The resumption of football in Europe's top five leagues still appears some way off due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving players with plenty of time to analyse their performances this season.

Using Opta data, we have already examined some of the worst attacking and passing numbers from 2019-20, so now it's the turn of the defence.

We have analysed nine metrics for defenders to have featured in at least 10 league games this season, thereby giving us a good summary of those whose defending could use some improvement.

The metrics include success rates in duels, tackling and aerial challenges, errors leading to shots and goals and how many times a player has been dribbled past by an opponent.

As always when it comes to data, context is key. For success rates in duels, tackling and aerial challenges we have only included players who have completed 20 actions in each category, which accounts to two per game.

The below therefore provides a good indication on where improvement is needed, and there are a few surprising names…

 

THE WORST DEFENDING STATS IN EUROPE'S TOP-FIVE LEAGUES 2019-20:

BUNDESLIGA:

Most tackles lost: William (29)
Worst tackle success: Alexander Hack (40.91 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Robin Koch (3)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Robin Koch (3)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: William (32)
Most duels lost: Stefan Lainer (125)
Worst duel success: Julian Ryerson (35 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Robin Koch and Sven Bender (56)
Worst aerial success: Christian Gunter (22.86 per cent)

LALIGA:

Most tackles lost: Pervis Estupinan (34)
Worst tackle success: Nacho Monreal (40 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Joseph Aidoo and Sergio Ramos (2)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Pervis Estupinan (5)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Marc Cucurella (35)
Most duels lost: Marc Cucurella (167)
Worst duel success: Daniel Carrico (40.3 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Didac Vila (55)
Worst aerial success: Xavi Quintilla (25.71 per cent)

LIGUE 1:

Most tackles lost: Boubacar Kamara (33)
Worst tackle success: Lionel Carole (34.78 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Sofiane Alakouch, Timothee Kolodziejczak and Stefan Mitrovic (2)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Wesley Fofana, Alexander Djiku and Malang Sarr (4)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Arturo Calabresi (42)
Most duels lost: Issiaga Sylla (161)
Worst duel success: Colin Dagba (40 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Pablo Martinez (59)
Worst aerial success: Hamza Mendyl (17.39 per cent)

PREMIER LEAGUE:

Most tackles lost: Ricardo Pereira (50)
Worst tackle success: Calum Chambers (38.46 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Jan Bednarek (3)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Jan Bednarek, Tyrone Mings, John Egan, Davinson Sanchez and James Tarkowski (4)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Ricardo Pereira (53)
Most duels lost: Ricardo Pereira (215)
Worst duel success: Benjamin Mendy (37.38 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Ben Mee (84)
Worst aerial success: Max Aarons (26.09 per cent)

SERIE A:

Most tackles lost: Matteo Darmian (32)
Worst tackle success: Andrea Cistana (40 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Jhon Chancellor, Fabio Lucioni, Jose Luis Palomino, Alex Sandro (2)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Fabio Lucioni (5)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Stefano Sabelli (40)
Most duels lost: Giovanni Di Lorenzo (126)
Worst duel success: Hans Hateboer (40.63 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Mattia Bani (57)
Worst aerial success: Jeremy Toljan (28.00 per cent)

AND THE TOP NINE:

Most tackles lost: Ricardo Pereira (50)
Worst tackle success: Lionel Carole (34.78 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Robin Koch and Jan Bednarek (3)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Pervis Estupinan and Fabio Lucioni (5)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Ricardo Pereira (53)
Most duels lost: Ricardo Pereira (215)
Worst duel success: Julian Ryerson (35 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Ben Mee (84)
Worst aerial success: Hamza Mendyl (17.39 per cent)

Real Madrid have seemingly set their sights on Eduardo Camavinga, and it may be one of several changes at the LaLiga club.

Camavinga, 17, has been linked to several European giants after impressing for Rennes.

The teenage midfielder is a target for Madrid, who could be set for sweeping changes in the close season.

