What do midfielders do in soccer?
Before answering that question, keep in mind that the midfield position is the hardest in soccer. Playing in that position requires several skills.
If you are a midfielder, you are in the right place to learn what to do on the pitch.
In this article, you are going to learn 4 things midfielders do in soccer. At the end of this article, you will be well-equipped to dominate the midfield in any game.
What Do Midfielders Do In Soccer?
Here are the 4 things midfielders do in soccer:
- Transitioning from defence to attack
- Ensuring possession
1-Transitioning From Defence To Attack
The primary role of a midfielder is to guarantee the transition of the ball from defenders to attackers.
A soccer pitch is huge and it can be challenging to move the ball from the defender to the attacking players sometimes. So, this is where midfielders come in. They have to constantly request the ball from their defenders and take it to forward players to create chances.
This is often done through long balls and Through balls to attacking players.
Hence why midfielders are required to have a great passing ability.
2-Ensuring The Ball Possession
As a midfielder, the ball possession of the game is often defined by you. If a team doesn’t manage to keep possession of the ball, it means the midfielders have lost the midfield battle.
It is important to have possession of the ball during a game. Having possession will exhaust the opponent and will give your team more confidence in the game.
Most of the teams who have possession end up winning the game. Not always but in most cases.
A recent example is in the 2022 UCL round of 16 between PSG and Real Madrid. PSG won the possession and therefore, the game. Their midfielders have clearly dominated the battle of the midfield.
Being a good attacker and playmaker start with the desire to get on the ball. As a midfielder, you constantly need to be asking for the ball. If you are hiding because you are scared and don’t know what to do with the ball once you get it, then the midfield position is not for you.
A good player asks for the ball, makes mistakes and tries to get the ball back and do better with it.
Now that you have the desire to get in the ball, you have to create space to get on the ball. A good midfielder has to look around and be aware of where the space is.
If you are marked by someone and you are trying to get on the ball and don’t get it, you need to keep moving and create space for someone else. If your teammate doesn’t pass you the ball, they will pass it to another player available. If you receive the ball while being marked, you can give the ball back to your teammate or try to get rid of the opposing player by dribbling him.
The most important thing as a midfielder is to play forward to create a goal-scoring opportunity. Once a midfielder receives the ball from defenders, they have to make sure there is space to turn and pass the ball to a forward.
If you can’t play forward because you have no option, don’t force it. Plus, if an opposing player is coming to close you down, you have to think about passing the ball sideways or playing to someone in space so they can play forward.
Once you have played the ball forward, make sure to get forward with your movements by running to the box and supporting the strikers and wingers.
Every midfielder should be able to defend. As a midfielder, you want to defend the team and win the ball back. If you lose possession of the ball, you have to try to get it back immediately and play forward.
If you lose the ball and don’t get it back right away, you have to run back into your defensive shape as quickly as possible.
Note that the shape of the midfield is the same as the defenders. Everyone moves together as a unit.
For example, if the ball is at the wing, the nearest midfielder presses and other midfielders cover in behind.
Do not leave big gaps and do not run out of position, otherwise, this would create space for opposing attackers to get into.
In the screenshot below, look at how much space is left by the midfielder(Blue).
This is a wrong positioning and defending.
If you want to be better at defending, I wrote a great article about that: How to defend in soccer?
However, defending as a midfielder is not as difficult as playing in defence. If you don’t manage to get the ball from the opposition, that’s all right because there are other midfielders and the backline(defenders) to cover you.
So, having this in mind should remove the pressure of defending as a midfielder. But if you do get beat in the midfield, track back and try to win the ball or mark another player.
Also, as a midfielder, you have to protect the passing lane.
Remember, playing in midfield means there are opposing players behind you. Although your defenders mark those opposing players, you should protect passing lanes into those attacking players.
Look at the screenshot below.
As you see, those midfielders(In blue) are pressing and protecting their backline by preventing any potential pass.
Casemiro is a great example. He always prevents passing lanes and gets back to help defenders.
As you have read in this article, midfielders do a lot on the pitch. Midfielders make sure to transition the ball from defence to attack, they ensure possession, they do attack and finally defend.
All of these elements make a complete midfielder.
I hope you have gained value from this article.
Are you a midfielder? Do you have what it takes? Let me know in the comment section below.
I hope this article will help you level up your game and dominate the midfield in your next game.
You can also read my full article about the midfield position in soccer here.