World Cup 2022 Top 5s: Full Backs

Luke Shaw

While the England defender didn’t get as many plaudits as the likes of Jude Bellingham, Harry Maguire or Harry Kane during the World Cup, Shaw was silently very effective on the left due to his ability to help England construct and build up play.

Only Luka Modric, Pedri and Leo Messi played more progressive passes than Shaw and he also played the highest number passes into the penalty area for the Three Lions, suggesting that he was one of their most creative players. He was also England’s best crosser, as he played four crosses.

Theo Hernandez

While Hernandez did have some problems defensively, he was excellent going forward and made an impact in the final third. He played 11 key passes, the highest out of all the other full-backs in the World Cup. His goal against Morocco was vital in handing France the initiative in the semi-final.

He could have done better defensively, but the Milan left-back deserves plaudits for his attacking contributions for Les Bleus.

Noussair Mazraoui

The Bayern Munich man was silently vital for the Atlas Lions, while playing at a rather unnatural left-back role when Achraf Hakimi played on the right. The 25-year-old won 14 tackles and was only behind Hakimi for the highest number of tackles won for full-backs. It is a fair reflection of the role he played.

Operating in a highly structured system, Mazraoui thrived and was really astute postionally, showing that he isn’t just someone who is great in attacking systems.

Achraf Hakimi

Hakimi had an excellent tournament and unlike Mazraoui, his performances didn’t go unnoticed. He played the highest number of crosses in the box for his side (3) and made 23 tackles – more than anyone else in the tournament. He also made eight interceptions, more than any other full-back in the World Cup.

More than that, he was constantly a threat on the right and looked to go past people. The World Cup showed that Hakimi can definitely play effectively in a back four, contrary to popular narratives.

Josip Juranovic

Juranovic is a vital part of the Celtic side under Ange Postecoglou but he often operates in an inverted role there. But the World Cup showed that he is just as adept while operating as a regular full-back who is constantly on the flanks. While he did have some poor moments defensively, he did come alive during crucial times.

He completed four crosses into the penalty area and wasn’t dribbled past even once on the right flank. He showed that he has a solid engine, as he played 600 minutes too – more than anyone else in the tournament. A January move away from Celtic could be a possibility for him.

Kaustubh Pandey | GWFN

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