Guide to Football
  • Central attack = attacking midfielders (AM) + centre forwards (CF)

An appropriate responsibility distribution* in central attack can be achieved by considering key tactical roles, counterbalancing combinations and the use of system-specific tactical roles.

The information provided for each of these considerations is explained in the Playing System Balance guide and the associated tactical theory* guides that it links to.

Example combinations of player roles and duties in central attack are provided in the Role Combinations guide.

1. Key Tactical Roles

It is recommended to use number-nine central attackers*, central attack runners*, number-ten central attackers*, pressuring central attackers*, central attack goal-scorers* and spearheads*, as detailed below.

1.1. Number-Nine Central Attackers

Number of players: 1

Tactical roles:

Player Roles & Duties

  • 5.0 - Specialist - Complete Forward (CF Attack)
  • 4.5 - Specialist - Raumdeuter (WF Attack - auxiliary* wide and off-centre AM)
  • 4.0 - Specialist - Shadow Striker (AM Attack)
  • 2.5 - Designated - Inside Forward (WF Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 2.5 - Specialist - Advanced Forward (CF Attack)
  • 2.5 - Designated - Poacher (CF Attack)
  • 2.0 - Specialist - Deep Lying Forward (CF Attack)
  • 1.5 - Designated - Attacking Midfielder (AM Attack)

System-specific:

Atypical:

  • [if not used as system-specific] 2.0 - Designated - Target Man (CF Attack) - restricted target-man

1.2. Central Attack Runners

Number of players: 2 (including 1 number-nine central attacker)

Tactical roles:

Player Roles & Duties

  • All of the number-nine central attackers listed separately above
  • 5.0 - Supplementary - Trequartista (AM/CF Attack)
  • 4.5 - Supported - Trequartista (WF Attack - auxiliary* wide and off-centre AM)
  • 4.0 - Supplementary - Mezzala (Off-Centre CM Attack - auxiliary off-centre AM)
  • 4.0 - Supported - Advanced Playmaker (WF Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 3.5 - Supported - Advanced Playmaker (WF Support - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 3.5 - Supported - Advanced Playmaker (AM Attack)
  • 3.5 - Supplementary - Complete Forward (CF Support)
  • 3.0 - Supplementary - Mezzala (Off-Centre CM Support - auxiliary off-centre AM)
  • 2.5 - Supported - Inverted Winger (WM Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 2.5 - Supported - Inside Forward (WF Support - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 2.5 - Supported - Defensive Forward (CF Support)
  • 1.5 - Supported - Deep Lying Forward (CF Support)
  • 1.0 - Supported - Central Midfielder (CM Attack - auxiliary AM)
  • 0.5 - Supported - Attacking Midfielder (AM Support)

System-specific:

Atypical:

  • 2.5 - Supported - Enganche (AM Attack) - restricted-dribbling player
  • [if not used as system-specific] 1.0 - Supported -Target Man (CF Support) - restricted-dribbling player

1.3. Number-Ten Central Attackers

There are two different types of number-ten central attacker - technical number-tens* and target-men*. A player can also be both a technical number-ten and a target-man.

Number of players: 1

Tactical roles:

It is recommended to choose a type of number-ten according to your desired playing style, as follows:

  • For route one football and possession football - use one or a mixture of the above, as desired, such as ...
    • A technical number-ten,
    • A target-man,
    • A technical number-ten and a separate target-man, or
    • A player who is both a technical number-ten and a target-man.

Player Roles & Duties

Technical number-tens:

  • 5.5 - Specialist - Inverted Wing Back (WB Attack - auxiliary* wide and off-centre AM)
  • 5.5 - Specialist - Wide Playmaker (WM Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 5.0 - Specialist - Trequartista (AM/CF Attack)
  • 4.5 - Specialist - Trequartista (WF Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 4.5 - Specialist - Advanced Playmaker (AM Support)
  • 4.0 - Designated - Mezzala (Off-Centre CM Attack - auxiliary off-centre AM)
  • 4.0 - Specialist - Advanced Playmaker (WF Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 3.5 - Specialist - Advanced Playmaker (CM Attack - auxiliary AM)
  • 3.5 - Specialist - Advanced Playmaker (WF Support - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 3.5 - Specialist - Advanced Playmaker (AM Attack)
  • 3.5 - Specialist - Complete Forward (CF Support)
  • 3.0 - Specialist - Advanced Playmaker (CM Support - auxiliary AM)
  • 3.0 - Specialist - False Nine (CF Support)
  • 2.5 - Specialist - Inside Forward (WF Support - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 1.5 - Specialist - Deep Lying Forward (CF Support)

Target-men:

  • 5.0 - Specialist - Complete Forward (CF Attack)
  • 3.5 - Specialist - Complete Forward (CF Support)
  • 2.0 - Designated - Deep Lying Forward (CF Attack)
  • 1.5 - Specialist - Deep Lying Forward (CF Support)

System-specific technical number-tens:

System-specific target-men:

