Winger in Soccer: Position, Role, and Responsibilities
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So, what makes for a good winger on the soccer field? What is the primary role of a winger during a soccer game? What skills and style of play should a winger have, and who are some of the more famous in soccer history?
Here is the complete breakdown of what a winger is in soccer.
What Makes a Good Winger in Association Football?
A soccer winger should be one of the fastest players on the pitch, have excellent dribbling skills, maintain firm possession of the ball, and have fantastic crossing mechanics. Wingers should also feel comfortable taking shots toward the goal during games when they have the opportunity.
Since a winger is an offensive attacking player, it’s up to them to create separation on the pitch. Separation means spreading out the offense via passes to set up a future goal-scoring opportunity. A winger should also be able to move the fullback out of the defensive position with long passes across the pitch to teammates, allowing the striker to cut inside for a quick pass for a better goal-scoring opportunity.
Finally, the best wingers on the pitch are the players who have excellent field awareness during a game. Since they are playing close to the touchline, they need to know how much space they have to work with on plays, so the ball does not go out of bounds. Along with field awareness, good wingers should communicate clearly with their teammates and help reset offensive drives in real-time when they have the ball.
What is the Role of the Winger Position Player?
The role of a winger soccer player is to be an attacking midfielder who plays either on the left or ride side of the pitch during a game. Teams will have two wingers to compliment the striker on the team with passing assists to them in the middle of the pitch to create goal-scoring opportunities. In addition to passing the ball to the striker to score, wingers should also be able to score goals during games.
Outside of the offensive side of the ball, wingers need to play defense. If their team gives up the ball to the opposite team near the goal, the winger should act as the first line of defense to stymie the forward attack. Wingers who can steal the ball playing defense can set up better goal-scoring opportunities since there could be a breakaway for them heading towards the goal.
What Side of the Pitch Should Wingers Play?
A winger can play on the side of the pitch that favors their strong foot or against it. For example, a left-footed winger should play on the pitch’s left wing since they can easily get passes and cross them to the middle of the pitch with their strong left foot. Likewise, a player with a strong foot being right-footed should play on the right side of the pitch.
However, teams might have an inverted winger on the pitch if they have two wingers with the same dominant foot. If that is the case, one of the players will be playing the side of the pitch as an inverted winger, which means their dominant foot will be facing the penalty area. If that is the case, the inverted winger should take advantage of that foot and use it to crash into the middle of the pitch to set up offensive drives for their team.
Also, some of the best wingers can perform a rabona kick while playing inverted position. The rabona kick means they swing their dominant foot behind their weak leg to kick the ball if they are playing as an inverted winger. Using this kick tends to be best for short quick lob passes to a teammate.
What Soccer Formats Do Wingers Tend to Play?
A winger is a player in a traditional striker or attacking third playing in the most forward position and close to the touchline, either on the left- or right-hand side of the pitch.
This position is mostly utilized in 4-2-3-1, 3-4-3, or 4-3-3 formations where two wingers are deployed on either side of the pitch.
Playing on the widest position on the pitch, wingers must have perfect ball control and the ability to make plays in tight spaces without playing the ball out of play.
Most wingers are short in stature and very quick. Because a winger will normally need to run past or around the opposition.
Is a Winger a Midfielder or a Forward on the Soccer Pitch?
A soccer winger is a forward position on the pitch since they primarily play closer to their opponent’s goal area and are on offense. When their team is playing on defense, the winger will move closer to the middle portion of the pitch when the ball is toward their own goal, but they shouldn’t go much past that area. They should stay around the halfway mark on the field to prepare to go on offense if their team recovers the ball.
Since these players are fast and have excellent ball-handling skills, they can take long passes from their teammates and help set up the next offensive drive to score goals. That is why they tend to wait around the halfway point on the pitch to get ready to drive the offense up the soccer field.
Who Are Some Famous Wingers in Soccer History?
Football has produced a good number of exhilarating wingers. They have made the game worth watching for the full 90 minutes or more. These include players such as Angel Di Maria, Arjen Robben, Gareth Bale, Franck Ribery, Christiano Ronaldo, Raheem Sterling, Ivan Perisic, Leroy Sane, Sadio Mane, and many more.
Raheem Sterling is one of the best wingers currently in the world, with a fast and direct style of play that gives defenders sleepless nights. He scored 23 goals and provided 12 assists and almost 2 dribbles per game last season. Together with Sadio Mane, these two players have been instrumental to the success of Liverpool under the management of Jurgen Klopp these past few years. Mane is one of the fastest players in the English Premier League, showing great strength and unmatched skills in one-on-one situations.
For some teams, the traditional winger that runs along the sideline and gets many crosses into the box remains a valuable asset. Nonetheless, the game has evolved, and the roles of various positions on the field are as well. As such, you now find the winger cutting into the pitch more often and seeking to score goals or provide better assists. To do this, the modern-day winger needs a new set of skills and tricks in their arsenal.
Conclusion: What is a Winger in Soccer?
A winger is a soccer position (out of 11 players) playing on the pitch’s outside portion toward their opponent’s goal. Their role is to spread out the offense, handle passes, and set up crosses toward the penalty area on the pitch for the striker to take a shot at the goal. In addition to those roles, wingers can take shots against the goalie to help their team score.
Also, while their role is primarily offensive, wingers should be able to play some defense during a game. If they or the forward / striker turn the ball over at the opponent’s goal, they (wingers) are now first in line to prevent the offensive attack from moving up the field. By playing good defense, they might be able to steal the ball from their opponent. Once they steal the ball, they can go into a breakaway against the goalie to score a goal.
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