The Defensive Center Midfielder is the selfless leader of the team. He allows the creative center mid's and other players to work their magic as he goes about destroying tackles and backing them up as they venture forward. Ever had a really good wing man? This is what the Defensive Center Mid is in a nutshell, the greatest wing man you have ever had, sacrifices themselves for the good of the team and goal of the team.
Sometimes this position is also known as the stopper. Either way this player sits in front of the defensive line and behind the midfield line acting as a security blanket for the middle of the park.
Do Defensive Center Mids Get to Go Forward?
Any true defensive center mid should use the 80/20 rule in this case. Eighty percent of the time they are protecting the center backs and holding the middle of the park. Situations some times arise when they happen to venture forward and that is okay as long as their primary job is taken care of.
This takes discipline and a player that knows their responsibility and does not try and do too much. This position is difficult as it is, their is no need to try and do several things at an average rate, a team is much more efficient if each player can do their one task great. Jack of all trades, master of none.
Top 5 Attributes of a Pro Level Defensive Center Midfielder
1. Ball Winner (winning tackles on ground and air)
2. High Work Rate
3. Ability to play simple when the ball is at their feet
5. Disrupts the flow of the opposition
Responsibilities of a Defensive Center Midfielder
1. Protect the Center Backs by denying entry passes to the opposing strikers and covering when a center back gets pulled out of position
2. Do the dirty work in the middle of the park allowing your creative centre mids to generate the offense
3. Stay central disrupting and destroying plays as they come through the middle of the park.
Does it Take A Big Hulk Like Player to Play This Position?
Not necessarily no. Great defensive center mids need to be stuck in, relentless and have a tremendous work rate. Nowhere in that sentence did I mention about being big and tall. If the player has all these qualities and his gifted physically of course it doesn't hurt.
It takes pace to keep up with the strikers and attacking players of the opposition so the player in this position must be able to match step for step with some of the quickest players on the pitch.
Is Stopper and A Defensive Center Midfielder the Same Thing?
Sure is. This position was introduced into the game famously named “stopper” for that reason alone. The player of that position was the stopper of any build up or play coming through the middle. Much like the def center mid this player sits in between the midfield and defensive lines and fills in where there is need.
The position has evolved over time though. In today's modern game the position now has players who are technically sound on the ball who are able to play out of the back and keep the ball not just break up tackles and send ball to China.
Technical Attributes of A Great Defensive Center Mid:
-Sound tackling with both feet
-Powerful clearing head balls
-Accurate ball control with all parts of body
Physical Attributes of A Great Defensive Center Mid:
We have seen even at the highest level this position can be played by all sorts of players of different physical builds, so there is no one perfect ideal build for this position but some attributes that are position specific are as follows:
-High level of fitness (ability to keep up with attackers all game long)
-Vertical leaping ability (winning balls in the air)
-Strength in the air (holding off attackers in the air)
-Strength in lower body (for clearing balls with both legs)
-Quick first step (able to react to different situations as they present themselves)
-Fast Lateral Agility (shuffling feet from one side of the pitch to the next)
-Fast Backward Agility (constantly jockeying attackers)
-Strong lower body strength (used in tackling players and shielding ball)
Essential Foundational Attributes of A Great Defensive Center Mid:
-High work rate (able to go 90 minutes and outworking every other player on the pitch)
-Ball winner (pure and simple able to win tackles and break up plays)
-Aggressive, stuck in player
-Takes pride in holding down the fort in the back
This is a special kind of player that without we have seen great teams in the past not able to play without. A team full of super stars can crumble without having a rugged defensive center midfielder holding down the fort. You need the right balance of piano players and piano carriers and this position definitely takes a piano carrier.
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