 

TOP STORY – CAMAVINGA THE PREFERENCE FOR REAL MADRID

Camavinga is the preference for Real Madrid as it is likely to prove tough to land Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, according to Marca.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is also keen to avoid becoming too reliant on Casemiro, the report says.

Camavinga has made 25 Ligue 1 appearances for Rennes this season, including 24 starts.

ROUND-UP

- It may be just one of several changes at Real Madrid. AS reports there must be exits if players are to come in, with James Rodriguez, Gareth Bale, Lucas Vazquez and Mariano Diaz potentially leaving. The futures of Nacho Fernandez, Marcelo, Luka Modric and Brahim Diaz are also uncertain.

- Staying at Real Madrid and AS reports the coronavirus pandemic may impact what the club do with Martin Odegaard. The Norway international was expected to spend another season on loan at Real Sociedad but could return ahead of the next campaign as clubs become stricter with their finances.

- Diego Costa has scored just twice in 19 games for Atletico Madrid this season and could be set for a move. Sport reports Roma are interested in the 31-year-old forward.

- Achraf Hakimi appears likely to return to Real Madrid from his loan at Borussia Dortmund. However, the Mirror reports Chelsea have enquired about the defender.

- After impressing with Wolves in the Premier League, Raul Jimenez is attracting interest. Sport reports the Mexico forward could return to LaLiga, with Real Madrid and former club Atletico Madrid interested.

- Out of contract at the end of the season, Pedro is poised to leave Chelsea. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports Lazio are interested in the attacker.

The Copa del Rey final between Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao has been postponed due to coronavirus pandemic, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has confirmed.

Basque sides Sociedad and Athletic were due to play for the trophy in Seville on April 18 but the match has been pushed back by the RFEF, Stats Perform understands

According to reports in the Spanish media, the game is set to be rescheduled for May 30.

At least the next two matchdays in Spain's top two tiers will be played behind closed doors due to the proliferation of COVID-19, though the national footballers' union has requested matches be suspended.

The RFEF also announced on Wednesday that all non-professional men's and women's football and futsal matches have been postponed for two weeks.

According to the World Health Organisation, Spain has seen 1,639 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 36 deaths.

Barcelona coach Quique Setien insisted he was happy with Frenkie de Jong's form, but said the LaLiga giants were perhaps asking for too much from the midfielder.

De Jong has faced some criticism for his performances since arriving at the club from Ajax for a reported €75million ahead of this season.

The midfielder, who has scored two goals and provided three assists in 37 games this season, played 90 minutes in Barca's 1-0 LaLiga win over Real Sociedad on Saturday.

Asked about De Jong afterwards, Setien said he was satisfied with the 22-year-old Netherlands international.

"I see Frenkie in quite a good place," he told a news conference.

"This doesn't just apply to Frenkie, but if you analyse all the players down to fine detail you'll always see some things that certain players can improve on, or every player can. Some decisions can have an impact on the game. As long as it's a good technical decision, that's what's important. That sometimes happens where a decision can be the wrong one or not.

"Frenkie gives us a lot. He helps us out a great deal. It's true that perhaps we might ask a little bit too much from him, as we demand excellence from our players and it's never easy when you're facing a team like we did [on Saturday]. It's not easy at all.

"Our players' characteristics are not really designed for an intense high press compared to Real Sociedad and that's what we struggled with and when they managed to play to their strengths they made us suffer. But that also happened to them.

"At the end of the day, in general I am happy with how the team played and how Frenkie played."

Barcelona moved top of the LaLiga table, two points clear of rivals Real Madrid, who visit Real Betis on Sunday.

Left-back Jordi Alba was disappointed to hear jeers among the Barcelona supporters as they struggled to break down Real Sociedad, prompting a response when he appeared to have scored.

Barca ran out 1-0 winners at Camp Nou as Lionel Messi's late penalty ended La Real's six-match winning run in all competitions.

