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Soccer Field Positions

Confused about the field positions in soccer? Can't figure out the importance of each player in different soccer formations? Read on, to get a better understanding of the different soccer positions and what they do.
Soccer is a reverberant game that plays somewhat similar to a symphony. The various field positions determine the course that the symphony is going to take, and it slowly builds up from the back of the field. As the rhythm steadily gathers momentum, you see the best artists show glimpses of what they are capable of. An entire move travels back and forth between the players as the tempo and the intensity rises and falls, just like music, and eventually creeping forward, the orchestra culminates into a reverie of high pitches and solo leads and darting runs and then, it eventually creeps back to the loop from which it began.

The soccer field is the stage and the 11 soccer players on each side are the members of this symphony, and just like any other creative and artistic venture that requires everyone to be on the same page, field positions give each player a predetermined task to do. These tasks vary in nature and some are found to be the bearers of more glamorous things like scoring the goals and taking all the plaudits, whereas some players must do the dirty work, the so-called 'water carrying', but without each of these vital components, the machine will simply fail.

Soccer positions have evolved many times over the last century, as strategies and tactics have constantly changed. Wherever there are fixed systems in place, there will always be a 'counter system' to negate the effects and balance the scales. Soccer is all about gaining the upper hand, and there is no better way to do that than to deploy the best personnel for the most suitable job on the pitch. Everyone has a job to do, and let's now look at the various soccer positions and what they do in detail.

Field Positions in Soccer
Every team is divided into 3 portions - namely the defense, the midfield and the attack. Each portion has its duties and each member has a specific role to play. The defense blocks the other team from scoring, the attack attempts to score, and the midfield does a little bit of both, and serves as the link between the rest two.

Goalkeeper
Also known as the shot stopper, the goalkeeper stands between the goal posts and uses his hands to attempt to keep the ball out of the back of the net. The goalkeeper often cuts a lonely figure in each match and spends large portions looking bored and doing nothing, but he has to be on his toes when the ball arrives or he will be chastised for the smallest of mistakes. He cannot use his hands outside the penalty box area, and almost all attacks begin from the hands of a goalie. His primary task though, is to stop the ball from entering the net by using any means possible. His importance is unmatched, but out of all the soccer positions in the field, his is probably the most undermined.

Central Defenders
What would a goalkeeper do without a good set of defenders in front of him. An incompetent defender would leave the poor goalie cruelly exposed. By using hook or crook and a lot of muscle, his task is to push the opposition attackers off the ball and stop their attacks. Modern-day formations usually employ 4 defenders, and the 2 central ones are the most important out of all the positions in soccer. They need to be large and burly and aggressive by nature, and also work in tandem with each other. These are the heart of the defense, and without proper central defenders, any team would suffer.

Wingbacks
On the outer side of the central defenders, are the wingbacks. They must help the central defenders out whenever and however they can, they must stop the oppositions wide players from advancing, and they must help out in their teams attacks as well, by providing the necessary width. All the best teams today need quality wingbacks in order to win games, and the modern-day game has evolved these positions into something more, than they ever imagined they would be.

Central Midfielders
In the middle of the park lies the engine room of every team. The central midfield is the place where a game is truly won and lost. These players tussle with the central midfielders of the other team and whoever comes out on top, effectively wins the game. Running from box to box, these guys help out the defense, provide the spark in the attack and ultimately, determine the outcome of any game.

Employing 4 midfielders is the norm these days, and out of the 2 central midfielders, one is defensive and the other is offensive in nature. The defensive one acts as the midfield anchor, the 'water carrier' and screens the defense. The attack minded one surges forward and picks out great balls to every other player. He is the creator in chief, the playmaker, and it is his quality to control the ball and make excellent passes that determines a teams attacking impetus.

Wingers
The wingers occupy crucial attacking positions on the field, and they are stationed on the outer side of the central midfielders. They are the flying wingers, and they need to possess great ball control and dribbling skills. A soccer field is very wide and utilizing this width is the key to winning a game. The playmaker opens up the oppositions defense by alternating balls between both the wings, and this really stretches the defense and makes the other team work harder to win the ball back.

The various positions in soccer perform a myriad of tasks, and no one highlights this better than the wingers. They must run at the oppositions wingbacks, they must cross the ball into the center for the strikers, they must cut inside and shoot at goal themselves, they must also track back opposition players when they get past, and they must do all this with style and panache.

Striker
Each attack needs a spearhead, an out-and-out striker, who will trouble the last line of defense and score goals from under the noses of the defending players. These are the real fox-in-the-boxes, the clinical finishers, who can receive a pass, get their teammates into the move, turn the defender who is marking him, and then accurately place the ball in the back of the net. It goes without saying that they need to be fast, and they must also be aware of their teammates positions at all times. The article would be incomplete without a mention of these headline grabbing, goal banging target men, who provide the entire team with someone to aim at.

Deep Lying Striker
Behind every out-and-out striker, is a slightly withdrawn striker. There is always a bit of space between a team's defense and midfield, and this area is known as 'the hole'. The second striker operates here and causes havoc wherever he goes. He is usually given a free license to roam and can drift into any of the attacking positions mentioned. Since he performs so many tasks, he is usually the most talented player in the team. Field positions cannot work in sync without a classic 'number 10' playing behind the striker and striking fear in the hearts of the opposition.

The contribution of each and every individual, who occupies any of the field positions, is crucial to the success of a team. All the players need to be on the same wavelength and should be doing that task which they are best at. A team needs to work like a well oiled machine, and unless all the parts are in sync, the machine will fall flat. Use this information to realize what soccer position you could be the best at. Joga Bonito!
By Rahul Thadani
Last Updated: 9/21/2011
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