At Sunday League level it’s still traditional to stick your worst players at full-back.
But at the top level, those who play there are as influential as they’ve ever been.
After Jordi Alba’s glorious assist for Luis Suarez at the weekend, we spent way too long debating which country will be boasting the best pair of full-backs at the World Cup.
And it came down to a straight shootout between Spain and Brazil.
Ever since Zinedine Zidane ushered Dani Carvajal back into Real Madrid’s first team, the 26-year-old has been crucial to Los Blancos’ success.
Carvajal has established himself as one of the best right-backs in the world not through marauding displays as an auxiliary winger, but through unerring consistency.
Cristiano Ronaldo has benefited from his crossing and very few wingers or left-sided forwards have caused him much distress.
Very much the unsung hero of Real’s recent Champions League glories.
Jordi Alba has Spain’s left-back position locked down.
Barcelona’s No18 is playing the best football of his career this season and has formed a telepathic understanding with Lionel Messi.
Obviously Spain won’t be able to call on the Argentine’s genius in Russia but Alba’s pace and superhuman stamina will provide a constant outlet for the host of creative midfielders at Julen Lopetegui’s disposal.
Now for Brazil.
At 34-years-old Dani Alves may not be at his peak but he you’ll still find him overlapping Kylian Mbappe most weekends.
In a way he’s the antithesis of Carvajal — Alves has a penchant for the extraordinary but isn’t watertight defensively.
A veteran of over 100 caps for Brazil, his big-game experience could prove vital in Russia.
And to finish us off we have Marcelo.
Alba’s form this season has meant there’s a debate to be had but for the two years previous, Real Madrid’s left-back was the best in the world in his position.
He ended the 2016/17 season with ten league assists, one more than Messi, and his quality on the ball makes him as much of a threat in the final third as most forwards.
In terms of reverses, Spain can call upon Cesar Azpilicueta and Nacho Monreal.
While Brazil have Danilo, Alex Sandro and possibly even Filipe Luis as understudies.
But the question is, which country is better off?
In terms of their whole careers you’d have to give it to the Brazil duo but on current form, we’d probably say Spain have the slight advantage.
Opponents of both will have to be tactically aware of the threat posed from the full-backs positions.
Many fancy Brazil v Spain as a potential final — wouldn’t that be one hell of a setting to end the debate?
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