Tactical Roles Analysis

A tactical role can be analysed by considering the positional responsibilities that a player who is assigned the tactical role can perform and how he can perform them, along with particular playing system set-ups that are appropriate for use with the tactical role.

Various tactical roles are analysed below. Detailed for each tactical role, where relevant, are:

Central Defence

Free Sweeper

Providing cover in the defensive phase is of medium importance in central defence due to the proximity of central defence to the team's goal.

Therefore, a team may use a player in the sweeper playing position to contribute to providing cover in the defensive phase as a free sweeper.

However, the use of a sweeper, even as a free sweeper, is unusual in modern football as it makes it difficult for a team to effectively restrict onside space due to the onside space that exists between the sweeper and the centre backs.

Defining Implementation

Description

Key Positional Responsibilities

A free sweeper is free from the positional responsibilities of forming a defensive line and applying defensive pressure. He can therefore move behind the centre backs as necessary in the defensive phase in order to 'sweep up' any risky passes or direct dribbles made through the defensive line by the opposition team.

Unsuitable Component Role Types

Common Implementation

Unsuitable Component Role Types

Role Specialisation

Orthodox Sweeper

Providing cover is of high importance in central defence due to the proximity of central defence to the team's goal.

Therefore, a team may use a free sweeper to also provide cover in the attacking phase, and so provide cover more effectively, as an orthodox sweeper. However, the use of one or two cover centre backs (a type of protecting centre back, analysed separately below) is a more common alternative to the use of an orthodox sweeper that enables a team to restrict onside space more effectively.

Defining Implementation

Description

Key Positional Responsibilities

An orthodox sweeper provides cover in the attacking phase and in the defensive phase and, therefore, in the transition phases. He therefore enables the centre backs to focus more on applying defensive pressure, usually as stopper centre backs (another type of protecting centre back).

Unsuitable Component Role Types

Common Implementation

Description

Key Positional Responsibilities

Unsuitable Component Role Types

Role Specialisation

Focus Level

Libero Sweeper

A sweeper, unlike the centre backs, is not needed to form a defensive line and so it is not as important for him to provide cover in the attacking phase.

In addition, although linking play and stretching play are both of low importance in central defence, linking play is of high importance in central midfield due to the need to move the ball between midfield and attack, and the need to provide attacking support to players in midfield and attack.

Therefore, a team may use a free sweeper to link play or stretch play as a libero sweeper and so contribute to linking play in central midfield as an auxiliary defensive midfielder.

In particular, a team may use a supporting libero sweeper to link play in central defence or an offensive libero sweeper to stretch play in central defence.

Defining Implementation

Description

Key Positional Responsibilities

Offensive libero sweeper:

Supporting libero sweeper:

A libero sweeper can perform central midfield positional responsibilities as an attacking phase auxiliary defensive midfielder. In particular, he can provide attacking support to the midfielders and attackers.

However, a libero sweeper, particularly an offensive libero sweeper, is likely to still be in central midfield when possession is conceded and so he is unable to provide cover in the defensive transition phase as effectively as an orthodox sweeper.

Unsuitable Component Role Types

Common Implementation

Description

Key Positional Responsibilities

Supporting libero sweeper:

Unsuitable Component Role Types

Supporting libero sweeper:

Role Specialisation

Offensive libero sweeper:

Supporting libero sweeper:

Focus Level

Playing System Requirements

When using a libero sweeper a team should ideally:

Protecting Centre Back

Providing cover in the attacking phase is of essential importance in central defence for players assigned centre back playing positions since they are needed to form a defensive line quickly in the defensive transition phase. In addition, providing cover in the defensive phase and applying defensive pressure are both of medium importance in central defence.

Therefore, a team typically uses all of its players who are in the centre back playing positions to provide cover in the attacking phase as protecting centre backs.

In particular, a team may use either standard centre backs to contribute fairly equally to both, or one or two protecting centre backs, usually cover centre backs, to focus more on providing cover in the defensive phase, and the remaining protecting centre back or centre backs, usually stopper centre backs, to focus more on applying defensive pressure.

Defining Implementation

Description

Key Positional Responsibilities

Standard centre back:

Stopper centre back:

Cover centre back:

A cover centre back essentially acts similarly to an orthodox sweeper (analysed above), enabling the remaining centre back or centre backs to focus more on applying defensive pressure, usually as stopper centre backs.

Unsuitable Component Role Types

Standard centre back and stopper centre back:

Standard centre back and cover centre back:

Common Implementation

Unsuitable Component Role Types

Role Specialisation

Standard centre back:

Stopper centre back:

Cover centre back:

Orthodox Centre Back

Moving the ball safely is of high importance in central defence due to the proximity of central defence to the team's goal.

Therefore, a team typically uses at least one protecting centre back to move the ball safely as an orthodox centre back.

Defining Implementation

Description

Key Positional Responsibilities

Orthodox standard centre back:

Orthodox stopper centre back:

Orthodox cover centre back:

Unsuitable Component Role Types

Orthodox standard centre back and orthodox stopper centre back:

Orthodox standard centre back and orthodox cover centre back:

Common Implementation

Description

Unsuitable Component Role Types

Role Specialisation

Orthodox standard centre back:

Orthodox stopper centre back:

Orthodox cover centre back:

Focus Level

Specialised Implementation - Limited Centre Back

A centre back who has poor intelligence and passing ability is more likely to concede possession in or near to central defence.

Therefore, a team may use an orthodox centre back with poor intelligence and passing ability to move the ball safely more effectively as a limited centre back.

