Former Italian full-back Gianluca Zambrotta sat down with Serie A ahead of Matchday 19 to speak about his transformation as a player under Marcelo Lippi, the evolution of a full-back, and Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic.
From Winger to Full-Back
Zambrotta moved back to the future in 2002. Then Juventus manager Marcello Lippi transformed the speedy winger into one of the finest full-backs of his era, anticipating the modern evolution of the role.
“I must admit Lippi had great foresight because I played in that position under him for Italy and won the World Cup. Back then, there weren’t many full-backs in Italy who got forward so much and were able to perform equally at both ends of the pitch…”
The Evolution of a Full-Back
20 years on, full-backs have increasingly varied their positions and movement, not only bombing down the flanks but also attacking inside to create all kinds of headaches for the opposition.
“Nowadays coaches demand more on the offensive side than defending… Often, they’ll cut inside rather than go out to the wing. The full-back’s role has changed a bit and I think it’s more fun than it was before…”
This season full-backs and wingers have provided assists for almost half of Juventus’ goals. Zambrotta says they’ll be instrumental in helping Dusan Vlahovic find the back of the net again. The striker, who’s returning from injury, hasn’t scored in three months.
“He’s obviously not scoring as much as you’d expect from him but you have to help players like that. I think in the second half of the season, playing alongside players like Kostic, who knows him really well, players like Cuadrado, like Chiesa, I’m not saying it will be easier but he’ll certainly get more support…”