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The Soccer Midfielder: Team Engine

What does a soccer midfielder do?

A better way to ask that question is what don't they do.

The soccer midfielder is the link between defence and attack. Put simply, a team lacking a strong midfield looks lost on the field, and will be exposed in competitive play. I'm sure you've heard the cliché before: Lose the midfield, lose the game. Because of their place on the field, no other position will have such a strong influence on the outcome of the game like the midfield.

Midfielders will break up the opposing team's attacks, create attacking opportunities, and even score when the chance presents itself! The best midfielders will be creative offensively and disruptive defensively. They must fill dual roles on the

Because of all the roles a midfielder is expected to fill, the skills required to play as one are quite varied.

What does it take to play midfield?

Midfielders are the utility players of all soccer teams. They must be good defensively as well as offensively, and possess many different physical characteristics such as speed and stamina. In fact, the typical midfielder will be doing a lot of off the ball running to support teammates and create space, so good stamina is essential.

Additionally, midfielders should have:

  • good soccer intelligence
  • excellent ball control
  • ability to play in one-on-one situations
  • ability to tackle
  • excellent long and short distance passing

As you can see, the list of skills a soccer midfielder should have is fairly long. However, depending on the type of soccer midfielder you're playing as, the skills you'll focus on developing will be different. For example, excellent passing is a far more important skill to have as a central midfielder than as a winger, who would be more concerned with developing good ball handling skills and other one-on-one moves.

How can a midfield line up?

4-2-3-1 FormationThe formation used will largely dictate which role midfielders will deployed into. Unlike years past when formations would use 2 midfielders, most modern formations use anywhere from 3 to 5 midfielders.

Midfielders can be further divided into offensive and defensive midfielders. A typical four man midfield can line up in a diamond shape with the central midfielder designated the defensive one sitting slightly behind the offensive one.

The diagram on the right displays a popular recent formation, used by the Dutch among others at the 2010 World Cup. The formation uses the holding midfielders to break up opposing attacks while the offensive midfielders maintain possession and generate attacks with the outside midfielders acting as wingers in attack.

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