Best La Liga defenders: Weekend clean sheet picks

With the top three in La Liga all at home this weekend, Barcelona, Girona and Real Madrid will be targeting clean sheets and three points. We’ve picked out three of the best La Liga defenders, with one from each of those clubs and taken a look at how their stats compare this term.

Ronald Araujo
Ronald Araujo and Marc Andre ter Stegen – Photo by Icon Sport

Three of the best La Liga defenders – Stat comparison

Ronald Araujo, Barcelona

Barcelona haven’t been as defensively solid this season as they were last term when they cruised to the title and nearly broke a host of defensive records along the way. The absence of keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen during the middle phase of the campaign was certainly a factor in that but on paper, they still have a really strong back four with Ronald Araujo perhaps the pick of the bunch.

He really cemented his status as one of the best La Liga defenders during a stellar 2022/23 campaign and despite criticism at times this season, his numbers for a host of key defensive metrics have actually increased.

The Uruguayan averages 1.01 tackles won per 90 minutes in La Liga this term with a 69.2% tackle success rate. He also averages 0.95 blocks and 3.07 clearances per 90 minutes with all of those figures an improvement on last season.

Araujo appears to have shaken off an injury and could feature against Las Palmas this weekend. Barcelona look likely to keep a clean sheet in the game with the Canary Islanders having been beaten to nil in every league match they’ve played away to top eight opposition this season.

Best La Liga defenders
Daley Blind does battle with Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann in January – Photo by Icon Sport

Daley Blind, Girona

Much has been made about Girona’s exciting young team with the likes of Savio rightly grabbing the headlines. However the addition of experienced defender Daley Blind on a free transfer was arguably the best piece of business that the Catalans did last summer.

Blind has brought a calmness and stability to the back line which has helped the younger players to thrive around him. He’s averaging 3.5 clearances per game which is more than any of his teammates but the Dutchman isn’t a big physical central defender like Araujo.

It’s more his sense of positioning and organisation skills that have been useful while his ball playing skills have also made him a natural fit in Michel’s team. The 34 year old has an excellent 89.7% pass completion rate in La Liga 2023/24 and they’ve not all been safe, short balls with Blind averaging 0.6 key passes per game which is impressive for a central defender.

While it’s true that Girona have faded slightly in recent weeks, they remain in a really strong position to finish in the top four of La Liga and qualify for the Champions League. They host Real Betis this weekend which is far from a certain clean sheet for Blind and his team, but they are strong at Montilivi and have shut their opponents out in 50% of their home league fixtures.

Best La Liga defenders - rudiger
Antonio Rudiger has been Real Madrid's most dependable central defender – Photo by Icon Sport

Antonio Rudiger, Real Madrid

Perhaps the outstanding defender in La Liga this season has been Antonio Rudiger at Real Madrid. With Eder Militao and David Alaba both sustaining ACL injuries, central defence had the potential to be a real problem area for Carlo Ancelotti but it’s testament to how good Rudiger has been that Los Blancos head into matchday 30 with comfortably the best defensive record in the division.

They’ve conceded six fewer goals than any other team and the German has held the defence together at times, starting 24 of his team’s 29 games, losing just once. Rudiger is the highest ranked Real Madrid defender in terms of clearances and blocks per game with 2.5 and 0.7 respectively on average in La Liga this term.

He’s going to have a key role to play as Los Blancos target league and European silverware over the next two months, although he could soon have some help from Eder Militao who is close to fitness again. 

Rudiger is in action against Athletic Club this weekend and with the Basques likely to have one eye on next weekend’s Copa del Rey Final, our La Liga betting tips suggest a home clean sheet is possible.

Mark is a freelance football writer based in Madrid. He regularly attends and covers La Liga matches around Spain, whilst also following football across Europe.