Sociedad are one of LaLiga's form teams, but there was little patience with the home side as they toiled for a time.

Alba noted prominent early whistles from the fans, and so the Spain international stuck his fingers in his ears as he found the net in stoppage time, only for the goal to be ruled out.

"I respect the fans but the fans have to respect me," he explained afterwards. "Nobody likes to be whistled, and less so after 15 minutes at 0-0.

"It's true that we have to improve a lot of things but the attitude is good."

Head coach Quique Setien, nodding to La Real's quality, added: "The team have not lost confidence at all, but the fans do not contemplate that the opponent can dominate you.

"I give La Real a lot of credit. We have done many things well. We have had more chances than them.

"You end up being in the lead because you're better, but it's getting more even. La Real have three or four players who could play perfectly in Barcelona."

Barca moved top of the table at least until rivals Real Madrid face Real Betis on Sunday, although Setien suggests victory for Zinedine Zidane's side is not a given.

"We overcame a difficult game and now it's they who have a difficult game in Seville," Setien said.

Gerard Pique has defended Barcelona assistant Eder Sarabia for his foul-mouthed rant in El Clasico and insisted the players welcome his intense approach in the dugout.

Barca returned to winning ways with a 1-0 triumph over Real Sociedad on Saturday, six days after their desperately disappointing LaLiga loss to rivals Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu.

Ahead of the clash with Sociedad, head coach Quique Setien described the focus on Sarabia's outburst against his players during the Clasico as "a bit embarrassing" and urged his assistant to show control.

Setien also apologised to the squad, but Pique stressed that was not necessary after playing the full match at Camp Nou.

"The assistant coach is full of adrenaline and intensity which manifested itself in this way at the Bernabeu, but it is all completely normal for us," Pique said after Lionel Messi's late penalty gave Barca victory.

"All the players discussed it in the dressing room. The boss apologised and we told him that nothing had come from us; if anything it [the controversy] related to the image of the club.

"What's more, we like that there's intensity in the dugout and they are living [the game] too.

"When the club is weak, these types of things come up. A few weeks ago, the talk was about the players not having a huddle before the game because of the change of coach, then it was the warm-up was different.

"It's the same thing. It's another story that happens after a defeat and you always have to go out and deny it. [Sarabia's behaviour] is completely normal."

Pique was relieved to get the job done against a Real Sociedad team who had won six straight matches coming into the clash.

"We knew it was going to be very tough because we are coming from the defeat at the Bernabeu and they are having an exceptional season and they've reached the final of the Copa," said the Spain defender.

"It wasn't going to be easy; they play good football, we try to, and the game was decided by the small details.

"Some hands inside the penalty area have given us the three very important points that are going to help us fight for the title."

Sarabia had also addressed the topic prior to the match and insisted he will remain passionate in his approach.

"My spirit will never change," he said to Movistar. "It's more about ways [of doing things] than the substance.

"It's true that we have to set an example for lot of people, for children. We have to be careful with certain things.

"But I'm going to keep experiencing football intensely, I'm proud to be the way that I am and I'll keep it up, keep working and keep going."

Lionel Messi scored a late penalty as Barcelona shook off a post-Clasico hangover and edged to a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad at Camp Nou.

Having lost first place in their defeat to rivals Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu six days ago, Barca took the chance to return to the summit, albeit in an unconvincing Camp Nou victory on Saturday.

Messi came into the contest having failed to score in six of his last seven games but he converted the crucial spot-kick with nine minutes remaining after a VAR review adjudged Robin Le Normand had handled a left-wing cross.

Madrid now trail by two points but have the chance to reclaim top spot in Sunday's match against Barca head coach Quique Setien's former club Real Betis.

Barcelona midfielder Arthur will miss Saturday's LaLiga match with Real Sociedad due to an ankle injury.

The champions confirmed on Friday that Arthur has begun treatment on the problem, which could reportedly keep him sidelined for up to three weeks.

