Soccer is a world-renowned sport, played by 2 teams at a time. The sport features 11 players in each team, making it a total of 22 players competing in each game.
The composition of soccer and how it is organized and coordinated makes it a very interesting sport. Players in each team have positions where they are assigned to play and once a match is about to begin, all players position themselves on the field at their expected locations.
All positions are crucial in soccer because any position that is not properly occupied usually creates a loophole for opponents to penetrate and score goals. Out of all the positions on the pitch, there is no doubt that one of the most important positions is the midfield.
In soccer, midfielders are players that are constantly positioned in the middle of the field. A midfielder is positioned between the defenders and the forwards.
The midfielder’s position is very essential as they are saddled with the responsibility of providing a link between the defense and the attack, this is not a mild responsibility as they must be fast, agile, and skillful to make a good defense.
A team with an effective midfield makes the work of the defenders and the attackers easier. They will float more balls to the attacks and make sure the defense has to deal with fewer threats.
These are not the only responsibilities of midfielders as they have other numerous responsibilities which make their position a sensitive and important one.
In this article, we have vividly explained how important a midfielder is in soccer and the different roles they play in the game.
How important is a midfielder in soccer?
Every existing position in soccer is crucial but some positions are usually more important than others because, without them, soccer teams will be at risk of constantly losing games.
One of such positions is the midfield. If you have been following soccer games for about a year now, you must have heard the commentator say the midfield of one team has collapsed.
In fact, there is a popular saying among soccer fans that the team that controls the midfield controls the game. Therefore, it is not surprising that most coaches work on strengthening their midfield.
Midfielders are active players who are often considered the brain, heart, and lungs of teams because they constantly make active attempts at dictating and controlling the tempo of games. Midfielders always try to achieve this by doing both the work of an attacker and a defender.
For a smooth transition to the forward line from the defense, midfielders often act as a link and they are also very effective when it comes to retaining the possession of balls.
Midfielders don’t just cramp in one angle of the field, they sometimes spread to other parts of the field which is why they are often regarded as the greatest distance travelers in the field, they also make the most passes during games. Read more about the role of midfielders here.
In soccer, there are different types of midfielders with different responsibilities. Below are the types of soccer midfielders and their duties.
- Wide Midfielder
Wide midfielders are positioned in the middle of the field, close to the sidelines. They defend against their opponent’s wingers by creating a blockade that will make it difficult for wingers to penetrate through the sidelines of the field.
When wide midfielders possess the ball, they also act like wingers as they begin to make attempts at passing it to their forward players.
- Central Midfielder
The central midfielders are positioned near the center of the field and they are saddled with the responsibility of defending the net whenever the ball is not in their team’s possession. They also assist in attacks whenever the ball is in their team’s possession.
They connect defending players with the forward players by receiving the ball from them and feeding passes to the forward player or any player that is in a great advantage position of scoring a goal.
They constantly monitor the playing strategy and fall into places where they are most useful. They are usually referred to as the team’s engine room.
- Attacking Midfielder
The attacking midfielders are positioned at the opponent’s side, they usually make attempts at getting past the defense of their opponent to score. Scoring is often not easy as they would have to dribble their way through a barrage of angry defenders.
They also act as links between the central midfielder and the forward in cases where they would have to pass balls received from the central midfielders to the forward players.
- Defensive Midfielder
The defensive midfielders are usually positioned behind the central midfielder and their defensive role is prioritized over their attacking role.
They constantly remain in their team’s part of the field to defend the team, unlike the central midfielders with the privilege of frequently moving into their opponent’s half.
They are regarded as very important players on the pitch mostly because they are closer to their team’s goal area and can make quick defensive moves when their opponent initiates an attack.
Defensive midfielders are proactive in defending, unlike the wide and central midfielders who might be far away and will not have much time to move back and defend balls during counter-attacks.
A defensive midfielder always tries to delay and obstruct attacks from opponents thereby giving other midfielders more time to retreat and defend their net. Below are the numerous reasons why midfielders are acknowledged as an important part of any soccer team.
Assist in attack
Midfielders assist in attacks which are mostly executed by the attacking midfielders although it is not always the attacking midfielders’ sole responsibility. Other midfielders also have a part to play when they are needed during coordinated attacks.
