Here is a long, somewhat random list of the qualities of a holding midfielder.
Holding Midfield (Defensive Halfback)
Demand the ball
Jack: A playmaker should always want to receive the ball. At Arsenal, I’m lucky to have Cesc [Fabregas]. He’s a dream to play with because he’s always in space and he always finds you when you’re in space, giving me time to think and play the next pass that will keep the flow of our play moving.
Alfred: On average a playmaker will have three seconds to demand, receive and distribute the ball. Only players with a high level of technical ability will be able to execute this with speed and precision.
The Drill: Play like Arsenal: Part One
Awareness gives time and space to play
Jack: Look around when the ball is coming towards you. It helps to know what’s going on around you. Being aware of this allows you to observe how play is developing and to see where to play the next ball.
Alfred: It’s important to be thinking about the next pass before you receive the ball, but it’s essential that your first touch is excellent. It’s not as simple as controlling the ball. It’s about cushioning the ball – you don’t want it under your feet, but at the same time you don’t want it too far out of your feet so that your inviting the opposition to win back possession. Of course this depends on where your markers are and how much space you have around you. Before you receive the ball, think about where you want to take the ball next so that your first touch can guide the ball in the direction you want to head.
The Drill: Master first touch: Part Three
Stay a step ahead
Jack: It’s always important to know what you’re going to do with the ball before it comes to you. Before you’re in possession, you’re already continuously thinking and then when the ball comes to you, you can either play one touch or you can take a touch and play the ball into space.
Alfred: Jack has the essential playmaker qualities – good communication, movement and anticipation. However, crucially you need to build on your technique. You need to be able to manipulate the ball and then make the right choice with your pass. But don’t stand and stare admiring your pass – make sure you’re on the move, looking for the next pass – staying a step ahead of the opposition. Think, two three passes ahead. Playing small sided games will help you master this skill – activating your brain as well as your feet.
The Drill: Play like Arsenal: Part Three
- Join forwards in the attack
- Mental strength
- Physical strength
- Box to box
- Technical ball skills
- Communication and organization
- Initiate chances in the opposing side’s goal area. Central midfielders are at the core of this type of play.
- Judge a few moves ahead of the current play.
- Position themselves according to whatever side is in possession.
- Create threatening attacks
- Destroy attempts by the opposing team to create chances.
- The two central midfield players, whether playing alongside in a level midfield four or in a diamond system with one slightly forward, should never be far apart from each other.
- They should have the insight to realise when it is OK to attack and get the team moving ahead and when it’s necessary to adopt a defensive stance and get players behind the ball.
- Excellent all round vision and awareness
- Seize chances quickly or
- Exploit any weaknesses in the other team’s format.
- Good ball control
- Receive when under pressure
- Keep possession
- Pass accurately
- Keep the game flowing
- One touch and wall passes
- Human brains can deal with a maximum of seven thoughts at a time, so these seven vital tasks – OK!
- Holding role, charged with recycling possession, picking up second balls in deep areas and closing out the space in front of the defense.
- Soccer Principals
- A holding/defensive midfielder is mainly there to make the team a bit more solid in the middle of the park. He adds an extra line of defence and should be positioned deep so he can help the defence every time the opposition attack. Their job is in between that of a defender and a midfielder. So he needs to be able to pass well and keep possession. But he also needs to keep his position well, be disciplined, be good at tackling and be in command of the area around him.
- The specific skills and qualities you need to cultivate in order to be a holding player include:
- Reading the game
Michael Kojo Essien, Real Madrid (on loan from Chelsea), Ghana
- Michael Essien is the best defensive midfielder in world football.
- Although the Chelsea star has been plagued by injuries over the past few seasons, he is still one of the elite players at his position. When fit and in good form, the Ghanaian is a dominant presence in midfield for both club and country.
- Essien is the archetypal, modern defensive midfielder. The Chelsea star brings power, pace, athleticism and energy to the position. He marks opponents tightly and closes down the space well. Essien’s tenacity and determination to break up opposition play make him a true ball-winner in midfield. The midfielder is relentless defensively, hounding opponents when in possession and making vital interceptions.
