Midfield in Football: All Details You May Not Know
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But, what exactly is a midfielder in soccer and what does it take to be the best? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about midfielders in soccer!
Let’s get started.
What is the Role of the Midfielder in Soccer?
Midfielders have a fairly challenging job. In fact, they don’t have just “one” role.
In soccer, a midfield in football is a player whose role is to help his team transition from defense to attack. He does it by using his positioning and awareness. They are also required to have a technical and passing ability to control the midfield and ensure possession.
Overall, the midfielders aim to help with the transitional play. As they sit between the defenders and forwards, they must work heavily on both sides of the ball to defend and attack.
Some of the key aspects of this role include:
- Helping stop counter-attacks from the opposition
- Offering an outlet to defenders who have won the ball
- Attacking opponents on the dribble and with penetrating passes
- Crashing the box for opportunities to finish on the net
- Winning 50/50 balls and balls out of the air
- Serving as a link between defenders and forwards on both offense and defense
To see a truly talented midfielder, check out some of USWNT Rose Lavelle’s skills!
What is One Responsibility of a Midfielder?
- Protect the defense
- Organize the team
- Cover for players out of position
- Receive the ball from the defense
- Dribble with slotted passes
- Penetrating passes to break the lines
- Long ball/flighted pass
- Combination play in the midfield/ with the outside players
As you can see, there are several responsibilities of a midfielder. One of the most essential is the ability to deliver balls to the forwards. They must be able to get open and receive the ball from defenders before working it to the forwards.
There are many different ways the midfielders can get the ball to the forwards. Some ways that they may bring the ball from defenders to the forwards include:
The midfield is the heartbeat of a football team, it’s the centre of the action, so you can’t just do one thing.
Skills Midfielders Need
- Passing and combination play
- Long/flighted passes
- 1v1 defending
- Aerial duels
- Striking (especially from a distance and top-of-the-box)
- Checking their shoulder, head on a swivel
- High level of tactical awareness
Types of Midfielders
Attacking Midfielder Role
One type of midfielder in football is the attacking midfielder. This is typically the “8” or “10” on the field, playing above the 6 (defensive midfielder).
While the attacking midfielder will be involved defensively, their primary objective is to fuel the attack. They contribute offensively in several ways. They may take on the opposing team’s defensive midfielder/ defenders, thread balls through to forwards, sprint in the box for late runs, and even score goals.
Here are some tips for playing this role:
Defensive Midfielder Role
Another type of midfielder is the defensive midfielder. The “d-mid” is known as the 6, and teams often play with one or two of them.
The 6 is in front of the central defenders. They are heavily involved in starting the attack and defending against opponents. While the attacking mid usually takes more liberty to dribble and roam the field, the 6 must be very aware defensively.
The defensive mid commonly fights to win balls out of the air, chase down the other team’s attacking mid, and generally help the backline with defending.
What is the Difference Between a Winger and a Midfielder?
A winger is a player who plays primarily in the width. Depending on the formation, the winger could be a wide mid, outside forward, or outside back. This is why many people do not view a winger as a midfielder even if they are a “wide mid.”
The role of the winger is quite different than an attacking or defending mid. Their main area is the width of the field, where they typically make numerous sprinting efforts. Talented wingers are often very fast, good at 1v1 attacking, and extremely fit.
Is Midfield a Good Position?
Overall, the midfield in football is a good position for players who understand and see the game very well and have well-rounded soccer abilities.
Every position in soccer has good qualities and challenges. Due to the demand for well-rounded skills and overall fitness, the midfielder is not an ideal position for everyone.
Still, midfield comes with many great aspects. They are involved in many parts of the game. They get to contribute defensively and offensively. As a midfielder, you are often in a good position to score or assist, but may not face as much pressure to score as a forward.
Where is the Weakest Soccer Player?
Teams at all levels may have to play with a weaker player on the field. As a coach, it can be difficult to know where to put a weaker player.
