16 August 2013

Football Positions: Central Defender


  Central defender, also known as center half, stopper or center back, is the player who operates in the center of the team’s defense line. This player is the main part of the defense line and has different responsibilities in the play. All of the old and modern tactics contain such a position.


  As every outfield player, the central defender should wear a shirt, shorts, socks and football shoes. The main rule for the equipment is that the player’s shirt should be the same as the other teammates, but with different number. Center backs could also wear shinguards, protective glasses or other authorized protectors.

Styles of play

  According to us there are three different styles of playing as a central defender, these styles are divided by performing different duties on the field.

Sweeper – usually such kind of center back is staying behind all of the outfield players, right in front of the goalkeeper. This style is a little bit rusty, because nowadays the managers don’t use it. For sweeper the main duty is not to be passed out by an opposite forward, because he is the last outfield player who defends the goal.

Commander – to operate as a commander a player should be tactical intelligent and should have the ability to command the defensive line. A proper example is Jamie Carragher, who commanded the Liverpool defensive line in the last season. Managers usually search for a commander goalie or a commander center back in order to increase the level of their defense.

Ball distributor – such a player should be comfortable on the ball and should have a good passing ability. Some years ago the defenders only cleared the ball when they reach it or pass it shortly to the nearest midfielder. A new breed of central defenders was born, a player who dictates the play from the defense line and who could distribute the ball to the forward line with a good or creative pass.

Battler – normally a defender is a player who could battle the opposite forward. A battler is a player who is almost perfect on tackling, heading and clearances, a player who managers trust when the ball should be cleared or should be won. Despite ball distributors being the most evaluated central defenders, managers also want battlers in their defensive lines.

Scorer – there are some defenders who despite being a defender have the ability to score goals. Scorers (in defensive view) are central defenders who are very good in the opposite penalty area in set pieces, such as corners and fouls. They earn a position and direct the ball to the opposite goal. Usually such a player should have very good heading and jumping abilities. An example is John Terry who scored 13 goals in his latest two seasons with the Chelsea shirt.

Tactics for styles

  From the very beginning of football play until now the managers play with three, four or five player defensive line. All of the old and modern tactics have at least two central defenders. We will give you some example of tactics that contain different style of play.

  The tactic tendencies in Italy are to use the formation 3-5-2. The defensive line of three central defenders needs to include two ball distributors (playing respectively with preferred left and right foot) and one sweeper in order to operate well. Very good example is the defensive line of the Italian champions Juventus, where Chielini is the ball distributor with preferred left foot, Barzagli is the distributor with preferred right foot and Bonucci is the sweeper.

  A very good example for a tactic with battler and a scorer are premiership teams Stoke City and West ham. Their managers (we are talking about Stoke with Pulis in charge) bet on battlers who could clear the ball as fast as they can. Also they use set pieces as much as they can and they expect the central defenders to be scorers. Examples are Ryan Showcross and James Collins.

  We already gave you an example, but the defensive line of Liverpool in the second part of the last season had a commander in the face of Jamie Carragher. He commanded the defensive line in situation when offside trap was needed or his colleagues need guidance. Respectively he did not take part in ball distributing, this role was operated by Daniel Agger.

  These are good examples of styles combination. Here is the moment to tell you that usually managers combine different styles of play in order the central defenders to complete each other. There are some cases when managers use two battlers, but these examples are only in teams who play in the old British way.

Needed Abilities

What a player needs, in order to become a good central defender in football? Here are the main abilities:

- marking – one of the central defender’s job is to mark a certain area (zonal marking) or an opposite forward (man marking) in set pieces situation.

 - tackling – the tackling ability is to win a tackles with opposite players.

- heading – as the names speaks, this ability is to win heading tackles.

- jumping – this is the player’s ability to jump.

- positioning – positioning is the central defender ability to attain a good position in different playing situation.

- strength – the natural fitness of the player.