- Combative style of play.
- Great commitment in the challenge and hunger to win back possession.
- Power and strength to shrug opponents off the ball and win the majority of 50-50 challenges.
- Physical attributes
- Good positioning
- Tactical awareness
- Tenacious in the challenge and exceptional technique with the standing and sliding tackle.
- Essien has emerged as a world-class box-to-box midfielder, providing tireless running through the middle. The Ghanaian gets forward in support of the attack, and tracks back defensively as well. The combative midfielder has outstanding stamina, which allows him to play with such high energy.
- Essien’s defensive determination and willingness to burst into the attack drives the team forward.
- The Ghanaian arrives late in the box, providing a serious goal-scoring threat from distance. Essien hits a thunderous strike from long-range, and has an eye for the spectacular goal.
- Top box-to-box defensive midfielders.
- Athleticism, work-rate and defensive skills make him the best enforcer in world football.
- Ranking Reason:
- Essien has emerged as the best player at the position.
- Powerful, combative and athletic style of play sets him apart from the other players on the list.
- Unmatched energy and an exceptional work-rate, making him a commanding presence in midfield.
- Essien’s ability to drive the team forward makes him a special talent in midfield. The Ghanaian has unmatched energy, which allows him to be a force on both sides of the ball.
- With his polished defensive qualities and physical attributes, the Chelsea star is a natural ball-winner.
- Essien may not be the most skilled or technically gifted player on the list, but he is a dynamic force in midfield.
- Essien is #1 because of his tenacity, athleticism, engine and tackling ability.
- Other holding (defensive) midfield players do not contribute further up the pitch with late runs into the box, or have the Ghanaian’s pace and power.
- Not as good ball at his feet, as compared with DiRossi
- Athletic style of play, strength and speed. Not as technically gifted as Xabi Alonso.
- Essien is undoubtedly the No. 1 defensive midfielder in the world.
- Box to box
- Boundless energy
- Supporting in offense
- Supporting in defense
- Tough tackling
Xabi Alonso, Real Madrid, Spain
- The most technically gifted defensive midfielder in football. The Spaniard has become a key player for both club and country.
- Alonso’s passing and vision make him a unique defensive midfielder. The Madrid star has an exceptional range of passing. The Spaniard can play intricate one and two-touch football in the middle, combining with teammates using short passes. Alonso’s crisp passing has a calming effect in midfield, as he can relieve pressure with one touch.
- Crisp passing
- Calming effect on his team
- Relieve opposing pressure with one touch
- Perfectly weighted ball makes him an elite passer
- Dictate play with his outstanding passing skill.
- Sets the tempo and rhythm from a deep-lying position
- Orchestrating the attack and spreading the play.
- The technique to string together passes
- The Spaniard’s ability to play the perfectly-weighted ball makes him an elite passer.
- The best long-range passer in football. The Madrid star can consistently hit the 40-60 yard cross-field diagonal with more precision than the best pass-masters in football. Alonso’s accurate passing over distance sets him apart from the majority of midfielders.
- In addition to his technique and passing ability, the Spanish international has a great eye for the pass. Alonso can see the intricate pass through multiple defenders, or the long diagonal to switch the play. With his vision and range of passing, the Spaniard is a threat to make the killer pass from anywhere on the pitch.
- Although Alonso’s passing has become the hallmark of his game, he also has accomplished defensive qualities. While the Spaniard is not a tenacious or tough-tackling enforcer, he reads the game exceptionally well. Alonso has good positional awareness, rarely getting pulled out wide or caught upfield.
- The Madrid midfielder is not the typical midfield enforcer, but he brings a unique skill-set to the position. With his exemplary passing skill and reading of the game, Alonso has become one of the top defensive midfielders in the world.
