Forward (association football)

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The forward (10, red) is past the defender (16, white) and is about to take a shot at the goal. The goalkeeper will attempt to stop the forward from scoring a goal by preventing the ball from passing the goal line. Football iu 1996.jpg
The forward (10, red) is past the defender (16, white) and is about to take a shot at the goal. The goalkeeper will attempt to stop the forward from scoring a goal by preventing the ball from passing the goal line.

Forwards are the players on an association football team who play nearest to the opposing team's goal, and are therefore most responsible for scoring goals.

Association football Team field sport

Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.

Contents

Their advanced position and limited defensive responsibilities mean forwards normally score more goals on behalf of their team than other players.

Modern team formations generally include one to three forwards; for example, the common 4–2–3–1 formation includes one forward. [1] Unconventional formations may include more than three forwards, or none. [2] [3]

Formation (association football) in association football (soccer), position of the players

In association football, the formation describes how the players in a team generally position themselves on the pitch. Association football is a fluid and fast-moving game, and a player's position in a formation does not define their role as rigidly as for, for instance, a rugby player, nor are there episodes in play where players must expressly line up in formation. Nevertheless, a player's position in a formation generally defines whether a player has a mostly defensive or attacking role, and whether they tend to play towards one side of the pitch or centrally.

Centre-forward

Brazilian striker Ronaldo taking a shot at goal. A multi-functional forward he has influenced a generation of strikers who followed. Ronaldo Real Madrid.jpg
Brazilian striker Ronaldo taking a shot at goal. A multi-functional forward he has influenced a generation of strikers who followed.

The traditional role of a centre-forward is to score the majority of goals on behalf of the team. The player may also be used to win long balls or receive passes and retain possession of the ball with their back to goal as teammates advance, in order to provide depth for their team or help teammates score by providing a pass ('through ball' into the box); the latter variation usually requiring quicker pace and good movement. Most modern centre-forwards operate in front of the second strikers or central attacking midfielders, and do the majority of the ball handling outside the box. The present role of centre-forward is sometimes interchangeable with that of an attacking midfielder, especially in the 4–3–1–2 or 4–1–2–1–2 formations. The term "target man" is often used to describe a particular type of striker whose main role is to win high balls in the air and create chances for other members of the team (not necessarily scoring many goals themselves). [5] These players are usually tall and physically strong, being adept at heading the ball. The term centre-forward is taken from the early football playing formation in which there were five forward players: two outside forwards, two inside forwards, and one centre-forward.

In association football, a long ball is an attempt to move the ball a long distance down the field via one long aerial kick from either a goalkeeper or a defender directly to an attacking player, with the ball generally bypassing the midfield. Rather than arrive at the feet of the receiving attacking player, the attacker is expected to challenge the opposing defence in the air, with other attacking players and midfielders arriving to try and take possession of the ball if it breaks loose. In Continental Europe the style is called kick and rush. It is a technique that can be especially effective for a team with either fast or tall strikers. The long ball technique is also a through pass from distance in an effort to get the ball by the defensive line and create a foot race between striker and defender. While often derided as either boring or primitive, it can prove effective where players or weather conditions suit this style; in particular, it is an effective counter-attacking style of play in which some defenders can be caught off-guard.

Team sport Type of sport

A team sport includes any sport where individuals are organized into opposing teams which compete to win. Team members act together towards a shared objective. This can be done in a number of ways such as outscoring the opposing team. Team members set goals, make decisions, communicate, manage conflict, and solve problems in a supportive, trusting atmosphere in order to accomplish their objectives. Examples are basketball, volleyball, rugby, water polo, handball, lacrosse, cricket, baseball, and the various forms of football and hockey.

When numbers were introduced in the 1933 English FA Cup final, one of the two centre-forwards that day wore the number nine – Everton's Dixie Dean a strong, powerful forward who had set the record for the most goals scored in a season in English football during the 1927–28 season. The number would then become synonymous with the centre-forward position (only worn that day because one team was numbered 1–11 whilst the other was numbered 12–22). [6]

1933 FA Cup Final

The 1933 FA Cup Final was a football match between Everton and Manchester City on 29 April 1933 at Wembley Stadium in London. The deciding match of English football's primary cup competition, the Football Association Challenge Cup, it was the 62nd final, and the 11th at Wembley. The 1933 final was the first where the players, including goalkeepers, were issued numbers for identification. Everton were allocated numbers 1–11 and Manchester City numbers 12–22.

