The Perfect Defensive System #5- Gegenpressing

In this new series called The Perfect Defensive System,we invite you the reader to contribute posts on what you think is the best defensive...
Ritesh Gogineni
Editor/Founder of The False 9.

Latest Posts

The Rise and Fall of Third Lanark AC: Scotland’s Giants You’ve Never Heard Of

Third Lanark AC were founded in 1872 by the third regiment of the Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers after a meeting of the Third Lanarkshire Rifle...

A look at Thomas Tuchel’s 3 at the back formation for Chelsea

Chelsea have gotten off to a decent start under new manager Thomas Tuchel with 1 draw and 2 wins in his first 3 games....

Do Premier League Players Have a Say in Their Transfers?

Americans know that in sports, there is a widespread culture where players don’t have a final say in their destinies, with exceedingly rare exceptions.However,...

The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic and it’s impact on Football

Not in Kansas AnymoreA century ago, amidst the poultry and pig farms in a small corner of Kansas, a local doctor became inundated...

The Best Football Books of 2020

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2021, we have compiled a list of the best...

Big Sam’s tactics against Liverpool show the template to stifle Klopp’s side

Two complete opposites came up in the congested Christmas fixture list, as Liverpool in great form sitting at the top of the table look...

The Meteoric Rise of RB Leipzig: From Tier Five Football to the Champions League

The best football clubs in the world usually have a storied history, years of success, and generations of fans. However, one of the best...

Football Books

The Best Football Books of 2020

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2021, we have compiled a list of the best...

Foul- The Beautiful Game, An Ugly Truth [Book Excerpt]

The clip-clop of football boot studs on concrete echoed through the tunnel over the hum of distant crowd noise. A drenched team of players...

Best Football Analytics Books

We have compiled a list of the best football analytics books for the casual football fan. Football analytics and data science/machine learning in general...

The Best Football Books of 2019

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2020, we have compiled a list of the best...

The Best Football Books of 2018

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2019, we have compiled a list of the best...

Football Tactics For Beginners: Attacking FullBacks

The modern attacking fullback has many duties to perform. No longer is it enough to leave an opposition winger stud-pocked and bruised, a modern full-back must also present an attacking threat of his own. He must overlap his own winger, get to the byline and deliver a cross. A modern full-back must have pace, he must have discipline and positional sense, he must have good technique and great stamina and loads of energy to motor the whole flank on his own.

Attacking Fullback
Dani Alves

Perhaps the most famous full-back in the history of football, certainly in recent decades, is Paolo Maldini. He represented a different breed of full-back to those prominent in the modern game. Strong in the tackle, great in the air, and a gifted reader of the game, his defensive qualities gave him a splendid career lasting 25 seasons at one of the top clubs in Europe. But, he wouldn’t get into most modern sides. Certainly not as a left back. True – he was equally imperious at centre-back for AC Milan, and would certainly fit the bill with any top side today in his prime. But at full-back, the role has changed. His eventual replacement at Milan and for the Azzuri, Gianluca Zambrotta is much more attacking minded than the great Maldini. Zambrotta is facing a challenge for his Milan spot (where perhaps his utility is a drawback) from Luca Antonini – a converted left winger.
A lot has been written about the specialisation on midfielders and attackers – deep lying playmakers, trequartistas, false nines… traditional roles on the football pitch are blurring and redefining. An attacking full-back may seem to be an oxymoron, but there are few teams who don’t employ them these days. Teams like Barcelona in all football fixtures are characterised by full-backs so far up the pitch that the defensive midfielder (First choice being Sergio Busquets) is more often than not nearer his own goal than members of his back four. Brazilian Dani Alves spends more time in the opposition half than his own, giving width to a system that has converted strikers playing as wingers and drifting infield when in possession. Indeed, it is the prevalence of attacking midfielders than has prompted the high demand, effusive acclaim and high transfer fees for top quality defensive midfielders.
Brazilians have long been at the forefront of attacking full-back play. Carlos Alberto scored one of the most famous World Cup goals in history in 1970 whilst playing as a right-back, and a lot of the best modern attacking full-backs are Brazilian. Dani Alves, Maicon, Michel Bastos, Marcelo, Felipe, the da Silva twins and before all of those Roberto Carlos and Cafu are all more comfortable on the front foot. Such is the trend at the moment that quite often some full-backs at top clubs are somewhat questionable in defence. England’s current first choice right back Glen Johnson is better known for his attacking forays and  occasional wonder goals than for his tackling and defensive prowess. On the other flank for the three lions, Ashley Cole – arguably one of the world’s best attacking left-backs – has the rare quality of looking just as comfortable playing one-twos on the opposition 18 yard box as he is slide tackling on the edge of his own. To see Ashley Cole playing so well for Chelsea over recent years is to wonder why successive England managers have struggled to find an answer to “the left midfield problem” over the years. Don’t forget that when breaking into the Arsenal team all those years ago he was keeping Sylvinho out of the side, who at the time was keeping Roberto Carlos out of the Brazilian national team.

