The “inverted fullback” has been talked about far less than other “modern” roles such as the “false nine” or the “inverted winger”. Mostly this is because the inverted fullback is a much rarer beast. Since the turn of the century, it is often the case that the fullback provides the only width in a team. The attacking players are usually marked, so the fullback can come from deep as a free man on the wing. Combined with the advent of the “inverted winger”, playing with both inverted wingers and inverted fullbacks would create a traffic jam in the centre circle and acres of real estate down the flanks.
As Tom Williams argues, fullbacks playing on their weak foot are nothing new in itself. The novelty comes from the freedom they are given when the team attacks. Probably the most high-profile pioneer of this is Philip Lahm, a right-footed fullback who played on the left for Germany in the 2006 World Cup. His display against Cost Rica shows the archetypical inverted fullback at work. His movement by coming inside onto his stronger foot created space either for an inside pass or – in this case – a thunderous drive into the top corner. He has also played there for Bayern Munich, and it looks as if this will continue. Rafinha has been brought in to play right back, which leaves only the left back slot if Lahm is to get any playing time.
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