The role of a fullback in soccer can often be overlooked. While the flashy and more skilled players get all the glory, the dedicated fullbacks make the game possible for their teams. There are many things about what makes up a fullback that isn't as commonly known by fans. Here, we want to give you an inside look at how these unsung heroes work together to win games on both sides of line play.
Fullbacks are also referred to as defensive players. The fullback is one of the defensive soccer positions. They are often stationed just outside the penalty box in wide positions. The position is tasked with defending the goal against opponents and preventing runs and passes along the line of scrimmage. In a four-defender system, a fullback is one of the players lined up outside two central defenders. The wide defenders outside the three center-backs are considered wingbacks in a back-five defense.
The fullback's role can also be understood by their position on the field during play, typically playing one-on-one with an opposing player or otherwise supporting another defender in defense.
The Fullback Is Primarily A Defender
The fullback is a defensive position in soccer. As the name implies, they defend the goal and attempt to stop any players from scoring. They are defense-first players.
A fullback's primary responsibility is stopping opponents from getting the ball. They must also protect their own goal by preventing any attackers from scoring. They do this by keeping track of their opponent's movements, positioning themselves to intercept passes or shots before they get too close to their goal, and, if necessary, challenging for loose balls on the ground or in mid-air when an opponent attempts a cross or shot at goal. Fullbacks also mark the opposition player, often wingers, who come down the touchline with possession of the ball, and central attacking midfielders who move out wide during play.
A fullback's main duty is to defend the goal against opponents. There are two fullbacks on each side of the field in a common formation.
A fullback usually defends an area near their corner flag, known as their "own half of the field." Fullbacks also have key responsibilities in helping in attacks when they move upfield and become part of their team's offense. Hence, they need technical skills and excellent ball control skills.
As the last line of defense, fullbacks are tasked with preventing runs and passing along the scrimmage line. They also need to be able to assist the team in the attack by overlapping the winger as a creative attacking option.
Types Of Fullbacks
Two kinds of fullbacks play in soccer. There is a strong defender who takes care of both sides of the field, while the other is known as an attacking fullback that plays similar to a wingback position. This means they can take part in both defense and attack. In a defensive sense, the fullback is more or less a wide player.
The defensive fullback stays close to the center backs and helps them out when necessary during certain moments on the field. The attacking fullback does just what it sounds like; they go forward into enemy territory to get shots on goal, create goal-scoring opportunities, or steal possession from opposition players.
They generally have broader attacking responsibilities and serve as an extra attacking option. In addition to these roles, some wingbacks will attack from their own side's offensive zone but still have some defensive responsibilities (this player type is not technically considered an actual fullback position).
The wingback position is often played by midfielders instead because they don't usually have enough speed or stamina needed for running up and down the sidelines all game long without getting tired quickly due to how much space there is between them (since they're farther away from goal) unless they're really good!
Paolo Maldini is a great example of a fullback. He played for AC Milan, Italy's national team, and was named Italian Footballer of the Year five times. He was also included in FIFA's 100 greatest living players list and inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame as part of its inaugural class in 2002.
We can classify fullbacks into three types:
The Wide Full Back
Every team's structure, as we all know, has width. The question isn't always whether a team possesses width, but rather how and who they use to achieve it. One approach to get this width is to use fullbacks. It's crucial to know which third of the field your fullbacks are in or the team's aims before assigning them the responsibility of creating width.
There are several advantages to having a wide and full back. The most obvious benefit is that it requires the defense to protect the entire field as they are a credible attacking threat. The wide space can detach midfield links and exploit disconnections if the defense does not have a well-organized defensive shifting routine. A wide fullback can put the wingers and central midfielders in more threatening positions. These players can get more flexibility in the half-spaces if they have the correct skill set, allowing them to get the ball and affect the game more.
Coach Pep Guardiola first introduced inverted fullbacks in the Bundesliga at Bayern Munich. He's the type of manager who strives to get the most out of his offensive players at all times. Many speculated that he purchased Joshua Kimmich as a substitute for Phillip Lahm. Things were different back then since they used to start games together. This system has greatly affected the face of the modern game, with many coaches imitating it, both in amateur and professional soccer.
The inverted fullbacks take up midfield positions and create a somewhat crowded midfield to evade opposition counter-attacks, and since its inception, it has birthed tremendous results.
Auxiliary fullbacks play as a third center-back in a three-person defense. Many questioned Southgate's strategy during the 2018 World Cup when he used Walker as the third central defender and Kieran Trippier as a wingback.
It was, however, a successful strategy, as England advanced to their first World Cup semis in 40 years. He used this strategy based on what he observed being implemented at Manchester City. As a fullback, Fabian Delph used to play in the midfield with Fernandinho, allowing Kyle Walker to play as the third center-back and prevent any counter-attacks.
Many managers are now researching different ways to get the most out of the fullbacks at their disposal and the squad due to the growth of the three at the back module.
As we've seen, fullbacks are an integral part of any soccer team throughout a 90-minute game. They're the ones who keep their teammates out of trouble by defending against opposing players, and they're also the ones who help create scoring opportunities for their team when needed. Hopefully, this has helped you understand more about what a fullback does in the beautiful game!