What Is The Role Of A Number 6 In Soccer?

Joshua Kimmich Role Of A Number 6 In Soccer
(Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

Soccer is a team sport where every player has a crucial role to play in achieving success.

In the modern game, the position of number 6, also known as the holding or defensive midfielder, has become increasingly important.

The number 6 is the player who sits in front of the defense and shields them from opposition attacks.

In this article, we will take an in-depth look at the role of number 6 in soccer.

Who Is A Number 6 In Soccer?

The number 6 position is one of the most important roles in modern soccer. They tend to be referred to as holding or defensive midfielders because of their ability defend the back line and retrieve or the ball from their opponents.

This midfield role requires a special kind of energetic and very skillful player.

The number 6 must be physically fit, have excellent positional awareness, and possess good technical ability. 

Many great players have shone in the role. For example, soccer players like Sergio Busquets, Claude Makélélé, Patrick Vieira, Lothar Matthäus, and N’Golo Kanté were great number 6s in soccer history. 

Number 6: A shirt or position?

In modern days players are assigned a particular jersey number.

Unlike when the numbering of jerseys started, players now stick to one number all through the season once the club releases the official squad list at the start of the season.

The squad numbers are still assigned based on positions and functions on the team, but sometimes they are sentimentally assigned.

Therefore, it is normal, by the end of this article, to notice that some players wear the number 6 jersey but do not play in the number 6 position. Sometimes some teams do not even have a player putting on the number 6 jersey, as they do not have them assigned.

Therefore, in terms of basic understanding, it’s a shirt, but in soccer tactical terms, the number six is a position.

What Is The Position Of A Number 6 In Soccer?

A player playing In the number six position plays in front of the defense, specifically in between the defenders and midfielders.

Depending on the formation, the number six is usually at the base of the midfield, just above the defense.

In a 4-5-1 formation, which has a lot of variation, and when the five midfielders have two number six, the number six players would be behind three attacking midfielders who are connected to the single striker above (4-2-3-1), and the same goes for the single number 6 that is at the base of a form an attacking midfield in a 4-5-1 (4-14-1) formation.

Number six is also present in other formations, especially in variations of the 4-3-3 (4-1-2-3) and 4-4-2.

What Is The Role Of A Number 6 In Soccer?

A number 6 in soccer expected to link up with the central midfielders, defenders, and the fullback on his side of the pitch and cover for them when out of position.

When a team is playing a four-man defensive formation, the number 6 is expected to screen the defense and serve as a protector in front of the defenders.

Furthermore, he is expected to also be a link between the defenders and the team’s attackers upfront.

They are expected to intercept opposition attacks and break down forward play by the opposition team.

The number 6 carries a whole lot of responsibility on his shoulders, and his performance can be crucial to a team’s winning or losing a particular game.

He is an extra source of defending for defenders most of the time, especially when fullbacks overlap, and he also tackles opposing players to dispossess them or disrupt their flow. By doing so, he is also expected to dictate how his team plays from his position.

Role of a number 6 in soccer (defensive):

In the defensive phase, the number 6 plays a crucial role in protecting the backline.

They must have excellent positional awareness and be able to read the game well. The number 6 must be able to anticipate the movements of the opposition and position themselves accordingly.

They must also communicate effectively with their teammates to ensure that everyone is working together to defend as a unit.

Role of a number 6 in soccer (attacking):

In the attacking phase, the number 6 is responsible for initiating attacking moves.

They must be able to pick out the right passes and have a good understanding of the attacking players’ movements.

The number 6 must also have the ability to dribble the ball and break through the opposition’s midfield.

Can a team play with more than one number 6?

A team can definitely play with two number 6 on the pitch, but it does not mean that there would be two players with the number six shirts on their backs.

A team can play without any player having the number six shirt on his back and still have a number six on the pitch. This means that (1) the number six is a position (2) the team with two number six would have two defensive midfielders between the defenders and the midfielders.

In this case, one of them would be a holding midfielder that is staying in position just in case there’s a counter-attacking situation. The other is expected to be either the central midfielder or one that roams from box to box.

To play the position, a player must be agile, strong, and have a good passing ability to quickly turn defense into attack.

It’s not surprising that one of the best players in the number six position is the French man N’Golo Kanté, thanks to his work rate from his days at Leicester City down to Chelsea.

Joshua Kimmich Role Of A Number 6 In Soccer
(Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

Who are some of the best number 6 in soccer today?

Here are some of the best soccer number 6 in the world 2023:

Thomas Party (Arsenal)

Enzo Fernández (Chelsea)

Rodri (Manchester City)

Aurélien Tchouaméni (Real Madrid)

Leandro Paredes (Juventus F.C.)

Jorginho (Arsenal)

Casemiro (Manchester United)

Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)

Marco Verratti (PSG)


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