With the 2017/18 Bundesliga season almost over, it's time to honour the players who stood out from the crowd. So will Naldo, Benjamin Pavard or Dayot Upamecano patrol the heart of the defence in the Team of the Season? Check out the first batch of candidates for centre-back, and make your choice now!
Wow! Just when you thought Naldo might be thinking about taking it easier, the Brazilian produces arguably the best of his 13 seasons in Germany aged 35. Only Bayern Munich boast a better defensive record than the Royal Blues, and 'pivotal' does not begin to describe Naldo's part in that. Inspirational as he is immovable, the ex-Werder Bremen and Wolfsburg man has scored seven goals this season, and even gave us another trademark howitzer free-kick — in a derby win over Dortmund, to boot — to add to his pulse-racing collection.
Benjamin Pavard (Stuttgart)
France must be doing something right when they can produce two of the German top flight's best centre-backs, though neither of them is likely to feature in that role for Les Bleus in Russia. Unlike Upamecano, Pavard will almost certainly make the squad — albeit to play right-back — after enjoying a stunning debut Bundesliga season. With goals hard to come by, Stuttgart have kept out of trouble thanks to their rearguard - where the French youngster has been a stand-out performer.
Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig)
The young Frenchman's first full season in the Bundesliga has confirmed what he had strongly suggested in the 2016/17 Rückrunde: he's quite something! Blessed with Mother Nature-given physical gifts of strength and pace, Upamecano also has the ice-cold mentality that allows him to keep his head — and win the ball — when all others are losing theirs.