- Ranking Reason:
- Although the Spaniard does not have the tackling ability or defensive mentality of other elite holding midfielders, he is clearly amongst the best players at the position. Alonso claims the No. 2 spot with his technical ability, contribution to the attacking play and consistent level of top form.
- After impressive displays for Liverpool, Madrid and Spain, the midfielder has emerged as one of the best passers in football. Alonso’s range of passing, exceptional cross-field diagonal and vision distinguishes him as the most technically gifted defensive midfielder in Europe.
- The Spaniard’s ability to dictate play and unlock defenses makes him a unique player at the position.
- While deep-lying playmakers such as Andrea Pirlo have similar passing skills, they lack the positional sense and defensive ability to excel as a defensive midfielder. Alonso is not the best tackling midfielder, but he has the anticipation and tactical awareness to play in the holding midfield role.
- Although the Spaniard is a gifted world-class player, the best defensive midfielder in football has been in a league of his own. Alonso brings a unique skill-set to the position, but he lacks the defensive qualities to move claim the top spot.
- Technical brilliance, skill and consistent level of good form. Not as much athleticism nor as polished defensive skills.
- Contribution when in possession cannot be understated.
- The Spaniard has the vision to see, and the ability to play, the killer pass from anywhere on the pitch. Consistently been an outstanding performer for club and country.
- Alonso does not fit the typical mold of a defensive midfielder, but he is undoubtedly a world-class talent and deserving of the No. 2 ranking in the list.
Daniele De Rossi, A.S. Roma, Italy
- De Rossi is arguably the most underrated defensive midfielder in world football. The Italian international’s unique combination of physical attributes and technical ability makes him a dynamic force in the heart of midfield. De Rossi’s outstanding skill and invaluable intangibles distinguish him as an elite defensive midfielder.
- The 2009 Italian Footballer of the Year has all the tools of a complete defensive midfielder. De Rossi shows good strength and determination in the tackle, making key interceptions and breaking up opposition play. The Roma icon boasts an exceptional sliding tackle, which is among the best in Europe. In addition, the talismanic midfielder reads the game well and sticks tight to his markers.
- De Rossi’s work-rate and energy have been key to his success as a holding midfielder. The Roma vice-captain is hard-working off the ball, tracking back defensively and closing down opponents. The Italian international has emerged as a commanding midfield presence with his tenacious and combative style of play.
- The Roma icon shows a willingness to get forward into the attack as well. De Rossi supports the play and makes late runs into the box. He possesses one of the best long-range shots in Europe, which makes him a serious threat from outside the box. The Italian’s tireless running drives the team forward, making him an ideal box-to-box defensive midfielder.
- Natural defensive qualities
- Outstanding passing ability and vision.
- Dictate play from midfield, spreading the ball and orchestrating the attack.
- Plays one and two-touch football in the middle, or hits the long cross-field diagonal.
- Pass with both feet, which allows him to keep the passing rhythm and find better passing angles.
- Has the tough-tackling mentality of a midfield enforcer, but he has the vision of a deep-lying pass-master as well.
- Killer through-balls with either foot.
- Natural leaders in Europe. The Italian earned the nickname “Capitan Futuro” with his tough-tackling, spirited and inspirational displays in the heart of midfield.
- Unique balance of technical skill and defensive ability. De Rossi is a gifted midfield dynamo, and one of the best defensive midfielders in football.
- Ranking Reason:
- Elite player in Serie A for nearly half a decade, for club and country.
- Expansive skill-set and contributions on both sides of the ball.
- Dynamic defensive midfielder, combining skill and passing ability with defensive tenacity and tackling technique. The Roma icon has developed into an elite box-to-box midfielder and inspirational leader.
- The most complete player on this list.
- The Italian has the tools and intangibles to challenge for the top spot in the rankings.
- Consistent level of top form.
- Well-balanced style of play.
- Great technical skill
- More defensive tenacity and better tackling technique to the midfield.
- Skill on the ball and attacking contribution.
- De Rossi can dictate tempo, spread the play with both feet and find the killer through-ball.
