Defenders are extremely important to the team’s victory as they defend the team’s back line from conceding a goal.
Sometimes, they even come up good by scoring goals, which means that they can perform beyond their defensive duties.
Defenders in football are not given the respect that they deserve, and due to the rates at which goals are scored in the women’s game, the flowers are hardly given.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that women’s football is shy on quality defenders, and that is why, as we go into the World Cup year, we take a look at the top 15 best women’s defenders in 2023.
These ladies have shown outstanding ability as the guardians of their team’s respective back lines.
They have stood tall stopping different attacking forays proving themselves as some of the best female football defenders in the game right now. Let’s find out who they are.
15. Giuilla Gwin (Bayern Munich)
Twenty-three-year-old Giuilla Gwin plays as a right-back with the German National team and Bayern Munich in the women’s Bundesliga.
She’s one of the most prolific defensive players in the game, and that’s partly due to the fact that she plays as a midfielder sometimes.
She broke out at Freiburg in 2015 and scored 28 goals in over 80 appearances in four years there.
Since joining Bayern Munich in 2019, she’s barely scored six goals, as she’s made just 36 appearances.
At the Women’s Euros last summer, she helped Germany to second place, where they lost to hosts England.
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14. Ashley Lawrence (PSG)
27-year-old Ashley Lawrence plays for PSG in the French Ligue 1, and although she can feature in midfield, her main position is at either side of the backline.
She is a two-time medalist with the Canadian national team at the Olympics, with the Gold medal in the soccer event for women at Tokyo 2020 and the Bronze medal at Rio 2016.
At PSG, she’s won the French cup and the League but a UEFA Women’s Champions League was so close yet so far away in 2017.
13. Dominique Janssen (Wolfsburg)
Dominique Janssen is an experienced defender who had around 100 appearances for Arsenal before moving to Germany with Wolfsburg in 2019.
However, she has been doing it for the Dutch national team, winning the UEFA Women’s Euros championship in 2017.
Janssen is comfortable on both feet and is a dead-ball specialist who can be a source of goal for Wolfsburg at times.
12. Magda Eriksson (Chelsea)
Magda Eriksson is a defender who captains London club Chelsea, and under her, the blues have experienced their most successful era as a club.
Chelsea has won three WSL titles, two FA Cups, and two League Cups and reached their first-ever Champions League final.
The Sweden international is a dependable center-back who can also play as a left-back. She’s also known to be strong in possession and a leader at the back.
11. Ellie Carpenter (Lyon)
Ellie Carpenter has been one player who has caught the eye since she was a teenager, having made a national team debut with Australia as a fifteen-year-old.
She currently plays for Olympic Lyon as a 22-year-old after joining them two years ago, and that quality has ever been present and visible.
Carpenter is also the youngest women’s footballer to play at the Olympics.
10. Wendie Renard (Lyon)
Arguably the most popular defender in women’s football, Wendie Renard is a French international who has grown in prominence not only for her unique physique, but also as the defender who has the most UEFA Champions League trophy with eight titles with French club side Lyon.
She has a 6’2” height that helps her deal with Ariel’s ball in the box and also in the opposition box, which makes a goalscoring threat that brings in goals for Lyon and the French team.
She is a skilled header and is often a threat on set-pieces. Renard is also one the highest-paid women’s soccer players.
The 33-year-old is a leader in both the French women’s national team and Lyon.
9. Kadeisha Buchanan (Chelsea)
Canadian defender Kadeisha Buchanan won the youngest player and world at the FIFA women’s World Cup in Canada in 2015.
She was also part of the Canadian team that won the gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The 27-year-old spent 6 seasons at French club side Rihanna and helped them to five French League titles and five UEFA women’s Champions League.
8. Alex Greenwood (Manchester City)
Alex Greenwood is another versatile defender who can play as a left-back and also as a left center-back in the defense, as underlined by her presence in the Manchester City team, where she has flourished.
