It's a no-brainer that soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world today. The FIFA World Cup is the biggest and most followed tournament in the world. We also have various soccer leagues that feature our favorite teams.
Some of us are die-hard fans of the game, but how much do we understand the sport? A soccer team consists of eleven players who play in four distinctive positions: goalkeeper, defenders, midfielders, and strikers or attackers.
Have you heard of the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Xavi, and Iniesta? These are some of the soccer greats graced to be the most talented midfielders of our time.
Great football managers understand that to win any game, a team should have strong and dominant midfielders. Why's that? Here is a guide to help us understand the midfield role better.
Who is a Midfielder?
A midfielder is a player who gets positioned between the defenders and the attackers. The general role is to link the defense and the attack by collecting the ball from the defenders and accurately feeding it to the attackers.
The midfield position is not limited to just one role. There are many other responsibilities given to midfielders during different stages of the game. Generally, the midfield position is what dictates the rhythm of the game.
This midfield position can be divided into four distinct areas.
Defensive midfielders - DMFs - are the key to building a winning team. They play an important role when it comes to dominating the game. A defensive midfielder is a player positioned behind the attacking midfielders, prioritizing the defensive role over the attacking one.
This means that they usually remain close to the defenders as the team goes on the offense. Their main job is to prevent the team from conceding, especially from counterattacks.
Their other role is to initiate an attacking move. These players tend to change the direction of the attack. They have a better view of the pitch from their position, which helps them open up plays to the attackers.
So, what makes a good defensive midfielder? A good DMF is an expert at reading the game and intercepting passes. They also have to be good at tackling to help them stop the attack, have a strong work rate, and force errors upon the opposing team.
The next category consists of central midfielders - CMs - the most hardworking players on the field. These players take on both the attacking and defending responsibilities. Some people refer to them as the engine of the team.
The central midfield position is what dictates the tempo and speed of the game. This is the area where there is a lot of ball possession. These players hold on to possession to allow attackers to make runs or slow the game down, allowing the team to reorganize.
A good central midfielder should be strategic. Their main role is to initiate attacks, and to do that, they have to get into tight spaces and make key passes. Their attacking role demands that they first make short passes among themselves that build an attacking play.
When the team loses the ball, they are among the first to try and win it back. They are in a better position to press the opponents without leaving the goalkeeper vulnerable. They’ll attempt to block the attack and try to read passes.
A good central midfielder has to have strong strategic abilities. They have to get into tight positions fast and make accurate passes to the attacking midfielders. This is one of the reasons why they tend to be the captain of the team.
As the name suggests, the main responsibility of players in this position is to help out with the team’s attack. They are positioned slightly ahead of the central midfielders. The attacking midfielders are often known as playmakers, and they tend to wear the number 10 shirt.
These players do not take on much defensive responsibility. This freedom allows them to move further up the field and play nearest to the opposition's goal.
An attacking midfielder is one of the most creative players on the pitch. A good AM possesses the skills and technical ability to dribble past the opposing defense and create scoring opportunities.
This player can pick an unexpected pass and create space for attackers, catching the opposition off guard. You can also consider them as second strikers as they often have a good partnership with the striker.
The wide midfield position is not a common area, and great football managers use it to their advantage. These players take on the left or right midfield roles.
Their responsibilities are similar to those given to the central midfielders; the only difference is their positioning. They support the defensive players and also provide accurate passes to the forwards.
Managers use these positions to stretch and tire the opposing team. This way, they can easily open up defenses, leaving space for attacking midfielders to create goal-scoring opportunities.
Qualities of a Good Midfielder
Despite the different midfield positions available, there are certain qualities that a good player should have. A good midfielder should:
- Be able to make accurate passes, both short and long.
- Have a good vision that allows them to make accurate passes.
- Attempt to score goals from long distances. This quality certainly builds up pressure on the opposing team and allows the strikers to score rebounds if the goalkeeper blocks the attempt.
- Have good dribbling skills. Since they dictate the game's flow, they need to dribble the ball past the opposing players.
To build a winning team, you need to have a strong and dominant midfield position. There is a lot that goes on in this area that dictates the outcome of the game. This review outlines the various responsibilities of the different midfield roles. Also, there is an outline of the qualities of a good midfielder. Use this information to improve your managerial ability or choose your preferred position.