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QOTW: Has the "side midfielder" role becoming obsolete?

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  • QOTW: Has the "side midfielder" role becoming obsolete?

    4-4-2 was the standard formation for years until about a decade ago. We are used to seeing 2 strikers and right and left midfielders who would generally operate deeper than the modern wingers. An important asset of their game would be to cross the ball. A classic example would be David Beckham.

    Now we hardly see right or left midfielders anymore. We have wingers/forwards and wing backs. Most teams play with a single striker with the 2 wingers generally playing further up the pitch compared to traditional side midfielders, to support the striker. Wingers nowadays do not tend to cross like traditional side midfielders. They tend to cut inside and pass, or shoot. Speed is a more important asset nowadays compared to traditional side midfielders, who were expected to be good at crossing.

    Is the right/left midfielder role dead? Where would David Beckham fit into today's game if he was in his 20s?

  • #2
    Interesting topic. Beckham would be a central midfielder or right back imqho but I don't think the side midfielder is completely dead as its more like an evolution. The evolution of the role is also more common at bigger or more resourced clubs but below that many teams still use it.

    The thing with why it has evolved is because players have gotten fitter, faster and stronger while the fullbacks are expected to cover that side midfielder role through out the 3/4 phases of game on top of their natural duties. Players have become more "universal" in general too to adapt to the modern game. For example, we now have more mobile CBs and with the resources available nowadays, its much more easier to close down games or minimize the disparity by whatever means, we need CBs to be able to play out from the back. The "playmakers" imo are best when operating from behind the midfield because they're facing forward and have more freedom on the ball. Same for GKs that they're expected to have good technique, some athleticism and ball playing ability to sweep up behind the defense. The role of the striker has been the most dramatic and affected role that has been hit by this evolution. People have figured that a limited player, not just in technique or things like that, but also how they play and stuff through the central areas is unnecessary. The strikers can come inside and score goals from the wings or a central player that is multidimensional and contribute to every phase of the game since goal scoring despite being a special trait is not very complicated a thing.

    Similarly, the side midfielder's function to dribble, run and cross is no more a special unique thing that one player or two are needed to perform that task. Crossing is as simple and straightforward as putting the ball in the back of the net. And your fullbacks could cover the side midfielder role and more.

    Thats how I see it anyway and my personal POV/opinion of how it is.


    • #3
      Teams doesnt cross all the time anymore
      My signature was too big and removed by the mod team


      • #4
        Originally posted by Arnau View Post
        Teams doesnt cross all the time anymore
        Real Madrid


        • #5
          Exactly, the one with the worse coach in Europe.
          My signature was too big and removed by the mod team


          • #6
            What Arnau said. Statistical analysis is not evolved in football, but it has been around for awhile nonetheless. Crossing is so inefficient. Total waste of an attacking move.

            Thomas Muller: "We're not careless or arrogant. We're dominant'


            • #7
              Basically the nowaday wingers that don't cut it at their role usually end up as full-backs. It's a position that has sort of risen.

              I mean dudes like Aleix Vidal (actually played as a winger though), Kyle Walker, Clyne etc... Back in the day they would've probably ended up as wide midfielders, but since the lack of their ability when it comes to technical play in the opponents' last third they've got not much choice.

              Just a thing I wanted to point out when it comes to evolution in football in tactical and positional terms over time.

              But some teams are still playing 4-4-2, 4-4-1-1 or 4-2-2-2 however you want to perceive it. Atlético Madrid and Villarreal for example are doing very well.

              It's quite simple really, one of the strikers has to be a quality finisher. Another one willing to track back and almost act as a playmaker (#10) at times, also being able to score.

              You can opt for either two nowaday wingers or just AM's on the wings. Remember that the nowaday #10 has changed so much. Players have become much more versatile, and most of the quality playmakers these days can function on the flanks and in the centre (De Bruyne, James, Özil, Isco, David Silva etc you know all of them). To think of it, I can hardly come up with some world class #10 who's only limited to playing in the middle of the park. They're are a dying breed, same with poachers. Managers expect so much more from the strikers when it comes to build-up play etc.

              I can recall watching Villarreal against Celta Vigo during the weekend perfectly for example. Having two strikers can be a real plus especially when one of them is making a run at the right time. Roberto Soriano (LM) scored after a perfect pass from Castillejo (RM) with the defenders being busy marking the strikers etc. So basically if you've got the right players and quality central-midfielders it's no way a "dead formation".

              Leicester won the Premiership in a similar fashion last season for example.

              Atlético for example are a curious case though, they've got loads of depth and so many players who fit their system and play in multiple positions (both Koke & Saul DM, CM and on the flanks for instance). The likes of Griezmann and Angel Correa as a supporting striker, on the wing or completely at the top etc... Plaudits also go to El Cholo.

              You need the team to perform as a unit to pull it off basically. The game has become much more technical as the years have gone by, and I suppose this is the best example of the nowaday 442.

              And anyway the formation changes a lot during different stages of the match, when a team is defending or attacking etc. Depending on the scoreline and so on.

              What I like about Atlético so much and Simeone's system is that they can easily change it to a 4-3-3 when attacking, 4-1-4-1/4-2-3-1 when defending etc without really having to play their players out of their preferred positions.

              Koke - have to bring him out especially, what a player.. Essential to Atleti's playstyle. Can play anywhere, further back, between the lines as a playmaker, on both flanks. Irrepeplacable (sp). Saul is similar.

              Sorry if this came out too long, it's basics, self-explanatory (for those who've been following football with enthusiasm) and most of you know it all anyway. Just got carried away is all. There are so many people who just watch the ball during a match and don't follow anything else that's going on around the field (players' movement, positioning etc).

              TL;DR - 4-4-2 still works and a top four team in the World is going by it heh..


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