The left-footed defender is known to be skillful and also regarded as a set-piece specialist she was part of the England team that emerged third at the 2015 FIFA women’s World Cup.
She also was part of the team that won the UEFA women’s euro Championship last summer.
7. Sofia Huerta (OL Reign)
Sofia Huerta is another veteran fullback who currently plays for Olympique Reign in the USA.
Although she plays outside Europe, she is still in one of the best women’s soccer leagues in the world.
The 30-year-old has played for both Mexico and US national teams, although the Stars and Stripes are her home.
She had seven goals and assists, contributing to the efforts of OL Reign last season helping them to second place in NWSL and a semifinal finish in the playoffs.
Huerta possesses excellent positioning and ability to read the game. She is also a great communicator and leader on the field.
6. Griedge Mbock Bathy (Lyon)
Here is another Lyon talent that has been showing quality since days of her time at the youth level with the French national team and Olympique Lyon.
The 27-year-old is a member of the Lyon team that dominated Europe and France for 5 years, and the moment she got injured with a knee injury that kept her out for a long time, they felt her absence.
She has also partnered with French defensive Legend Wendie Renard a couple of times and helped France to the semifinals of the women’s Euros 2022, the furthest France has gone in the competition’s history.
5. Lucy Bronze (Barcelona)
Lucy Bronze is the biggest fullback in women’s football, having won almost everything available and all this while playing for the biggest football clubs in women’s football.
The 31-year-old currently plays for FC Barcelona femenina, and won the Spanish La Liga with them in her first season.
This is alongside WSL titles with Manchester City, league titles in France with Lyon, and the UEFA Women’s Champions League.
Her style of play is so impressive she’s compared to Philip Lahm, and she’s one player who uses speed to maximum effect.
Her versatility helps her in deciding when and when not to join the attack. She is known for her excellent tackling ability and speed. She is also skilled in going forward and is known to score important goals.
Bronze’s career means she will likely end up being among the best women’s soccer players of all time.
4. Irene Paredes (Barcelona)
It will be a huge disservice not to have a Barcelona defender on the list, as the Spanish team has dominated the Spanish La Liga and the UEFA women’s Champions League without conceding up to 20 goals all season in all competitions combined last season.
Paredes joined Barcelona from Paris Saint-Germain, and she immediately became a huge part as Barcelona won the 2020/2021 league title.
3. Leah Williamson (Arsenal)
Leah Williamson established herself as a mature player fit enough to lead England after her performance at the last UEFA women’s euro Championship, where she captained the side to England’s first major title in women’s football.
Prior to that, she had only played seven minutes of football in a competitive tournament for England, she is a versatile defender that can also play in the midfield, and she has been consistent for Arsenal in the last six seasons.
2. Maria Pilar Leon (Barcelona)
Mapi Leon is Irene Paredes’ partner in crime at Barcelona. Mapi is often moving along the center of the pitch and is also an asset from set pieces.
The 27-year-old is in her prime and is always a handful from corner pieces; her tackling is always on point, and she will continue to be one of the best defenders in women’s football for a while, injury permitting.
She’s a ball-playing defender known for her passing and great technique.
1. Millie Bright (Chelsea)
Millie Bright started her career as a sloppy defender with a huge potential to grow to become one of the best defenders in the game; slowly but gradually, she grew into a formidable defender.
The last two seasons have been instrumental to her development, but she has managed to keep the rudiments that have made her a diamond in the rough with her no-nonsense defending.
She is also growing into a leadership role as the vice-captain of Chelsea and England.
Millie Bright is known for her ability to organize the defense. She is also a great passer and can start attacks from the back.
These top defenders in women’s soccer will be participating at the FIFA women’s World Cup 2023 in Australia and New Zealand. With a new competition size of 32 teams, many hitherto unknown names will become unveiled to the world, and it’s best to look out now.
Even youngsters who lightened up the FIFA under-20 women’s World Cup last year also continue to graduate into senior football.