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Who Is A Stopper In Soccer?

Stopper In Soccer
(Photo by Helios de la Rubia/Real Madrid via Getty Images)

A soccer match is won when a team outscores their opponents. Therefore, the ultimate objective of the game is to score goals and stop the opponents from scoring. Some players on the soccer pitch play the role of stopping their opponents from scoring and are called stoppers. In this blog post, we will discuss the role of a stopper in soccer.

Any team that looks to emerge victorious must be defensively astute as well as possess an effective attacking threat. 

In football, the goalkeeper is regarded as the last line of defense. Players are permitted to defend the goal line even when the keeper may be out of position. The role of guarding the goal post and the eighteen-yard box falls to the defenders. While any player can potentially find themselves playing a defensive role, this duty is mostly handled by the defenders. 

Defenders often have to occupy different positions on the pitch and try to effectively neutralize the opposition. A stopper plays a critical role in neutralizes opposition attacks.

What Is The Role Of A Stopper in Soccer?

The stopper is simply another name given to the center-back, also commonly known as a central defender or center-half. 

The central defender plays the role of a stopper. The stopper is usually situated between the midfield and the full-backs

In soccer, the role of the stopper is regarded as the purest defensive role. 

Directly defending the area in front of the goal post and preventing opposition attackers (also commonly known as center forwards) from scoring. 

Stoppers have to effectively execute their role by consistently marking center forwards, engaging in duels, contesting aerial balls, blocking shots, intercepting passes, and even often replacing the goalkeeper when the goalkeeper is out of position.

Stoppers in football use their physical strength, stamina, and aerial ability to stop the opposition’s attack. They are usually uncompromising in their tackling, making strong tackles, and love to win the ball aggressively.

A stopper in soccer would rather commit a foul than let an opposition player get past them. They also rarely venture forward in a game, except when his team are taking corner kicks and set-pieces.

In such situations, their height and aerial ability give them a goal threat in the air. However, once the set piece is complete, they will retreat to their own half to continue their defensive duties.

Stopper In Soccer
(Photo by Helios de la Rubia/Real Madrid via Getty Images)
The Evolution Of The Role Of A Stopper in Soccer

In the past, the stopper’s role was very straightforward and direct. Often rarely venturing out past the eighteen-yard box. 

In modern football, teams often have two or three center-backs. The center backs make long passes to teammates further up the pitch or, when the case arises, simply kick long balls away from their goal or out of play. 

In modern times center backs press forward a bit and may even score the occasional goal. Center-backs also play a more direct driving role, often taking the ball and making long runs into the center of the pitch. Although it’s quite unlikely for stoppers to score goals, opportunities may arise from set pieces and corner kicks. 

The stopper plays a very important role in the team. A role that often requires laser focus, precision, consistent concentration, and ruthless efficiency. 

Sweeper vs. Stopper: What Is The Difference?

Many soccer fans have often wondered what the difference is between a sweeper and a stopper in soccer. Well, here’s a brief explanation.

A sweeper in defense is a versatile type of center-back that “sweeps up” the ball if the opponent tries to breach the defensive line. They cut out through balls, win the ball higher up the pitch, and make clearances even in the midfield. 

The sweeper relies on their ability to read the game, awareness, and technical prowess. Franz Beckenbauer was an excellent example of a modern sweeper.

However, a stopper strictly focuses on doing his defensive duties in his area. Their job is to man-mark opponents, make tackles in their own half, and head away incoming crossing from the opposition.

Hence, in summary, the difference between a sweeper and a stopper is that a sweeper “sweeps up” the danger when the opposition tries to breach their defense by cutting through balls and winning tackles further up from his defensive area. While a stopper “stops” opposition strikers from scoring or creating a genuine goal threat.

Another difference is that a sweeper relies on their ability to read the game and tactical awareness, while a stopper relies on his strength, man-marking abilities, and aerial ability.

Who Are The Best Stoppers In Football Now?

Some of the best stoppers in football are:

  • Ronald Araujo (FC Barcelona)
  • Rúben Dias (Manchester City)
  • Stefan Savić (Atlético Madrid)
  • Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus)
  • Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich)
  • Kurt Zouma (West Ham United)
  • Presnel Kimpembe (PSG)
  • Fikayo Tomori (AC Milan)
  • Antonio Rüdiger (Real Madrid)
  • Gleison Bremer (Juventus)
  • Niklas Süle (Bayern Munich)
  • Joel Matip (Liverpool).
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