- The Italian international does not have the extensive resume as other players on the list. However, the Roma vice-captain has earned his place as one of the top three defensive midfielders in world football.
- Javier Mascherano, Barcelona, Argentina
- Best ball-winning defensive midfielder in football.
- Mascherano excelled in the physical EPL with Liverpool, and has brought his combative style of play to Barcelona.
- The Barcelona midfielder is relentless when marking opponents, closing down space and constantly hounding them when in possession.
- Mascherano’s fierce, competitive nature makes him an ideal defensive midfielder. The Argentine captain never gives up on the play, tracking back and making last-ditch challenges. Mascherano’s tireless work-rate and engine have become hallmarks of his tenacious style of play.
- The Barcelona midfielder is strong and tough in the tackle, showing unmatched commitment. Mascherano breaks up opposition play, and wins the majority of 50-50 challenges. The Argentine captain has exceptional tackling technique, both on his feet and with the sliding tackle. Mascherano’s combative mentality and defensive abilities distinguish him as a world-class ball-winner in midfield.
- Although the Argentine has become known for his fierce tackling, he has good distribution skills as well. Mascherano does not have the most expansive passing range, but he is effective playing short and simple passes. The Argentine captain has good vision for an enforcing midfielder, finding passing lanes and spreading the play. Mascherano is not a deep-lying playmaker, but he is accurate with his passing.
- In addition to his physical attributes and abilities, the Argentine has emerged as a true leader. With his tireless displays in midfield, Mascherano provides inspiration for both club and country.
- The Barcelona midfielder has physical tools and defensive prowess of a top-quality holding midfielder. However, Mascherano’s leadership qualities and intangibles make him one of the best defensive midfielders in football.
- Esteban Cambiasso, Internazionale, Argentina
- A model of consistency.
- the Inter star uses his positional sense and awareness to protect the backline. Cambiasso reads the game well, anticipating danger and making vital interceptions.
- In addition to his polished defensive qualities, the Inter star boasts good passing skills and composure on the ball. Cambiasso rarely plays a poor ball, completing the majority of his passes. The Argentine can spread the play and distribute from deeper positions, making him a dynamic defensive midfielder. With his excellent technique, touch and accurate passing, Cambiasso can dictate play, drive the team forward and find the back of the net.
- Not be the most physical or vocal
- Sergio Busquets, Barcelona, Spain
- The World Cup winner is one of the most simple and effective holding midfielders in Europe. Busquets does not aim for the killer through-ball or cross-field diagonal. Instead, the Spaniard focuses on playing the simple pass. For both club and country, he plays short passes to the more creative players in the squad.
- Busquets is arguably the best one-touch passer in football. The Spaniard is able to relieve pressure and find the simple pass with a single touch on the ball. His ability to play the ball quickly has been key to Barcelona’s tiki-taka style of play. Xavi and Iniesta are able to play wall-passes off the holding midfielder, with confidence that they will receive a crisp return pass.
- Composure on the ball
- The Spaniard has outstanding natural defensive instincts. Busquets reads the game as well as any holding midfielder. The Barcelona star has great anticipation, which allows him to extinguish danger in its early stages. Busquets has a great defensive work-rate and drive to dispossess opposing players.
- frequently drops to the backline when the team is in possession.
- His strength and aerial ability give the European champions a solid makeshift back-three.
- Not the athletic, dynamic enforcer,
- The Spaniard lands at No. 6 due to his poor tackling and lack of pace.
- Busquets is clearly amongst the best players at his position. The Spaniard’s one-touch passing and composure on the ball distinguishes him as a world-class talent. His reading of the game and anticipation make him an elite defensive midfielder. The Barcelona star consistently breaks up opposition play, and makes the simple and effective short pass.
- Busquets lacks the tackling timing and pace to break into the top five.
- Mistimed challenges and poor speed keep him from moving higher in the rankings
- Wxceptional reading of the game and outstanding contribution to the possession play
- Composed on the ball and comfortable in possession.
