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Europe's top home defences

Published: Wednesday 11 January 2012, 12.12CET
Manchester City FC are one of eight sides yet to drop a point at home in their leagues this season; join on a guided tour of Europe's impregnable footballing fortresses.
Europe's top home defences
Manchester City are unbeaten at home since December 2010 ©Getty Images features

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Published: Wednesday 11 January 2012, 12.12CET

Europe's top home defences

Manchester City FC are one of eight sides yet to drop a point at home in their leagues this season; join on a guided tour of Europe's impregnable footballing fortresses.

Manchester City FC are yet to drop a point at home in the Premier League this season, but they are not the only side to have shown impressive resolve in front of their own fans, as tours Europe's footballing fortresses.

Manchester City FC (W10 D0 L0 F31 A4)
City's terrifying goalscoring form in the league has tailed off a little in recent weeks, and while they have now lost twice in the Premier League, their form at the City of Manchester Stadium remains unblemished; indeed, up until the weekend's 3-2 FA Cup home loss to Manchester United FC, they had not lost a home game in any competition since December 2010. "It is a good record and something about which we can be proud," said coach Roberto Mancini. "I hope teams come here in future with fear because that helps us. For a long time teams have gone to Old Trafford with that kind of fear and now teams play differently against us too. That is a good sign."

AZ Alkmaar (W8 D0 L0 F23 A2)
Only PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord have managed to score a league goal at Alkmaar this season, with the Kaasboeren (Cheese Farmers) firmly established at the top of the Eredivisie and dreaming of a third title, despite having only the fifth largest budget in the Netherlands. "It says something about our stability that we have performed above expectations so far," said coach Gertjan Verbeek. "We have played some good matches and entertained the fans. If we keep on performing like this, we can go a long way."

GNK Dinamo Zagreb (W8 D0 L0 F22 A1)
Dinamo boast the strongest domestic home defence in Europe, with HNK Šibenik the only side to score away at the Dinamo Stadion in the league this season. However, that form did not save coach Krunoslav Jurčić his job; he was dismissed in the wake of a 7-1 UEFA Champions League home loss against Olympique Lyonnais in Dinamo's final match of 2011, with executive vice-president Zdravko Mamić conceding: "I really didn't imagine before the match that we would end it with a coaching change."

PFC Levski Sofia (W8 D0 L0 F20 A7)
PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv (W7 D0 L0 F15 A5)
Bulgaria boasts two unblemished home records at the winter break. Fourth-ranked Levski's run owes much to the form of goalkeeper Plamen Iliev – the only player to feature in all 15 of their league games this season – and the vagaries of the fixture computer - they have faced just one of their title rivals at home so far, beating PFC Litex Lovech 3-2 thanks to Vladimir Gadzhev's thunderbolt 15 minutes from time. Loko, who are sixth, beat Litex 2-1 in their last home game of 2011, and while they have used two goalkeepers in the winter – Florian Lucchini and Stoyan Stavrev – defenders Mihail Venkov, Jeremy Rodrigues and Youness Bengeloune have been impressively solid.

FK Partizan (W8 D0 L0 F24 A2)
Eliminated from Europe by Shamrock Rovers FC, Partizan have vented their frustration back in Serbia, where they are now on a run of 13 straight league wins – 16 games in total, including cup results. In Belgrade, they have won eight league games, and coach Aleksandar Stanojević said: "We have a great half-season behind us. The best form of defence is attack, but to get successive victories, the most important thing is mental preparation and focus on the pitch. I am proud of our achievement and have a plan to keep it going."

SL Benfica (W7 D0 L0 F21 A6)
The combination of Javi García and Axel Witsel has helped Jorge Jesus tighten up the Benfica midfield with impressive results this season; they are unbeaten in the Liga and the UEFA Champions League, and have made full use of the pace of Nicolás Gaitán and Nolito, Pablo Aimar's playmaking and Óscar Cardozo's sharpness to retain a flawless home domestic record. "It is always a goal to become national champions here, but making a stand in the UEFA Champions League is a big target this season," said Cardozo. "I think we have the team to win the competition."

Panathinaikos FC (W6 D0 D0 F17 A5)
"We didn't play well," conceded full-back Stergos Marinos after Sunday's 1-0 win against FC Kerkyra extended Panathinaikos's flawless 2011/12 home run to six league games. "But it's the points and the victory that count in the end." Argentinian winger Sebastián Leto scored the winner; his 15th in the league – and ninth at home – this season, and while his side trail Olympiacos FC at the top of the table, their two games in hand are both home fixtures. Olympiacos won last season's title with a 100% home record; do not bet against the Greens repeating that feat in 2011/12.

Last updated: 11/01/12 17.26CET