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. These include some system-specific roles, which are tactical roles that include a system-specific role type. System-specific roles are most appropriate for use in more structured playing systems.

Detailed for each tactical role, where relevant, are:

Central Defence

Free Sweeper

Introduction

Providing cover in the defensive phase in central defence is of medium importance 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 provide cover in the defensive phase as a free sweeper.

Description

Defining Role Specialisation

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

However, the use of a 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 centre backs.

Protecting Sweeper

Introduction

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

Therefore, a team may use a free sweeper to provide cover more effectively as a protecting sweeper.

Description

Defining Role Specialisation

A protecting sweeper provides cover in the attacking phase and in the defensive phase and, therefore, in the transition phases. He enables the centre backs to apply defensive pressure to a relatively greater extent.

Common Role Specialisation

A protecting sweeper usually moves the ball safely due to staying in central defence in all phases of play, where moving the ball safely is of high importance. However, he is not usually a safe-passing player as this would hinder his ability to move the ball forward effectively after intercepting the ball or when recycling possession.

Advanced Sweeper [Libero]

Introduction

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.

Therefore, a team may use a free sweeper to link play or stretch play as a libero.

Description

Defining Role Specialisation

Offensive libero:

Supporting libero:

A libero can provide attacking support in central midfield and perform central midfield positional responsibilities as an attacking phase auxiliary defensive midfielder.

However, a libero, particularly an offensive libero, 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 a protecting sweeper.

Common Role Specialisation

A libero usually creates chances due to moving into central midfield in the attacking phases, where creating chances is of higher importance. However, he is not usually a skilled player as this may result in him conceding possession in central defence.

Likewise, a libero usually contributes to taking chances.

Playing System Requirements

When using a libero a team should ideally:

Protecting Centre Back

Introduction

Providing cover in the attacking phase in central defence is of essential importance for players assigned centre back playing positions since they are needed to form a defensive line quickly in the defensive transition phase.

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.

Description

Defining Role Specialisation

Conventional Centre Back

Description

Defining Role Specialisation

Common Role Specialisation

Central Midfielders

Pivoting Central Midfielder [Pivot]

Introduction

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

Therefore, a team typically uses a central midfielder to provide cover as a pivot.

Description

Defining Role Specialisation

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.

Deep-Protecting Defensive Midfielder [Half-Back]

Introduction

The greater use of players who provide cover in deeper central playing positions can enable a team to cycle possession in deeper areas more easily, which can be useful against opposition teams that use a high defensive block. In addition, it can enable a team to more easily use offensive deep wide players while still retaining solidity effectively. However, it also reduces the number of players that a team can use in more advanced playing positions.

For example, a team can use a three-man central defence, as opposed to a central defence partnership, which can enable it to use offensive wing backs to stretch play on the flanks and act as attacking phase auxiliary wing forwards. However, this makes it more difficult to create overloads on the flanks. Alternatively, a team can use two defensive midfielders, which can enable it to use offensive full backs combined with wing forwards or offensive wing midfielders. However, this hinders the ability of the central midfielders to provide attacking support effectively to the attackers.

Therefore, a team may use a pivot to provide cover more effectively as a half-back.

Description

Defining Role Specialisation

A half-back can provide attacking support in central defence and perform central defence positional responsibilities, such as providing cover in the attacking phase, as an attacking phase auxiliary centre back.

In the attacking phases, in order to enable spatial compactness to be retained effectively while the half-back is in central defence, the centre backs typically move into wider attacking positions to act as wide and off-centre centre backs. When the team has possession near to the opposition team's penalty area a half-back typically moves back into his attacking position in central midfield so that he can be used more easily for recycling possession.

In the defensive phases, after the deep wide players have returned to their defensive positions, a half-back again moves back into his own defensive position in central midfield while the centre backs move back into their narrower defensive positions.

Common Role Specialisation

A half-back usually moves the ball safely due to moving into central defence in the attacking phases, where moving the ball safely is of higher importance. However, he is not usually a safe-passing player as this would hinder his ability to move the ball forward effectively when recycling possession or after intercepting the ball.

Playing System Requirements

When using a half-back a team should ideally:

Number-Eight Central Midfielder

Introduction

Linking play in central midfield is of high importance due to the need to move the ball between midfield and attack.

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

Description

Defining Role Specialisation

A number-eight central midfielder can provide attacking support to the other midfielders and the attackers.

Common Role Specialisation

A number-eight central midfielder usually applies defensive pressure so that he can also provide defensive support to the other midfielders and the attackers, in particular to the central midfield pivot so that he can focus more on providing cover.

Play-Dictating Central Midfielder [Controlling-Playmaker]

Introduction

When implementing a more structured playing system in particular, a team can benefit from having a player who dictates play in order to help it to undertake more effective build-up play and, therefore, create goal-scoring chances more effectively.

Dictating play involves a player acting as a focal player in central midfield and using his intelligence to decide how and when it is appropriate for him to contribute to moving the ball safely and creating chances, as appropriate to the situation. As such, he essentially 'dictates' how and when the team's build-up play should start.

Therefore, a team often uses a central midfielder to create chances by dictating play as a controlling-playmaker.

Description

Defining Role Specialisation

Common Role Specialisation

Central Attackers

Number-Ten Central Attacker

Introduction

Linking play in central attack is of high importance due to the need to move the ball into central attack

Therefore, a team typically uses a central attacker to link play as a number-ten central attacker.

Description

Defining Role Specialisation

A number-ten central attacker can provide attacking support to the other attackers and the midfielders.

Number-Nine Central Attacker

Introduction

Stretching play in attack is of high importance, while stretching play in central attack is of medium importance, due to the need to create space in front of the opposition team's defensive line and penetrate space near to and behind the defensive line.

Therefore, a team often uses a central attacker to stretch play as a number-nine central attacker.

Description

Defining Role Specialisation

Common Role Specialisation

False-Ten Attacking Midfielder

Description

Defining Role Specialisation

Common Role Specialisation

Chance-Dictating Central Attacker [Advanced-Playmaker]

Introduction

When implementing a more structured playing system and either the offensive football core style or short plays attacking style in particular, a team can benefit from having a player who dictate chances in order to help it to undertake more effective build-up play and, therefore, create goal-scoring chances more effectively.

Dictating chances involves a player acting as a focal player in central attack and using his intelligence to decide how and when it is appropriate for him to create chances, either by continuing complex build-up play or directly creating a goal-scoring chance, as appropriate to the situation. As such, he essentially 'dictates' how and when the team's build-up play should finish.

Therefore, a team often uses a central attacker, or an auxiliary central attacker, to create chances by dictating chances as an advanced-playmaker.

Description

Defining Role Specialisation

Advanced-Pivot Attacking Midfielder [Enganche]

Introduction

When implementing roaming movement as part of its playing style in particular, a team can benefit from having an advanced-playmaker who acts as a pivot in central attack, staying in a relatively fixed position to receive passes and using his intelligence to decide how and when to release the ball while his teammates move around him.

Description

Defining Role Specialisation

Playing System Requirements

When using an advanced pivot a team should ideally: