Tactical innovationis a necessary phenomenon in football and coaches must be ready to adapt their approachesin the pursuit of glory.

Certain formations have emerged and re-emerged over the years, with 3-5-2in particularbecoming increasingly popularin the late 2010sas an antidote to the tiki-taka of Spain and Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona.

Among the most important componentsin the 3-5-2 formation (or any set-up with a back three) are the wing-backs, and players who can play in the position are given a lot of responsibilities.

So what exactly is the role of the wing-back and how does it differ from that of a full-back? Goal brings you all you need to know.

The wing-back position in football is essentially a mixture of a full-back and a winger. They play on either side of the defence, helping to provide width to a team.

A player who plays in the wing-back position is expected to get forward as much as possible in order to assist the attack, but they must also track back to help the defence.

It is a highly demanding position from a physical perspective given the ground that must be covered on the wing, so wing-backs need to have a lot of stamina and all-round strength.

As well as being able to get up and down the wing at speed, one of the main jobs of a wing-back is to supply crosses into the box or passes into the forward line.

However, a wing-back must also possess defensive attributes, such as good tackling ability and sound positional awareness – knowing when to drop deep or push forward at the right time.

While wing-backs are commonly used in 3-5-2 or 3-4-3formations, such as those used by Antonio Conte, they can also be a feature of teams playing with a back four,in a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 for example.

Liverpool’s 2019-20 Premier League-winning teamunder Jurgen Klopp lined up with a 4-3-3, but full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertsonpressed so high that they were effectively wing-backs.

Indeed, Alexander-Arnold and Robertson set up a combined 25 goals for the Reds on their way to the title in that campaign, while they scored six between them.

Brazil also famously deployed a back four with two flying full-backs – essentially wing-backs – in the form of Roberto Carlos and Cafu on their way to World Cup success in 2002.

Full-backs and wing-backs play in more or less the same part of the pitch, but there are key differences between the roles within a system.

The main difference is that a wing-back has more licence toattack, whereas the full-back has more emphasis on defence.

While full-backs can be encouraged to get forward and help attack on occasion, wing-backs are expected to dictate the attacking width of their team.

When Tottenham signed Matt Doherty from Wolves in 2020, he arrived in north Londonas a player who had played solely as a wing-back in the previous three seasons.

However, he has been deployed as afull-back at Spurs, as well as internationally for the Republic of Ireland.

Reflecting on the difference in the positions, Doherty told reporters: “When you play as a wing-back you don’t actually have to defend as much. At full-back you have to properly defend.

Source : goal.com

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