Playing Your Role in Soccer

Really, another strategy or tactic in soccer is knowing your role. Ever player on the team can’t be the playmaker. That role is assigned to one player, the Xavi, the Iniesta, the Messi or say the Sneijder of the team. (Yes, I know three of those players mentioned before play on the same team, Barcelona. It’s not fair). This is the soccer player you want to have the ball at their feet.

This is the player who can make the killer pass and sees the field like nobody else. Real Madrid tries to find the feet of Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo because these are the players who will create goal scoring chances and score themselves. At Manchester United, the team wants the ball at the feet of Bruno Fernandes or Paul Pogba, two players who have the vision and ability to pick players out who are making attacking runs.

Xavi is the perfect example of a role player. A conduit. A player who just wants to connect with his teammates, keep the ball and make the right pass. But he could score goals now and again too. And role player might seem to have negative connotations, but really it’s what soccer is all about. Sharing the ball. Make the game easier for your teammates.

That’s why the best teams have all the players roles well defined. The defenders win the ball and give the ball to the playmakers. The wide midfielders try to beat their man and serve good crosses into the box. Forwards make dangerous runs behind the defense and score goals. Forwards hold the ball up and enable teams to build an attack and keep possession. The goalkeeper makes that one crucial save to keep you in the game.

Every player has their role on the team. It’s what they do well and train day in and day out to do in games. They don’t have to do more and can’t do less if they want to stay in the first team.

These days the game is evolving, players at every position are increasingly more skilled, and so you see players like Sergio Ramos of Real Madrid and Spain, Maicon of Inter Milan and Brazil, or even someone like Philip Lahm of Bayern Munich and Germany. These are outside defenders who get more involved in the attack.

That doesn’t mean players don’t have their roles, it’s just a strategy teams are taking advantage of. If you have a very skilled defender, with good speed, who can get into the attack and score goals, then you try to make use of that and get them the soccer ball. You’ll just need a midfielder or another defender to cover for this player when they are up in the attack.

Strategy in soccer is about taking advantage of an opportunity, when you have numbers up for example in attack, and adjusting on defense when you’re down a man. So the team pushes forward but other players are aware of the potential for a counter attack and cover for the player who’s on the attack. It’s really all about game awareness and seeing the field.

Kyle Walker breaks down his role as a wing-back at Manchester City, detailing how Pep Guardiola instructs him to play and the tactics of the club’s system.

Read more at Soccer Runs:  Keep the Opposing Team Guessing

Learn more at PatternsDefense, and Soccer Formations