Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

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Hlebagone

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Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by Hlebagone on Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:47 pm

I want to go to the pub, but my friend hasn't answered his phone. So I thought I'd start this enthralling debate.

Inspired partly by boredom, partly by Johan Djourou's inept display this weekend, I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Poor Johan was taken off at half time to be replaced by an 18 year old defensive midfielder who was far more adept. Do the skills needed to play full back these days - athletecism, attacking ability, lend themselves to aggressive, fit and fast midfielders as opposed to technically limited center backs.

Previous generations have seen players equally comfortable at full back and in the center of defence, such as Thuram and Maldini, but has the evolution as a full back as an attacking outlet meant that were these players to play these days, they would be deployed in the center of defense?

stinger

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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by stinger on Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:46 pm

I would guess defensive midfielders are the most versatile players these days, especially tactically. For example Bielsa when he was Head coach of Chile National team tried to have 2 or 3 of them in starting line up, even if he was playing with 1 dedicated DM in his tactic. But he was aften switching tactic during the games (mostly between 4-3-3 and 3-1-3-3) and DMs were the most suited players to be moved to other position. Not sure about specific skills, but I think this trend is going for years - Flamini had a nice run as LB before he established himself in Arsenal as starting DM, Lasagna Diarra was right back for Chelsea a while ago, and Mascherano was always doing pretty well for Liverpool, when starting as RB.
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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by Jaime on Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:51 pm

But I suppose you could point to Eric Abidal who is more in the Maldini/Thuram line of fullbacks and he is still very relevant in his position both for France and Barcelona. Jon Aurtenetxe of Athletic is another example. He was playing left back for the Spain U19s last summer even though his characteristics are maybe more suited to centre back. Both are pretty good on the ball though so I think that is what makes them still be able to play full back in a game that requires full backs to link up in attack.

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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by worms. on Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:00 pm

Jaime wrote:But I suppose you could point to Eric Abidal who is more in the Maldini/Thuram line of fullbacks and he is still very relevant in his position both for France and Barcelona. Jon Aurtenetxe of Athletic is another example. He was playing left back for the Spain U19s last summer even though his characteristics are maybe more suited to centre back. Both are pretty good on the ball though so I think that is what makes them still be able to play full back in a game that requires full backs to link up in attack.

Chivus another one who plays CB and SB as well, just of the top of my head.He can play DM as well although his best position is probably CB.The OP makes a good point though about there not being as many CBs who can play Sb and vice versa nowadays.
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Hlebagone

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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by Hlebagone on Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:09 pm

Abidal did pop into my head, but the point can be made that being on the opposite flank to Dani Alves makes him a special case, as his role is primarily defensive, so Barcelona don't get caught at the back.

Abidal has turned out to be a brilliant signing for Barcelona though.
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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by bluenine on Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:30 pm

Chiellini is a good example of someone who is reasonably competent in both positions, as is Benatia -- excellent in both roles. Chivu used to be, though of late he has started looking shaky as a CB. Criscito is another decent example for a young player. Zanetti has played as a FB, DM and CB, though he probably belongs to the Maldini/Thuram generation, as did Panucci... Bonera is another example, tho he is shite in both roles IMO.

Maldini in his LB days used to attack a reasonable amount, and a player like that would still be considered the best LB in the world. So not that much has changed. For whatever the trend may be, there will always be a demand for both, quality attacking FB's and quality defensive FB's.
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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by blutgraetsche on Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:54 pm

I'm not that sure about the last part, because the 'back four' concept is not set in stone. Barca have been experimenting with a back three this season, other teams, too. As most teams play with a single out-to-out striker these days, some even with none, two CBs marking a single player doesn't seem effective, not just on paper. It's easier to mark two strikers (e.g. in classical 4-4-2) for a back four than one, as paradox as that may sound at first.

This of course means that the 'classical' fullback position is under threat to say at least. Midfielders / generalists will likely take over most of their job in the coming years as we're moving closer to the 'Total Football' ideal in which every player defends and attacks, creates and destroys.
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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by abundance on Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:19 pm

Like your boredom, Hlebagone, it gave birth to an interesting thread =)


There's a couple of things in your premise that seem fuzzy to me.

