Full backs take up the wide defensive positions, one on each side of the field. Their main task is to prevent opposition players crossing or cutting the ball back into the penalty area. In some defensive systems, full backs man-mark opponents. Most full backs are also expected to provide an attacking dimension by getting upfield, engaging in interplay with the wingers and providing crosses.
In the modern game, full backs have taken on a more offensive role than is the case traditionally. Wingerless formations such as the diamond 4-4-2 formation demand the full back to cover considerable ground up and down the flank.
Some of the responsibilities of modern full backs include:
- Provide a physical obstruction to opposition attacking players by shepherding them towards an area where they exert less influence. They may manoeuvre in a fashion that causes the opponent to cut in towards the centre back or defensive midfielder with his weaker foot, where he is likely to be dispossessed. Otherwise, jockeying and smart positioning may simply pin back a winger in an area where he is less likely to exert influence.
- Making off-the-ball runs into spaces down the channels and supplying crosses into the opposing penalty box.
- Throw ins are usually assigned to full backs.
- Marking wingers and other attacking players. Full backs generally do not commit into challenges in their opponents’ half. However, they aim to quickly dispossess the attacking players who have already breached the defensive line with a sliding tackle from the side. Markers must however avoid keeping too tight on opponents or risk disrupting the defensive organisation.
- Maintaining tactical discipline by ensuring other team mates do not over run the defensive line and inadvertently play an opponent onside.
- Providing a passing option down the flank, for instance, by creating opportunities for sequences like one-two passing moves.
Their presence in attack forces the opposition to withdraw players from central midfield, which the team can seize to its advantage.
Due to the physical and technical demands of their playing position, successful full backs need a wide range of attributes, which make them suited for adaptation to other roles on the pitch. Many of the game’s utility players, who can play in multiple positions on the pitch, are natural full backs. A rather prominent example is the Inter Milan full back Javier Zanetti, who has played on both flanks as a full back and as a winger, and in central midfield throughout his illustrious career.
The more common attributes of full backs, however, include:
- Pace and stamina to handle the demands of covering large distances up and down the flank.
- A healthy work rate and team responsibility.
- Marking and tackling abilities and a sense of anticipation.
- Good off-the-ball ability to create attacking opportunities for his team by running into empty channels.
- Dribbling ability. Many of the game’s eminent attacking full backs are excellent dribblers in their own right and occasionally deputise as attacking wingers.
- Player intelligence. As is common for defenders, full backs need to decide during the flow of play whether to stick close to a winger or maintain a suitable distance. Full backs that stay too close to attacking players are vulnerable to being pulled out of position and leaving a gap in the defence. A quick passing movement like a pair of one-two passes will leave the channel behind the defending full-back open. This vulnerability is a reason why wingers considered to be dangerous are double-marked by both the full-back and the winger. This allows the full back to focus on holding his defensive line. (wikipedia)
Cafú / Daniel Alves (Barcelona) / Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid) / Roberto Carlos (Fenerbahce)
A.Cole (Chelsea) / Lahm (Bayern) / Zanetti (Inter) / Evra (Man U) / More players will be added soon.