- Alexandre Song, Barcelona, Cameroon
- Song is a natural ball-winning midfielder. He is an imposing presence in the heart of midfield, using his size and strength to protect the backline. The Cameroonian consistently breaks up opposition play, showing grit and defensive tenacity. Song does not have blistering pace, but he closes down the space well and uses his length to make key interceptions.
- His engine and hard-working mentality provides an excellent balance to Arsenal’s attacking and possession-based style of play.
- Although he does not play a creative role in the squad, the Cameroonian is comfortable in possession. The Arsenal midfielder connects the vast majority of his passes with his simple approach. Song prefers to play the short and square pass, keeping possession for the team.
- Standing at 6ft with a good leap, Song has become an aerial threat for the Gunners as well. He can mark tall players when defending corners, and challenge to win headers from set-pieces.
- Nigel de Jong, Manchester City, Netherlands
- combative and tireless
- exceptional tenacity and determination
- relentlessly closes down opponents, constantly putting high pressure on the ball.
- midfield enforcer
- The City star’s positioning and tackling technique distinguish him as a world-class defensive midfielder. De Jong rarely ventures forward, playing as a natural shield in front of the back-four. He has great anticipation, and reads the game well. The Dutchman has good awareness and consistently puts himself in great defensive positions.
- De Jong shows commitment and strength in the tackle, making vital last-ditch challenges in the heart of midfield. The Dutchman has one of the best sliding tackles in Europe. His ability to dispossess opponents and break up opposition play defines him as a true ball-winning midfielder.
- Lassana Diarra, Real Madrid, France
- Diarra closes down opponents with great pace, applying high pressure on the ball at all times. The Madrid midfielder hounds players on the ball, using his agility to smother them when in possession. The Frenchman rarely gives opposing midfielders the luxury of time and space on the ball. Diarra’s exceptional work-rate and endurance allows him to play with such high energy for the full 90 minutes.
- The Madrid midfielder has emerged as an outstanding tackler on his feet. While he can win the ball with a sliding tackle, Diarra is more effective with the standing challenge. In addition to his tackling ability, the Frenchman has good positional awareness.
- While he does not feature as a starter for Madrid, individually, Diarra has the skill-set and mentality of a top-quality defensive midfielder.
- Felipe Melo, Juventus, Brazil
- Melo is arguably the most athletic defensive midfielder in Europe. He brings power, pace, agility and endurance to the midfield. The Juventus No. 4 has unmatched energy, as he provides endless running in the middle of the pitch.
- Strong and committed in the tackle, rarely pulling out of 50-50 challenges.
- Great determination to win back possession
- quickness to make key interceptions and break up opposition play
- tireless defensive work-rate, relentlessly closing down and hounding opponent
- good tackling technique to complement
- Combative nature
- Ball-winning midfielder
- A true enforcer.
- Melo can be a solid distributor and world-class shield protecting the backline. However, the Juventus midfielder falls to No. 10 due to his inconsistency and temperament.
- His agility, power and energy sets him apart from typical midfielders. Melo’s tough-tackling and hard-working style of play perfectly fits his role as a defensive midfielder. The natural ball-winner has an outstanding defensive work-rate, making crucial interceptions and dispossessing opponents.
- He can suffer serious dips in form, which cause him to lose concentration and make poor decisions. Melo can let his emotions get the best of him, which occasionally leads to terrible and mistimed challenges.
- With his strength, quickness and energy, the Brazilian can cope with any opponent.
- Honorable Mentions:
- John Obi Mikel – Chelsea
- Thiago Motta – Internazionale
- Mark van Bommel – AC Milan
- Sami Khedira – Real Madrid
- Jérémy Toulalan – Málaga
- Javi Martínez – Athletic Bilbao
- Javier Zanetti – Internazionale
- Alou Diarra – Marseille
- Éver Banega – Valencia
- Lucas Leiva – Liverpool
Defensive midfielder (DM)
- A defensive midfielder, holding midfielder or midfield anchor is a central midfielder who is stationed in front of the defenders to provide a more secure defence, thus “holding back” the freedom of the opponents to attack. The defensive midfielder screens the defence by harrying and tackling the opposition teams’ attackers and defenders. They also help tactically, for instance, by directing central attacking players out to the wing where they have more limited influence, and by covering the positions of full-backs, midfielders and even the centre-backs as they charge up into attack.
