Here is a diagram of the 4-3-3 (4-1-2-3) and its passing options. There are many teams that use this formation across the world: FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Arsenal just to name a few. Each team has a Defensive Midfielder which is vital for the team to function. In this case the Defensive Midfielder is the number 6.
The Role of the Defensive midfielder in a 4-3-3 (4-1-2-3) is vital. They are the catalyst of the speed of the play either slow (retaining possession) or fast (to penetrate). Their awareness of pressure and to play out of tight spaces is vital to keep the ball to manipulate the play. Their range of passing needs to be excellent and their distance and angles of support are important. They need to have the ability to run with the ball to penetrate the play. They are the link between the back four and the 2 central (attacking) midfielders in front of them. To play the role effectively they need to technically efficient.
Here is a diagram of the defensive midfielders passing options in a 4-3-3:
Defensively the need to be able to read the game to break the opponent down. Forcing opposing players towards pressure are out of play is vital. Their energy levels need to be managed effectively to produce this kind of pressure on opponents all game. The have to maintain their positioning and sacrifice themselves for the team. They need to be a leader and communicate throughout.
The physical attributes a Defensive Midfielder needs to have are:
1/ Very Athletic (quick over 5-20 yds)
2/ Strong – Individual battles and To hold players off the ball to protect.
3/ Aerial ability – Powerful in the air
4/ Agile- To react to the game
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