First is the examples you picked for the "old way" - Thuram and Maldini were exceptional footballers with better dynamism, progression, vision and distribution (especially Thuram), ball control and protection (especially Maldini), than most midfielders around today.

And neither was a truly specialized natural CB - Thuram's very best IMHO was as a ball-playing libero in Parma's 3-5-2; Maldini was in the first place a true italian wing-back type, and only considered CB in late years as a mean to extend his career (and at times, despite his immense talent, his positioning and body movements were subotptimal and gave away that it was an unnatural role for him).

On top of my head I'd rather name players like Bergomi, Stam, Ivanovic for the kind you described.

Second is this supposedly recent "evolution of a full back as an attacking outlet"... dunno, reading it worded like that the first thing that comes to my mind is something happened half a century ago, the evolution of the locked marking full-back into a retreated winger.
Full backs have very often been pretty attacking since then, and in a way that's not very suited for CM/DM types (it requires mostly great progression, touch, volley and crossing).

Maybe it's just a verbal twist, but I'd say that if CM/DM may look better nowadays at FB than CB types it's because of different defensive, not offensive, requirements.
Stinger says rightly that holding midfielders are the jack of all trades tactically these days.

The FB modern role has always been tricky, and a bit under-recognized (fuck-up one single diagonal and you make all your team defensive work look crap; you've to be equally confortable dribbling on the sideline and man-marking in the box...).

But with all the late obsession on shape-shifting, stretching, mixing the lines, creating diamonds, to gain man advantages in key areas, or retort the opposition attempts to do so, and with the relaxing of the ridigity of the back line due to the offside approach changes, it's got further positional complexity.
You can have chess dances with FB starting in a back 4, then positioning 20m ahead of the back line not for offending, but just to pin back an opposing winger, which in turn make his team win superiority on the 3/4 etc etc etc.

Players raised as central midfielders have more of the 360° vision and distribution to shift zone comfortably, so they are getting an edge in many jobs traditionally awarded to pure defenders.
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abundance

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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by abundance on Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:24 pm

blutgraetsche wrote:I'm not that sure about the last part, because the 'back four' concept is not set in stone. Barca have been experimenting with a back three this season, other teams, too. As most teams play with a single out-to-out striker these days, some even with none, two CBs marking a single player doesn't seem effective, not just on paper. It's easier to mark two strikers (e.g. in classical 4-4-2) for a back four than one, as paradox as that may sound at first.

This of course means that the 'classical' fullback position is under threat to say at least. Midfielders / generalists will likely take over most of their job in the coming years as we're moving closer to the 'Total Football' ideal in which every player defends and attacks, creates and destroys.
lol I had this page lying open in a browser tab since this morning and ended up posting without reloading, and I basically dubbed your comment =)
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blutgraetsche

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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by blutgraetsche on Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:47 pm

Hah...no problem. You actually put it a lot more eloquently as I could. And it's not like this board is being overwhelmed with activity lately... Smile

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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by worms. on Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:56 pm

Can't believe nobody has mentioned Sergio Ramos yet,I think he's well on his way to being world class at CB and RB.(He's already proved he's one of the best RB's in the world)
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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by Isco Benny on Thu Jan 26, 2012 7:39 pm

Ramos? Best FB in the world?? Really?
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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by Jaime on Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:25 pm

Metta World Peace wrote:Ramos? Best FB in the world?? Really?

Around 2008 he was playing at an extremely high level as right back. Dropped off a bit and now is excelling as a centre back. He has been in for a lot of criticism in his career but people need to remember he is still only 25. Not even in the prime of his career yet.

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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by worms. on Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:27 pm

Metta World Peace wrote:Ramos? Best FB in the world?? Really?

I said one of the best(top 5) and a lot of people think the same.Was excellent in the world cup at RB and has been for Real Madrid.

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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by stinger on Fri Jan 27, 2012 11:52 am

blutgraetsche wrote:I'm not that sure about the last part, because the 'back four' concept is not set in stone. Barca have been experimenting with a back three this season, other teams, too. As most teams play with a single out-to-out striker these days, some even with none, two CBs marking a single player doesn't seem effective, not just on paper. It's easier to mark two strikers (e.g. in classical 4-4-2) for a back four than one, as paradox as that may sound at first.
But there are some coaches, like Renhagel or Bielsa (both quite different regarding their general approach) for whom #1 thing is to make sure, that they have one more spare central defender and are willing to switcg between 3 man defense and back 4 to make sure it obtained.

