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Take your game to the next level: Roberto Carlos on defensive positioning

Learn from one of the all-time masters as the Real Madrid and Brazil great explains how to be in the right place at the right time.

Roberto Carlos on defensive positioning

Roberto Carlos scored stunning goals and supplied brilliant assists during his time with Real Madrid and Brazil, but the left-back never neglected his defensive duties. "You have to position yourself well, have good concentration, and try to do your absolute best throughout the 90-95 minutes of the game," he explains.

Essential to that is understanding where to be, and who you are up against. "Really study the player that you will be marking," the 48-year-old says. "Concentrate on the ball, always look into the eyes of the player that has the ball, position yourself well to know which direction the player will go, inside or outside."

Champions League 100 club: Luís Figo

One opponent in particular helped Roberto Carlos to sharpen up his defensive game. "When I played against [Luís] Figo against Barcelona, I always had the wrong body position, meaning that he could cut inside," the three-time UEFA Champions League winner remembers. "And since he could play the ball well with the outside of his foot and he was very fast, I had problems.

"Then, I slowly started to learn to position myself like this, by always looking at my defensive team-mates who made him go down the wing, allowing me to close him down, because he was a very fast player."

Champions League 100 club: Paolo Maldini

Roberto Carlos also perfected his skills by watching some of the masters. "The best full-backs I’ve played with were Cafu, Michel Salgado, Paolo Maldini, Branco, [Léo] Júnior and Marcelo," he says.

"Today, the full-backs I like are all left-backs. Of course, Marcelo, who is number one in my opinion, there's Ferland Mendy the Real Madrid full-back, [Atlético's Renan] Lodi and [Juventus's] Alex Sandro, who are very modern players with a lot of defending and attacking qualities, a lot of experience: they are game-changers.

"They are full-backs who embody the full-back position and keep doing what Cafu and I did, which is to modernise the left-back position by marking well and attacking with a lot of confidence to help the team win games. In my opinion, the ideal all-round full-back today would have the intelligence of Roberto Carlos, the physical strength of Cafu, the quality and ability of Marcelo, and the power of Mendy. That would be the perfect full-back."

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