Everton F.C. Association football club

Everton Football Club is an English professional football club based in Walton, Liverpool, that competes in the Premier League, the top flight of English football. The club has competed in the top division for a record 116 seasons, missing the top division only four times since The Football League was created in 1888. The club has won the League Championship nine times, the FA Cup five times, and the UEFA Cup Winners Cup once.

Dixie Dean English footballer

William Ralph "Dixie" Dean was an English footballer who played as a centre forward.

Striker

Gabriel Batistuta holding his old number 9 Fiorentina jersey. The number most associated with the position, he was an out and out striker Omar Batistuta.jpg
Gabriel Batistuta holding his old number 9 Fiorentina jersey. The number most associated with the position, he was an out and out striker

The role of a striker is rather different from that of a traditional centre-forward, although the terms centre-forward and striker are used interchangeably at times, as both play further up the field than other players, while tall, heavy and technical players, like Zlatan Ibrahimović, have qualities which are suited to both positions. [7] Like the centre-forward, the traditional role of a striker is to score goals; strikers are therefore known for their ability to peel off defenders and to run into space via the blind side of the defender and to receive the ball in a good goalscoring position, as typified by Ronaldo. [8] They are typically fast players with good ball control and dribbling abilities. More agile strikers like Michael Owen and Sergio Aguero have an advantage over taller defenders due to their short bursts of speed. A good striker should be able to shoot confidently with either foot, possess great power and accuracy, and have the ability to link-up with teammates and pass the ball under pressure in breakaway situations. While many strikers wear the number 9 shirt, such as Alan Shearer, an out and out striker, the position, to a lesser degree, is also associated with the number 10, which is frequently worn by more creative deep-lying forwards such as Pelé, and occasionally with numbers 7 and 11, which are often associated with wingers. [6]

Zlatan Ibrahimović Swedish association football player

Zlatan Ibrahimović is a Swedish professional footballer who plays as a striker for LA Galaxy. He is a prolific goalscorer who is best known for his technique, creativity, strength, ability in the air, and his powerful and accurate striking ability. He is currently the third-most decorated active footballer in the world, having won 31 trophies in his career. He has scored over 530 senior career goals for club and country.

Ronaldo (Brazilian footballer) Brazilian footballer

Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, commonly known as Ronaldo, is a Brazilian retired professional footballer who played as a striker. Popularly dubbed "El Fenomeno", he is widely considered one of the greatest football players of all time. In his prime, he was known for his dribbling at speed, feints, and clinical finishing. At his best in the 1990s, Ronaldo starred at club level for Cruzeiro, PSV, Barcelona, and Inter Milan. His moves to Spain and Italy made him only the second player, after Diego Maradona, to break the world transfer record twice, all before his 21st birthday. By 23, he had scored over 200 goals for club and country. After almost three years of inactivity due to serious knee injuries and recuperation, Ronaldo joined Real Madrid in 2002, which was followed by spells at A.C. Milan and Corinthians.

Michael Owen English footballer

Michael James Owen is an English former footballer who played as a striker for Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle United, Manchester United and Stoke City, as well as for the England national team. Since retiring from football in 2013, he has become a racehorse breeder and owner and regularly features as a sports pundit and commentator.

Second striker

Wayne Rooney was used by Alex Ferguson as a second striker on many occasions, playing behind the number 9. Wayne Rooney 144855.jpg
Wayne Rooney was used by Alex Ferguson as a second striker on many occasions, playing behind the number 9.

Deep-lying forwards have a long history in the game, but the terminology to describe their playing activity has varied over the years. Originally such players were termed inside forwards, creative or deep-lying centre-forwards ("sub forwards"). More recently, two more variations of this old type of player have developed: the second, or shadow, or support, or auxiliary striker and, in what is in fact a distinct position unto its own, the number 10, [9] exemplified by Dennis Bergkamp (who would play just in behind the striker Thierry Henry at Arsenal). Other number 10s who play further back, such as Diego Maradona, Ronaldinho and Zinedine Zidane, are often described as an attacking midfielder or the playmaker.

Dennis Bergkamp Dutch association football player

Dennis Nicolaas Maria Bergkamp is a Dutch former professional footballer, who until 21 December 2017 was the assistant manager at Ajax. Originally a wide midfielder, Bergkamp was moved to main striker and then to second striker, where he remained throughout his playing career. Nicknamed the "Non-Flying Dutchman" by Arsenal supporters due to his fear of flying, Bergkamp is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of his generation.

Thierry Henry French association football player and manager

Thierry Daniel Henry is a French professional football coach and former player who was most recently the manager of Ligue 1 club Monaco.

