A detailed analysis of the most difficult position to play in football (soccer) with regard to technical quality and athleticism or work rate.
There are too many variables to consider. But if you had to narrow it down, then based on technical quality — a central/defensive midfielder and based on athleticism/work rate — a fullback.
Is central Back (CB) the most difficult Position in Football (Soccer) in terms of Role of play?
Lot’s of factors come into play to the sense if we are to insist if ‘the role’ is what really matters. I’ll consider that this team is playing a high defensive line. In this scenario it’s the CBs. A typical high line system is dependent on high quality CB’s to distribute and face and constantly face attackers in transition with little protection.
Even mentally, playing against some of the best attackers- your mental strength and concentration needs to be superb in 1v1 scenarios and facing a high intensity press. Defending ample amounts of space whilst keeping clean sheets is difficult.
In the modern game, the reportoire of physical traits, technical skills, mental attributes and consistency required for a center back is very high. The fact that they are constantly judged for one small weakness or the rare mistake makes it worse. Demanding and often thankless position.
Is wing back (WB) or Full back Back (FB) the most difficult Position in Football (Soccer) in terms of Role of play?
Wing backs as well have a shout in this. In a counter attacking system that demands a lot of running, you have to be good offensively but equally so defensively, and you have to be patient. You have to be skilled almost in every facet of the game.
This position is probably the most physically tasking though, but it mainly requires a good engine, athleticism and a good delivery. You’ll always have to adapt on how the game is going every time
However they also have it easy if the opposite team is packing the midfield (especially defensive midfielders) and causing overload in there instead of pressing the defence.
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Centre/Defensive Midfielder-the most difficult position in Football (Soccer) in terms of Role of play
If the opposition team is packing the midfield (especially defensive midfielders) and causing overload in there instead of pressing the defence, the full backs will have an easy run. This is why I think being a centre midfielder have to be the most important/difficult all round position to contain or the team gets exposed at every phase of play.
They have to be extremely good on the ball, ability to play all types of passes, ice-cold nerves to get out of pressure, vision and high IQ to control the tempo, and the fact that they are not allowed to makes mistakes AT ALL.
The intelligence, awareness, ability and endurance to play in midfield is unmatched. Also take into account positional awareness, picking out passes, trying to progress the ball.
In a single pivot, they’re tasked with blocking space, build up (1st and 2nd phase), dictating tempo, tracking runners, dropping between CBs, transitions, beating a press, etc.
These things aren’t easily taught, especially when it comes to positional discipline and space protection, if you lack those, your midfield gets bypassed easily, it’s a basic.
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Goalkeeper (GK) role-the most difficult position in Football (Soccer) in terms of in possession game
Now, if we’re to look at it in a game were your team is always in possession. Goalkeeper without a doubt is the most difficult. You make a mistake and 9/10 times you’re conceding. You spend 90 minutes of a match alone at times and it’s sometimes hard to keep focus. Also it’s the only position where somebody else’s mistake can and sometimes will be blamed on you.
You’re a goalkeeper and your defender makes a rash challenge that results in a penalty, you’re expected to cover for his mistakes and save the penalty. You lose your clean sheet and are often scrutinized if you don’t save the penalty. Look at Marc-André ter Stegen at Barcelona, a pure illustration of this idea.
Being a Goalkeeper will always demand more concentration and care. You have to be more careful when approaching the attackers and you have to always be ready for a potential counterattack. For 90+ minutes.
GK position is the easiest position to look bad at. You can’t create your own opportunities like an attacker who can demand the ball and work their magic. You have to react to the end of an attacking sequence which will most likely not favour you/
As in, the attacking team is trying to create the best possible chance of scoring and you have to prevent that. Also, the most widely used and rudimentary GK stat, clean sheets. A keeper can have an outstanding game and only concede one goal, but not have a clean sheet, meanwhile an attacker can have a stinker but score a goal. The attacker will automatically get the man of the match performance whether you like it or not. Because he’s the difference maker ofcourse.
Is an attacker/striker the most difficult Position in Football (Soccer)?
From the perspective of an attacker, it isn’t detrimental to miss a shot, your team didn’t score a goal but they didn’t concede one either. But as a keeper if you don’t make a save your team goes down and if you do gamestate does not change.
I can’t think of a single rule or set piece that favours the goalkeeper. Offsides limit the attackers, penalties favour the attacking team.
More to this, if your team is playing in a classic 5-4-1 formation, you’re probably the only striker the team depends on scoring. If you don’t score, 95% times, your team isn’t winning the game(which is the most important result in a football game). It’s a low touch, high expectation, high importance position, with a lot of scrutinity over any type of ‘miss’ and a need for a certain level of goal return.
You see the ball least. Under the most pressure when you receive it. Usually you don’t receive it facing the goal without the space to turn. Your job- finishing, requires the most ‘composure under high pressure.’
This also applies to an attacking midfielder;
the build-up phase depends a lot on him, and the second phase of play too since he should be the most one to provide/receive progressive passes to beat opponent’s lines of pressure
Also he frequently occupies tight positions between the lines and has to have the vision and be able to decide what he is going to do even before he receives the ball. As Arsène Wenger once said « La meilleur defence c’est l’attaque ». That’s to say the best defence is to attack. No team will win a game if they don’t score. That’s how you need to understand this position.
Conclusion for the hardest position in football (Soccer)
So, when elaborating which position is the toughest in football, it’s always good to apply context. As of now, football is in a massive evolution and all positions will always be important as mentioned above but being in a position which you don’t have a big ‘role’ to play in a coach’s system, this means your position in the system isn’t that important to him like the others. But it doesn’t make you a useless player in the squad because in football, statistically, there’s an average of more than 5 tactical changes per game.