Dani Alves is hard to categorize, because Barcelona don’t play a formation which is a typical anything. Still, if I’d have to label him, it’ll be a super attacking right wing back, which makes him the best in the world at the position.
Philipp Lahm is our top choice on the left side, followed by Sergio Ramos and Jose Enrique from Spain, another Brazilian in Marcelo, the ever improving Micah Richards and Juventus’ Stephan Lichtsteiner, making up the top 7 full back in the world, heading into 2012.
Number 7 – Micah Richards, Right Back, Manchester City & England
Always touted as England’s next right back, Micah Richards seems to finally be finding the consistency on his way of actually fulfilling his promise. Constantly improving the last two years, both offensively and defensively, Richards is now more than an imposing figure, often looking awkward on the wing. He’s much more useful when he goes up and his reactions and tackling have vastly improved. Can play in the center of defense as well, but not as effectively.
Number 6 – Jose Enrique, Left Back, Liverpool
Still not a Spain regular, but that will come pretty soon if Enrique keeps up at this pace. He drew attention for his defensive skills at Newcastle, but only since moving to Liverpool this season has Enrique shown how good of a defender he really is. Still lacking in terms of his crossing, but Enrique is a defender, first and foremost. So far, this season, no left back in England has done it better than him.
Number 5 – Marcelo, Left Wing Back, Real Madrid & Brazil
Marcelo doesn’t have a lot to do with defending. If he wasn’t playing for a club that attacks all game long and had at least a couple of players to back him up, Marcelo wouldn’t be anywhere near the world’s best. But there’s no other positioned back, right or left, in the world right now with Marcelo’s skills and ability to score. Fantastic technique and exciting dribbling skills, Marcelo’s other big fault is he’s prone to big, costly turnovers and/or implosions.
Number 4 – Stephan Lichtsteiner, Right Back, Juventus & Switzerland
The Swiss international made quite an impression during the 2010 World Cup, especially in the shocking win over Spain in which Lichtsteiner was simply impassible. Never shy of attacking, Lichtsteiner has really stood out this season, his first for Juve, looking like its most solid and reliable piece at back. His crossing and support for the attack, like during his Lazio days, has been excellent as well.
Number 3 – Sergio Ramos, All Positions, Real Madrid & Spain
It’s hard to place Ramos at one position, because he’s been a Centre Back, right back, left back and back again, but I think he’s at his best when on the right. His physical gifts have always made him a force to be reckoned with and a very hard player to handle, but he’s adding more to his game every year. One of the biggest parts of Spain’s dominating 2008 and 2010 Euro & World Cup winning sides.
Number 2 – Philipp Lahm, Left Back, Bayern Munich & Germany
Lahm has had his ups and downs this year, but he’s still my first choice out of any left back in the world. Back to the position has played in before Van Gaal, he has been very productive with his newly formed wing partnership alongside Franck Ribery. Looking to win his fifth Bundesliga title with Bayern Munich this season, Lahm usually impresses in big tournaments, and is another reason Germany are favored by many to win the 2012 Euro.
Number 1 – Dani Alves, Right Wing Back, Barcelona & Brazil
Daniel Alves, like most of the Brazilian greats on the flank, doesn’t really spend that much time defending. He’s more of a winger who helps out on defense more than expected. Whatever you want to label his as, Alves is the best at what he does. Lightning quick, a much better defender than what people mostly think of him. Alves has won everything with Barcelona since arriving from Sevilla in 2008, and his ability to join the attack, crossing (although sometimes he blunders it a bit) and long range threat make him the first pick among most fans and coaches as the best right back in the world.