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The central midfielder (number 10) is critical to a team's operation. Do you play this position and want some tips to help you improve? It's on the house…
Do you have good technical skills, like to see the game in front of you and pass the ball to your team-mates? The number 10 could be just the place for you.
The central midfielder (number 10) is critical to a team's operation. They are creative, visionaries, leaders... we could even call them Maestros!
Positions in a football team have been changing over the years. Some, such as the playmaker, have taken on more responsibilities, while others have disappeared, such as the lateral defenders, the sweeper or the centre-half.
Today's number 10 may be attacker, winger or even defender all at the same time.
Do you play this position and want some tips to help you improve? It's on the house…
Many well-known players in the history of football, such as Zidane, Platini, Maradona and Karim Benzema have played in this position. In today's football, trainers and selectors are tending to use a playmaker less and less in the choice of their teams. One can see this with the current system employed by the French national team, where a more modern and rapid form of the game sees Antoine Griezmann, who is basically an attacking player, taking on the job of playmaker.
The position of playmaker is tending to disappear in modern professional football! Think about it - do you know of a major European team which plays with an old-fashioned playmaker? I don't!
The development in the position of central defender, capable of directing play and even to get involved in attacking phases and the famous 9.5 plus the ability to pull back and take part in the play have largely done away with this position.
Moreover, the approach to the game has evolved over time and rendered less systematic the use of a true playmaker because, in today's plans, no football team can manage with just a single playmaker - but, of course, only one player can have the number 10 on the shirt.
With today's more intense and rapid football, the number 10 has less time to create and organise the attacks, and has to be ready at any moment for that burst of speed. However, in my view, this position remains very important if it is occupied by a player having all the required characteristics. So what's the use of a good number 10?
The number one quality for playmakers, as the name suggests, is being able to direct the direction in which the team should play, putting their vision of the situation there for the team to take advantage of.
The person possesses superior technical skills. In a way, they are the "conductor of the orchestra" for the team, seeing what happens or is about to happen before all the others.
They must be the spearhead of the attacks, the player through whom all balls, or almost all, must pass.
To direct the run of play, the player needs that essential vision - ability to see before receiving, as one often hears soccer players saying. They have to be capable of putting attacking players into the best possible positions, by being the link between defence and attack.
But having that essential vision is not sufficient - such a player needs to have a perfect set of skills to direct the course of play. If you see everything but you are not capable of carrying out what needs doing, it does not help you very much! So you need both a long game (e.g. long cross-field passes to change the angle of attack), and a short game where pass accuracy is paramount (in crowded space with lots of players involved) but also be capable of playing in small areas and to be able to shake off your opposing marker. Mastering both the long and the short game enables you to break down the defensive lines with passes into the gaps, which your team-mates can easily pick up. Often, it is the playmaker who sets in motion the action leading to a goal. If it is not the direct decisive pass, this player creates an overlap or is the one who gives the last-but-one pass.
Of everyone on the pitch, this is the player who probably has to work hardest on correct positioning. The thinkers of their team, time is valuable for them.
In addition to the required technical skills, it is imperative to have an above average 'feeling for the game' - tactical intelligence. The number 10 is a visionary.
They see everything before all the others. It's you who controls the tempo of the game. Speed up the game when necessary, create gaps and overlaps, slow the game down to allow your team-mates to recover from an intense sequence of play, for example.
You also need to allow them to take time to be ready after an extended period of possession by the opponents and you sense that they need to touch the ball again to regain that confidence needed to reset the team's game plan.
To help holding down the number 10 position, here are a few articles which can help you to acquire or maintain the correct level of physical fitness throughout the season.
So that you have all the answers concerning the home-grown French players, here is a list of the French number 10s who have been particularly impressive in that position!
-Robert Jonquet, international between 1948 and 1960...the 1st to sport the number 10 in 1954.
-Michel Platini, international between 1976 and 1987...A genuine emblematic figure as a number 10
-Luis Fernandez, international between 1982 and 1992...although he only had the number 10 for his last international competition, the European Cup in 1992.
-Zinedine Zidane, international between 1994 and 2006...The Legend...France's world-renowned Zizou!
-Karim Benzema, international since 2007...but with a career somewhat chaotic, to say the least. Note, however, his return to favour in the French team this year for the 2020 European Championship.
-Kylian Mbappé, international since 2018...who made the world sit up and take notice during the 2018 World Cup! I think it is fair to say that he is the rightful successor to Zidane and Platini...what do you think?!
And don't forget the galactic foreign number 10s, such as Messi for Barcelona, Maradona for Argentina, Pelé for Brazil and Rooney for Manchester United.
Having a star number 10 is a huge technical and tactical advantage for today's teams.
The position is one of a leader and is an essential pillar of a modern football team. The number 10 will always have the most opportunities to try complicated passes, long or close shots at goal and to demonstrate dribbling skills. Let's not forget, the number 10 is a creator!!!
If you wish to find out more about the other positions in a football team, see below.
The striker...the number 9's main objective is to score goals but the position also requires a solid baggage of skills and the ability to have that killer instinct in front of goal (the ability to strike at the right time), to be capable of keeping hold of the ball while the attacking phalanx positions itself and creates spaces to receive the ball at the best possible moment.
There are several types of centre forward, some of which resemble the role of the number 10. So there is a category of player called a "false 9". Such players frequently play as a 'proper' striker but, rather than attacking directly, they can fall back into midfield to recover the ball and create new situations - like a number 10. They have the full skill package (passes, dribbles, etc.) and, like the number 10, they will seek opportunities for scoring both for themselves and for their team-mates. In such a situation they don't only play as an attacking forward, but they also take the opportunity of playing in the midfield area with their team-mates using their long and short passing skills ...which frequently destabilises the tactical scheme set in place by the defence...a bit like Olivier Giroud or Karim Benzema.
Today's football players should try out all the positions in the team at least once in their careers.
You can start as attacker, change to being a central defender, then a wing-back, followed by a stint as a number 10, become for a time a wide midfielder, go back to being a wide defender and finish your career again as central defender.
At the start of every new season, the coach has various types of players in the squad. The coach will try to find the best combination, the highest level of understanding between players, taking full account of each one's skills and qualities.
It's all a question of the tactical plans to be adopted and the ability of each player to adapt to the reflexes and skills of the rest of the team. Coaches aren't going to force players to play in this or that position. But the coach will want to adapt tactics to suit the capabilities of the players, and also as a function of the opposition's choice of tactics and a knowledge of the players to be faced.
See below the advantages of playing in various positions!