2010 FIFA World Cup: Ranking the Best Full Backs To Rock South Africa
Gone are those days when full backs do not even cross the middle line of the pitch.
The modern day football has seen full backs play a more important role than just defending.
Their attacking prowess has to be strong or they will simply face the chop.
The way they complement wingers in the game and their excellent runs down the flanks has added an element of excitement in football.
So much so that some attack minded full backs are sometimes even known as wingbacks.
These Super 5 full backs (ranked) are a joy to watch, and come June 11th, they'll surely rock the floor in South Africa and be vital in their nation's quest for glory.
South Africa, here they come!
No.5—Philipp Lahm (Germany and Bayern Munich)
First off is the little giant of Germany who has been given the captain's armband recently by national manager, Joachim Low as their midfield enforcer. Ballack will miss the Finals due to an injury he sustained in Chelsea's last game of the season against Portsmouth in the FA Cup Final.
Philipp Lahm, who has been branded “Mr. Consistency” for his excellent displays in both club and international levels, has surely been one of the best full backs in the world for the last six years.
He plays as a right back in his club, Bayern Munich, and as a left back for Germany. Despite that, he doesn't complain and he continues to catch people's attention ever since he made his international debut in Euro 2004.
His versatility has caught the interest of Barcelona and Manchester United in the last four years but the little German knows that his best years are to come in the Bundesliga. He has even once said that he would love to be a Bundesliga legend.
Now 26 years of age, he will be reaching the peak of his career in no time.
Lahm is known for his penetrating runs down the flanks and he has always been a leader on the pitch.
The 5’7” classy defender had a stellar season for Bayern where they finished with the Double with the Bundesliga title and German Cup.
They narrowly missed out on their first Champions League trophy though since 2001 when Louis Van Gal's men lost to Italian champions Inter Milan 0-2. Their dreams of a Treble did not come true after this disappointing loss.
In the last Finals that were played in his homeland, he had the honor of scoring the opening goal of the tournament against Costa Rica and he was also the only German player to taste every minute of action the Germans had.
In the last Euros, he scored the all-decisive goal in the semis against Turkey for a 3-2 win that put them in the finals only to lose to Spain. He described his last minute goal as the most vital of his career.
In the international scene, he has made 64 appearances and has scored three goals so far for the three time world champions.
After an impressive season for him in Bayern, Lahm will look to skipper the best nation historically in Europe to a fourth world title at South Africa.
No.4—Douglas Maicon (Brazil and Inter Milan)
No. 4 on the list is Brazilian right back, Douglas Maicon, who plays for Italian treble winners, Inter Milan.
Maicon has successfully filled in the vacant spot left by former captain and legend, Cafu.
He has done it in a convincing fashion by winning the hearts of Samba fans that love to see his strong runs and tackles. His great ability in crossing has also received huge applause by football experts.
In Inter Milan's strong season under the now Real Madrid boss, Jose Mourinho, Maicon was an integral part of the team by successfully playing as a wing back and having a fair share of goals and assists throughout the season.
This robust Brazilian set many of top scorer Diego Milito’s goals up.
Jose Mourinho has said that he would love to take a cluster of his former stars to the Bernabeu and Maicon is one of them.
English giants Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United also want him. The latter club are understood to be serious about him to take over from Gary Neville while understudy and compatriot Rafael grows up to be a more complete player.
Sir Alex is a long admirer of Maicon and it will be interesting to see where he ends up after the World Cup.
Maicon has come a long way after missing the last edition in Germany and much credit has got to go to Dunga who made him his first choice right back in the Copa America in 2007 right after his appointment.
In the FIFA Confederations Cup final against the United States, Maicon scored and set up a goal in Brazil's comprehensive 3-0 final victory.
He will be up against Portugal, Ivory Coast and minnows North Korea in Group G, which is branded the “Group of Death” in this edition of the Finals.
Brazil are favorites to land and unprecedented sixth World Cup title and if that is to happen, this man has to play a huge role for the Samba Boys.
No.3—Ashley Cole (England and Chelsea)
This Chelsea man is surely not having the best of times since the World Cup is right around the corner and his wife Cheryl Cole just called an end to their marriage.
This comes after news of his multiple affairs, which were revealed a couple of months ago.
Cheryl, Britain's darling, was so thoughtful about the Fabio Capello's England squad, she filed for a quickie divorce so that the Three Lion's preparations for their opening match against the USA in Group C, which also contains Algeria and Slovenia, would not be disrupted.
Ashley Cole was having a fine season before the news was leaked. He scored four goals this season for the Blues (the highest number in his career) and also helped set up a number of goals for Drogba, Anelka and Co.