The news is a blow to Barca coach Quique Setien, who is already without Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele and Sergi Roberto for the visit of Sociedad.

Youngsters Riqui Puig and Alex Collado have been called up to the 18-man squad for the meeting at Camp Nou.

Arthur could now be a doubt for Barca's Champions League last-16 clash with Napoli on March 18, with the first leg in Italy having finished 1-1.

The 23-year-old was included in Tite's Brazil squad for their World Cup qualifying matches against Bolivia and Peru this month, despite his injury.

Lionel Messi's lean spell in front of goal is not causing Quique Setien to panic, with the Barcelona coach insisting "it could happen to anyone".

The usually prolific Messi has failed to score in six of his last seven games and was a peripheral figure in Sunday's 2-0 Clasico loss to Real Madrid.

That uncharacteristically unproductive run of form for Messi has coincided with Barca losing top spot in LaLiga, being knocked out of the Copa del Rey and being held to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Napoli.

However, speaking ahead of Saturday's home match with Real Sociedad, Setien claimed to be entirely unconcerned by Messi's apparent downturn.

"I don't care that he didn't score recently," said Setien. "If he scored it would be better, but it has never bothered me.

"It could happen to Leo or anyone. He is having chances and that is the important thing, that chances are generated. 

"He has been scoring goals for 14 years, if he now has a period in which he scores less it is not important."

Quique Setien insists Barcelona's Clasico defeat will not knock them off course as they seek to regain top spot in LaLiga on Saturday.

Barca were lacklustre in a 2-0 loss to Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu last weekend, with Zinedine Zidane's side replacing them at the summit.

The reigning champions have come under even closer scrutiny after assistant coach Eder Sarabia's expletive-laden outburst during the game, which Setien admitted was "a bit embarrassing".

With pressure building on the coach's shoulders, the visit of a Real Sociedad side enjoying a six-match winning run, including a Copa del Rey semi-final triumph, presents a significant challenge for Setien, who is nonetheless upbeat.

"I am calm because I know that we are going to face the game having got over the [Real Madrid] defeat," he said, with Barca a point behind a Madrid team who do not play until Sunday.

"There are no sequels of the Clasico. We are aware that we generated seven scoring chances, which is a significant number. That defeat will not affect us.

"I understand that it is very difficult for Barca and Madrid to win everything until the end.

"The league is very complicated, it is very difficult to win the matches against any team. We are motivated to keep the pace we want."

On the subject of the under-fire Sarabia, Setien said there was no need for his assistant to change his ways, but conceded he should moderate his language.

"He will be as he always has been," said Setien. "He just has to control the way he expresses himself a bit, but he will keep his character and that's it."

Setien will be without Arthur, who has suffered an ankle injury, but the coach does not know how long the midfielder will be out for. 

"He has pain, some discomfort, and we have to see how he evolves with the treatment," said Setien.

Imanol Alguacil hopes Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao can join Real Sociedad in the Copa del Rey final after his side's 3-1 aggregate defeat of Mirandes.

La Real held a 2-1 lead from the first leg at home, and captain Mikel Oyarzabal's first-half penalty was enough for an away victory and a place in the final.

It will be Sociedad's first Copa final in 32 years, yet head coach Imanol acknowledges it would be even more special if Athletic can also progress.

Athletic visit Granada in their second leg on Thursday after winning the home clash 1-0.

Imanol said: "Of course, I want Athletic because it would be very nice for the Basque Country.

"I also like Diego [Martinez]'s Granada for what they are doing in LaLiga, but it would be very nice to have a Basque final."

Victory at Mirandes was La Real's sixth in succession across all competitions, but Imanol is confident there is more to come, with a trip to Barcelona up next in LaLiga.

"It is very difficult to put into words how one feels after reaching a final after so many years," Imanol said. "We have made a great cup campaign, winning all the matches. I want to thank everyone who has supported us.

