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Football Tactics

What are football tactics and what are they for?

Football is a joint sport, eleven players face against eleven. However, in order to develop a collective game idea, football tactics are used as a means to exploit the individual qualities of the players and attack the rival’s vulnerabilities. There are great teams throughout history that thanks to their tactics have gone down in history and won titles or championships that we still remember to date.

Football Tactics
Complete guide of Football Tactics

Soccer positions

In order to carry out or implement soccer tactics, it is necessary to know in depth the roles and functions of each player and each position. That is why here we explain what are the most common positions in world football. Some differ depending on each tactical scheme, not all are the same. But in a generic way we will tell you that the basic positions in soccer are as follows: Goalkeeper, defenders, midfielders and strikers.


The goalkeeper is the player who takes the ball when it goes to the goal. This to avoid the goal. The goalkeeper is the only player who can use his hands inside the field of play as long as the ball is inside the big area. The goalkeeper can not touch the ball with his hands beyond the area, otherwise he will be marked foul and give a free shot to the opposing team.

In addition to that, in some cases a goalkeeper’s hand outside the area is sanctioned with a warning or with an expulsion. The goalkeeper must have great reflexes, agility and good stature. Must be able to cover the goal from one post to the other and also from the ground to the crossbar.

There are several styles of goalkeepers, the “atajador” is a kind of goalkeeper who usually has great reflexes and draws a large number of balls that go to the goal. There are goalkeepers who usually leave the area to play the ball with their feet and thus become a “libero” or support player for the defense.

Central defense

The central defense position is one of the most important in football tactics. Its main task is to prevent the players of the opposing team from scoring goals. There are different varieties of defenses, some are made up of two central and others by three, this depends on the tactical scheme of each team. Within the physical characteristics of the central defense are the following: Height, strength, speed, jumping ability, good pitch and anticipation.

There are different styles and types of central defenders. There are brand defenders, who are very good at limiting the capacity of the rival strikers, but who perhaps are technically not very clean or pure with the ball. On the other hand, there are central defenses that are very good technically and contribute to the team having a clean exit from their own field.

Defense in zone

Within football there are basically two ways to defend: In zone and man to man. The defense by zone consists in assigning to each defender a certain area of the field, the defense has assigned that zone and must cover it at all times. For this also the defender will have the help of the midfielders.

Man to man

The other defense variety is “man to man”. In it, each player is assigned a man, who must check to make sure he does not harm the goal or score. Usually this assignment is made in the set pieces, there each player has the responsibility to score a rival man.

Lateral Defenders

The lateral defender is also known in the world of football as “tip marker”. This position is important within the tactics of football, since, this defender is responsible for defensive functions on the sides of the court. Between the characteristics that must have the laterals are the following: Mark, speed, ability to center, anticipation and good cabeceo.El lateral “classic” is limited more to defensive works, preventing the arrival of the midfielders of band or extremes.

They must prevent rival players from centering or having possession of the ball at the boundaries of the big area. They are usually assigned the mark of the players of banda.El modern side meets defense and attack functions, although their physical wear is greater, often help the team in the attack phase. Usually they usually make long runs throughout the band until they reach a rival field and center or team up to find a striker who can score a goal.


The midfielders fulfill a very important function within the tactics of football. They tend to be the balance of a set, both in defense, as in attack, which is why their work is essential for good collective game.

In defense, the midfielder is responsible for performing tasks of containment, recovery of the ball and destruction of the opponent’s offensive game. While, in attack, they are responsible for making plays and assisting the strikers so they can score a goal. There are different types and styles of midfielders, among the main ones we can find the following ones.

Defensive midfielder

The defensive midfielder, known as “contention” or simply “five” is a player whose main job is purely defensive. They are responsible for covering the space of the playing field between the line of defenders and the line of midfielders, they usually mark the player known as “hook” or “ten”. The hitch is usually the player who assists the strikers and has greater lucidity to make plays, so the work of containment is of utmost importance in the defensive apparatus.

