A defensive midfielder or a holding midfielder (ball winner) is a central midfielder who is stationed in front of the back defenders for defensive reasons, thus “holding back” the freedom of the opponents to attack. They know their role and perform it extremely well.
The responsibilities of defensive midfielders usually include:
- Screening the defence by pressuring and tackling the opposition teams’ attackers and defenders.
- Covering the positions of full-backs, midfielders and even centre-backs as they advance into attack. This can be during open play or during set pieces such as free-kicks or corners.
- Retaining distribution nearer the defence. As passing square across the defence can be especially risky, the presence of the defensive midfielder just in front of defenders provides a relatively safer option going forward.
- Directing the distribution towards the flanks or further up front.
- Directing the opposition distribution to the flanks or deeper down their end, where they are less effective. Defensive midfielders are often pulled slightly towards the flank to deal with the threat of wingers cutting infield.
Defensive midfielders require excellent positional sense, work rate, tackling ability, and anticipation (of player and ball movement) to excel. They also need to possess excellent passing skills and close control to hold the ball in midfield under sustained pressure. Most importantly, defensive midfielders require great stamina as they are the onfield players who cover the greatest distance during a professional football match. Deep-lying playmakers typically require a good first touch under opposition pressure and the ability to play long crossfield passes to attacking players further upfield.
The defensive midfielder position is also referred to in Brazilian Portuguese as “volante” and in South American Spanish as “volante de marca” (Spanish & Portuguese for “Rudder” or someone who gives direction), and in Portugal as a “trinco” (meaning “lock”). (wikipedia)
Gattuso (AC Milan) / Lass (Real Madrid) / Gilberto Silva (Panathinaikos) / Yaya Toure (Barcelona)
Scholes (Man U) / Dunga (Brazil) / Essien (Chelsea) / Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid) / Mascherano (Liverpool)
Makelele / Vieira (Inter Milan) / Edgar David / Ze Roberto / More players will added soon.