The importance of the No. 6 position – Equalizer Soccer

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Photo: Pedro Soares / SPP

“Beyond Greatness”

This was the tagline for this year’s World Cup and it was represented in several different ways throughout the tournament, but none more so than in the euphoria and discovery of the new, underappreciated teams emerging as genuine footballing sides, now on the verge of potentially becoming mainstays in women’s international football.

Alternatively, you can look at the deeper, more intricate details and understand that the level of tactics in the broader game has profoundly improved. Most of the top sides came in with a dedicated style of play and although some teams’ identities were harder to distinguish than others, the overall level of tactics on display was quite high.Tactical trends emerge from every major tournament but given the nature of the beast, tournament football can be associated with pragmatism. At its core, coaches will look to play the football that will get them a win and treat each game as its own. How you approach games and identify the solutions to the problems set by the opposition can only come with a flexible approach.

The solution to creating a more balanced side without overcommitting attacking numbers has come in the form of the holding midfielder. A recent trend that managers have started to focus on is their teams’ defensive midfielders as the core cog to unlock their creative potential and offer defensive protection.

The 2023 edition of the World Cup was no different. Some teams came out finding solutions to complex personnel problems, trying to nullify key opposition players while others created new systems to suit their own personnel and stamp their authority on the game. It was the teams that adjusted their tactics mid-game that came out on top. Each approach had its strengths and weaknesses and although it was the basic principles employed by Spain that triumphed, there were a couple of examples of teams displaying different tactical concepts focused around one player, in this case, the holding midfielder.


Although Sarina Weigman’s reputation as a stubborn tactician continued into this tournament, the performances after the first two games against Haiti and Denmark — combined with the knee injury to Keira Walsh — forced Weigman to rethink her tried and tested 4-3-3 that had been centered around the Barcelona defensive midfielder.

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