Also, playing 3 defenders you usually have 3 central defenders - it's quite pointless to waste one player to have 3 of them defending against one central striker, and it's too risky to have 3 defenders playing against 3 attackers (central striker and two wingers).

110%

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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by 110% on Fri Jan 27, 2012 12:50 pm

Més que un club wrote:
Metta World Peace wrote:Ramos? Best FB in the world?? Really?

I said one of the best(top 5) and a lot of people think the same.Was excellent in the world cup at RB and has been for Real Madrid.

Not saying he is not good, but seems too much of a liability at times. A bit too David Luiz for me.

what about maicon, alves (c**t), a cole, lahm and kyle walker?
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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by Isco Benny on Fri Jan 27, 2012 1:15 pm

110% wrote:
Més que un club wrote:
Metta World Peace wrote:Ramos? Best FB in the world?? Really?

I said one of the best(top 5) and a lot of people think the same.Was excellent in the world cup at RB and has been for Real Madrid.

Not saying he is not good, but seems too much of a liability at times.

Quite Ale

I have nothing against Ramos, but from what I've seen, + what I've heard when I've not been seeing, is that he's rather too prone to being caught out of position to be deemed WC yet.

He looked like Madrid's weakest link both home and away when we played them. Should probably have been sent off at the Bernabeu for 2 very cynical body checks on Bale after being completely out of position. Obviously, that was just 2 games, but even at the World Cup I thought he looked dodgy, particularly against Switzerland and Chile.

Like a rich man's version of Glenn Johnson - obviously a decent footballer, but lacking the tactical awareness required of a World Class Right back.

He is only 25 though as Jaime points out, so it's not a done and dusted deal of course

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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by worms. on Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:00 pm

110% wrote:
Més que un club wrote:
Metta World Peace wrote:Ramos? Best FB in the world?? Really?

I said one of the best(top 5) and a lot of people think the same.Was excellent in the world cup at RB and has been for Real Madrid.

Not saying he is not good, but seems too much of a liability at times. A bit too David Luiz for me.

what about maicon, alves (c**t), a cole, lahm and kyle walker?

Not sure if the Kyle Walker shout is serious but Ashley Cole is vastly overrated imo.The only 2 attacking full backs I would definatley have over him in the last 4 years are Maicon and Alves.Lahm is too close to call.
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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by Isco Benny on Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:24 pm

Cole is overrated going forward (although ironically this season he has the most assists of any defender in the Prem League - 6), but defensively I don't think I've seen such a consistently brilliant defensive LB since Paolo Maldini. Highly irritating player when you watch him play for Chelsea and he refuses to allow himself to be skinned by your right winger. I rate him very highly, despite being a despicable c**t off the pitch and snide c**t on it (very adept at going to ground to win a free kick when pressured on the ball by opposition attackers).

Kyle Walker is still young and raw, but he has everything required to become an exceptional FB IMO. We'll see how he progresses, but considering he is just 21 years old and has replaced a Croatian international in Corluka and improved us considerably, it's probably a safe bet to assume he will become a regular international pretty soon. Fans of Micah Richards may disagree, but only time will tell...

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blutgraetsche

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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by blutgraetsche on Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:56 pm

To be honest, Lahm has regressed a bit in recent times. His defensive positioning in particular is a bit suspect at times. He is the captain of Bayern and Germany, but he isn't the most important player of neither, definitely not. He also lacks a bit of consistency these days to justify wearing the captain's armband, he seems to be busy giving interviews instead. And that idiotic book he wrote didn't help his reputation either.

Still, by far the best player we have for the fullback position. But fortunately, there are a few talented players coming through now, after a long drought on that position, who could put some pressure on him in near future. Not having serious competition for club and country may have affected his game in a negative way.

