Defensive strength is often the foundation on which title challenges are built and there have been some miserly backlines in Europe’s top five leagues this season.
As the season approaches the run-in, we’ve looked at the five European teams who have conceded the least league goals in the current campaign to date.
Real Madrid – 15 goals conceded
Real Madrid took control of the La Liga title race at the weekend as the league leaders thrashed second-placed Girona to move five points clear at the top. While summer signing Jude Bellingham has commanded much of the headlines this season, a water-tight defence has been the bedrock of the club’s challenge to reclaim the championship from Barcelona.
Despite the absence of Eder Militao and other senior defenders through injury, Real Madrid have conceded just 15 goals in La Liga so far this season. Aurélien Tchouaméni and Dani Carvajal have deputised out of position at centre-back in recent weeks, without compromising the solidity of the side.
— Madrid Zone (@theMadridZone) February 12, 2024
Juventus – 15 goals conceded
Juventus appear back on the up after a disappointing seventh-place finish in Serie A last season, with Massimiliano Allegri’s side second in the table and pushing for a Champions League return.
The Bianconeri boast the second-best defensive record in the division with only 15 goals conceded. Gleison Bremer has been an impressive performer in central defence, ranking fourth in Serie A for clearances (98) and third for aerial duels won (68). The 26-year-old is aiming for a third consecutive inclusion in the Serie A Team of the Year.
Bayer Leverkusen – 14 goals conceded
Bayer Leverkusen have been one of the stories of the season in Europe’s top five leagues, storming to the top of the Bundesliga table under Xabi Alonso.
Leverkusen lead all the teams in Europe’s top leagues for passes, short passes, and high turnovers per game, impressing with their possession-dominant approach and strong defensive record.
Alonso’s side have conceded just 14 goals this season, with the Spaniard utilising a flexible backline to great success. Leverkusen took a huge step towards a maiden Bundesliga title at the weekend, after beating title rivals Bayern Munich 3-0 to open up a five-point lead.
Nice – 14 goals conceded
Nice have the joint second-best defensive record in Europe as the club target Champions League football this season.
The French side have not competed in the European Cup/Champions League proper since 1960, but are on course for qualification under emerging head coach Francesco Farioli. The 34-year-old has led the side to second in the table, despite scoring just 22 goals from their 21 games.
J.C. TODIBO 🇫🇷🦅 pic.twitter.com/cFA4ENkX0b
— Ligue 1 English (@Ligue1_ENG) August 27, 2023
A record of only 14 conceded has kept Nice in contention for Europe’s elite, with goalkeeper Marcin Bulka leading Ligue 1 for clean sheets. Nice’s defensive performances are likely to increase interest in centre-back Jean-Clair Todibo, who has been backed for a move to the Premier League.
Inter Milan – 12 goals conceded
Inter Milan boast the best defensive record in Europe this season, conceding just 12 goals in Serie A.
Simeone Inzaghi’s side reached the Champions League final with a strong defensive record last season and have built on that this time around, despite the summer losses of Milan Skriniar and Andre Onana.
Yann Sommer has been an astute addition in goal with the veteran leading Europe’s top five leagues for clean sheets (14) and save percentage (84.4%) this season.
🧤 Statement: made 🧤
— Lega Serie A (@SerieA_EN) September 14, 2023
Inter are seven points clear at the top of the table, with a game in hand, after beating second-placed Juventus 1-0 last weekend.