Past four of our series analysing Barcelona and Real Madrid's squads reaches the experienced central defenders...They are the lords of the two defences in Spain. Both have collected some of the biggest titles on the continent, Premier League, La Liga, Champions League, and so on. They are undisputed international selections, and they defend the colours of Barcelona and Real Madrid. They are Carles Puyol and Ricardo Carvalho, two of the best defenders in the league.
When you talk about Barcelona, you talk about Carles Puyol; commitment, strength and effort. The Barca captain has helped the club become the champion of everything, and at 32 years old remains a benchmark in Pep Guardiola's team.
Playing alongside Pique, the two of them ensured that Barcelona have conceded the fewest goals in Spain over the last two seasons, and in addition to the fact that they are also world champions.
Placement, speed and power among other things sets him apart. Not surprisingly, he has been selected for UEFA's Best XI five times, and three more in international competitions. In 2010, he has been shortlisted among the 23 players vying for the Ballon d'Or.
Across the field is Ricardo Carvalho, who unlike Puyol, only arrived in Spain this summer, having triumphed in England and Portugal with Chelsea and Porto respectively. In London he partnered John Terry, in what has been one of the best central defensive pairings of the last decade.
At 32, he has shown the positional sense and leadership that saw him jump to the world stage after winning the Champions League with Porto in 2004. In the recent derby win over Atletico, he was the undisputed star with a goal and a perfect performance against Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero.
This year Raul Albiol has been relegated to the bench. Mourinho trusts in him, to the extent that he has started all eleven games this season, scoring two goals. He has experience and great leadership qualities – just like Carles Puyol.
| Carles Puyol
|| Ricardo Caralho
||11 games||11 starts||
|Cards||2 cards||2 yellow
||3 cards||3 yellow||0 red|