- Although the duties of defensive midfielders are primarily defensive, some midfielders are deployed as deep-lying playmakers, due to their ability to dictate tempo from a deep position with their passing. As they are not defensive specialists, they are typically supported by a more defensive holding midfielder.
- Defensive midfielders require good positional sense, work rate, tackling ability, and anticipation (of player and ball movement) to excel. They also need to possess good passing skills and close control to hold the ball in midfield under sustained pressure. Most importantly, defensive midfielders require great stamina as they are the onfield players who cover the greatest distance during a professional football match. In a typical Premier League football match, a midfielder may cover up to 12 kilometres for a full 90-minute game.Deep-lying playmakers typically require a good first touch under opposition pressure and the ability to play long crossfield passes to attacking players further upfield.
- Some centre midfielders are capable of playing from “box to box” and, as the norm rather than the exception, use their strength, their passing ability, and their work rate to affect their team’s game play.
A ball winner is a technically skilled player at making strong tackles, ball winners have to be good at tackling and they can also be good at heading as it can stop the opposing team’s attacking play. Ball winners are usually defensive midfielders or central midfielders but can also play as defenders.
Defensive midfielders are midfielders that focus mainly on defense. They need strength to make strong tackles and they also need stamina and some degree of passing skill as they need to support other midfielders.
Box to box
Box to box midfielders help with almost every aspect of the game. They need immense stamina as they need to cover most areas of the pitch, as well as some degree of passing skills. They normally play as central midfielders but some play as defensive or attacking, and others can also play on the flanks as wing-backs or wide midfielders.
Pulls wide right/left
These are wide midfielders that have pace and/or dribbling ability to be able to beat defenders along the flank. Their most important skill is to be able to cross the ball in to the penalty box to create opportunities for strikers.
Playmakers are midfielders with good on-the-ball control and good passing ability but also good off-the-ball ability to be able to read the game and to seek goal-scoring opportunities. Playmakers usually play as attacking midfielders, but some play as defensive or central midfielders (deep-lying playmakers). Some also play on the flank usually on their weaker side as that gives them the opportunity to cut infield.
The ball-playing midfielder: required qualities
Similar to the defensive midfielder, the second central player must be highly proficient on the ball and be adept at quickly receiving and simply giving possession in the middle of the park. As well as technical ability, the high-tempo pressing nature means that high stamina levels are as important as tactical awareness, as this midfielder must aid and back-up those ahead of him pressing the opposition while not allowing space in behind himself for them to exploit with a slightly longer pass.
Though mobility into the final third is not a key component of this role when utilising the 4-2-3-1 system, it is still an excellent method of surprising the opposition and outnumbering them in the final third with a well-timed burst forward.
Thus, pace and awareness of opportunity become important assets of the player too.
The naturally fluid nature of this brand of football means that this role will, over time once the squad are used to the demands of the manager, be able to move seamlessly into wider areas, letting others fill his space temporarily in the centre of the pitch and helping to break down the opposition because of the unpredictable nature of switching positions. Again, tactical awareness and an ability to read the game are vital attributes.
In a pure 4-3-3, it will become even more important for this player to be able to move forward into the final third to avoid the team becoming overly reliant or predictable with just one central midfielder constantly making runs forward from deep.
Defensively, though there is not as much expectancy on this player to be winning second balls and drop downs from the defenders/attackers, they will still be expected to cover large amounts of ground in front of the defence in a 4-2-3-1 and be able to make interceptions in midfield.
The attacking midfielder: required qualities
This is where it starts to get tricky. The attributes that an attacking midfielder will need for Liverpool next season will vary, from game to game and even from half to half.
