New Tactics For the Number 10

By Kieran Smith - UEFA 'A' License Coach

This rise of team’s formations like 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1, and more specifically using a defensive midfield to sit in front of the defense and screen, has led to a bit of a dark period for the traditional Number 10 position; but has that led to the creation of a new position? The Central Winger.

The number 10 traditionally stayed centrally and played off of the CF but with the rise of the likes of players like Makelele and Busquets, has led to space in the central area becoming scarce at the top level. The central winger takes up the same position on the pitch as the traditional number 10 but as they play unfolds, they cover a lot more of the field than before.

This picture shows the traditional movement of the No 10 which you can see is the same area defensive midfielders cover showing how difficult it can be to find space in attack.

Traditional No 10 movement

In picture two you can see an example of how the umber 10 can find the space on the wings. The LB is on the ball and the LW drops short to receive the ball. The No 10 makes the run into that space and the LB plays the ball into the No 10.

Another way the No 10 can find this space is if the LW receives the ball and goes inside, as is very common in the modern game, he can then play either back to the LB to play down the wing or to a CM to play through. The LW winger coming inside will open up the space for the No10 to exploit.


The next picture shows how the opposition can try to defend against the run of the central winger and how we can exploit the space we’ve created.

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Central Winger 2

This shows the options our No 10 now has when he receives the ball in the space created. Above we are going to assume the opposition CB comes across to defend against our player on the ball. If the CB does that it leaves our CF with a 1 on 1 with the remaining CB and the RW coming in at the back post, which is great odds. The No 10 could also dribble at the CB, come inside himself and look to shoot.

The other option the opposition has is if the CDM chooses to try and defend the run and that will create a lot of space in midfield for our CM to make a dangerous late run to the edge of the box almost unmarked.

In summary, the Central winger could be a valuable tactic for your team if you use the 4-2-3-1 formation and your No 10 is struggling to get on the ball in central areas. Whether you choose to use it from the 1st minute or as a tactical change, your opposition will find it tough to defend against because it will cause confusion as to who needs to track the run, allowing you the chance to create space in a dangerous area.

By Kieran Smith - UEFA 'A' License Coach

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