Make goals and assists as a full-back
The full-back position has become one of the most interesting offensive positions in recent years. This is because they’re asked to do a lot of different things. Even within teams, you have different strategies for full-backs. Think about Manchester City, where Zinchenko played as an inverted full-back, but Kyle Walker played as a third center-back. Then there’s also the full-backs that play almost as a winger, like Dani Alves and Marcelo, and you also have the wing-backs in a 5 at the back formation. So as a full-back, you possibly come in a lot of different attacking situations.
Clubs look pre-dominantly at attacking skills for a full-back because having good attacking full-backs can help the offensive game. But what does a full-back need to do offensively to get noticed by scouts?
In this chapter, we will discuss which fundamentals are most crucial offensively for a full-back.
Let’s start with the biggest one, supporting your players. As a full-back, you need to participate in build-up depending on team tactics and/or be able to deliver assists for your team. In build-up there are several possibilities for a full-back, most teams play with their full-back on the line. The full-back has to recognize when he has to be an easy option because there’s pressure and when he can position himself higher up the pitch when there’s no pressure. If team tactics are that the full-back has to come inside and be an inverted full-back there are a lot of other things the full-back has to think of, we will discuss this later on in the chapter.
From there when the full-back receives the ball he has to make progressive actions through a pass or a dribble. The difficult thing for a full-back is that he has to deal with the side-line, this blocks him from only playing inside, it’s therefore important to have a good first touch and when possible to position himself in relation to the opponent that he has good angles to all of the pitch.
The second fundamental that’s important for full-backs is making overlaps and underlaps. This is one of the most important fundamentals for scouts and clubs. Because this is how you can create chances and make assists. Another important thing that overlaps and underlaps do, is that it creates space for your winger to dribble or deliver a cross. For making overlaps and underlaps, cooperation with the winger is crucial. If the winger is inside, It gives good possibilities for an overlap. If the winger is on the line, it is better to do an underlap. Also, the full-back needs to recognize when to do an over-/underlap.
When making an overlap it’s important to run at the right angle, so that after receiving the ball you can dribble or make assists, instead of stopping up the attack.
Because the inverted full-back has become such a big thing in the last couple of years, we want to write about this as well. Being an inverted full-back is not fundamental, it’s more of a team tactic for an individual player. The concept is that the full-back will come into midfield, to either receive the ball or to open up the passing line to the winger, who’s probably good 1v1. In the example underneath you see this.
Other uses for an inverted full-back are to be better protected against counterattack because you have one more player in the middle. This was the original reason for Pep Guardiola to let Philippe Lahm play as an inverted full-back. Later on, many teams have done the same and used the inverted full-back for several other things. In the build-up for example to create an extra player behind the attackers and thus make it more difficult for them to press.
But the inverted full-back position is difficult, it puts a full-back in a whole new range of game situations. You can easily say that this is more of a midfield position, it’s therefore not surprising that most inverted full-backs have been midfielders, think about players like Zinchenko and Mazraoui. These players are used to receiving the ball in tighter spaces and with players around them, while normal full-backs are used to staying on the sideline and not having to worry about players pressing them from all sides.
As a full-back, these are the fundamentals you have to master offensively to become a threat to opponents. If you do these right, then you will make assists and maybe even score goals. Scouts will notice this. In the next chapter, we will explain how you can train these.