• Central defence = sweeper (SW) + centre backs (CB)

An appropriate responsibility distribution* in central defence can be achieved by considering key tactical roles, symmetry and counterbalancing combinations.

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 defence are provided in the Role Combinations guide.

1. Key Tactical Roles

It is recommended to use orthodox central defenders*, covering central defenders*, safe-playing central defenders* and stopper central defenders*, as detailed below.

1.1. Orthodox Central Defenders

Number of players: 2 or 3 (including all centre backs)

Tactical roles:

Player Roles & Duties

  • 5.0 - Designated - Defensive Centre Back (CB Stopper/Cover)
  • 4.0 - Designated - Ball Playing Defender (CB Stopper/Cover)
  • 4.0 - Designated - Defensive Centre Back (CB Defend)
  • 4.0 - Specialist - Sweeper (SW Defend)
  • 3.5 - Designated - Half Back (DM Defend - auxiliary* CB)
  • 3.0 - Designated - Central Defender (CB Stopper/Cover)
  • 3.0 - Designated - Ball Playing Defender (CB Defend)
  • 2.0 - Designated - Central Defender (CB Defend)

1.2. Covering Central Defenders

Number of players: 1

Tactical roles:

Player Roles & Duties

  • 5.0 - Specialist - Defensive Centre Back (CB Cover)
  • 4.0 - Specialist - Sweeper (SW Defend)
  • 4.0 - Designated - Defensive Centre Back (CB Defend)
  • 4.0 - Specialist - Ball Playing Defender (CB Cover)
  • 3.0 - Specialist - Central Defender (CB Cover)
  • 3.0 - Designated - Ball Playing Defender (CB Defend)
  • 2.0 - Designated - Central Defender (CB Defend)

1.3. Safe-Playing Central Defenders

Number of players: 1

Tactical roles:

Player Roles & Duties

  • 5.0 - Specialist - Defensive Centre Back (CB Stopper/Cover)
  • 4.0 - Supplementary - Sweeper (SW Defend)
  • 4.0 - Specialist - Defensive Centre Back (CB Defend)
  • 3.5 - Supplementary - Half Back (DM Defend - auxiliary* CB)
  • 3.0 - Supplementary - Central Defender (CB Stopper/Cover)
  • 2.0 - Supplementary - Central Defender (CB Defend)

1.4. Stopper Central Defenders

Number of players: 1

Tactical roles:

Player Roles & Duties

  • 5.0 - Designated - Defensive Centre Back (CB Stopper)
  • 4.0 - Designated - Ball Playing Defender (CB Stopper)
  • 4.0 - Supported - Defensive Centre Back (CB Defend)
  • 3.0 - Designated - Central Defender (CB Stopper)
  • 3.0 - Supported - Ball Playing Defender (CB Defend)
  • 2.0 - Supported - Central Defender (CB Defend)

2. Other Tactical Roles

2.1. Withdrawn Central Defenders

Player Roles & Duties

  • All of the orthodox central defenders listed separately above
  • 3.0 - Supplementary - Libero (SW Support)

2.2. Restrained Central Defenders

Player Roles & Duties

  • All of the covering central defenders listed separately above
  • 3.0 - Supplementary - Libero (SW Support)

2.3. Restricted Central Defenders

Player Roles & Duties

  • All of the safe-playing central defenders listed separately above

2.4. Protecting Central Defenders

Player Roles & Duties

  • All of the covering central defenders listed separately above
  • 5.5 - Supplementary - Inverted Wing Back (FB Attack)
  • 4.5 - Supplementary - Inverted Wing Back (FB Defend)
  • 3.0 - Specialist - Libero (SW Support)
  • 3.0 - Supplementary - Inverted Wing Back (FB Support)

Vacating:

  • 4.0 - Specialist - