Alex Scott on World Cup 2014: Backs to the future as we watch the way forward in defence

Teams from the Americas – and the Dutch – are proving very flexible

Like every other football fan the players in the women’s game have been avidly following the World Cup. When I was away with England we watched games in Belarus and Ukraine, on Sunday we watched them on the coach travelling back from playing Liverpool, and of course we’ve watched them at home.

As a player it is hard to just switch off and watch it as a fan, you are always looking at the formations, assessing what players are trying to do. It has been fascinating seeing the different tactical approaches and the flexibility of some teams. Most of the South and Central American teams have played very different formations to the ones we are used to, often employing three at the back, and there has been lots of interchanging.

I think the Dutch have been among the most fluid. I always look at the player in my position at right-back and it’s been interesting watching Daryl Janmaat. He has played as a conventional right-back, but also as the right wing-back. In both positions he hardly ever goes past the halfway line. Daley Blind gets forward on the left but Janmaat makes sure the team is never over-committed. In contrast Mexico’s wing-backs, especially in the group games, kept bombing up and down.


We play four at the back at Arsenal now but used to play five and I would get forward a lot. You do need to be adaptable. At Liverpool on Sunday I changed position with 20 minutes left. Danielle Carter needed to come off as she is only just back from injury, and as we were 1-0 up we wanted to bring on another defensive player. Leah Williamson came on to play on the right of the defence and I pushed on. When we lost the ball I dropped back, Leah moved across, and we were effectively a back five. It worked as we held on to win.

Young players like Leah tend to be versatile. Players are now coached to play in different positions and systems. As we have seen with teams like Chile, if you are going to play three at the back the central defenders need to be more footballers than centre-halves traditionally have been as they need to be comfortable when they are drawn into wide areas.

We are adapting with England too. Under Hope Powell we always played 4-3-3 – everyone knew it. Mark Sampson wants to add a new element so we are not so predictable. You need to at that level. So in the past three internationals we have been playing a diamond midfield.

Dirk Kuyt, Ron Vlaar, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder wave to their families during training Dirk Kuyt, Ron Vlaar, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder wave to their families during training  

That changes things for the full-backs, suddenly there is more space ahead of you. To start with, Demi Stokes and I were bombing forward all day, but Mark stresses the need to pick and choose when to go.

Naturally, the right-backs I’ve enjoyed watching most are the attacking ones. I love watching Dani Alves. I modeled my game on him, and while there is a question mark over his defending at times he has such energy and creates so many problems in the final third, his coaches have been happy to take the package.

One of the highlights of a World Cup is seeing lesser-known players come through, like Joel Campbell with Costa Rica. In my position one of the stars has been Fabian Johnson. He’s so quick, he’s been a real threat for the United States.

It is important for young boys and girls to study the players in their position when they watch matches and see what they do. I used to watch games and think ‘what makes her the best?’ and consider how I could add qualities to my game. You are never too old to  learn. With England, Mark had me watching video of David Alaba, the Bayern Munich full-back. He underlaps a lot and Mark thought I could learn from watching how and when he does it.

Watching all these games has certainly whetted the appetite for our World Cup in Canada next summer. England have almost qualified now so it is a matter of finishing the job, then making sure I can keep my place. As we’ve been reminded this summer, World Cups are special.

Alex Scott plays for Arsenal Ladies. She has won 114 England caps and played in the Women’s World Cup in 2007 and 2011. Arsenal Ladies play Chelsea Ladies at Borehamwood FC on Sunday, kick-off 2pm

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave