What Position Is 6 In Soccer? Role & How To Play

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What position is 6 in soccer?

First things first, Soccer is a sport composed of several positions, each having its importance. The number 6 position tends to arouse multiple questions as to what it is.

In this article, you are going to find out everything there is to know about the number 6 position in soccer.

Let’s get started.

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What Position Is 6 In Soccer?

The number 6 position in soccer is the defensive midfielder or CDM. The number 6 refers to the deepest midfielder on the pitch. They link up the defense to the midfield and protect the defenders by tackling and collecting all dangerous balls in their area.

Note that playing number 6 doesn’t necessarily mean you have to wear a shirt number 6.

Most soccer players who play this position don’t even wear the number 6.

Now let’s see what a number 6 does on the pitch.

What Is The Main Role Of Number 6?

In a nutshell, the main role of a number 6, also known as a defensive midfielder, is to link up the defense to the attack. They do it by switching the play, tackling, getting the ball from the opposition, and bringing the numerical number to the defense.

Number 6 Positioning On The Pitch

What position is 6 in soccer - A 4-3-3 formation displaying the number 6 position

The number 6 plays right in front of the defense and behind the midfielders. For instance, in a 4-3-3 formation, as shown in the pic above, the CDM is accompanied by two other midfielders who play a more attacking role.

In this position, the Central Defensive Midfielder protects the defense, helps maintain possessions, and starts attacking plays.

What position is 6 in soccer - A central defensive midfielder protecting the defense

A team can play with one or two defensive midfielders depending on the tactic.

And remember, the further your team gets up the field, the further you(number 6) get up the field. Always follow attacking midfielders and make sure you stay right behind them.

Skills Needed For A Defensive Midfielder

Because defensive midfielders play multiple roles, they must have a great passing ability and read the game in addition to their defense capabilities.

1-Passing Abilities.

As we already know, a defensive midfielder acts as the mediator between the defense and the attack.

Some teams are required to keep possession of the ball and to take the ball from the defense to the attack using short passes. The defensive midfielder has to make sure this is done properly.

Hence, a defensive midfielder is required to have great passing and control ability. Losing the ball in the defensive midfielder position can be dangerous for a team that could be punished by the opposition.

To improve passing ability, defensive midfielders should practice a variety of passes daily – short passes, long passes, through balls, switching play, etc. Mastering passing with both feet is also key. Playing small-sided possession games is a great way to refine passing skills

2-Defensive Capabilities.

One of the primary skills required for a defensive midfielder is to be good at defending.

A great defensive midfielder should be able to get the ball from the attacking opposition and execute a counter-attack.

To be an effective defender, the number 6 must-have solid tackling technique, agility to keep up with attacking players, and the strength to win physical battles.

Positioning and intercepting passes are also critical. Tracking back quickly when possession is lost can prevent dangerous counterattacks.

3-Read The Game

Except for the passing and defensive ability, a great defensive midfielder has to be able to read the game by intercepting passes and helping their team to win back possession in dangerous areas.

Reading the game comes down to awareness and vision. Scanning the field frequently allows the number 6 to see passing lanes develop and close down quickly. Making smart decisions on when to press, tackle, or hold position requires reading the attackers’ movements and intents.

Communication with teammates also helps build awareness. The number 6 acts as an extra set of eyes for the defense.

How To Play The 6 In Soccer?

To play and be an effective defensive midfielder, you have to:

1-Make It Easy For Defenders To Pass You The Ball.

It means you have to be aware of the gaps between the opposition midfield and attack. See pic below.

What position is 6 in soccer - A 6 midfielder receiving the ball between space

Here’s another one with real players.

What position is 6 in soccer - A Man United game where the central defensive midfielder is moving into space to receive the ball

In the image above, the CDM is moving horizontally and finding the right space to receive the ball.

Once you have received the ball from the defender, it’s important to use it properly.

To use the ball properly after receiving it, you have to create a goal-scoring opportunity. This means you should be looking for a teammate on the wings for a Through Pass.

Checking your shoulder frequently allows you to see where teammates are positioned before receiving the pass. Move into pockets of space between defenders to make yourself open for the ball.

2-Play Long Balls From Time To Time.

Once a CDM receives the ball, they should play forward ASAP to find a goal-scoring opportunity. This often involves passing long balls to your forward teammates.

So, make sure to improve your long passing skills.

If you cannot play a long ball, ensure you find an attacking midfielder who can drive the attack forward.

Practice driving long passes on both feet. Aim for the feet or chest of the attacker to maximize control. Weigh long balls properly so they arrive in stride for your teammate.

3-Pass The Ball Backward Sometimes.

In moments of pressure when advancing is not possible, maintain possession by distributing the ball back to your defenders.

Backward passes relieve pressure and allow your team to reset shape. Sometimes the simplest option is the best. Don’t force play if forwards are marked tightly.

4-Bring Numerical Superiority.

When your team has the ball possession in defense, the attacking opposition is going to press.

But you have to come back and bring that superiority and make the number bigger.

For example, the attacking opposition can be 3, and the defenders + you 4. So, 3vs4.

Supporting your defenders facing a high press is key. Your presence balances out the numbers. Move into open spaces to make yourself an outlet.

What position is 6 in soccer - Three opposing forwards vs four defenders

5-The Number 6 Can Be Used Without Touching The Ball.

Sometimes, a defensive midfielder doesn’t need to touch the ball. All they need is to create pass lanes for teammates.

Note that this requires a lot of intelligence and communication on the pitch.

Creating a passing lane means making the opposition follow you to allow your teammate to find space and pass the ball to another teammate.

Make checking runs dragging defenders with you to open space for a pass. Communicate constantly and point out openings. Don’t just stand static off the ball.

Some of The Best Numbers 6 In Soccer

Here are three of the best number 6 in soccer.


Kante is a French player who has done a very great job at Chelsea Football Club.

With great defensive and attacking ability, Kante led Chelsea to the UCL final in 2021 and won it. His incredible work rate and reading of the game allow him to cover huge amounts of ground and win back possession.


Xavi Hernadez used to play for Barcelona and led the Club to a few UCL trophies – He is one of the best to ever play in that position. Xavi was the metronome and heartbeat of Pep Guardiola’s legendary Barca team. His passing range, vision, and ball control were unmatched.


Casemiro is one of the best 6 in soccer. He won three consecutive UCL titles with Real Madrid under Z. Zidane. Everyone loved his battle on the field with Messi.

Casemiro provided the steel and tenacity to complement Madrid’s array of creative talents. His tackling and aerial ability are top-class.

Wrap Up

Playing number 6 is one of the most comfortable positions in soccer. But not the easiest position.

To excel as a number 6 in soccer, focus on precise long passes, fitness, stamina, and game reading. These skills are key to success in this position.

So, do you have what it takes?

If so, then go out there and rock it.

I hope you have gained value from this article.

What is your favourite position in soccer? Who is your favourite number 6? What skills do you need to improve your game?

Let me know in the comment section below.

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