In the FA Cup final against relegated Portsmouth, Cole created history by becoming the first player to win six FA Cup winner's medals.
To cap it off, the brilliant left back had a really good season despite missing the climax part of the season with injury.
With that, he looks certain to be on the plane to South Africa as Capello' s first choice left back.
His understudies, Leighton Baines and Stephen Warnock, do not look comfortable at all in the left back position that Cole has been ruling for several years now.
He made his 77th appearance for England on 10 October 2009 in the 1–0 defeat by Ukraine in the World Cup qualifiers (Their only loss throughout the campaign). Cole is now just two caps short from matching the record of 79 caps by a Black English international (John Barnes, who appeared for England from 1983 to 1995).
He has yet to register his first goal in a Three Lions shirt and with England being touted as potential winners, this could be the time when Cole firmly establishes himself as one of the best left backs of all time.
No.2—Patrice Evra (France and Manchester United)
Up in No.2 is Manchester United's unsung hero, Patrice Evra. Surely the best left back in the world, Evra has won almost everything in his four years at Old Trafford.
Three Premier League titles, three League Cups, one Champions League and one Club World Cup. That amazing record speaks for itself. Only the FA Cup eludes the Senegalese born French player.
He was initially brought in to replace the Real Madrid bound Gabriel Heinze. French club AS Monaco sold him for a fee of £5.5 million and in the space of four years, he has firmly established himself as one of Fergie's household names.
Last season, he had the honor of being selected in FIFPro's World XI team. That award is given to players who specialize in their respective positions.
That award surely states that Evra is the best left back in the world. In addition to that he was also in the Premier League Team of The Year for three consecutive seasons including the just concluded one in where the Red Devils finished with a League Cup win.
Evra is known for his high and deadly crossing from the left with the likes of Rooney and Park often getting on the scoresheet because of his invaluable contributions.
Despite rumors that suggest that Evra will leave United for new challenges, my bet is on him to remain at the Theatre of Dreams.
The now French vice captain has recently slammed critics who say that France does not have what it takes to win the World Cup by saying: "The most important thing is to believe in ourselves and not the people who say we're rubbish. Nobody wants to play against France. This team is going to the World Cup to win."
Strong and hopeful words there from the little defender who will be leading a recharged team for the Finals after their World Cup training camp in the gorgeous Alpine Resort of Tignes in where the Les Blues got together and did fun-filled activities such as buggy racing and cycling.
He recently captained France to a 2-1 friendly win over Mexico who they will also face in the group stages after captain Henry was left warming the bench.
The 1998 world champions will be facing hosts South Africa and unpredictable two time world champions Uruguay besides Mexico in Group A.
No.1—Dani Alves (Brazil and Barcelona)
And finally at No.1 is Brazil’s hugely skillful and versatile wingback that plies his trade at Spain playing for the league champions— Barcelona.
Alves first started to show a glimpse of his talent in a six-year spell with Sevilla. Under Juande Ramos, Alves helped Sevilla to win the Copa del Rey and also two UEFA Cups.
His dead-ball ability wowed the fans of Sevilla but they were consigned to losing him after big clubs namely Liverpool and Chelsea went all out for this strong defender.
In the end, it was Barca who successfully captured him for a hefty price of €34 million plus add-ons of €6 million thus, becoming the most expensive defender in history.
In his debut season, he was an integral part down the right hand side often complementing World Player of The Year, Messi. He helped them to win the Treble and completed his inaugural season with the Spanish giants by winning six trophies.
The next season, Alves's Barca won the championship after a thrilling race with Real Madrid to be crowned La Liga champions. Barca managed to amass 99 points, which is a La Liga record.
It's exciting to watch Alves play as he often cuts past defenders and always helps his teammates to get the goals with his accurate crosses. He himself has already scored 8 goals for Barca.
In the international scene, he made his debut in 2006 and was part of the team that won the Copa America and FIFA Confederations Cup.
In the Copa America, he scored and set up a goal in the 3-0 final win against fierce rivals Argentina and in last year's Confederations Cup, he scored the winner against World Cup hosts South Africa.
That goal was a trademark Brazilian finish reminding everyone of what Roberto Carlos used to do for the Samba Boys. Brazil won 1-0 and won the tournament after defeating surprise packages—USA.
Alves has 33 caps for Brazil and has so far scored three goals.
Even though, Dunga has made it crystal clear that Maicon is the first choice right back, that doesn't mean that Alves would be warming the bench.
He would probably get to play slightly in front of Maicon as a wingback and it is surely going to be truly wonderful to watch Alves play.