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Onto Varane. Varane’s popularity has risen considerably this season, immensely more due to last night’s performance at the Camp Nou, absolutely manhandling Messi and scoring a bullet header sealing Madrid’s memorable victory.
Varane, who stands at a sturdy 6 ft 3, is a considerably physically-representable defender who, much like Nastasic, is extremely well built. Varane, who is 19, and is still blooming into his future physical prime, is excessively fast for a built center back. His ability to change speed and direction in an almost instantaneous fashion is compelling for a defender of such build; rarely do we see any defender, let alone at such a young age, master their speed to be their class attribute.
Due to his highly capable speed, stamina, agility and physical prowess, many strikers will struggle against him, of all sizes and technique, as he showed last night, constantly defiling Messi of the ball, with clever nicks and tackles.
For me, Varane’s best and most excessively used attribute is his ability to read the game. A defender must have basic abilities to be a natural physical presence, aerial threat, capable of tackling/positioning and most definitely having the mental capability to understand and read passages of opposition play. Obviously, as you play more, you gain more. For someone who is just 19, Varane has an exceptional adaptation to reading passages of attacking play from the opposing teams. His ability to spot the threat, target it, and finally neutralise it, is that much similar to that of legend Fabio Cannavaro (who had to excel in this aspect, as he wasn’t as physically fortuitous as other defenders).
Varane, who joins Nastasic, as the ever-growing ‘new’ breed of technically enhanced defenders, is one of my favorite defenders to watch. His execution-ate ability to make precise passes and clever-non-rushed clearances without slowing down play is that which managers aspire to find in exceptional midfielders; having it in a quality center-back is a dream that only few make reality.
Down to the analysis comparison (La Liga/Premier League stats).
Starting with Varane. Varane has had a total of 9 appearances so far for Madrid this season. The player, not surprisingly, has been able to create two goal scoring opportunities for the Galacticos, which however, weren’t converted. Varane having an average passing accuracy of 84% overall is that of an extremely high level for a defender having over 200 passes.
Nastasic has had 16 appearances in the league for City this season, contributing little to nothing going forward. Nastasic, however, proving he, so far, is the more technically adept out of the two with 86% passing accuracy with over 600 passes. This proving he, by almost having double the appearances, he has made triple the amount of passes and still attained a higher passing average. This makes Nastasic, statistically, the better defender of technicality.
As you can see the pair have their advantages over each over in various outlooks of their defensive statistics. In my opinion it is an equal positioning between the two statistically as, I consider the two key attributes of tackling and heading duels, are clearly won at one a piece.
Varane who has only made 7 successful tackles with that at 70% compared to Nastasic’s 95% with 25/26 completed, Nastasic is clearly the more dominant defender in winning tackles having flustered Varane in comparison. Varane has obviously played less games, so his statistics will vary to those of Nastasic’s, making this difficult in comparison of numbers. Fouls committed: I don’t consider a true aspect of defending, as tactical fouls, compared to malicious, cannot be drawn from one another, so they are void. And obviously taking on is also invalid for a defender, as… well, obvious reasons.
Finally, headed dueling is clearly won in percentage by Varane with a solid 80% compared to Nastasic’s 64%. However, the La Liga is renowned for representing smaller forwards to the Premier League, so there may be some intake on that situation, however, there is no doubt Varane is seen a dominant aerial threat.
Overall, they are both clearly astounding and world-class defenders. Only being 19 and as inexperienced as they are, they will become two of the worlds greatest center backs we have come to know in this day and age of modern football.
But who is better?
Personally, I would go with Nastasic, statistic-wise. His statistic’s obviously prove he is a reliable and consistent counter-half to many strikers. However, Varane, as of late has impressed me more and has put in absolutely astounding performances, and from that I’m tempted to say him, so by cancellation, I’d have to go with an equal pressing.
Written by Trequartister