  • 2.0 - Designated - Target Man (CF Attack) - restricted target-man*
  • 1.0 - Designated - Target Man (CF Support) - restricted target-man

1.4. Pressuring Central Attackers

Number of players: 1

Tactical roles:

Player Roles & Duties

  • 5.0 - Supplementary - Complete Forward (CF Attack)
  • 4.5 - Supplementary - Raumdeuter (WF Attack - auxiliary* wide and off-centre AM)
  • 4.5 - Supplementary - Advanced Playmaker (AM Support)
  • 4.0 - Designated - Shadow Striker (AM Attack)
  • 4.0 - Specialist - Defensive Forward (CF Defend)
  • 3.5 - Supplementary - Advanced Playmaker (AM Attack)
  • 3.5 - Supplementary - Complete Forward (CF Support)
  • 3.0 - Supplementary - False Nine (CF Support)
  • 2.5 - Supplementary - Enganche (AM Attack)
  • 2.5 - Supplementary - Advanced Forward (CF Attack)
  • 2.5 - Supplementary - Poacher (CF Attack)
  • 2.5 - Specialist - Defensive Forward (CF Support)
  • 2.0 - Supplementary - Deep Lying Forward (CF Attack)
  • 2.0 - Supplementary - Target Man (CF Attack)
  • 1.5 - Supplementary - Attacking Midfielder (AM Attack)
  • 1.5 - Supplementary - Deep Lying Forward (CF Support)
  • 1.0 - Supplementary - Target Man (CF Support)
  • 0.5 - Supplementary - Attacking Midfielder (AM Support)

1.5. Central Attack Goal-Scorers

Number of players: 1

Tactical roles:

Player Roles & Duties

  • 5.0 - Supported - Trequartista (AM/CF Attack)
  • 4.5 - Supported - Trequartista (WF Attack - auxiliary* wide and off-centre AM)
  • 4.5 - Supported - Raumdeuter (WF Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 4.0 - Supported - Mezzala (Off-Centre CM Attack - auxiliary off-centre AM)
  • 4.0 - Supported - Shadow Striker (AM Attack)
  • 3.0 - Supported - Mezzala (Off-Centre CM Support - auxiliary off-centre AM)
  • 2.5 - Supported - Inverted Winger (WM Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 2.5 - Supported - Inside Forward (WF Support - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 2.5 - Supported - Inside Forward (WF Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 2.5 - Supported - Advanced Forward (CF Attack)
  • 2.5 - Supported - Poacher (CF Attack)
  • 1.5 - Supported - Attacking Midfielder (AM Attack)
  • 1.0 - Supported - Central Midfielder (CM Attack - auxiliary AM)
  • 0.5 - Supported - Attacking Midfielder (AM Support)

Atypical:

  • 5.5 - Supported - Inverted Wing Back (WB Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM) - sitting player
  • 5.0 - Supported - Complete Forward (CF Attack) - hold-up player
  • 4.0 - Supported - Defensive Forward (CF Defend) - holding and hold-up player
  • 3.5 - Supported - Complete Forward (CF Support) - hold-up player
  • 3.0 - Supported - False Nine (CF Support) - deep-dropping player
  • 2.5 - Supported - Enganche (AM Attack) - restricted-dribbling player
  • 2.5 - Supported - Defensive Forward (CF Support) - holding and hold-up player
  • 2.5 - Supported - Ball Winning Midfielder (CM Support - auxiliary AM) - sitting player
  • 2.5 - Supported - Roaming Playmaker (CM Support) - sitting player
  • 2.0 - Designated - Segundo Volante (Off-Centre DM Attack - auxiliary off-centre AM) - sitting player
  • 2.0 - Supported - Deep Lying Forward (CF Attack) - hold-up player
  • 2.0 - Supported - Target Man (CF Attack) - restricted-dribbling and hold-up player
  • 1.5 - Supported - Box To Box Midfielder (CM Support - auxiliary AM) - sitting player
  • 1.5 - Supported - Inverted Winger (WM Support - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM) - sitting player
  • 1.5 - Supported - Deep Lying Forward (CF Support) - hold-up player
  • 1.0 - Supported - Target Man (CF Support) - restricted-dribbling and hold-up player
  • 0.5 - Supported - Carrilero (Off-Centre CM Support - auxiliary off-centre AM) - sitting player
  • 0.0 - Supported - Central Midfielder (CM Support - auxiliary AM) - sitting player

1.6. Spearheads

Number of players: 1

Tactical roles:

Player Roles & Duties

  • 5.0 - Specialist - Trequartista (CF Attack)
  • 5.0 - Specialist - Complete Forward (CF Attack)
  • 3.5 - Specialist - Complete Forward (CF Support)
  • 3.0 - Specialist - False Nine (CF Support)
  • 2.5 - Supplementary - Advanced Forward (CF Attack)
  • 2.0 - Designated - Deep Lying Forward (CF Attack)
  • 1.5 - Specialist - Deep Lying Forward (CF Support)

