughes Chris Baird Raul Aly Cissokho Alessandro Del Piero Samir Handanovic France National Football Team Marc Tierney Bundelsiga Raul Bobadilla Loric Remy Jean Pascal Mignot Mainz 05 Schalke 04 Marcel Risse Steven Reid Danny Gabbidon Michal Kadlec Paulo Machado Ben Watson Spain National Football Team German National Football Team Bundeslgia Ricardo Carvalho Ivan Ramis Diego Colotto Sergio Fernandez Sere A Cesare Bovo Miguel Britos Bostjan Cesar Jose Angel Gabriel Heinze Chris Samba Charles N'Zogbia Yohan Demont Rod Fanni Rudy Mater Georgios Tzavellas Javier Pinola Dennis Aogo Daniel Schwaab Attacking Full-Backs Defensive Wingers 2010/11 Attacking Wingers Nicolas Douchez Under-21 Team of Season 2010-11 Maxi Rodriguez Scott Dann Crossing Wingers Under-21 Team of Season All-Round Midfielders Benoit Pedretti Rising Stars Kyle Walker Gaetano D'Agostino Centre Backs Paulo Da Silva Ivan Hernandez Eric Abidal Weligton Borja Ekiza Alassane Toure Stephane Grichting Jordan Loties Kader Mangane Adama Coulibaly Martin Stranzl Pedro Geromel Neven Subotic Christian Zapata Roger Johnson Stephan Lichsteiner Reto Ziegler David Vaughan Seb Larsson Asamoah Gyan Benoit Pedretti Anthony Mounier Mehmet Ekici Simao Duda Alvaro Cejudo Xabi Prieto Alexsandar Kolarov Guiseppe Mascara Simone Bentivoglio Fernando Marques Gian Piero Gasperin Thomas Hitzlsperger Rafael Van der Vaart Theofanis Gekas Gerard Asamoah Youssef Al Arabi Lisandro Loric Remy Victor Hugo Montano Edison Cavani Sergio Pellissier David Di Michele Steward Downing Spain Under 21 Felipe Caicedo Pierre Webo Youssef El-Arabi Brown Ideye Mobido Maiga Chu-Young Robin Van Persie Kevin Gamerio England U21 Udinese. Alexis Sanchez Pedro Sami Allagui Frédéric Kanouté Renato Augusto Jonathan Pitropia Eljero Elia Ivo Llicevic Fernando Muslera Diego Perez Alvaro González Abel Hernandez David VIlla Marcel Schmelzer Danijel Pranjic Holger Badstuber Sven Bender Johan Djourou Darren Fletcher Carlos Kameni Thiago Silve Antonia Di Natale Cristiano Zapata Domenico Criscito Luis Jimenez Josep Ilicic Samuel Eto’o Alexis Thébaux Ludovic Sané Mamouda Sakho Boukary Dramé Daniel Alves Nikolay Mihaylov Charles Puyol Ji-Sung Park Edwin van der Sar Dani Alves John O’Shea Park Ji-Jung Gabi Fernandez Jonathan de Guzman Michael Owen Gary Taylor-Fletcher Ian Evatt DJ Campbell Charles N’Zogbia Wolverhampton Robinho Rudi Garcia Avram Grant Conor Sammon Wayne Bridge Rob Green Victor Obinna Mike Hanke Borussia Munchengladbach VfL Bochum Tomasz Kuszczak Martin Olsson Brett Emerton Steven N’Zonzi Muset Ozil Gianpaolo Pazzini Leonardo Seydou Keita Miguel Pallardo Ibrahim Afellay Valdo Pallardo Damien Perquis Luka Modrid David SIlva Roberto Mancini Benoit Assou-Ekotto Vedran Corluka Carlo Ancelotti Saloman Kalou Clarence Seedorf Matteo Brighi Fabio Simplicio Rodrigo Taddei Mark Van Bommel Gennaro Gattuso Kevin Prince-Boateng Nicolas Burdisso Elkin Soto Pep Gaurdiola Lassana Diarra Antonio da Silva Robert Mak Heurelho Gomes Andre Marriner Pinto Alavro Arbeloa Alexander Hleb

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