"The most important thing now is the final. Our responsibility is to win that final and I will not rest easy. But we can win it and do something important in LaLiga.

"This is the year and we have created this opportunity. The best is still yet to come."

Real Sociedad reached the Copa del Rey final for the first time since 1988 as a 1-0 win at Mirandes on Wednesday clinched a 3-1 aggregate semi-final triumph.

The two-time Copa winners have been in outstanding form in recent weeks, climbing to sixth in LaLiga, and a sixth straight win in all competitions ended a 32-year wait to return the showpiece.

La Real will now face either Granada or Athletic Bilbao - in action on Thursday, with Sociedad's Basque rivals 1-0 up - next month after building on a narrow home lead against second-tier Mirandes.

Imanol Alguacil's side still did not quite hit the heights of their stunning quarter-final triumph at Real Madrid, but inspirational captain Mikel Oyarzabal tucked away his second penalty of the tie four minutes before half-time, and Mirandes could not recover.

Nacho Monreal hung up an early cross and Adnan Januzaj directed a towering header from it just wide, but the game's next effort of note did not follow until Limones parried clear Willian Jose's powerful 20-yard drive with 26 minutes on the clock.

That attempt came amid an improved spell from the visitors, and they had their breakthrough before the break after Mickael Malsa blocked Joseba Zaldua's cross with his arm.

Skipper Oyarzabal kept his nerve from 12 yards, sending Limones the wrong way to stretch La Real's aggregate lead and cancel out their opponents' away goal.

Januzaj went agonisingly close to a second shortly after the restart, but his swirling strike from wide on the right crashed away off the crossbar after beating Limones.

Chances were scarce at the other end, however, and Alex Remiro pounced on Matheus Aias' tame close-range header as Sociedad eased to victory, with a stoppage-time second from substitute Alexander Isak disallowed for offside.


What does it mean? Sociedad set for season of success

La Real have hit form at a great time. They are firmly in the hunt for Champions League qualification through LaLiga due to their winning run, and now a major honour is also in their sights. Sociedad will fancy their chances against either potential final opponent, but a clash with rivals Athletic would be particularly special.

Captain keeps his cool

Each leg of this tie was balanced, yet Oyarzabal stepped up with a key strike from the penalty spot on both occasions. Sociedad needed a goal before half-time and, sure enough, their skipper - the team's chief creative force throughout - dispatched the spot-kick.

Franquesa found wanting

It could quite easily have been Januzaj, not Oyarzabal, who proved Sociedad's semi-final hero. The winger gave left-back Enric Franquesa a torrid time. The gulf between the teams was evident each time the defender was isolated, and better end product from Januzaj might well have led to further goals.

What's next?

La Real's attention returns to LaLiga and a top-four bid, with champions Barcelona up next on Saturday. Mirandes have a more modest trip to Alcorcon on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola's future at Manchester City continues to dominate discussions – and it seemingly still remains unclear.

Talk around the Spaniard has intensified after City were handed a two-season Champions League ban by UEFA for "serious breaches" of Financial Fair Play rules, although they deny wrongdoing and intend to appeal.

But will Guardiola, who is contracted at the Etihad Stadium until 2021, stay or go?

 

TOP STORY – GUARDIOLA TO STAY AT MAN CITY DESPITE BAN

Guardiola will remain at City next season whether they have their ban overturned or not, according to the Mirror.

However, Tuttosport reports the chances of the former Barcelona head coach leaving City are "70 per cent".

Guardiola has reportedly suggested previously he intends to honour his contract at City.

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea are making their move for Jadon Sancho. France Football reports the Premier League club have started talks with the Borussia Dortmund star, who has attracted interest from numerous European giants, including Manchester United.

- Staying at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea are set to pay £23million (€27.7m) for Inter midfielder Matias Vecino at the end of the season, according to the Daily Express.

