The idea that full-backs are essentially defensive players is an old and outdated concept. It certainly has little currency in Brazil, where the country's national teams at every level have long since rejected the notion. For several decades now, the South American nation has been a veritable production line for full-backs in the modern mould, players with the talent and energy to surge upfield and create danger in much the same way as a forward.

"It's true that it's something common in Brazilian football and I don't know how the tradition started," says Joao Pedro, Brazil's right-back at the FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015. "The full-backs play very high, but I have to say that I like it that way." That much is obvious after watching the 18-year-old in action. Like so many Auriverde full-backs past and present, including Nilton Santos, Roberto Carlos, Junior and Marcelo, the youngster spends much of his time high up the pitch.

"Personally, Cafu is my idol," he explains, fresh from shining at both ends during Brazil's commanding 5-0 semi-final defeat of Senegal. "I always liked his playing style: efficient both in attack and defence. Aside from him, I'm impressed by the style of play of Philipp Lahm. He's another very complete defender, which is what I like."

'As long as it helps us win'
Lahm was part of the Germany team that dismantled Brazil 7-1 during the semi-finals at the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ just a year ago, but Joao Pedro clearly does not hold a grudge. In fact, it could be argued that his side's five-goal victory against Senegal went some way to restoring Brazilian pride. "It's a huge pleasure to be in the final, but we're not finished yet," says the Palmeiras defender, who provoked the opening goal with a cross that Andelinou Correa turned into his own net. "I'm thrilled if that goal maybe served as a turning point. We worked on our interplay down the right a lot during training and it paid off."

The Verdeamarelha went into their meeting with Senegal in somewhat mixed shape. A pair of 0-0 draws in the Round of 16 and quarter-finals signalled their solidity in defence, but further forward it was a different story, with the team having gone 249 minutes without scoring – their worst run at this level since 1993. Much responsibility thus fell on their full-backs to add a little extra weight to their attacking moves. "That's why I like this position," says Joao Pedro. "You have to defend but you also have to support the forwards and create danger. I think I get as much pleasure from a good tackle as I do from an assist or scoring a goal. As long as it helps us win."

Left-back Jorge was equally involved in the semi-final success, weighing in with the fourth goal himself. Both players put in textbook performances out wide, seemingly appearing in two places at once, and after tireless displays they were withdrawn from the fray – Joao Pedro going off in the 79th minute after his counterpart's half-time substitution. "We both played every minute of our last two games," says the right-back. "I think the coach wanted to give us a breather ahead of the final."

The duo have emerged as key figures in Brazil's run, and Joao Pedro was delighted to see Jorge find the net in Christchurch. "I'm really happy that he managed to score. He's been playing consistently well since the start of the tournament." The same could be said of Joao Pedro himself, of course, and together they epitomise the Seleçaozinha's new-found balance, with the team finding form at just the right time. "A defence needs the forwards to defend and the forwards need defenders to attack," he adds. "You can't have one without the other. They go hand in hand." As, it would seem, do Brazil and buccaneering full-backs with a thirst for the spectacular.