The Pirlo, Mascherano and Makelele: An insight into the role of the Number 6

By Ogo Sylla

The holding midfielder, or defensive midfielder, or number 6 as we can also call it, is a thankless task that often gets overlooked in today’s football of marauding fullbacks, twinkle-toed playmakers and dead-eye strikers. However what is most underappreciated about the number 6 (as we will refer to it from henceforth) are its complexities that most fail to recognize. In fact, the failure to do so can be key to why some sides may struggle to find the right balance. Indeed, the defensive number 6 sits – on a tactical sense – at the heart of the game and at the center of the pitch where everything goes through him. It is for this reason that it is important to recognize the many intricacies of that position and its numerous roles in order to better appreciate it.

It is important difference – albeit just a seemingly semantic one – between a holding midfielder and defensive midfielder. But these are just types of the number 6, which can be broken down in three different roles: the destroyer, the deep-lying playmaker (regista), and the volante. The destroyer is exclusively a defensive midfielder, while the regista is a holding midfielder. The volante, however, has the particularity of belonging to both types of the number 6. Being such a special case, we will touch on the role of the volante last. 

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Linking Up: Humour takes centre stage this week

We (incredibly) found out today that despite both English sides winning 2-1 in the Europa League, it will be Fulham vs. Atletico Madrid in the final, since Liverpool was knocked out due to Diego Forlan’s away goal at Anfield. And of course the Europa League’s big brother will have its final between Inter & Bayern, but you knew that already. Anyway, maybe it is because everyone around me is going insane from footy and final exams, but I’ve come across quite a bit of footy-related humour this week. Here’s the best of what I found.

Our very own contributor Oliver Sparrow created a brilliant video of Maradona’s amazing goal vs. England in ‘86. It’s part of a humourous competition sponsored by Sony, and if enough people watch it he’ll be going to South Africa to support his Three Lions. Watch it 100 times here!

Learn to speak Scouse with Dirk Kuyt [Who Ate All The Pies]

An awfully incriminating GIF of Sergio Busquets. Faking an injury are we? [Off the Post]

Going back to that brilliant Brazil vs. Portugal advert [In the Stands]

The absurdly American idea of having a draft in football [Yanks Are Coming]

And Didier Drogba has been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME Magazine (seriously). [Dirty Tackle]

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