Wingback is arguably the most tricky position in the game of football. It is also one of the most physically demanding positions as a wingback is expected to defend as well as attack.

While their main role remains to support attack from the wings, they also fall back and perform defending duties as and when required. Players like Dani Alves, Marcelo and Roberto Carlos have set the standards and expectations of a wingback very high for the modern-day players.

Some of the main skills required to excel in this position are:

Dribble past your opponent:

Unlike a midfielder, a wingback does not dictate the tempo of the game. A wingback, however, is absolutely crucial when it comes to carrying the ball forward from the wings.

In a game of football, it is impossible to do so without possessing the ability and skills of dribbling and provide cut-backs to the forwards of their team to create a goal-scoring opportunity.

Control:

A wingback isn’t a position known for patience or Barcelona-esque tiki-taka football. A wingback is expected to run past the defenders, exploiting space left behind by his marker, and running towards the opposition’s goal at pace. Controlling the ball while making long busting runs is one of the most crucial qualities of a wingback.

Crossing:

The thing that separates an ordinary wingback and a world-class wingback is the quality of crosses they can deliver into the box.

Wingbacks often find themselves in a position where they can deliver crosses – high or low – onto the head or the feet on the striker into the box, creating goal-scoring opportunities at the end of his attacking forward runs.

Pace:

Wingbacks will more often than not find themselves in a position where they have to battle in a foot race with an opponent to get to the ball first, whether it’s a through ball onto the opponents half or tracking back a winger on their own half. It is necessary for a wingback to outrun their opponents and win the ball. 

Stamina:

Unlike a defender, midfielder, or striker- a wingback is given the license to wander around the pitch which in some ways is out of their basic role of defending duties in order to help their team in moving the ball forward.

They are expected to attack when their team is on the front foot and vice versa. Their constant back and forth runs make a wingback requiring immense stamina and endurance without which they cannot last the entire length of the game.

Link up play:

The success of a wingback largely depends on how they manage to find and create space behind the opposition’s defensive line. One of the most prominent ways to do that is by linking up with one of their teammates with a one-two pass and shaking off your marker.

One-two passing allows a team to disrupt the formation of the opposition, by drawing in players closer, forcing them to leave spaces behind, allowing a wingback to capitalise and jet forward towards the goal.

To conclude, wingers are very versatile and play a key role in the formation of their team. While they mostly operate near the sides of the pitch but may have to move to the centre when the need arises.

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