Since its inception, soccer has remained a team sport. Being a team sport, it adopts the concept of division of roles where different players have to man different roles efficiently.
While players often overlap in their roles and fill up for a teammate, they should always focus on their primary role. For example, we have seen goalkeepers move to the goal area of their opponents in an attempt to score.
Nobody will blame them if they try and don’t score but they will definitely get a backlash if they try to score goals and end up leaving an empty post that the opponent exploits.
There are 4 main positions in soccer namely, the defenders, the forwards, the midfielders, and the goalkeeper. Each of these positions—apart from the goalkeeper—usually consists of other sub-positions and every player is expected to play a particular position.
All positions are important and dividing players into positions makes the sport less difficult and more fun to play. Team players can effectively play from different angles of the pitch and also contribute positively to the game with their unique skills.
Players in the forward position have the primary objective of scoring goals for the team. The forward position is further divided into 3 roles namely the striker, winger, and center forward.
The striker position is one of the most thrilling positions to watch and play. Players occupying this position are usually well-skilled, confident, and strong, therefore, they play with great courage and enthusiasm.
In this article, we will explain the role and position that strikers play in soccer games and how they help maximize the team’s performance and winning chances.
Where does a striker play in soccer?
A striker is positioned closest to the opponent’s goal and the players’ primary responsibility is to score goals or create goal-scoring chances. They have exceptional ball control and are often the quickest set of players on the pitch.
They are known to be the farthest players away from their side of the pitch. They are positioned where scoring chances are plentiful.
Strikers usually receive the ball from the midfielders. However, there are times when they get long crosses from the defenders during a quick counterattack. At such moments, their speed and dribbling skill is called into action.
Although any player in a team can score (including the goalkeeper) the greatest expectation from fans and players mostly lies on strikers.
It is not surprising that strikers develop skills like the speed that make it easier for them to beat the opposition defenders.
A striker does not necessarily have to defend. Although they can also help out with defense a few times, they must not frequently go back. The chance to score goals will not come if they stay in their own half of the field.
Jose Mourinho is famous for playing a formation nicknamed ‘parking the bus’ where all the members of the team play in their half. He uses this technique in a game where a draw is enough to take him to the next round.
During his time at Chelsea, Didier Drogba who naturally played the striking position was often seen doing heaving defending. When a team is facing immense attacking pressure from the opponent, the strikers need to position close to the center to scoop up loose balls and initiate a counterattack.
Even when strikers come back to defend their half, it is always necessary for them to have good speed and recovery to head back to their natural position once their team is with the ball. To effectively play well as a striker, you have to understand some basic tips.
Aside from utilizing every scoring opportunity, strikers also have the responsibility of creating chances for their teammates to score. In other words, a striker must never be selfish or always seek glory.
For example, in a game where the opposition is using man-marking, if the striker cannot beat the man-marking, he or she can deliver the ball to a midfielder or winger to finish it off.
Defenders are often aggressive against fast and prolific strikers. If you are one of them, you can play the attitude of the opposition defenders to your advantage.
Even when it is obvious that you cannot score, run into the box and wait for an aggressive attack from the opposition defenders, then fall to the ground. Most referees will blow for a penalty if there was significant contact.
Understand the opposition
Every team has its strengths and weaknesses. As a striker, you must endeavor to understand your opposition’s weaknesses before a match and capitalize on that weakness to increase your scoring chances.
Great strikers are known for their good finishing skills, quick reactions, and unpredictable movements. All these attributes make it difficult for defenders to tackle and stop them from accomplishing their mission.
Strikers constantly try to keep defenders in an uncomfortable situation by taking the game aggressively into the opposition penalty area thereby creating goal-scoring opportunities.
Control the pace of the game
There is a popular saying that the best form of defense is attack. In the same way, strikers can dictate the pace and direction of the game.
For example, if a team has fast strikers like Kylian Mbappe or Erling Haaland, they will force the midfielders and defenders of the opposing team to run faster in an attempt in trying to contain them.
Also, when attackers put pressure on the opposition, they will have fewer chances to try and come out and attack since they will be busy trying to defend their goal.
Stay in your position
Most players can move around the pitch but a striker’s movement is limited. You are to constantly maintain your position in order not to be taken unawares by a cross from a teammate from deep in your half.
Strikers should always be in a position of receiving passes from a teammate. This entails that a striker must always be alert and aware of their surroundings so that they can move into a position where their teammates can easily locate them and make a pass.
As a striker, if you don’t create a space between yourself and the opposition players, it becomes harder for your teammates to get the ball across to you.
Improve your role
Constant practice brings out the best in you. To be a better striker, you have to practice more and improve your scoring skills.
The best strikers all over the world learn through imitation. That means you have to watch other good strikers in the game and try to replicate what they do.
As we have highlighted, although the major role of a striker is to score goals in a match, they have other roles to play in the game.
A striker’s position is tasking and needs to be occupied by a player that is good in the aspect of goal scoring. The player ought to be good at creating chances for teammates and have good ball control skills too.
Due to the striker’s position close to the opponent’s defenders, they are constantly under pressure from defenders and opposition players. The ability to penetrate through and overcome obstacles makes you a good striker.
The likes of Cristian Ronaldo and Harry Kane constantly showcase their skills and easily get around defenders. To be the best, you have to learn from the best.
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!