System-specific:

  • 2.0 - Designated - Target Man (CF Attack) - restricted target-man*
  • 1.0 - Designated - Target Man (CF Support) - restricted target-man

2. Other Tactical Roles

2.1. Central Attack Creators

Player Roles & Duties

  • All of the number-ten central attackers listed separately above
  • All of the spearheads listed separately above
  • 4.5 - Supported - Raumdeuter (WF Attack - auxiliary* wide and off-centre AM)
  • 4.0 - Supplementary - Wide Playmaker (WM Support - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 4.0 - Supplementary - Shadow Striker (AM Attack)
  • 3.0 - Supported - Mezzala (Off-Centre CM Support - auxiliary off-centre AM)
  • 2.5 - Supplementary - Roaming Playmaker (CM Support - auxiliary AM)
  • 2.5 - Supplementary - Inverted Winger (WM Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 2.5 - Supplementary - Inside Forward (WF Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 1.5 - Supported - Box To Box Midfielder (CM Support - auxiliary AM)
  • 1.5 - Supplementary - Inverted Winger (WM Support - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 1.5 - Supported - Attacking Midfielder (AM Attack)
  • 1.0 - Supported - Central Midfielder (CM Attack - auxiliary AM)
  • 0.5 - Supported - Carrilero (Off-Centre CM Support - auxiliary off-centre AM)
  • 0.5 - Supported - Attacking Midfielder (AM Support)
  • 0.0 - Supported - Central Midfielder (CM Support - auxiliary AM)

Atypical:

  • 2.0 - Supported - Segundo Volante (Off-Centre DM Attack - auxiliary off-centre AM) - shot-taking player

2.2. Pressing Central Attackers

Player Roles & Duties

  • All of the pressuring central attackers listed separately above

2.3. Withdrawn Central Attackers

Player Roles & Duties

  • 4.5 - Designated - Advanced Playmaker (AM Support)
  • 4.0 - Designated - Defensive Forward (CF Defend)
  • 3.0 - Supplementary - Advanced Playmaker (CM Support - auxiliary* AM)
  • 2.5 - Supplementary - Ball Winning Midfielder (CM Support - auxiliary AM)
  • 2.5 - Supported - Enganche (AM Attack)
  • 2.5 - Supported - Defensive Forward (CF Support)
  • 1.5 - Supported - Deep Lying Forward (CF Support)
  • 1.0 - Supported - Target Man (CF Support)
  • 0.5 - Supported - Attacking Midfielder (AM Support)
  • 0.0 - Supplementary - Central Midfielder (CM Support - auxiliary AM)

Atypical:

  • 3.5 - Supplementary - Advanced Playmaker (CM Attack - auxiliary AM) - dribbling player
  • 3.5 - Supported - Advanced Playmaker (AM Attack) - dribbling player

2.4. Relaxed Central Attackers

Player Roles & Duties

  • 5.0 - Specialist - Trequartista (AM/CF Attack)

2.5. Restricted Central Attackers

Player Roles & Duties

  • 2.5 - Supplementary - Ball Winning Midfielder (CM Support - auxiliary* AM)
  • 2.5 - Specialist - Poacher (CF Attack)
  • 2.5 - Designated - Defensive Forward (CF Support)
  • 2.0 - Supplementary - Target Man (CF Attack)
  • 1.5 - Supported - Attacking Midfielder (AM Attack)
  • 1.0 - Supported - Central Midfielder (CM Attack - auxiliary AM)
  • 1.0 - Supplementary - Target Man (CF Support)
  • 0.5 - Supported - Attacking Midfielder (AM Support)
  • 0.0 - Supported - Central Midfielder (CM Support - auxiliary AM)

System-specific:

Atypical:

  • [If not used as system-specific] 4.5 - Supported - Raumdeuter (WF Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM) - roaming and channel-running player
  • 4.0 - Designated - Defensive Forward (CF Defend) - atypical central attack goal-scorer and not a central attack creator
  • 3.0 - Supported - Mezzala (Off-Centre CM Support - auxiliary off-centre AM) - roaming and channel-running player
  • 2.0 - Supported - Deep Lying Forward (CF Attack) - channel-running player
  • 1.5 - Supported - Box To Box Midfielder (CM Support - auxiliary AM) - roaming player
  • 0.5 - Supported - Carrilero (Off-Centre CM Support - auxiliary off-centre AM) - drifting player

3. Counterbalancing Combinations

It is recommended to assign appropriate counterbalancing* tactical roles* when using particular types of restricted central attacker.

3.1. Restricted Central Attackers

A restricted central attacker who focuses more on playing safe* and is not a target-man, such as ...

  • ... Poacher (CF Attack), or
  • Defensive Forward (CF Defend/Support) ...

... Can be balanced with a target-man (listed above).

A restricted target-man who focuses more on playing safe, such as ...

  • ... Target Man (CF Support/Attack) ...

... Can be balanced with a separate centre forward.

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