The attacking midfielder does a lot of tactical work for the team by creating opportunities and utilizing any spaces found. Whenever attacking midfielders get hold of the ball, they immediately look for nearby teammates who are in a goal-scoring position and threads a pass at them.
Links attack and defense
Midfielders act as a link or connection for all players on the field. The soccer field is so wide and it might be difficult for players to go round by themselves, that is where the midfielders come in as they make the work easier by acting as a link.
For example, when a defender passes the ball to the midfielder who is usually positioned a bit further from them, the midfield will, in turn, pass the ball to a striker thereby transitioning the ball into an attack.
With the connection created, defenders and forwards can stay and deliver the ball to other teammates in their positions on the field without moving to their teammate’s position. This makes it difficult for opponents to get easy access to balls using open spaces.
For instance, if a defender moves too far up into the field to make a pass to a striker, the defender’s position becomes vulnerable and can be utilized by an opponent to score a goal. For this reason, the midfield link is essential and increases a team’s performance.
Maintains possession of the ball
Maintaining possession of the ball is one good quality displayed by midfielders. Midfielders are often the players with more ball possessions throughout games.
Obviously, the longer you can keep possession of the ball, the better scoring chances you will likely create. Midfielders control most of the passes happening on the pitch as other players mostly pass to them first and also receive passes from them.
Midfielders are effective when it comes to retaining balls. Even when they are tackled by an opponent, they often use their body as a shield to protect balls from being repossessed by opponents. They also make accurate passes that rarely miss their intended targets.
Assist in defense
The defensive midfielders assist in defense as they are positioned close to the defenders. However, it is not only their responsibility to assist in defense, other midfielders can also assist when the need arises.
The defensive midfielders help to prevent attacks from getting too close to the goalkeeper. When opponents are stopped or blocked at the middle of the field instead of in front of the goal, it makes scoring harder for them.
Good midfielders always disrupt the opponent’s play as they ensure the ball does not pass by them, thereby providing a shield for the defense. Midfielders also help defenders by taking their place in instances where they get sent off by an injury or an offense.
Midfielders do not only create chances for players to score, they can also score goals by themselves as all players in a game are permitted to score goals.
Ex-Brazilian soccer player, Zico recorded an impressive 476 goals throughout his soccer career. This makes him the highest-scoring midfielder in the history of the game—and this is far more than some strikers can muster in their entire career.
Frank Lampard is another soccer player that ended his soccer and midfield role with over 300 goals. In fact, he was famous for scoring crucial goals that put Chelsea ahead of their opponent.
Midfielders most times get good scoring opportunities, especially the attacking midfielders. Because of their assisting role in the attack, they sometimes gain access to their opponent’s goal area, and instead of passing to a teammate, they utilize the golden opportunity by scoring a goal.
The different set pieces namely, penalty, corner, free-kick, and throw-in are best delivered by midfielders. Midfielders are well trained and can give accurate passes, in such situations, making them most teams’ first choice in such situations.
When games progress into penalties, strikers and midfielders are usually named among the first 5 players to take the kick. Defenders only come in if there is no winner after the first 5 shots.
Is the midfielder most important?
If midfielders are properly utilized by a team, they stand better chances of winning games, this is why midfielders are often referred to as the engine room in soccer teams. The role of midfielders is very crucial in games as skilled midfielders amplify a team’s success rate.
Midfielders are considered one of the most important players in soccer as they serve numerous purposes and above all, control the flow of the entire game.
Without the services of midfielders, a team is at a huge risk of losing games and that is the last thing any team would ever wish to experience.
When you see the likes of Sergio Busquets (widely known as one of the most consistent midfielders) delivering brilliant distributions in Barcelona, you will begin to appreciate the importance of midfielders.
It is possible for a team to win a game without strikers but a team can hardly win games without midfielders. Since they are adaptable, calling them the most important players on the pitch is not out of place.
Every position on the pitch is important. Teamwork is the best approach to imbibe in soccer for optimal success and midfielders are constantly applying that to every game. Almost every move in the game passes through them, whether at the defense or attacking side.
Midfielders always drive their team forward and inspire their teammates to greater heights as they do not only cover their position adequately, they also cover other teammates’ positions when they are out of place.
Therefore, midfielders are very important in soccer, and any team that lacks quality midfielders is at the risk of losing multiple games.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
The Pitch is Ours is a new beginning for me and a stepping stone to prepare before retiring from the professional soccer team. Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!