Roberto Carlos: Play like a Brazilian full-back

Be your team’s most feared attacking threat with guidance from the Real Madrid and Selecao legend

Surprise the opposition

“There are advantages and disadvantages for a team who play with full-backs like me. You can surprise the opposition by attacking at speed, and provide more opportunities for final balls that result in goals. The danger is leaving space behind for the opposition. You have to find a conclusion when you attack: don’t lose the ball mid-move because that’s when your rivals can really hurt you. If you do lose the ball high up the field, press hard to win it back immediately.”

More after the break

Attack at speed and if you lose it, win it back


Choose your moments

“The most important thing to remember is to have maximum concentration at all times so that your team can enjoy dominating the ball. If you lose the ball, go and win it back. When you join in with the attack, the element of surprise is crucial. That’s a lot better than surprising your team-mates in defence! If the ball moves forward, then you attack. Look to catch up and be in a position to arrive at the perfect time as part of a counter-attack.”

Make your move when the time is right


Stay a step ahead

“Before I get the ball, I’m already thinking, ‘If I pass inside to the right, I need to move to the left to provide a wall for the return pass’. It’s not always easy to play football: the pitch is big but the ball is small. With the ball, you have to think about how you can get forward quickest to finish the move with a goal. I had five different things in my head at the same time and decided upon the best option at the end. Always think about what might happen a few passes down the line.”

Visualise possible outcomes


Know your winger

“I most enjoyed playing with [Zinedine] Zidane because he was really a No.10 playing on the wing, so his first movement was to go inside, which freed up the wing for me. If you’re an attacking full-back, this is perfect: pass inside and continue your run for the return. Even if you don’t get the ball back immediately, you must look to get behind the defence for a ball over the top. That’s how a full-back attacks. Zidane was a master and we loved playing with each other.”

Develop an understanding with the wide man


Isolate the other full-back

“When you’re attacking with your wide midfielder, be on the lookout for two-against-one situations. Push forward with speed – that makes life especially difficult for the opposition. If you can force them to mark you, and not the other way round, then you’re almost certain to win the battle for your wing, whether you’re playing at home or away. That also makes your life as a full-back easier because the opposition fear your attacks and don’t look to get forward to the same extent.”

Create two-on-one situations in your favour


Fill the gaps you create

“It’s inevitable that there will be situations when you’re caught upfield, so a full-back must understand what their defensive midfielders are doing. Naturally, they will drop back to cover your space, so you must occupy the hole that they’ve left in the middle of the field. It’s impossible for the full-back to run 70m back to the defence, but 40m is easy to fill in midfield until the opposition’s move is over and you can change again. Close the play there, and you won’t go far wrong.”

Be ready to retreat into any position


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For more football tips see:
Be a full-throttle full-back
Full-backs and wingers: Forge a menacing partnership
Glen Johnson: The attacking full-back
Micah Richards: How to raid from deep
Bombing forward for full-backs
Peter Taylor: Wingers and full-backs working together
Full-back: How to attack

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