Brendan Rodgers has already spoken about the “Zola zone”, the area of the pitch behind the centre-forward in which the creative magician of the team needs to operate to find space and open up stubborn defenses, aiding the creation of goalscoring chances.
At present, Liverpool do not possess such a player—at least, at first team level.
In a 4-2-3-1 there will be more emphasis on this player to both create and score goals than there arguably would be in a 4-3-3, whereby the duties of entering the final quarter of the pitch would be shared by the aforementioned “ball-player”.
Regardless, the position requires well-above-average technical skills including a killer first touch, preferably the use of both feet and certainly the vision and anticipation to read both defenders and fellow attackers.
Another overlooked attribute this key attacking player must have in this system, with this manager, is a top-notch mentality and physical well-being.
Closing down and harassing defenders starts from the front, and the attacking midfielder will often be the first one who has to do the job. Any time the defense cuts out the ball before it reaches the striker in the center of the penalty area or attacking third, it will be the attacking midfielder who is required to close down first while the wider attackers tuck in and the forward regains his defensive position.
Being able to actually make the tackles or interceptions isn’t actually such a key requisite as doing the work itself; often Premier League defenders will simply hit it wide and high up the pitch to clear their lines after sustained pressure; whereby Liverpool would get the ball back quickly, or else the ball goes back to the keeper and the striker can then press.
The statistics don’t show that as an interception or tackle, but the teamwork that goes into it is every bit as important as one.
A comfortable player on the ball in this role will ideally be able to drift wide without issue, pick the ball up deep or even get beyond the striker into the box—the element of surprise is what ultimately makes a player a success in this position and that does not always mean being able to dribble past two or three defenders, far from it; often the line between making the right call and the wrong one in the attacking midfield position can be simply standing still.
Let the defenders move around you, while you remain in space. Receive ball, make decision—and execute.
It can be as simple, and as incredibly difficult, as that.
Depending on the player in question and the specific role being played there are other considerations—an ability to shoot from range, good enough technique and confidence to dribble past players in tight spaces and being able to pick a pass through a crowded penalty box with a first-time ball are all excellent and ideal attributes.
‘volante de contencion’ or ‘volante de salida’.
Do Defensive Center Mids Get to Go Forward?
Any true defensive center mid should use the 80/20 rule in this case. Eighty percent of the time they are protecting the center backs and holding the middle of the park. Situations some times arise when they happen to venture forward and that is okay as long as their primary job is taken care of.
This takes discipline and a player that knows their responsibility and does not try and do too much. This position is difficult as it is, their is no need to try and do several things at an average rate, a team is much more efficient if each player can do their one task great. Jack of all trades, master of none.
Top 5 Attributes of a Pro Level Defensive Center Midfielder
1. Ball Winner (winning tackles on ground and air)
2. High Work Rate
3. Ability to play simple when the ball is at their feet
5. Disrupts the flow of the opposition
Responsibilities of a Defensive Center Midfielder
1. Protect the Center Backs by denying entry passes to the opposing strikers and covering when a center back gets pulled out of position
2. Do the dirty work in the middle of the park allowing your creative centre mids to generate the offense
3. Stay central disrupting and destroying plays as they come through the middle of the park.
Does it Take A Big Hulk Like Player to Play This Position?
Not necessarily no. Great defensive center mids need to be stuck in, relentless and have a tremendous work rate. Nowhere in that sentence did I mention about being big and tall. If the player has all these qualities and his gifted physically of course it doesn’t hurt.
It takes pace to keep up with the strikers and attacking players of the opposition so the player in this position must be able to match step for step with some of the quickest players on the pitch.
Is Stopper and A Defensive Center Midfielder the Same Thing?
Sure is. This position was introduced into the game famously named “stopper” for that reason alone. The player of that position was the stopper of any build up or play coming through the middle.Much like the def center mid this player sits in between the midfield and defensive lines and fills in where there is need.
The position has evolved over time though. In today’s modern game the position now has players who are technically sound on the ball who are able to play out of the back and keep the ball not just break up tackles and send ball to China.