Diego Maradona Argentine football manager and former player

Diego Armando Maradona is an Argentine retired professional footballer. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time. He was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the 20th Century award. Maradona's vision, passing, ball control and dribbling skills were combined with his small stature, which gave him a low center of gravity allowing him to maneuver better than most other football players; he would often dribble past multiple opposing players on a run. His presence and leadership on the field had a great effect on his team's general performance, while he would often be singled out by the opposition. A precocious talent, Maradona was given the nickname "El Pibe de Oro", a name that stuck with him throughout his career.

The second striker position is a loosely defined and most often misapplied description of a player positioned somewhere between the out-and-out striker, whether he is a "target-man" or more of a "poacher", and the Number 10 or attacking midfielder, while possibly showing some of the characteristics of both. In fact, a term coined by French advanced playmaker Michel Platini, the "nine-and-a-half", which he used to describe Roberto Baggio's playing role, has been an attempt to become a standard in defining the position. [10] Conceivably, a Number 10 can alternate as a second-striker provided that he is also a prolific goalscorer; otherwise, a mobile forward with good technical ability (dribbling skills and ball control) and link-up play, who can both score and create opportunities for a less versatile centre-forward, is more suited. Second or support strikers do not tend to get as involved in the orchestration of attacks as the Number 10, nor do they bring as many other players into play, since they do not share the burden of responsibility, functioning predominantly as assist providers. [11] In Italy, this role is known as a "rifinitore" or "seconda punta", [12] whereas in Brazil, it is known as "segundo atacante" [13] or "ponta-de-lança". [14]

Inside forward

2-3-5 formation: the inside forwards (red) flank the centre-forward. 2-3-5 (pyramid).svg
2–3–5 formation: the inside forwards (red) flank the centre-forward.

The position of inside forward was popularly used in the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries. The inside forwards would support the centre-forward, running and making space in the opposition defence, and, as the passing game developed, supporting him with passes. The role is broadly analogous to the "hole" or second striker position in the modern game, although here there were two such players, known as inside right and inside left.

WM Formation: the inside forwards (red) occupy a more withdrawn position supporting the centre-forward and outside right and left. Football Formation - WM.png
WM Formation: the inside forwards (red) occupy a more withdrawn position supporting the centre-forward and outside right and left.

In early 2–3–5 formations the inside-forwards would flank the centre-forward on both sides. With the advent of the "WM" formation, the inside forwards were brought back to become attacking midfielders, supplying balls to the centre-forward and the two attacking outside forwards – known as the outside right and outside left.

In the modern game, inside forwards have either been pushed up front to become out-and-out attackers (in 4–3–3 formations) or one has been switched back into midfield and the other up front (in 4–4–2). Many teams, however, still employ one of their strikers in a withdrawn role as a support forward for the main striker, in a role broadly similar to the inside forward.

Outside forward

Vittorio Pozzo's Metodo system from the 1930s featured attacking wingers Metodo (ENG).png
Vittorio Pozzo’s Metodo system from the 1930s featured attacking wingers

An outside forward plays as the advanced forward on the right or left wing – as an outside right or outside left, typically as part of a 2–3–5 formation or one of its variants. As football tactics have largely developed, and wingers have dropped back to become midfielders, the terminology has changed and "outside forward" has become a historical term. Many commentators and football analysts still refer to the wing positions as "outside right" and "outside left".

The responsibilities of an outside forward include but are not limited to:

Due to these responsibilities some of the most important attributes include:

Winger

Cristiano Ronaldo has been deployed as an inverted winger. Ronaldo vs. FC Schalke 04 (16854146922).jpg
Cristiano Ronaldo has been deployed as an inverted winger.

A winger is an attacking player who is stationed in a wide position near the touchlines. They can be classified as forwards, considering their origin as the old "outside-forward" position, and continue to be termed as such in most parts of the world, especially in Latin and Dutch football cultures. However, in the British game (in which the 4–4–2 formation and its variants are most commonly used) they are usually counted as part of the midfield.

It is a winger's duty to beat opposing full-backs, deliver cut-backs or crosses from wide positions and, to a lesser extent, to beat defenders and score from close range. They are usually some of the quickest players in the team and usually have good dribbling skills as well. In Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese usage, the defensive duties of the winger have been usually confined to pressing the opposition fullbacks when they have the ball. Otherwise, a winger will drop closer to the midfield to make himself/herself available, should her/his team win back the ball.

