Is The Secret Footballer a left back? If so he’ll be particularly interested in the World Cup so far. The 2006 World Cup kicked off with a screamer from German left back Phillip Lahm on home soil and after the completion of each of the first round of matches in this World Cup there’s been a much higher than usual focus around the left backs:
- In the very first match Brazil’s Marcelo scored the opening goal of this year’s world cup, albeit in his own net.
- The second game then brought Mexico’s Miguel Layun who became a contender for man of the match with wave after wave of attack from left back.
- The first big shock saw Holland’s Daley Blind, Danny’s son, produce an incredible performance in providing both the perfect assist for the flying Dutchman, Robin Van Persie’s equaliser and then again for the second goal. It was also Blind who made the crucial block when Torres looked certain to score as Holland produced the biggest surprise of the opening matches.
- Then there was the unforgettable Pablo Armero of Columbia. A goal, an assist and a leading role in the celebratory team dancing from the man who spent the second half of last season at West Ham gave us another memorable left back.
- As with Marcelo England’s Leighton Baines’ performance was scrutinised for the wrong reasons. Whether due to personnel in front or not it was Baines who was picked out by most as the man who looked most vulnerable in defeat as Italy piled up their attacks against him down their right hand flank.
- Ivory Coast’s Arthur Boka had a blistering first half with as many efforts on goal as the Ivorian strikers combined. Unfortunately he then had to go off injured in second half.
- Then came Switzerland’s Ricardo Rodriguez. Hotly tipped by pundits before the tournament started, he did not disappoint. The marauding Swiss full back set up both the goals in his team’s win. It should have been a hattrick of assists but for one of the many refereeing errors in this world cup wrongly chalking one off for offside.
- Argentina may have had a first half to forget but had it not been for left back Marcos Rojo setting up the own goal then the result of that match against a solid Bosnia and Herzegovena could well have been different
- As with his Real Madrid team mate Marcelo, Fabio Coentrao had a day to forget, but unlike Marcelo, Coentrao will have no chance to rectify things. The left back had a golden chance to pull one back at 2-0 and get the 11 men of Portugal back in it. He inexplicably tried to cross instead of slotting home. Later, despite Pepe having already taken the headlines as the man who practically removed the chances of Portugal progressing, Coentrao’s injury meant that even if they do somehow come back from that 4-0 mauling, the important left back will not be playing any further part.
- Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen, deployed at left back, had his blushes spared by his team mates after his foul gave away the penalty that saw Algeria take the lead. It wasn’t until Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini’s introduction that Belgium turned things round and ran out eventual 2-1 winners. Jan has Marouane to thank for helping clear his name from the headlines.
With the left backs taking more headlines than normal in the first round of matches at this World Cup the odds look good that Jordi Alba will play a part in helping Spain put their campaign back on track against Chile tonight. Worth a little flutter on him scoring perhaps?
Or maybe the second round of matches will see players from a different position taking the limelight. But going by the one second round match so far (Brazil v Mexico last night) that would mean the position of goalkeeper is the new left back. We don’t want that. And neither would the Secret Footballer, for we’ve already long established that he’s not a goalkeeper!