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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by worms. on Fri Jan 27, 2012 3:14 pm

Metta World Peace wrote:Cole is overrated going forward (although ironically this season he has the most assists of any defender in the Prem League - 6), but defensively I don't think I've seen such a consistently brilliant defensive LB since Paolo Maldini. Highly irritating player when you watch him play for Chelsea and he refuses to allow himself to be skinned by your right winger. I rate him very highly, despite being a despicable c**t off the pitch and snide c**t on it (very adept at going to ground to win a free kick when pressured on the ball by opposition attackers).

Kyle Walker is still young and raw, but he has everything required to become an exceptional FB IMO. We'll see how he progresses, but considering he is just 21 years old and has replaced a Croatian international in Corluka and improved us considerably, it's probably a safe bet to assume he will become a regular international pretty soon. Fans of Micah Richards may disagree, but only time will tell...


The last few times Cole has played against Nani or Valencia he has been absolutely raped,maybe that's because he has declined I am not sure.I would much rather take Zanetti if we are talking about defensive LBs.Kyle Walker is good but sorry he is no where near the level of Ramos,Ramos at 21 was a lot better than Walker is now.Walker is more of a athlete than anything else.
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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by Isco Benny on Fri Jan 27, 2012 4:03 pm

Més que un club wrote:
Metta World Peace wrote:Cole is overrated going forward (although ironically this season he has the most assists of any defender in the Prem League - 6), but defensively I don't think I've seen such a consistently brilliant defensive LB since Paolo Maldini. Highly irritating player when you watch him play for Chelsea and he refuses to allow himself to be skinned by your right winger. I rate him very highly, despite being a despicable c**t off the pitch and snide c**t on it (very adept at going to ground to win a free kick when pressured on the ball by opposition attackers).

Kyle Walker is still young and raw, but he has everything required to become an exceptional FB IMO. We'll see how he progresses, but considering he is just 21 years old and has replaced a Croatian international in Corluka and improved us considerably, it's probably a safe bet to assume he will become a regular international pretty soon. Fans of Micah Richards may disagree, but only time will tell...


The last few times Cole has played against Nani or Valencia he has been absolutely raped,maybe that's because he has declined I am not sure.I would much rather take Zanetti if we are talking about defensive LBs.Kyle Walker is good but sorry he is no where near the level of Ramos,Ramos at 21 was a lot better than Walker is now.Walker is more of a athlete than anything else.

Walker is quick and strong, but one trick pony he ain't. Very comfortable on the ball. I've seen enough fullback hackers to also recognise the difference.

Annoys me a little when people who hardly watch us make comments like that he's just an athlete. FYI, it was the Spanish (hysterical) media who were comparing Walker to Roberto Carlos after the u21 Euros this summer. As for comparison with Ramos - Ramos was admittedly superb when he was moved from CB to FB around 2007 (?) from an attacking sense. But it's never that cut and dry on how a player will progress anyway - at 18 Michael Owen was better than Karim Benzema and David Villa. Ramos hasn't progressed as quickly or as highly as people first thought. That said, he does play for Real Madrid and Spain and has been successful so if Walker can progress to even 3/4 of that level whilst remaining at Spurs and not pissing his career away like a lot of young talents then I'll be a happy bunny Ale
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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by Isco Benny on Fri Jan 27, 2012 4:11 pm

Worms, as a Barca supporter, you've mentioned Ramos but not Dani Alves, which surprises me.

Not rate him?

PS you're right about Zanetti. One of the greatest FB's ever, but he's more of a right back and thus didn't mention him whilst making the Cole / Maldini reference.

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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by worms. on Fri Jan 27, 2012 4:58 pm

Metta World Peace wrote:Worms, as a Barca supporter, you've mentioned Ramos but not Dani Alves, which surprises me.

Not rate him?

PS you're right about Zanetti. One of the greatest FB's ever, but he's more of a right back and thus didn't mention him whilst making the Cole / Maldini reference.

Well I didn't mention him because the thread was about FBs who can play CB as well and vice versa.But I rate him as the best Wing Back in the world now,I used to think Maicon was better but he has declined a bit now.
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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by Isco Benny on Fri Jan 27, 2012 5:25 pm

Més que un club wrote:
Metta World Peace wrote:Worms, as a Barca supporter, you've mentioned Ramos but not Dani Alves, which surprises me.