Central midfielder

The central midfielder or midfielder is one of the most important positions in soccer tactics. The central midfielder is the one in charge of the transition phase between the defense and the attack, in defense he is in charge of covering the ground and looking to recover the ball.

In attack, the midfielder is responsible for arriving as a second line of attack or giving passes that can find players unmarked or free. It can be said that the steering wheel is the organizer of the team and must have certain characteristics, among which are: Pass, technique, speed, dribbling and field vision.

Band midfielder

The midfielder of the band is placed either on the left or on the right and has more attack functions. Although, if the match and the tactical scheme refers to him, he has to make defensive runs to help the lateral defender. In attack, the midfielder has to create danger and attack plays by his side or “band”. You can center the ball to the area so that the striker finishes or associates with the other midfielders to create plays and look for spaces that can dislodge the opposing defense.

Offensive midfielder or playmaker

The offensive midfielder or playmaker is an important element when developing soccer tactics. The attacking midfielder is the link between the midfield and the striker zone, is responsible for finding spaces in the opponent’s defense and giving pass to the forwards so they can score a goal.

He is the most advanced midfielder and is behind the strikers; Its function is to coordinate the attack of the team. Among the characteristics that the playmaker must have are the following: Pass, technique, field vision and definition.


The striker is the player who must finish the plays with a shot and score goals. Forwards must possess technique, mobility and have a great vision of the game to read the movements of the defenders. They must know how to finish off with both legs and know how to nod, they do not necessarily have to be technically gifted, but they must have a high definition capacity. Inside the attackers or attack players we can find different characteristics or positions, among which we can find the following:

Center forward or “nine”

The front center or “nine” as it is also known, plays specifically at the tip of the attack. This forward usually positions itself in the center of the area and competes against the rival central defenders. In addition, the center forward must be able to leave the area. Move and be shown to distribute balls in the attack, as well as open gaps in the defense and finish the plays.


The extremes or pointers are important players in some soccer schemes or tactics. They are very fast players, dribbling and with great control of the ball. Usually they are marked by a lateral defender, physically they are not very corpulent because they possess a great skill and creativity. The pointers can reach the finish line and send centers to the front or make diagonals from the band to the center of the area looking to shoot on goal or assist another player.

Individual skills in football tactics

Of course, the great teams are made up of great players. For this you have to train the individual skills according to the position of the player. Training a goalkeeper is not the same as training a forward. Well-prepared teams in tactical question, usually oppose great resistance or even overcome teams with better players theoretically.

Once trained the individual aspects of the players can train the collective part of the team functioning as a “whole”. Defenders and forwards must have a good passing game and know how to nod, while midfielders must have great technical and passing qualities.

Fundamentals of good football tactics

Each coach has his own idea or game scheme. All of them work by having the players with the ideal characteristics to exploit that game scheme. But we can say in a general way that the main foundations for a good football strategy are the following: Correct occupation of the terrain. Balance between lines (not accumulate too many defenders or attackers). Clean transitions or rapid attack-defense outputs. to defend.

That the system exploits to the maximum the individual conditions of the players. Coordinated and defined attacks of defense and attack. Coordinated pressure to recover the ball. Compact lines.

Main tactics of football

Throughout history the teams have used different football schemes or tactics. As sport has evolved, new ways of understanding tactics and schemes have appeared. But, in a generic way we can say that the main tactics of football are the following:

  • Classic 4-4-2 (four defenders, four midfielders and two strikers).
  • 4-3-3. This system was born in Holland and consists of a line of four defenders, three midfielders and three forwards.
  • 3-5-2. Doctor Carlos Salvador Bilardo used this system in the World Cup of Mexico 86, crowned world champion with Argentina. This system consists of three defenders, five midfielders and two forwards.
  • 4-5-1. This system groups a greater number of midfielders to have greater control of the midfield. It is played with four defenders, five midfielders and a forward.
  • 3-4-3. This system is little seen. But is played with three defenders, four midfielders (some formations do it in the shape of a diamond) and three forwards or attackers.

Here we present in detail the main schemes or tactics of football: