If you became a soccer fan after betting on OKBET during the FIFA World Cup, you got into the sport at the right time! The Beautiful Game is full of talented players and strong teams that play attractive football.
However, you were probably puzzled when you watched the best teams duke it out in Qatar. There are a lot of players on the pitch, and all of them do specific tasks to help their team win. It can become tough to process what’s happening in a football game without proper knowledge.
If game knowledge is the most significant thing preventing you from fully understanding the game, we’re here to help! Did you know that certain numbers pertain to specific soccer positions on the pitch?
This piece will help you identify which numbers belong to which role. After reading this piece, you’ll understand what players are expected to do while playing.
Sports fans new to soccer can quickly identify keepers as they wear separate uniforms from the rest of their team. Aside from their uniforms, first-choice shot-stoppers are usually given the number 1.
Goalkeepers are meant to be the last line of defense for the football XI. The game’s flow will inevitably see an attacker breaking into scoring positions. Goalies will use every part of their bodies to stop opposing strikers from scoring. It may seem like a simple job, but it takes plenty of athleticism and bravery to stop a ball that flies at 112 km/hr.
The modern game also added new roles to the goalkeepers. The best keepers are also expected to be good on their feet and build the game from the back. Shot-stoppers with great kicking power can start lightning-fast counters with a drop kick deep into the opposite half.
Goalies can only do so much on their own before conceding goals. The players tasked with helping keepers protect their goalposts are central defenders. They are part of a defensive unit whose main task is to prevent their opponents’ attacking corps from converting opportunities into goals.
These defenders, also known as center-backs, can come in pairs or threes. They can be assigned specific tasks to assist their keeper. A sweeper will focus on protecting the backline against long-range passes. A stopper presses an attacking player once they get the ball to force a turnover.
Like goalkeepers, center-backs will do everything (apart from using their hands) to stop their opponents from scoring. While tackling is an excellent trait for a central defender, they’re great at their job if they can make scoring difficult for the opposing striker. Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk is the perfect example of what a great center-back is.
Central defenders can also help a team play a robust possession-centric style of soccer if they’re skilled enough with the ball. They can start the build-up from the back and cut through the opposing defense with a well-placed pass.
Fullbacks complete a soccer team’s defensive unit. Right-backs and left-backs are soccer positions with the unenviable task of defending against the opposition’s quickest players. Coaches usually put their most rapid players on the wings to create dangerous chances for the attackers.
Players who don 2 and 3 on the field are responsible for keeping up with these lightning-fast wingers and preventing them from doing whatever they want on the field. While central defenders are usually tall, fullbacks are more explosive runners who can provide support on attack and defense.
There are two varieties of fullbacks currently being played in the top flight. Attacking fullbacks like Trent Alexander-Arnold use their pace to create chances from the wing. They run through the flanks and create numerical superiority before fielding in a cross or cutting inside with the ball.
Meanwhile, defensive fullbacks are dedicated to stopping the opponents’ best attackers. They use advanced defensive techniques to steal the ball from their opponents.
Midfielders are positioned between the defense and the attack. They connect the two sides with their all-around play. They usually fall back when the opposition has the ball to clog up passing lanes. When their team has the ball, they’re in charge of creating scoring opportunities for their teammates by either dribbling to the opposing goal or making a cutting pass through the defense.
Since midfielders have a large area to take care of, they are usually fielded as a two-person pivot or a trio, with the other midfielder positioned a bit back or further forward. The numbers on their shirt will give you a good idea of what their primary responsibilities are.
A number 6 is mainly concerned with helping the defense handle the offensive pressure. They sit in front of the defensive line and sweep toward any forward passes made. Some players who play the role also have the vision and technique to ping an accurate pass to their teammates up front.
A number 10 is a creative specialist who focuses all their efforts on crafting chances for their teammates. They usually have excellent dribbling, passing, and shooting skills to make life difficult for opposing defenders. Some of the most famous soccer players in history wore 10.
Finally, a number 8 acts as a bit of both. They have the offensive and defensive capabilities of players who play the 6 and 10 roles. They operate from one area of the pitch to the other and create an additional outlet where passes are provided.
Wide midfielders are one of the most exciting soccer players on the field. Players who usually take over this spot are rapid players with excellent dribbling skills, exemplary crossing skills, and high-quality finishing.
You probably know a couple of world-class players who occupy this space. Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably the most popular #7 on the planet, and his career highlights make it clear why this is the case.
There are two types of wingers you will usually find in a professional soccer match. One is a dedicated winger who focuses on blitzing past defenses and firing an accurate cross to the forward. The other is a forward who cuts into the opponents’ 18-yard box and fashions chances for themselves and their teammates.
Strikers, or forwards for fans who call the game football, are specialized players who only focus on one thing. They love to score and will do anything to score. They usually don’t involve themselves in defense and focus their energy on finishing the chances created for them.
Strikers used to operate in pairs. One is a tall giant, the target of his teammates’ lobbed balls and crosses. They are usually strong and can hold the ball against one or two defenders. They will either convert the chance themselves or pass the ball to their strike partner.
The other striker is the faster attacker who can cut through defensive lines and offsides to create a one-on-one opportunity against the opposing keeper. They use their speed to overcome their opponents.
Nowadays, intricate tactics have managers playing one striker in their formation instead. These strikers usually have the physicality and strength of a target forward and the speed of a poacher. Erling Haaland is the best example of this.
The numbers are helpful for spectators to identify which players are doing which soccer positions. However, it’s important to note that there are more than 11 players in a football team, and players in the same role can have another number other than the ones mentioned above.
Moreover, this strict numbering system isn’t heavily followed nowadays. For example, Ronaldo wore 7 even when he was moved to the striker position at Manchester United. Alexander-Arnold has 66 on his back. While Lionel Messi is a great forward who can play up front or in the wings, he always wore 10.
Players are now free to choose whatever number they want for themselves. What’s important to note during soccer games is where these players are positioned and what exactly they are doing.
We hope this piece helped you better understand the different soccer positions and their roles on the pitch. While tactics are getting more intricate and players are becoming more technically skilled, there are now soccer positions that don’t necessarily apply to those mentioned above.
However, having a basic understanding of how the system works will help you watch these games with a keen eye. After all, the Beautiful Game is at its most charming when you understand the nuances behind it.