Role Of A Number 2 In Soccer

What is a Fullback in Football? Duties of a Soccer Number 2 Explained

The number 2 shirt holds an important place in soccer. While other numbers like 10 are usually reserved for creative attacking players, the number 2 is often worn by fullbacks – dependable defensive players who support both attack and defense up and down the flanks of the pitch. Though not glory positions, good number 2s are invaluable in the modern game.

Defensive Duty as Number 2

A top priority for a modern number 2 is defensive responsibility. Though fullbacks once mainly focused on stopping opponents, the modern overlapping fullback must balance both defending and raiding forward to aid attacks.

soccer positions

The best number 2s time their forward runs well while also quickly recovering to snuff out counterattacks down the wings when possession is lost.

Top-level number 2s like Trent Alexander-Arnold excel just as much at well-timed tackling as accurate crossing.

Supporting Attacks – Number 2 is not only Fullback

While a good number 2 must defend well, supporting attacks is just as vital in the modern game. Under managers like Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp, fullbacks push high up the pitch to provide attacking width and pull defenders out of position.

pep guardiola
Pep Guardiola

This both creates space for playmakers and goal scorers centrally while also allowing the fullbacks to whip in dangerous crosses. A modern number 2 must have both the pace to charge up the wing on overlaps and the skill to pick out clever low crosses.

Fitness and Focus

The increasing two-way demands on modern fullbacks require supreme fitness levels. Top number 2s like João Cancelo regularly top distance-run stats for their teams, covering ground relentlessly up and down the flank.

This fitness allows number 2s to continue executing tactically demanding roles late into matches when legs tire and focus fades.

Mentally, the modern 2 must also balance positioning, tackling, overlapping, and crossing for a full 90 minutes. The role calls for tremendous tactical intelligence and concentration.

Creativity and Communication

The modern fullback’s freedom to roam and cross demands good communication with the defensive line. If both a team’s number 2 and number 3 push forward, spaces can open up for opponents’ pacey wingers to exploit.

The best modern full-back pairings have a strong understanding of when to invert, switch flanks, or sit narrower to cover for each other.

Creatively, a top number 2 like Andy Robertson also combines well with teammates up the wing, using give-and-goes or knowing when to cross early instead of another pass.


While traditional fullbacks needed to excel defensively on both flanks, the modern game increasingly sees number 2s and 3s develop specialized strengths.

A right-footed 2 may focus more on supporting attacks with crosses from the right wing while relying on a left-footed 3 to mainly provide defensive cover.

Specialization allows each fullback to perfect attacking or defending skills on their flank side. Favouring one foot can also lend unpredictable variety to attacks rather than predictable crosses always coming from the byline.

Leadership and Experience

While young attacking prospects grab headlines, experienced number 2s provide quiet leadership. Solid communication, tactical awareness, positioning, and mental focus come with age and maturity.

A veteran number 2 like James Milner plays an under-appreciated role in organizing the backline. Younger players also look to veterans to set examples executing the intense physical demands of the modern fullback consistently.

Players like Milner who transition from advanced roles like wingers also bring valuable perspective linking play between defense and attack.

trent alexander arnold
Trent Alexander-Arnold


The increasing demands placed on modern soccer number 2s highlight just how vital the role has become. While the position once mainly focused narrowly on defense, top modern teams rely on their fullbacks to excel just as much going forward.

This balances attacking threats across the width of the pitch. Combining elite fitness, technical skills, tactical intelligence, and leadership, the modern number 2 impacts both ends of the game.

More glory may come to goal scorers, but managers appreciate the immense value of dependable, dynamic fullbacks.

As the game continues evolving, the development of elite number 2s and 3s could determine which teams achieve success.

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