Top Ligue 1 Defenders in 2018/19: Dante Costa


When Dante Costa hangs up his boots his story will be told that here is a player that got better as he got older. And at age 35 he put in some terrific displays for his club Nice, to be ranked as the 4th best defender in Ligue 1.

Dante Costa also known as simply Dante joined Nice from Bundesliga side VFL Wolfsburg in 2016, and has now made 96 appearances for the French club. His big break in football didn’t come until his late 20s and since then Dante Costa has not looked back.

His worst point of his career was perhaps when he was picked for Brazil to play in the semi-final of the World Cup against Germany in 2014, as a defender it couldn’t have got any worse when Brazil were infamously beaten 7-1 by the Germans who went onto win that years competition.

This season under the guidance of coach Patrick Vieira who himself this was his first term with Nice, Dante seemed calm, collective and full of confidence in the back four. This was recognised by Vieira who was only too happy to regularly pick the Brazilian for the side. In all Dante played 36 games from 38 and earned a total of 64 points just six points shy of 3rd place.

Dante of course is not expected to score goals or be in the build up to one but he still managed 1 goal and also had one assist. One question mark about him was his aggressiveness which led to 11 yellow cards for the season, though he managed not to get sent off in the league.

With Nice starting poorly in the league this affected Dante and he went the opening 3 games without scoring a point, indeed because of the goals conceded he was down by -3 points. It took sometime for Nice to group together and start believing in themselves and when the team started to gel together it was November and this is when Dante experienced the best period of his season.

He scored points in 6 consecutive games earning a massive 28 points as Nice went on a great run starting at Bordeaux and ending with a 0-0 result against Angers in December.

Dante Costa’s best game where he earned the most points was against Montpellier in April where Nice only won 1-0. But it was an all round game from the Brazilian who scored a goal, the only one for his season and also kept a clean sheet to earn 9 points.

The last match of the season was the local derby in which Nice beat Monaco 2-0 which earned Dante another 5 points. Indeed the defender had a decent consistent season overall if not spectacular, but for his age and being coached by a new manager this was an impressive display over the season.

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The surprise packages of Brazil 2014 so far

With the first casualties now having fallen from their World Cup perch and had the hopes and aspirations nurtured and chased for the last four years dashed, there are some surprise names among the top of pundits’ “top praise” column. The likes of Costa Rica and Mexico have put in solid showings thus far while Spain – who have dominated the international scene for the last six years outright – have gone the way of Cameroon and group foes Australia in crashing out after only two games. They do still have a farewell appearance to come when the group fixtures round off over the next week or so, but for these teams the final game will be a sad formality before their respective journeys home.

We will here be taking a look more on the aforementioned surprises at the top of the list, rather than those regarded among the competition’s elite. As mentioned in a previous piece, Mexico have been the biggest surprises arguably, with their two clean sheets from two games ranking their defensive players in particular right up among the top points scorers – they do have a crunch game against Croatia coming up, and so Guillermo Ochoa (80 points – tied top points scorer in the tournament so far), Rafael Márquez, Francisco Javier Rodríguez, Miguel Layún (60 points each), Paul Aguilar and Héctor Moreno (both with 55) will have to repeat their heroics thus far if they are to ensure qualification alongside hosts Brazil from Group A.

Of those players mentioned, Layún and Aguilar look particularly tempting for fantasy managers, with values of only €2.50m and €3.50m respectively – that’s 115 points for an outlay of only €6.00m! Throw in goalkeeper Ochoa too, who is valued at €6.00m, you could have a whopping 195 points from only three players who cost a grand total of €12.00m, though you will have to consider the maximum number of players from a single nation rule – this would take up that quota for Mexico.

Colombia defender Pablo Armero has earned himself a great 50 points from his single appearance in South America thus far, scoring a goal and helping keep a clean sheet at the back during his 74 minute outing against Greece. He is a defender, and so could fit in nicely alongside the Mexican pairing – he is valued at only €6.00m himself, so why not make it 245 points for only €18.00m making up four fifths of your defensive line? There is also an added bonus that Colombia could still qualify before they next kick a ball competitively – should Japan and Greece draw, that would put the South Americans firmly out of reach inside the top two at least. This means Armero has definite potential for a longer run in the tournament, though he can only feature as long as his country are in there, so that may be a consideration.

That pretty much sums up most of the more surprising – or, perhaps more appropriately considered lesser known – names towards the top of the points scorers charts so far in the competition. It is no coincidence that these players are all defensive, and while there have been big hitting attackers those accolades tend to stay with some of the sides more fancied to travel much further in the tournament.

One big consideration, however, is that the players mentioned here are all turning out for South American nations – they have performed so well thus far, and their experience playing in the climates will surely continue to serve them well ahead of their European counterparts. That said, that is not to take away any credit to them – they have done fantastically well, with Chile – another South American side – the team responsible for ensuring reigning champions Spain would be travelling home early. They put in a great performance – so fantasy managers should not be afraid to go for players that they may be a bit less familiar with – the flair is in making the fine selections, and the devil is in the detail – this defensive line should be able to give our fantasy managers something of a start in shaping their squads for the next phase of the competition.