Description

Unsuitable Component Role Types

Role Specialisation

Limited standard centre back:

Limited stopper centre back:

Limited cover centre back:

Focus Level

Playmaking Centre Back

Although creating chances is of low importance in central defence, it can be useful for a team to have a player in central defence who can initiate complex build-up play when recycling possession and initiate counter attacking by quickly exploiting penetrative opportunities after the team wins back possession in or near central defence.

Therefore, a team may use a protecting centre back to create chances as a playmaking centre back.

Defining Implementation

Description

Key Positional Responsibilities

Playmaking standard centre back:

Playmaking stopper centre back:

Playmaking cover centre back:

Unsuitable Component Role Types

Playmaking standard centre back and playmaking stopper centre back:

Playmaking standard centre back and playmaking cover centre back:

Common Implementation

Description

Key Positional Responsibilities

Unsuitable Component Role Types

Role Specialisation

Playmaking standard centre back:

Playmaking stopper centre back:

Playmaking cover centre back:

Focus Level

Central Midfielders

Pivoting Central Midfielder [Pivot]

Providing cover is of high importance in central midfield due to the proximity of central midfield to central defence and also due to its key central location.

Therefore, a team typically uses a player in central midfield to provide cover as a central midfield pivot.

Defining Implementation

Description

Possible Auxiliary Role Types

Key Positional Responsibilities

A central midfield pivot stays in a relatively fixed position in or near to central defence behind the other midfielders and the attackers, who can move in front of him and use him for recycling possession.

Unsuitable Component Role Types

Common Implementation

Unsuitable Component Role Types

Role Specialisation

Number-Eight Central Midfielder

Linking play is of high importance in central midfield due to the need to move the ball between midfield and attack, and the need to provide attacking support to players in midfield and attack.

Therefore, a team typically uses a player in central midfield to link play as a number-eight central midfielder.

Defining Implementation

Description

Possible Auxiliary Role Types

Key Positional Responsibilities

A number-eight can provide attacking support to the other midfielders and the attackers by remaining fairly close to both positional areas.

Unsuitable Component Role Types

Common Implementation

Key Positional Responsibilities

Unsuitable Component Role Types

Role Specialisation

Attacking Central Midfielder

Although stretching play is only of medium importance in central midfield, linking play is of high importance in central attack due to the proximity of central attack to the opposition team's goal.

Therefore, a team may use a central midfielder to stretch play as an attacking central midfielder and so contribute to linking play in central attack as an auxiliary attacking midfielder.

Description

Key Positional Responsibilities

An attacking central midfielder can perform central attack positional responsibilities as an attacking phase auxiliary attacking midfielder. In particular, he can provide attacking support to the attackers.

Unsuitable Component Role Types

Common Implementation

An attacking central midfielder is usually used as a centre midfielder so that he can link play in central attack more effectively.

Description

Key Positional Responsibilities

Unsuitable Component Role Types

Role Specialisation

Orthodox Central Midfielder

When implementing a more fluid playing system in particular, it can be useful for a team to have one or more players in central midfield who can perform a wide range of positional responsibilities.

Providing cover in the defensive phase, applying defensive pressure, moving the ball safely, creating chances and taking chances are all of medium importance in central midfield due to its key central location. In addition, stretching play in central midfield is also of medium importance, while providing cover in the attacking phase and linking play in central midfield are both of high importance.

Therefore, a team may use a central midfield pivot, number-eight central midfielder or attacking central midfielder to contribute to providing cover in the defensive phase, applying defensive pressure, moving the ball safely, creating chances and taking chances, as well as to provide cover in the attacking phase, link play and stretch play as far as appropriate, as an orthodox central midfielder.

Defining Implementation

Description

Possible Auxiliary Role Types

Key Positional Responsibilities

Orthodox central midfield pivot:

Orthodox number-eight central midfielder:

Orthodox attacking central midfielder:

Unsuitable Component Role Types

Orthodox central midfield pivot:

Orthodox number-eight central midfielder:

Orthodox attacking central midfielder:

Common Implementation

An orthodox central midfielder is usually used as a centre midfielder as this gives him a more central location half-way between the centre back playing positions and the centre forward playing positions, where he can more effectively share positional responsibilities with other players.

Description

Key Positional Responsibilities

Orthodox number-eight central midfielder:

Orthodox attacking central midfielder:

Unsuitable Component Role Types

Orthodox central midfield pivot:

Orthodox number-eight central midfielder:

Orthodox attacking central midfielder:

Role Specialisation

Orthodox central midfield pivot:

Orthodox number-eight central midfielder:

Orthodox attacking central midfielder:

Focus Level

Water-Carrying Central Midfielder [Water-Carrier]

Where a team relies mainly on central attackers and wide players to perform high risk positional responsibilities in the attacking phases, it can be useful for it to have one or two players in central midfield who focus more on positional responsibilities that are performed in the defensive phases, as well as those performed in the attacking phases that have low tactical risk.

Therefore, a team may use one or two players in central midfield to contribute to providing cover in the defensive phase or applying defensive pressure, and to provide cover in the attacking phase and move the ball safely, as central midfield water-carriers.

In particular, a team may use a central midfield anchor to contribute to providing cover in the defensive phase and a central midfield dynamo or central midfield destroyer to contribute to applying defensive pressure.

Defining Implementation

Description

Key Positional Responsibilities

Central midfield anchor:

Central midfield dynamo and central midfield destroyer:

Central midfield dynamo:

In the defensive phases a central midfield water-carrier can help the team to win back possession. In the attacking phases he can move the ball safely to the wide players or attackers and provide cover for them, enabling them to focus more on stretching play, creating chances and taking chances.

Unsuitable Component Role Types

Central midfield anchor:

Central midfield dynamo and central midfield destroyer:

Central midfield dynamo:

Common Implementation

Description

Central midfield anchor:

Unsuitable Component Role Types

Central midfield anchor:

Central midfield dynamo: