If yesterday was tough, today is ridiculous. We’ve got some of Ukraine’s best current players against an all-time great in central midfield. It is a difficult choice to make with the central midfield congested between defensive, mixed and attacking options. Just check the list of roles of football manager and you’ll understand how many possibilities and styles there are for this role. Luckily, you only have to pick from four, but it is like being a kid in a candy store only allowed one sweet! The choice is yours…
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Period active: 2010-18 Appearances/Goals: 60/2 Finals: Euro 2012 1/0; Euro 2016 1/0
Period active: 2011-17 Appearances/Goals: 30/2 Finals: Euro 2012 1/0; Euro 2016 1/0
Period active: 2015-present Appearances/Goals: 30/2 Finals: Euro 2016 3/0
Period active: 2015-present Appearances/Goals: 27/5 Finals: N/A
Central or centre midfielders are players whose role is divided roughly equally between attack and defence and to dominate the play around the centre of the pitch. These players will try to pass the ball to the team’s attacking midfielders and forwards and may also help their team’s attacks by making runs into the opposition’s penalty area and attempting shots on goal themselves.
When the opposing team has the ball, a central midfielder may drop back to protect the goal or move forward and press the opposition ball-carrier to recover the ball. A centre midfielder defending their goal will move in front of their centre-backs in order to block long shots by the opposition and possibly track opposition midfielders making runs towards the goal.
The 4–3–3 and 4–5–1 formations each use three central midfielders. The 4−4−2 formation may use two central midfielders, and in the 4–2–3–1 formation one of the two deeper midfielders may be a central midfielder.
The term box-to-box midfielder (shortened as BBM or B2B) refers to central midfielders who are hard-working and who have good all-round abilities, which makes them skilled at both defending and attacking. These players can therefore track back to their own box to make tackles and block shots and also run to the opponents’ box to try to score. Beginning in the mid-2000s, the change of trends and the decline of the standard 4–4–2 formation (in many cases making way for the 4–2–3–1 and 4–3–3 formations) imposed restrictions on the typical box-to-box midfielders of the 1980s and 1990s, as teams’ two midfield roles were now often divided into “holders” or “creators”. Notable examples of box-to-box midfielders are Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Antonio Conte, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Yaya Touré, Arturo Vidal, Patrick Vieira, Radja Nainggolan, Daniele De Rossi, and Aaron Ramsey.