Mohamed Salah plays on the right wing, a position which allows him to cut inside to his stronger left foot Mohamed Salah Ghaly.jpg
Mohamed Salah plays on the right wing, a position which allows him to cut inside to his stronger left foot

In British and other northern European styles of football, the wide-midfielder is expected to track back all the way to his/her own corner flag should her/his full-back require help, and also to track back his/her marker, as well as tucking into the midfield when the more central players are trying to pressure the opposition for the ball. This is a large responsibility for attack-orientated players, and particularly those like Joaquín (winger/wide midfielder), Cristiano Ronaldo (winger/striker) or Ryan Giggs and John Barnes (winger/central midfielder) who lack the physical attributes of a wing-back or of a more orthodox midfield player. As these players grow older and lose their natural pace, they are frequently redeployed as Number 10s between the midfield and the forward line, where their well-honed ball control skills and improved reading of the game in the final third can serve to improve their teams' attacking options in tight spaces. An example is Inter Milan's use of veteran Luís Figo behind one or two other attackers, as a second striker or attacking midfielder. [15]

In recent years there has been a trend of playing inverted wingers – wide players stationed on the 'wrong' side of the pitch, in order to enable them to cut inside and shoot on their stronger foot and sometimes provide in-swinging crosses. This tactic was used by Frank Rijkaard, who, whilst at Barcelona, moved Lionel Messi from the left flank onto the right wing, initially against the player's wishes. This allowed him to cut into the centre and shoot or cross with his left foot. [16]

False 9

Barcelona's Lionel Messi has been a proponent of the false 9 position to much success in recent years. Leo Messi v Granada 2014.jpg
Barcelona's Lionel Messi has been a proponent of the false 9 position to much success in recent years.

The false 9, in some ways similar to a more advanced attacking midfielder/playmaker role, is an unconventional lone striker or centre-forward, who drops deep into midfield. The purpose of this is that it creates a problem for opposing centre-backs who can either follow the false 9, leaving space behind them for onrushing midfielders, forwards or wingers to exploit, or leaving the false 9 to have time and space to dribble or pick out a pass.

The term comes from the traditional number for centre-forwards (nine), and the fact that normally a centre-forward traditionally stayed near the line of defenders until they got an opportunity to move past them toward goal. [17]

Key attributes for a false 9 are similar to those of a deep-lying striker: dribbling ability to take advantage of space between the lines, good short passing ability to link up with the midfield and vision to play through teammates making runs from deep to goal.

The first false 9 in a World Cup was Juan Peregrino Anselmo in the Uruguay national team, although he could not play the match against Argentina in the 1930 World Cup due to injury. Matthias Sindelar was the false 9 of the Wunderteam, the Austria national team, in 1934. [18] A false 9 was also utilized by Hungary during the beginning of the 1950s, with striker Nándor Hidegkuti acting in the role.

Roma under manager Luciano Spalletti used Francesco Totti, nominally an attacking midfielder or trequartista, up-front in an innovative "4–6–0" formation; [19] this was met with a run of 11 consecutive victories.

At Euro 2012, Spain manager Vicente del Bosque, although sometimes using a typical striker in Fernando Torres, used a false 9 in Cesc Fàbregas in several matches, including the final. By the end of 2012, the False 9 had gone "mainstream" with many clubs employing a version of the system. Barcelona's Lionel Messi has been an exponent of the false 9 position to much success in recent years, first under coach Pep Guardiola and later under his successor Tito Vilanova. [20]

One approach to stop false 9s has been to create congestion in the midfield by bringing several players back into a more defensive role in an attempt to deny them space needed to create plays, notably in José Mourinho's "parking the bus" strategy. [17]

Strike teams and combinations

Messi, Luis Suarez (pictured) and Neymar, a combination dubbed MSN, formed a record breaking strike force with 131 goals in one season for Barcelona. Luis Suarez FCB 2014.jpg
Messi, Luis Suárez (pictured) and Neymar, a combination dubbed MSN, formed a record breaking strike force with 131 goals in one season for Barcelona.

A strike team is two or more strikers who work together. The history of football has been filled with many effective combinations. Three-man teams often operate in "triangles", giving a wealth of attacking options. Four-man packages expand options even more.

Strikers must also be flexible, and be able to switch roles at a moment's notice, between the first (advanced penetrator position), second (deep-lying manoeuvre) and third (support and expansion, e.g. wings) attacker roles.

Another example was the Total Football played by the Dutch team in the 1970s, where the ability of their players, and in particular Johan Cruyff, to swap positions allowed a flexible attacking approach which opposition teams found difficult to effectively mark. [22]

One of the most prolific forward combinations in the history of the game was the front three of Barcelona, Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Neymar, dubbed MSN. On average they scored a goal every 45 minutes – two goals per game from the three forwards. [23]

See also

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