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No way through: Europe's meanest defences

Published: Thursday 23 January 2014, 16.10CET
Olympiacos FC and FC Bayern München rub shoulders with FC Ararat and FC Lusitans as UEFA.com singles out the sides who are giving the least away in their domestic leagues.

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Published: Thursday 23 January 2014, 16.10CET

No way through: Europe's meanest defences

Olympiacos FC and FC Bayern München rub shoulders with FC Ararat and FC Lusitans as UEFA.com singles out the sides who are giving the least away in their domestic leagues.

UEFA.com shines a light on the sides who are giving the least away in their domestic leagues this season, with Greek champions Olympiacos FC the meanest of the lot.

Olympiacos FC (GRE)
Played 20 Against 6 – conceding at a rate of one goal every 300 minutes
Also in stunning form in front of goal, Olympiacos can match their own Greek record for miserly defending, set when they let in just 13 in the 1972/73 season. Their superb defensive figures this time out reflect their utter dominance in every quarter – teams barely get the ball enough to launch attacks on the Piraeus club's goal. "We are setting a record goalscoring pace, but we are not just an attacking side," said coach Míchel. "Look at how few we have conceded. Focus – in attack and defence – and possession are key features of our game."

FC Lusitans (AND)
P10 A4 – conceding at a rate of one goal every 225 minutes
The Andorran champions' goalscoring rate has dipped to a more reasonable four a game since UEFA.com confirmed them as Europe's most prolific team in December, and they remain near the top of the class in defensive terms as they chase a third successive title. Coach Carlos Sánchez vaunted his squad's "combination of strength, fighting spirit and commitment" after the side founded in 1999 by Portuguese expatriates won the championship last season, and a similar spirit of dogged endeavour is giving them wings once again.

FC Sheriff (MDA)
P19 A9 – conceding at a rate of one goal every 190 minutes
On target for a 13th Moldovan First Division crown in 14 campaigns, Veaceslav Rusnac's Sheriff have classy players, good discipline and a firm understanding that attack is the best form of defence. Slovenian international Miral Samardžić is the anchorman in a multi-national rearguard featuring Spaniard Melli, Ivorian Marcel Metoua and Guinean Djibril Paye. "An international defensive line is not a problem," Paye told UEFA.com. "We have experience at international level, and our coach is a former defender."

©Hakber

Ararat have had plenty to celebrate

FC Ararat (ARM)
P14 A7 – conceding at a rate of one goal every 180 minutes
The Yerevan outfit top the Armenian Premier League by eight points despite scoring just 20 goals in their 14 matches – a measure of their solidity at the back. Had they not shipped three in one of those fixtures, a 3-0 loss to FC Shirak, their statistics would have been better still. Defender Norayr Grigoryan and goalkeeper Stepan Kazaryan – signed from FC Banants – have been big players but a collective work ethic is what coach Abraham Khashmanyan values most. "We play team football," he said. "We attack and defend together, and we stay organised for 90 minutes."

FC Bayern München (GER)
P16 A8 – conceding at a rate of one goal every 180 minutes
Anyone who watched his FC Barcelona teams will know that Josep Guardiola's sides' defensive rigour hinges on not allowing opponents to have the ball. Well, Bayern have already mastered that tactic this term, with a high, aggressive pressing line hounding the opposition on the rare occasion they gain possession. However, Guardiola has noticed some differences in Germany. "You have to control counterattacks in Germany because they are so quick," he said. "That is the most important thing."

AS Roma (ITA)
P20 A10 – conceding at a rate of one goal every 180 minutes
Despite playing some of the most entertaining attacking football in Serie A, Rudi Garcia's Roma have the most niggardly defensive record in a league which prides itself on resolute rearguards. Organisation is paramount according to Brazilian centre-back Leandro Castán, who is shining alongside Mehdi Benatia: "Our coach makes it clear that the goalkeeper and the back four are not the only ones responsible for defending," he said. "When we don't concede, it is because the midfielders and forwards are helping out. Together, we do it better."

Last updated: 23/01/14 16.06CET

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