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Defensive air challenges: Marcelo ahead of Maguire and van Dijk

Marcelo Guedes (Olympique Lyonnais) heads the big-5 league rankings of players having won the highest percentage of defensive air challenges in domestic league matches this season: 136 out of 159 (85.5%). The Brazilian outranks three English Premier League players: Harry Maguire, Virgil van Dijk and Shane Duffy. The top 50s for the big-5 and 26 other European competitions are available in issue number 259 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post.

The top ranked players for the remaining big-5 European leagues are Dimitrios Siovas (CD Leganés), 37-year-old Bruno Alves (Parma) and Mats Hummels (Bayern). Three other world champions are in the top 50 table: the Spaniards Gerard Piqué and Sergio Ramos, as well as the French Raphaël Varane. Only footballers with at least 80 challenges according to the statistics provided by our partners InStat were included in the analysis.

Heart of Midlothian’s centre back Christophe Berra heads the table for players in the other 26 competitions surveyed. The Scottish won 233 of his 268 defensive aerial challenges: 86.9%. He outranks three other central defenders: Felipe Augusto (FC Porto), Jake Cooper (Millwall) and the captain of the French Ligue 2 club of Clermont Foot Julien Laporte. The top ranked full back is the Dutch full international Denzel Dumfries (PSV Eindhoven).