William Saliba or Virgil Van Dijk? Analysing Best Centre Backs of Euro 2024 Semi Finals

William Saliba or Virgil Van Dijk? Analysing Best Centre Backs of Euro 2024 Semi Finals

Martin Moses
July 9, 2024 at 7:53 AM
In this article:
William Saliba logo
Arsenal logoDFrance logo
Virgil van Dijk logo
V. van Dijk
Liverpool logoDNetherlands logo
Marc Guehi logo
M. Guehi
Crystal Palace logoDEngland logo
UEFA European Championship logo
Aymeric Laporte logo
A. Laporte
Al Nassr FC logoDSpain logo
  • William Saliba will be out to keep another clean sheet when his France side comes up against Spain in the Euro 2024 semi-final
  • The Arsenal star has carried over his good Premier League form to Germany, helping the 2018 World Champions advance to the latter stages
  • Sports Brief compares and analyses four of the leading centre-backs of the Euro 2024 semi-finalists ahead of spicy encounters

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After two days of rest, Euro 2024 action will return on July 9 with another high-stakes encounter when Spain play France in Munich.

24 hours later, England will take on the Netherlands in Dortmund for a chance to play in the Sunday final in Berlin.

England, Marc Guehi, Virgil Van Dijk, William Saliba, Euro 2024, Aymeric Laporte
England players during a warm-up session in Blankenhain on July 8, 2024. Photo by Eddie Keogh - The FA.
Source: Getty Images

The tournament has had its fair share of exciting games, but the perceived big boys haven't lit up the tournament as initially expected. France, for instance, have somehow managed to reach the last four without scoring a single goal from open play.

England have had to carry the 'boring' tag since their first game against Serbia. Only Spain and Germany (already eliminated) have brought the oomph and colour to the tournament.

Yes, the goals haven't flowed as expected. Yes, the Kylian Mbappes or Cristiano Ronaldos or Harry Kanes might not have stepped up with classy performances, but it shouldn't be lost on us that a huge part of this is that most of the teams' backlines have been resolute.

Comparing the best defenders of Euro 2024 semi-finalists

The four semi-finalists have conceded a combined 11 goals, with the Netherlands taking the lion's share, having shipped in five goals. Sports Brief looks at the individual performances of the leading centre-backs of the four teams.

We analyse France's William Saliba, Spain's Aymeric Laporte, England's Marc Guehi, and Dutch captain Virgil Van Dijk using Squawka stats.

It is important to note Laporte missed Spain's first game through injury, while Guehi missed the quarter-final clash through suspension.

1. Passing

Saliba has been one of the best defenders in England over the last two seasons. It took him a while to convince Didier Deschamps to give him a starting spot in the Les Bleus team. He leads his opponents in passing accuracy, with the 23-year-old only misplacing about 4% of his passes. Guehi has a 92.86% passing accuracy.

However, when it comes to advancing the ball forward, Van Dijk takes the lead. The Liverpool star has attempted 114 successful forward passes, 11 more than his next challenger, Laporte.

2. Duels won

Van Dijk leads his peers in the number of aerial duels won. The towering defender has twice the number (18) than number two on the list, Guehi (9).

However, he takes a backseat in the ground duels, as both Laporte and Guehi have won seven each, compared to Van Dijk's five and Saliba's six.

3. Clearances/ Interceptions/ Ball recoveries

Arguably the most important metric to gauge the level of a defender. Van Dijk has made 30 clearances compared to Saliba's 24, Laporte's 16 and Guehi's 6.

No one has made more interceptions than Laporte. the former Manchester City defender has 4. Guehi leads the group in ball recoveries, with the Crystal Palace defender having 20. Slaiba has 19, while Laporte has 12 and Van Dijk 11.

4. Clean sheets

The goalkeepers would probably enjoy this metric more, but Saliba leads with four clean sheets while the rest have two each.

Adrien Rabiot: Yamal needs to do more

At the same time, Sports Brief has reported that Adrien Rabiot has challenged Lamine Yamal to do more ahead of France's semi-final clash against Spain.

Yamal has been one of the stand-out players at Euro 2024, but Rabiot wants to see more from the Barcelona star if he wants to take his side to the final.

No player has more assists than Yamal in the competition.

Martin Moses photo
Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)