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The role of a Number 6 in football

In football, a defensive midfielder, often known as the number 6, plays right in front of the defensive line.  To cover the opposing offensive midfielder, the number 6 might be used as a holding midfielder.

Last updated: 11.09.2021
Role of a Number 6 in football

In football, a defensive midfielder, often known as the number 6, plays right in front of the defensive line. One or two defensive midfielders are frequently used by teams. To cover the opposing offensive midfielder, the number 6 might be used as a "holding midfielder." Defensive midfielders also play a vital part in build-up play, since they are responsible for distributing the ball farther up the field, resulting in scoring possibilities. Defensive midfielders harass defenders and commit fouls as a shield for the defense and goalie. They serve as a link between the defense and the midfield, and the majority of attacks originate from their feet.

Different types of ‘Number 6’ roles:

  • Defensive Midfielder

  • Holding Midfielder

  • Volante or a Hybrid Midfielder

Defensive Midfielder role

Their primary goal is to disrupt the other team's play. They rely primarily on the ability to read the game and good tackling skills. They are, on the whole, robust players. It is not required, though, because a smaller center defensive midfielder may also be aggressive. The defensive midfielder's job is to ease the back four's pressure. People frequently mistake the DM for a player who engages in reckless challenges and fouls. DMs, on the other hand, often go undetected or are devalued. This is because their position is not one of the most appealing on the pitch. They disrupt the game's flow with tackles that, while unappealing to the sight, are crucial to the team's success.

Holding Midfielder role

These are very skilled defensive midfielders whose primary function is attacking. They have the luxury of roaming a bit further up the pitch, and they are ready to do so. Even though they may not be as physical as a traditional defensive midfielder, they are capable of functioning defensively. These midfielders primarily ‘hold' their place in front of the defense while producing strategically important interceptions to neutralize opposition threats. Their major strength is anticipation, and even though they aren't particularly excellent tacklers, they get the job done by applying pressure to the offensive players. When he has the ball, he must link the defensive line with the midfield and know when to pass from back to front and side to side. He has the ability to control the game's speed, either by playing ahead or by going sideways. This becomes exceedingly difficult if his placement, mobility, decision-making, and passing are not all of excellent quality.

Segundo Volante or a Hybrid Midfielder

The Segundo Volante is primarily a defensive midfielder, spending the majority of their time in front of the back four; nevertheless, it is the unpredictability of their runs into the final third that confuses defenses. As a result, they require high Tackling, Strength, and Bravery abilities. The term Segundo Volante directly translates to "Second Steering Wheel." It's a term used to describe a player that not only assists the defense but also controls the flow of the game on offense. After receiving the ball from the defense, these midfielders build up the play by passing it to the players ahead of them. These players will have complete control over the game; the ball will always pass through them, they will choose the tempo of attacks, when and when not to play long balls, and they will feed the attackers while staying in their defensive position.

The Pioneers of the ‘Number 6’ role – Claude Makelele and Sergio Busquets

Claude Makelele

Makelele played for Nantes, Marseille, Celta Vigo, Real Madrid, and Chelsea during his playing career, which finished at Paris Saint-Germain. During his time at Real Madrid, he won league titles in France, Spain, and England, as well as the UEFA Champions League in 2001–02. Makelele was a 13-year French international who was a member of the France national team that reached the 2006 FIFA World Cup final. He has competed in the FIFA World Cup in 2002, two UEFA European Championships, and the 1996 Summer Olympics for his country. When Chelsea won the Premier League title under Jose Mourinho, Claude Makelele's role (The Makelele Role) was named after its inventor. The term "Makelele role" is well-established in English football terminology, referring to a midfielder who is content to sit in front of the defensive four, rarely moving past his fellow midfielder, and, in general, forsaking a chance at personal glory for the sake of the team.

Sergio Busquets

“You watch the game, you don’t see Busquets. You watch Busquets, you see the whole game.”

Vicente del Bosque famously said this of a man who is one of the best, if not the best, defensive midfielders in the entire world of football.

Sergio Busquets is regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders of all time and a deep-lying playmaker capable of guiding the game through short, calm deliveries. He joined Barcelona's first team in July 2008 and has since made over 600 appearances for the club. In 2008–09 and 2014–15, he was a member of the teams who won the treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey, and the UEFA Champions League. He was instrumental in the country's victories in the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 Euros. He is always in the center of the pitch and behind the ball as the team attacks, adding defensive stability to the team. El Pulpo, who is both the team's brains and its broad, builds and destroys at the same time. His most notable quality is his ability to fix any situation at the moment and relieve his team of all pressure. All of this is accomplished by carefully understanding the game and determining the best course of action.

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