Playing football is not as simple as it may seem. It’s more than just picking up a ball and randomly kicking it around. Not only is there an art to it (just ask the Brazilians), but there is a specific organizational quality to how players move around the field and even how they position themselves to score a goal.
So before you put on your football boots and plan your trip to watch the next World Cup, here are the different player positions and their roles inside the field.
From the name itself, defense players are those whose main responsibility is to guard their own goal and prevent the opposing team from scoring. There are different positions in the defensive line, mainly:
Also known as the “keeper” or “goalie,” goalkeepers are the team’s last line of defense. There area of responsibility is right in front of the goal posts and up to the penalty box. They are the only player inside the field that can hold a ball, either during a save from an opponent’s shot or during restart of the game when the ball goes over the goal line.
Notable goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Porto FC and Spain national team), Claudio Bravo (Manchester City and Chile national team), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus and Italy national team), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich and Germany national team), Hope Solo (U.S. national team), Neil Etheridge (Cardiff City and Philippines national team)
Players positioned in front of the goal posts and the keeper usually within a team’s defensive third. Defenders are responsible for blocking the opposing team’s shots and keeping them from passing, receiving and making an attempt at the goal.
Depending on the system of play, a team’s defenders may vary in number. One team may employ central back, left back, right back, left wing back or right wing back.
Notable defenders: David Luiz (Chelsea FC and Brazil national team), Carles Puyol (FC Barcelona and Spain national team – retired), Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid and Brazil national team – retired)
Midfield players are positioned in between the defense and forward players at the middle third of the pitch. Often described as playmakers, midfielders are the key in connecting the transition of a team from defense to offense and vice-versa. As such, they usually are the ones who move around a lot in a game and see a lot of action.
During attack, midfielders play on the offensive side and must be quick in switching to defensive gears should the ball change possession in favor of the opponent.
Just like the defenders, those playing in the midfield position may vary in number according to a team’s system of play. Players may be assigned as defensive midfield, central midfield, attacking midfield, left wing or right wing player.
Notable midfielders: Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid and France national team – retired), Andres Iniesta (FC Barcelona and Spain national team), Francesco Totti (AS Roma and Italy national team – retired), David Beckham (Manchester United and England national team – retired), Ryan Giggs (Manchester United – retired), Homare Sawa (Kobe Leonessa and Japan national team – retired), Emelio Caligdong (Green Archers United and Philippines national team – retired)
Also known as “strikers,” these players are situated in the front line of any team and are often the ones responsible in scoring a goal. Given that they are right in front of the opposing team’s defenders, strikers must be quick, agile and possess excellent ball control skills, accuracy and timing.
Forwards may also be assigned as a center forward or a withdrawn striker. A withdrawn striker is also called a second forward and usually plays a lower position than the center forward.
Notable forwards: Ronaldo de Lima (Real Madrid and Brazil national team – retired), Raul (Real Madrid and Spanish national team – retired), Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona and Argentina national team), Samuel Eto’o (Antalyaspor and Cameroon national team), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Manchester United and Netherlands national team – retired), Mia Hamm (U.S. national team – retired), Philip Younghusband (Davao Aguilas and Philippines national team)
Which player is your favorite for each position, and why? Let us know in the comments below!