When it comes to soccer, there is a lot of debate over what is the best position. Whether you are trying to find your best position on the pitch, you’re a coach trying to find the best position for a specific player, or you just an interested fan. I’m going to explain what I believe is the best position in soccer.
Defensive midfielder is the best position in soccer. Not only does a defensive midfielder get to dictate the tempo of a game, but they are regularly in contact with the ball, can see what is happening all over the field, and are influential in the outcome of a game.
Deciding on the best position will vary from one person to another. In this article, I want to show you why I believe that a defensive midfielder, holding midfielder, or even a DM as you may know it, is the best position in soccer.
Find out everything you need to know about youth soccer positions in my article – Youth Soccer Positions: A Complete Guide.
Why Defensive Midfielder Is the Best Position in Soccer
Over the years, I’ve found that people use several reasons to decide the best soccer position.
It may be where they played in their own youth career or where they still play to this day. It may come down to your first childhood hero or a player who helped them improve personally.
Whatever the reasons, we all have that one position out of the eleven that we pay attention to a little more than the others.
Whatever you currently think, for me, there are several reasons why the best position on the field is the defensive midfielder.
I’ve laid out these reasons below.
They Link the Entire Team
When a team’s defensive unit has to bring the ball out from the back of the field, they need someone with technical expertise and tactical nous.
While in the past, a defensive midfielder might simply have played as a ball-winner, today, they tend to be combative types who can also play the ball with precision.
For example, take Fabinho of Liverpool; the midfielder is arguably the perfect definition of a modern defensive midfielder.
When the big Brazilian is not in play, Liverpool looks so much weaker. They are open to counter-attacks, but they also struggle to build from the back.
Fabinho, and other DMs, offer a technical class that can take the ball from the defenders and play it into midfield.
They can initiate attacks, they can break opposition attacks up, and they can dictate the tempo of the game.
While many teams today try to play without a defensive midfielder, the most powerful soccer teams continually look for world-class defensive midfielders to strengthen their squad.
The DM is the lynchpin between success and failure for a team and a key position in soccer.
While the Number 10, or attacking midfielder, in a team, is the fantasy player everyone loves to watch, very few modern teams can function without a solid number 6 (the jersey number often given to the holding midfielder).
This player is in a vital position for making the defense pair up properly with the forwards.
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A Defensive Midfielder Can Fill in Most Holes
Another reason why I believe the defensive midfielder is the key position in soccer is the number of roles they can fill.
A DM can slot in between the two central defenders in more attacking teams, forming a temporary back-three when necessary.
This allows full-backs to move on up the pitch, creating more attacking overloads and combinations for a team.
Also, a defensive midfielder can slot in and offer an out-ball to recycle possession while allowing the central defenders to fan out and fill in other positions in the wider areas.
Find out more about soccer formations in my article – Soccer Formations: Everything you need to know.
It’s also true that some teams will have their defensive midfielder fall into the position of a rampaging full-back.
As one sits and the other moves on, the defensive midfielder dropping in recreates a solid midfield shape. This is essential for ensuring that the team can always let another player attack and move forward.
Since a defensive midfielder is unlikely to be an offensive threat, it allows an unmarked teammate to move into a position of opportunity. They then use their positional and tactical nous to drop back and fill in that hole in the team, helping to avoid any needless risks on the break.
They See the Whole Game
Another crucial reason the defensive midfielder is the best soccer position is that they are the one player on the pitch, outside of the goalkeeper, who can see the whole game.
They often find themselves pivoting from watching the opposition midfield to the defensive line behind them.
In short, they spend their time evaluating the whole match, seeing the game, and telling their teammates where to be.
For most head coaches, a defensive midfielder is a coach who plays on the soccer field.
They are the player who can understand tactical details and who can then pass that on clearly to their teammates.
Typically, a defensive midfielder will understand every other position on the pitch.
They understand the tactical framework of the whole team and ensure that the entire squad tends to fit into that framework.
With their ability to read and dictate the game, they become essential.
Indeed, many defensive midfielders today are team captains thanks to their tactical know-how, positional understanding, and ability to coach on the field.
The ability to read the game, both teammates and opposition, can be absolutely invaluable to any team looking to dominate the ball throughout.
Defensive Midfielders Make Fantastic Coaches
While there are always exceptions to disprove the rule, it is common for a defensive midfielder to make quality coaches and managers when they retire from playing.
Why? Again, they know the way that the team plays better than any other position. They tend to be the midfield heartbeat and the expert who can give the whole team instruction when players cannot hear the coach.
They are typically cool under pressure while providing technical smarts along with physical robustness.
A key reason why the defensive midfielder is such a big part of the modern game, though, is they tend to be great at understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the whole team.
Many coaches who were solid or superb players fail because they expect everyone to be able to do what they were capable of on the field.
However, with a defensive midfielder, you tend to find they are more cerebral and understand what their team can and cannot do.
Find out exactly how you can become a youth soccer coach in my article – Become a Youth Soccer Coach: A Step-by-Step Guide.
For these reasons – and many more – I believe that a defensive midfielder is the best position in soccer.
From controlling games more to stopping counter-attacks through to being the on-field coach, the defensive midfielder is often the difference between dominating a game or losing it.
From their attention to detail to their all-around skillset, there is a reason why every major soccer club employs a specialist DM!
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