Part III of our best-by-position posts for the new years, this time giving you the best full backs (or wing backs, whatever you wanna call them) in the World right now.
Best of Posts, 2011 Edition – Best Goalkeepers Best Centre Backs Best Midfielders Wingers/Supporting Strikers Strikers
Right Backs – Runner Ups
Maicon, Inter and Brazil
This hasn’t been Maicon’s best season so far, like pretty much everyone at Inter. Repeating an amazing year like in 2009-2010 is quite a feat, and the drop was imminent. Maybe a transfer to Real Madrid who were very keen (probably no enough) on signing the attacking right back would have been good for him. But that’s a big if. Maicon had, like the entire Brazilian team, a disappointing summer, and then came Gareth Bale, who ripped him to shreds in London. Still, few are more dangerous on the wing then Maicon, who like most of the elite full backs is much more of a deep lying winger than a proper defender. Maybe with the new coach his golden touch will return.
Phillip Lahm, Bayern Munich and Germany
He did struggle with the position at first, but Lahm switching to right back was probably the best move he has ever made. He doesn’t get to shoot from long range after cutting from the left like before, but his crossing, defending and general influence on the game is much better, no matter if he likes the left wing more. Lahm has actually scored 3 league goals this season, a career high for him, while Bayern are praying for Arjen Robben to come back as the title slips further and further out of reach.
Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid and Spain
When he plays for Spain, Ramos is always a right back, where he does his best work, like in the 2010 World Cup, helping the Spanish defense keep five clean sheets. For Real Madrid? You never know. His versatility and physical attributes make him very useful when a need to ‘fill holes’ rises. Ramos can play on the left and as a centre back. He’s good doing either, just not as good as he is on the right. The knack for a mental breakdown once in a while, resulting in a red card, or getting caught while attacking by a counter attack do put a frown on his excellent wing play once in a while.
The Best – Dani Alves, Barcelona and Brazil
Maybe Dunga should have read our list from last year and played with Alves as his right back and bench Maicon. Dunga used Maicon in the RB position while Alves was moved around the midfield most of the time, being much less effective. Alves may not possess the power and size and that Maicon has, but don’t be fooled, he’s a much better player. Lightning quick and with a brilliant right foot when crossing or shooting, his movement off the ball during Barca’s possessions are often the that extra motion that creates the goals, whether he actually gets a touch on the ball. His combination with Messi on the right just might be the best one ever. Like Ramos, can leave a hole or two due to his commitment to attack. Good thing to have Puyol and Pique with you.
Left Backs – Two Above the Rest
Ashley Cole, Chelsea and England
It’s a problem evaluating Cole sometimes, knowing how much of a douche he is. Still, cheating bastard and money grabbing person he is, Ashley Cole is one of the toughest defenders to beat in the game. Even if he does get beat, he usually bounces back and gets the player after a chase. His tackling can improve, but either than that, Cole is everything you want in your full back.
Patrice Evra, Manchester United and France
Like most players on this list, he loves to attack. He was actually a winger during most of his youth, but was never really good at the position. Switching to left back was a pretty good decision. Hardly gets beaten by the man he’s marking on hsi wing and does a fantastic job with his support of the attack. The summer with France in South Africa was pretty much a disgrace and Evra is still serving a ban from the national team. There’s a doubt if he’ll return to ‘Les Blues’ in the near future as they are far from lacking depth at his position (Clichy, Abidal), a fact that will serve Alex Ferguson just fine. Weakness? Like all those who love to attack, does get caught out of position on rare occasions.
For last year’s list, go here.