Technical Attributes of A Great Defensive Center Mid:
-Sound tackling with both feet
-Powerful clearing head balls
-Accurate ball control with all parts of body
Physical Attributes of A Great Defensive Center Mid:
We have seen even at the highest level this position can be played by all sorts of players of different physical builds, so there is no one perfect ideal build for this position but some attributes that are position specific are as follows:
-High level of fitness (ability to keep up with attackers all game long)
-Vertical leaping ability (winning balls in the air)
-Strength in the air (holding off attackers in the air)
-Strength in lower body (for clearing balls with both legs)
-Quick first step (able to react to different situations as they present themselves)
-Fast Lateral Agility (shuffling feet from one side of the pitch to the next)
-Fast Backward Agility (constantly jockeying attackers)
-Strong lower body strength (used in tackling players and shielding ball)
Essential Foundational Attributes of A Great Defensive Center Mid:
-High work rate (able to go 90 minutes and outworking every other player on the pitch)
-Ball winner (pure and simple able to win tackles and break up plays)
-Aggressive, stuck in player
-Takes pride in holding down the fort in the back
This is a special kind of player that without we have seen great teams in the past not able to play without. A team full of super stars can crumble without having a rugged defensive center midfielder holding down the fort. You need the right balance of piano players and piano carriers and this position definitely takes a piano carrier.
Fit, fairly strong, good passer of the ball long and short, good reader of the game, good at tackling, decent in the air, brave to commit to 50/50 challenges, able to mark a man when neccessary and having a decent shot
- Controlling the ball like a pro means being able to stop it with your foot, bring down high balls on your chest and to cushion it on your thigh. It may take practice but it’s definitely worth it. Learn how to control the soccer ball
- Turning on the ball looks good as it is a part of your overall soccer skills. I’ll tell you how to do the legendary Cruyff turn as well as other manageable turns. Learn how to turn
- Dribbling slowly, at speed or to weave round players all take lots of work. But it all pays off when you can beat other players by simply running past them with the ball glued to your feet. Learn to dribble the soccer ball
- Passing is the basis of the game and of all your soccer skills. Passes can be used to play the ball out of defence, to keep possession or to set up attacks. You too canlearn to make the perfect pass (both short and long) with the right technique, decisions and awareness. Learn to pass the soccer ball
- Volleying is a truly versatile skill; you can pass, clear and shoot. It’s all about timing- get this down to a fine art and be ready to impress. Learn to volley the soccer ball
- Heading is of course like a volley, but with your head instead of your foot. You can use it to pass or clear and it’s also very important for getting onto the end of crosses to score goals. Learn to head the soccer ball
- Shooting accurately and beating the goalkeeper scores you goals. If you’re a striker or an attacking midfielder or want to be one, then you really need to be able to shoot well. Learn to shoot the soccer ball
- Corners are given to the attacking team when the ball has crossed the goal line having come off the defending team last. You can now take a corner with this step by step guide. Learn how to take a corner
- Throw Ins
- Here’s all the techniques and rules you need to get throwing- both with short throws and with the tactical long ones. Learn how to take a throw-in
- Marking is crucial in defence just as losing your marker is in attack. It’s less commonly thought of than the other
- soccer skills just because it doesn’t involve the ball. But it’s great to get an explanation of both zonal and man marking. Learn about marking
- It’s no good having the ball if you can’t protect it. I show you how to stop another player getting to the ball when it’s in your possession. This is particularly useful when playing out the clock by the corner flag at the end of a game! Learn how to shield the ball
- Tackling is of course crucial to get the ball off the opposition. I take you through block tackles, slide tackles and stab tackles so you can tackle in any way you please.Learn to tackle
- Penalties are awarded to the attacking team when the defending team have committed a foul in the penalty area. There is a fine art to penalty taking and you too can take them. Learn how to take penalties
- Free Kicks
- Indirect or direct, practice taking free kicks and gradually become very skilled. Learn to take free kicks