Fabian Schar and Sven Botman have formed an almost symbiotic centre-back partnership at Newcastle United. They each cover the other’s weaknesses and help to bring out the best in each other – it’s a match made in heaven.
Botman is a towering, yet skilful defender. He isn’t quite the finished product – he is prone to a mistake, but he has the experience of Schar at his side to help him out in this department. It’s surprising more teams were not in for him during the transfer window as he was really only ever linked with Newcastle.
Meanwhile, Schar has been at the club for far longer than Botman – he was snapped up by the club in the summer of 2018. He’s been a solid performer since then, but has lacked an elite centre-back partner to cover his shortcomings – until now.
Of course, Botman and Schar aren’t the only top-quality centre-back duo in the Premier League. Others, such as William Saliba and Gabriel at Arsenal have been very impressive as their league postition shows plus Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez at Manchester United, have also been impressive this season. Man City have excellent centre-backs with Reuben Dias, John Stones, impressive new signing Swiss international Manuel Akanji, Nathan Ake and Aymeric Laporte among them but they have not been able to have a settled partnership.
If there is one thing that Botman and Schar lack, it is pace. When Newcastle play a high line, they can be easily caught out by a well-placed through ball – as evidenced in their home game against Liverpool on February 18. In that game, before the Toon were reduced to ten men, Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez were able to routinely breach their defensive line.
However, when sitting in deeper, the pair of Schar and Botman are almost impenetrable. No team has conceded fewer than Newcastle this season – they have let in just 19 goals in 26 games over the course of the season.
The stats don’t lie – when used correctly, Schar and Botman are a fearsome twosome. If you try to run through them, you risk running into a well-placed tackle by Schar – but if you try to cross a ball in, Botman will almost always have his head on it.