Not rate him?

PS you're right about Zanetti. One of the greatest FB's ever, but he's more of a right back and thus didn't mention him whilst making the Cole / Maldini reference.

Well I didn't mention him because the thread was about FBs who can play CB as well and vice versa.But I rate him as the best Wing Back in the world now,I used to think Maicon was better but he has declined a bit now.

True, we've digressed.

What about the Koscielny, AKA "The White Cafu", as he is known by Arsenal fans? Has now played CB and RB and appears to have acquitted himself well. Although it's easy to look good playing in the Arsenal defence these days..
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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by Hlebagone on Fri Jan 27, 2012 6:21 pm

This was a factor of my original point, which I admit was limited to various systems/styles. Obviously attacking full backs are nothing particularly new - Brazil teams of old.

But, outside of Piqué, Koscielny is about as good as a centre back will be with the ball at his feet. Can step out of defence well, and play medium distance passes very accurately. Yet when moved to right back, decent being a very fast defender (watch the compilation in the arsenal thread), he still failed to provide any attacking impetus. Good in 1v1 situations on the wing, but not useful at providing width like Sagna does for us.

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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by worms. on Fri Jan 27, 2012 6:33 pm

Hlebagone wrote:This was a factor of my original point, which I admit was limited to various systems/styles. Obviously attacking full backs are nothing particularly new - Brazil teams of old.

But, outside of Piqué, Koscielny is about as good as a centre back will be with the ball at his feet. Can step out of defence well, and play medium distance passes very accurately. Yet when moved to right back, decent being a very fast defender (watch the compilation in the arsenal thread), he still failed to provide any attacking impetus. Good in 1v1 situations on the wing, but not useful at providing width like Sagna does for us.

Ye I don't think Koscielny is mobile enough or a good enough dribbler to ever be a good attacking RB.
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Hlebagone

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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by Hlebagone on Fri Jan 27, 2012 6:43 pm

Més que un club wrote:
Hlebagone wrote:This was a factor of my original point, which I admit was limited to various systems/styles. Obviously attacking full backs are nothing particularly new - Brazil teams of old.

But, outside of Piqué, Koscielny is about as good as a centre back will be with the ball at his feet. Can step out of defence well, and play medium distance passes very accurately. Yet when moved to right back, decent being a very fast defender (watch the compilation in the arsenal thread), he still failed to provide any attacking impetus. Good in 1v1 situations on the wing, but not useful at providing width like Sagna does for us.

Ye I don't think Koscielny is mobile enough or a good enough dribbler to ever be a good attacking RB.

No he isn't really. But that was kind of my point. There aren't very many centre backs these days who have the right attributes to be a good fullback.
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Jaime

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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by Jaime on Fri Jan 27, 2012 7:02 pm

I think an interesting point is that you often see a full back that can then move the the centre (i.e. Maldini, Puyol, S. Ramos, Abidal)...but you don't usually see a player that starts out as a centre back move to the outside. At least I can't think of one. Or if they do (e.g. Koscielny? I guess I don't know where he started) they are seem to be lacking in some area that is important for a full back.
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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

Post by Pras_tama on Sat Jan 28, 2012 8:48 am

Hlebagone wrote:
Més que un club wrote:
Hlebagone wrote:This was a factor of my original point, which I admit was limited to various systems/styles. Obviously attacking full backs are nothing particularly new - Brazil teams of old.

But, outside of Piqué, Koscielny is about as good as a centre back will be with the ball at his feet. Can step out of defence well, and play medium distance passes very accurately. Yet when moved to right back, decent being a very fast defender (watch the compilation in the arsenal thread), he still failed to provide any attacking impetus. Good in 1v1 situations on the wing, but not useful at providing width like Sagna does for us.

Ye I don't think Koscielny is mobile enough or a good enough dribbler to ever be a good attacking RB.

No he isn't really. But that was kind of my point. There aren't very many centre backs these days who have the right attributes to be a good fullback.

Vermaelen does well so far, doesn't he?

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Re: Better full backs? Central Defenders/Defensive Midfielder

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