Attacking Fullback
Roberto Carlos

 
The prevalence of attack-minded full-backs and the influence that they have on games is perhaps best illustrated by the praise given to those considered the best in this position. The emphasis given to the attacking duties for a full-back has become so dominant that full-backs that can actually defend are singled out. Gary Neville, for all his detractors on Merseyside and elsewhere, was considered one of the very best – because in addition to his famous close relationship on and off the pitch with David Beckham, he was a fantastic defender too. Towards the end of his career he curbed the attacking instincts to an extent, but in his pomp he was renowned for overlapping and getting crosses in, and also for covering back to win the ball back from wingers. Neville was an automatic name on both Manchester United and England team-sheets for ten or so years, earning 400 league appearances and 85 international caps. There’s no doubting that he revelled equally in the ire directed by opposition fans as he did in the support from his own. Gary Neville won eight Premier League winners medals, but came up short on the international scene. Not his fault really….
 Necessity being the mother of invention,as soon as the death of the conventional winger became apparent,the full back was pushed forward to provide width. Although some players like Dani Alves have have blurred the lines between a full back and a wide midfielder,there is a world of difference between those two. And you require different skillsets for both. Arriving from deep and running into space is what the full back must do and as Dani Alves discovered it is just not the same when you are playing as a midifielder.

-Tom Nash

You can read other articles in the series Football Tactics for Beginners

If you are interested to contribute to this series or write on anything else,please click here.

If you want us to write on some particular topic,please mention it in the comments.

Related

Total Football and it’s impact on the modern game

The popularism of the “Catennaccio” in the 1960s by Helenio Herrera was game-changing in that it focused its tenets on defending and the art...

Football Tactics for Beginners: The Low Block

What is the low block?The low block is generally referred to a football team's defensive shape without the ball. Generally the low block consists...

Football Tactics for Beginners: Defending Corner Kicks

We are all afraid of it. It is the 90th minute, your team is up by one goal and the opposition is about to...

Football Tactics for Beginners- The Sweeper Keeper: From Lev Yashin to Manuel Neuer

Germany’s Manuel Neuer has been widely credited as one of the finest goal-keepers of his generation, and quite rightly too. The Bayern Munich shot-stopper...

The Diminishing role of the Stopper Center Back in the Premier League

Defending and its place in the modern game has spawned a quagmire of critical debate. Back in 2014, when Gary Neville’s article in the...

The art of the long throw and how to counter it

Since the dawn of time, mankind has yearned to to throw stuff really far. Rocks, spears, shapes in the night club, to be human...

Football Tactics For Beginners-The Christmas Tree Formation

 Football is a result oriented business. Whatever succeeds, earns fame for itself and for its conceiver. And if it captures the imagination of spectators...

Football Tactics for Beginners: Tactical Periodization

What is Tactical Periodization? Tactical Periodization is a coaching methodology which is used to train football players with respect to the tactical context of the...

Football Tactics for Beginners-Compactness

If you have the ball you must make the field as big as possible, and if you don’t have the ball you must make...

Latest Posts

The Rise and Fall of Third Lanark AC: Scotland’s Giants You’ve Never Heard Of

Third Lanark AC were founded in 1872 by the third regiment of the Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers after a meeting of the Third Lanarkshire Rifle...

Man United expected starting lineup against Real Sociedad: Juan Mata to start?

Manchester United face Real Sociedad in the Europa League Round of 32 on Thursday in Turin, Italy. The Europa League presents a great opportunity...

The 10 Angriest Footballers

It is difficult to stay composed and collected as a footballer due to the fast-paced, high energy nature of the game. With thousands of...

Football’s best tactical managers of 2021

It’s no secret - different football managers excel in different areas of the game. Some were built for attacking play, some for masterful defence,...

Don't Miss

Forgotten Superstars-Matthias Sammer

Most football fans who consider themselves to be experts will expect to be able to name a long list of recent Ballon D'or winners....

Dimples, Kangaroos and Bohemians

One of the main tram routes in Prague is the 22. This goes all the way from Bíla Hora, the site of one of...

Barcelona Vs Real Madrid:The Dream Team vs The Galacticos

An imagining of a match between two famous El Clasico sides. The 1992 European Cup winning Barcelona team, known as “The Dream Team” versus...

  The different methods to Marcelo Bielsa’s madness

The current Leeds United manager and arguably the most influential coach in modern football, Marcelo Bielsa is the subject of this analysis because I’m...

‘The Diamond demolition’ in the Kolkata derby

The year was 1997, and on the 13th of July, the stage was set for the biggest clash in Indian football – the Kolkata...

Football History

Great Squads From History – Bayer Leverkusen 2001-2002

The 2001-02 great Bayer Leverkusen side is infamous for their incredible choke job in the last stretch of the season, losing out on three...

Lifted Over The Turnstiles: Scotland’s Football Grounds In The Black & White Era

This most comprehensive book about old Scottish football grounds ever published, Lifted Over the Turnstiles contains almost 200 photos of 42 football stadiums here...

Descent into darkness: Osvaldo Zubeldia and the era of antifutbol

EVEN if Billy McNeill was really nicknamed Cesar rather than Caesar, there was no denying that the scene on May 25, 1967, was one...

When Sir Alex Ferguson Lost by 9 Goals in back to back matches

I'm shattered, I can't believe it. It was our worst ever day. It's the worst in my history, ever. Even as a player I...

Football And Alcohol

“When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.”Football and booze go a long long way back, in...