- After strong links during the close season, Bayern Munich's interest in Manchester City attacker Leroy Sane has cooled, according to Kicker. Sane tore his anterior cruciate ligament in August.

- Staying at Bayern and Kicker reports the Bundesliga giants are keeping tabs on Liverpool's interest in RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner. Werner has been linked with the European giants after scoring 20 goals in 22 Bundesliga games this season.

- Alexander Isak's form for Real Sociedad this season is leading to interest, but Mundo Deportivo reports clubs wanting the forward at the end of the campaign must pay €70m. Former club Borussia Dortmund reportedly have an option to buy Isak for €30m, but that only comes into play in 2021.

- Real Valladolid defender Mohammed Salisu has impressed this season and the 20-year-old is on Atletico Madrid's radar, according to Marca.

Eibar's LaLiga game against Real Sociedad on Sunday has been postponed due to air contamination.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation's competition committee made the decision to call off the fixture due to a landfill fire near Eibar.

A letter from the Basque government's deputy minister for health warned against sports activities being performed due to "high levels of chemical compounds detected in the air".

The teams have until Tuesday to agree a new date.

Real Sociedad scraped past second-tier Mirandes at Anoeta on Thursday to claim a narrow 2-1 first-leg advantage in their Copa del Rey semi-final.

La Real stunned Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in the previous round, but Mirandes had knocked out three LaLiga teams en route to the last four and caused concern for top-flight opposition once more.

Captain Mikel Oyarzabal dispatched a ninth-minute spot-kick for Sociedad, yet they were pegged back by Matheus Aias and scarcely deserved the second Martin Odegaard lashed in to restore their lead before the interval.

The second period brought marginal improvement in the home ranks but no further goals, leaving the tie in the balance ahead of the return fixture next month.

Sociedad's opener came only after Alex Remiro was forced into a smart, low stop from Martin Merquelanz with just five minutes on the clock.

Portu earned a penalty as Odei Onaindia dallied in the area and allowed the home winger to get between man and ball before going down, and Oyarzabal coolly converted from 12 yards.

Mirandes deservedly levelled six minutes before half-time, as Mickael Malsa pounced on some careless play 20 yards from goal and fed Matheus Aias, the striker twisting to send in a low shot that deflected beyond Remiro.

But Sociedad responded swiftly. Limones spilled Odegaard's powerful drive but recovered well to block Portu's follow-up, only for the Real Madrid loanee to rifle in a second rebound.

Matheus Aias blazed over from close range heading into the break, while there were big saves at either end following the restart, Limones denying Portu before Remiro parried an Antonio Sanchez strike.

The two goalkeepers were largely underworked thereafter until Limones superbly turned away a header from one of his own defenders in the fourth minute of stoppage time, teeing up an intriguing second leg at Estadio Municipal de Anduva.


What does it mean? Sociedad warned

Mirandes' earlier exploits in this competition meant La Real had no excuse as they faced this stern examination, surely well aware of the threat their opposition posed. The LaLiga side still struggled to get to grips with Merquelanz and Alvaro Rey, though, and must be better in the return leg to get the job done.

Martin up for the cup

Odegaard is enjoying a fine season in San Sebastian, and he has saved some of his best performances for this cup run. His third goal in the competition this term came at a crucial time, while a gorgeous pass early in the second half set Portu through, the busy wide man unable to beat Limones for a two-goal lead that might have put the tie beyond Mirandes.

Lacking in key areas

On the balance of play - particularly in the first half - Mirandes were good value for at least a draw from this first leg, but shortcomings at either end of the pitch proved costly. Onaindia paid the price as he reacted slowly to a ball into the box and felled Portu, while Matheus Aias, despite scoring a fortunate equaliser, missed one big opportunity.

What's next?

Focus returns to league action for the coming weeks, with La Real visiting Eibar on Sunday as Mirandes host Albacete. The two sides reconvene for the Copa second leg at Mirandes on March 4.

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