The Best Center-Back Duos Of All Time

Nemanja Vidic, one of the toughest players to ever lace up the boots, called it a career Friday.

After making a name for himself at Red Star Belgrade and Spartak Moscow, Vidic spent eight decorated years at Manchester United.

While with United, Vidic won the Premier league five times and lifted the Champions League trophy one memorable night in Moscow.

In honor of Vidic’s retirement, we decided to take a look at the best center-back duos in football history at the club level.

Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister

bruce - pallister

The two players in the first great center-back duo of the Alex Ferguson era were affectionately known as “Dolly and Daisy.”

Bruce, the current Hull City manager, was the tough, no-nonsense one. He was never afraid to go into a tackle and was dominant in the air.

Pallister was technically gifted and could play the ball out of the back with ease. His positional sense and ability to read the game paired perfectly with Bruce’s tenacious style.

The duo helped Manchester United end a 26-year wait for the league title when they won the inaugural season of the Premier League era in 1992-93. They won two more Premier League titles together in their seven-year partnership.

Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique

puyol pique

Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique won an unbelievable amount of trophies together.

The center-back partners were teammates on two of the greatest teams of all time in Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona squad and Vicente del Bosque’s Spanish national team.

Another duo that perfectly complimented each other, Puyol wore his heart on his sleeve and sacrificed his body to keep the ball out of the goal at all costs.

Pique is one of the most technical center-backs the world has ever seen but also rarely puts a foot wrong in the defensive third.

Among the duo’s impressive list of accomplishments is winning the unheard of ‘sextuple’ in 2009.

Franco Baresi and Alessandro Costacurta

baresi costacurta

What good is a best defenders list without any Italians?

There were a number of fine Italian candidates for the list, including the duo of Scirea and Claudio Gentile.

However, nobody did it better than Baresi and Costacurta.

With help from full-backs Maldini and Mauro Tassotti, they formed perhaps the greatest defense of all time.

The duo was the rock of AC Milan’s best ever team that won back-to-back European Cups from 1988-1990. The team featured Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard, and Marco van Basten in the attack, but it was Baresi and Costacurta who were the most important players.

Baresi was voted AC Milan’s player of the century in 1999 after appearing in 532 games.

Costacurta played at Milan for 20 years, winning seven Serie A titles and five Champions League/European Cup trophies.

Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand

Manchester United central denfesive partnership Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic

The second Man United pairing on the list, many believe that Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand are the definition of a perfect center-back pairing.

Vidic was a throwback to the old days, dominant in the air and willing to stick his head or foot into any challenge.

One of the greatest captains in club history, he led through grit and determination.

Rio Ferdinand, on the other hand, was his perfect complement. His anticipation and positional sense made it no fluke that he was the most expensive defender in the world for a long time.

The duo started next to each other in two Champions League finals and won five Premier League titles together.

Manchester United fans long for the days of that kind of success.

Franz Beckenbauer and Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck

beckenbauer schwarzenbeck

Beckenbauer is widely considered the greatest defender of all time, but his partner at both Bayern Munich and the West German national team was no slouch either.

While Beckenbauer was busy playing in his famous sweeper position and making runs all over the field, Schwarzenbeck was always there to cover for his partner.

A pure ball winner, Schwarzenbeck may not have had the ball-playing abilities of his more famous partner, but Beckenbauer would have never been who he was without him.

The duo won six German Championships and three European Cups together.

No partnership has ever dominated the game at both the club and international level like these two.

Did we miss any pairs? Let us know!