There are usually two soccer midfielders on a team (the wingers are also commonly known as wide midfielders, but on this page I am only referring to the central midfielders when I say "midfielder").
A midfielder should have a good endurance, be relatively fast, and be good at dribbling, passing, tackling, and shooting.
The soccer midfielder should normally cover the entire center of the field, spanning from about the edge of one penalty area to the other (shown below as the marked area).
Usually a team will have one of the midfielders play as an attacking midfielder, and one as a defending midfielder.
This just means that one will play more of the offensive part and one will play more of the defensive part. However it is good for each of these players to be capable of covering the whole area.
The midfielder plays a large role in both the offense and the defense.
On the offense, he will try to form a line with the fullbacks.
He also carries a lot of the weight of controlling the ball in the center. This is where a lot of passing and dribbling comes in.
It is almost always better to pass than try to dribble up the center. However if the midfielder is good at dribbling and only has one defender between him and the goal, it might be a good idea to make the run.
Overall, the midfielder is more of a support to the strikers and should not just go running up into the penalty area for a point blank shot on the goal (though if he gets a clear shot it is always good to take it).
On the defense, the midfielder will try to form a line with the wingers.
He is pretty much always the first line of defense. His main job on defense is to either push the opposing offense out toward the side where it is harder to attack, or steal the ball and send it up to the strikers before the opposing offense even gets a chance to break through.
Though this seems like a good idea, often times the midfielder does not manage to stop the offense. When this happens he needs to drop back and continue to assist in the defense.
So many times I have seen midfielders just stop and wait for the other defenders to get the ball once the opposing offense have gone by. I cannot stress enough that you cannot quit in the defense. Stopping and waiting might just be giving away a free goal.
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