However, if you must play with a weaker soccer player you should absolutely not place them in the midfield. They are a very challenging position, because of the extreme awareness and demand for comprehensive skills.
A weaker player will get lost in the midfield, and likely hurt your team both defensively and offensively. They are not a place to “hide” a player who lacks skills or tactical understanding.
Best Midfielders in Soccer
Given the challenging demands of this position, it can be hard to find an excellent midfielder in football. So, who is the best midfielder in the world? They can be difficult positions to analyze.
They may score goals, but this is not necessarily the best measure of their contribution. There’s a lot to consider when evaluating midfielder players. Still, some players consistently stand out amongst the rest.
ESPN’s top 50 Female Soccer Players ranking lists American midfielder, Sam Mewis, as not only the top midfielder but as the top player overall. The 28-year-old most recently played for Manchester United and is a key member of the USWNT.
Known as the “Tower of Power” she’s progressed tremendously over the course of her career to become a consistent USWNT starting midfielder.
According to USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski, she is;
Sam Mewis is a true example of what the USWNT stands for
Vlatko Andonovski via ESPN
As for the best male midfielder, many different experts will hand the title of “best midfielder in the world” to Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne. He is also a Belgium national team star and is currently ranked as one of the best in the game of soccer.
De Bruyne has 51 goals and 81 assists in 202 appearances. For the 2019/2020 season, he earned the Premier League player of the season. He’s also a 3x Premier League Champion and was the 2017/2018 and 2019/2020 Playmaker of the year.
Let’s take a look at some of the all-time great midfielders in men’s soccer:
Best Midfielders of All-Time
Our list of best midfielders in the world’s soccer is based on the players’ input and achievements for their clubs and national teams and their overall contribution to football.
Joshua Kimmich enters our list as one of the best midfielders in the world in the tenth position. Kimmich previously played as a right-back. He has won numerous titles with Bayern, including the 2019/20 Champions League title.
The 2018 Ballon d’Or winner is undoubtedly one of the most talented players of his generation. Modric can play in the central, attacking, and defensive midfield positions. The Real Madrid playmaker is also regarded as the most outstanding Croatian footballer in history.
N’Golo Kanté plays as a central midfielder for Chelsea and the France national football team. Despite his short height, he has displayed a tremendous work rate and excellent defensive skills. Kanté helped Chelsea win the 2020/21 Champions League and the 2016/17 Premier League title.
The 19-year-old Spaniard has surprised many with his dazzling talent and skills. He is a regular starter for Barcelona and the Spanish national football team in the central midfield position. In addition, Pedri won the 2021 Golden Boy Award for the best under-21 player in Europe.
Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne tops our list of best midfielders in the world at the moment. The Belgium and Manchester City star is considered the best attacking midfielder in world football. He is the only player besides Cristiano Ronaldo and Thierry Henry to have won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award back to back.
Is Messi Midfielder?
Messi has played as both an attacking midfielder and a forward. According to an article by Goal.com, Messi believes he is more likely to transition into the midfield in football as he continues to age.
A lot of players drop deeper when they move into the later stages of their career, and that’s certainly an option for me, to become an out-and-out midfielder
Messi, via Goal.com
Was Ronaldo Ever a Midfielder?
Currently, Ronaldo is a talented striker (forward). In the past, Ronaldo has played midfielder. He started out in the midfield and wing, originally more of a playmaker than a scorer in his youth.
As Ronaldo developed his finishing, he became a true danger in the attack. For Madrid, he often played on the left wing. He now plays as a forward for Manchester United. Thus far, he’s scored 96 Premier League goals in 220 appearances.
Midfield in football is one of the most challenging positions, and one of the most crucial. Midfielders play in the center of the pitch, heavily involved in both the attack and defense.
To succeed as a midfielder, you must have a diverse skill set. You must also be able to read the game quickly and accurately. Overall, this position can be difficult to succeed in, but often showcases some of the most talented players.
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