- composure – the central back should be concentrated through the whole game.

- interception – other job of the central defender is to intercept opposite passes.

- comfortable on the ball – we already use this term, the players who had this ability could distribute the ball easily and don’t panic when they have it.

- passing – this is the ability to make creative or secure passes to a teammate.

- commanding – commanding is the ability to guide or command the whole defensive line.

- tactical intelligence - this is the ability to perform the coach instructions in the game (i.e. offside-trap, when to make a run and etc.)

Of course he needs no to be injury prone.
Top players

  We have already mentioned some names, but we did not present you a list with the top players, so now we will. The list with top three defenders is changing every season, because the player form and age changes, but we will present you our choice for the current time.

Central defender - Thiago Silva

  According to us the best central defender in the world at the current moment is the Brazilian international Thiago Silva. The 28 year old player rapidly developed and became the captain of one of the richest clubs PSG and Brazilian national team. Silva is very good in all of the defending styles and he is near to the perfect defender in his current form. In this summer window Barcelona try to snap him, but the directors of PSG deny such possibility.

  Our second choice is the German top defender at the moment – Mats Hummels. The Borussia Dortmund central defender doesn’t have much to develop. The only problem in the 24 year old player’s performance is that at some important matches he makes mistakes that lead to a goal. Despite that Hummels is definitely one of the best in his position. Hummels is very good in the opposition penalty area in set pieces.

  The third place is for another Brazilian, who currently plays for London giants Chelsea, David Luiz. The 26 year old moved from Benfica to Chelsea for 30 million euros in January 2011 and become one of the main defenders in his team immediately. He is very comfortable with the ball and very good in tackling. Luiz has very powerful and accurate shot. He already scored 6 goals in 60 matches for Chelsea and some of them are very beautiful.

Future talent

  After the last season two names undoubtedly become famous and the experts predict very bright future for them. We are talking about Raphael Varane and Matija Nastasic. In order to complete the list of top 3 talented central defenders we add the French sensation Kurt Zouma.

Central defender - Raphael Varane

  According to us the top young central defender is the 20 year old Raphael Varane. The French international made a move to Real Madrid at only 18 years old and in the last season he played 24 times with the white shirt. Varane demonstrate amazing abilities and coup with the task to substitute the injured Pepe. Raphael is very calm, very good at tackling and intercepting the ball. He has to gain some experience and if he stays fit he will become the best central defender in near future.

  The second choice is the Serbian sensation Matija Nastasic. Only for two years he walked the way from the Serbian Teleoptik to the main defender of ex-champions Manchester City. Nastasic played one season for Fiorentina and then he came to Premiership. The 20 year old Serbian is determined as the next Nemanja Vidic and definitely he has the potential to fulfill and even surpass this image. Nastasic is very good in tackles and heading, he only need some more experience and composure.

  Kurt Zouma is one of the rising stars in the French Ligue 1. Zouma is only 18 year old, but he already has 40 appearances with the shirt of Saint-Etienne. Kurt has amazing body strength for his age and this is not his only ability. He is very good in the air and currently he commands the defensive line in his club. The French central defender has a great future ahead of him and only hard work and a good move at the right moment will help him to fulfill his potential.

Interesting facts

The only central defender who won the Golden Ball is Fabio Canavaro.

Fabio Cannavaro was a ball boy at Napoli's San Paolo during Italia '90, including the fated semifinal against Maradona's Argentina. 16 years later, he would lift the World Cup himself.

Carles Puyol has a pet sheep named Queca.

Sami Hyypia started his Career at the same Finnish club his father played for - Pallo Peikot.

Jolean Lescott's famous scar is from a car crash.

Two of current top Belgian central defenders Thomas Vermaelen and Jan Vertonghen both started at Beerschot, move to Ajax, spent a loan at Waalwijk, then captained Ajax and finally move to a London club.

 Usefull links

No comments:

Post a Comment