World Cup 2018: 5 Full-Backs to watch out for in this edition
The position of a full-back is one that has evolved over the past few decades with changes in formations, positioning and tactics all contributing to the centre-backs being pushed further back and the full-backs going wider and more forward.
They are primarily used in a formation that has four defenders at the back with the two full-backs flanking the two centre-backs in the middle.
Thus, the natural preference is to deploy a left-footed player for the left and a right-footed player on the right side.
Some of the biggest names in world football have specialized and dominated these positions for years and the skillset required includes great strength, pace, excellent game-reading and man-marking in order to prevent attacks and the ability to deal with tricky wingers.
This role requires incredible stamina for running up and down the wings to put in crosses for their forwards to score and to track back equally fast if the ball is lost to the opposition.
Wing-backs are used in a formation that uses three central defenders at the back. The wing-back is a position that is preferred in a 3-5-2 formation as an attacking option or in a 5-3-2 formation.
With teams opting to play attacking football and exploit the weakness of their opponents, the full-backs are usually crucial to the overall strength of every team.
This list includes five players who have stood out with their recent performances at club and national levels and are expected to contribute greatly to their national teams at World Cup.
#5 Nélson Semedo (Portugal)
Semedo is an offensive full-back with superb physical attributes who was a key player in Benfica’s title-winning campaign in Portugal. He moved to Barcelona in 2017 from Benfica for €30.5 million.
Having played a stellar season for the Águias (Eagles), the Portuguese has ably filled the right-back gap left at Barca following Dani Alves's summer 2016 departure.
Blessed with pace, power and an eye for a killer pass, the right-back has progressed quickly to the highest level, both with his club and the Portuguese national side.
Semedo has the attitude and technique to be world class; the pace, and vision to be able to float in crosses and create chances for the team.
His ability to dribble allows him to dominate the right flank, track-back quickly if his team loses possession, mark his man throughout the game and a simplicity to his game that seems to make even the cheekiest of skills look natural.
His connection with other players on the field is spectacular and he is also a loved figure in the dressing room (ignoring the spat he had with Neymar at the start of the season).
With injury hindering his progress in the later stages of the domestic season, the 25-year-old looks set to return to full match fitness in time to help Barca make a final assault in Spain and Europe.
Semedo’s ability to tear up-and-down the flank with the dribbling speed and skill of a top European winger will give Portugal an all-new dimension to their deadly attack spear-headed by none other than Ronaldo.
As the reigning European champions, the World-Cup will be important to the Seleção das Quinas and the right back; after all, it is not every day that a player gets to play with Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi in their career.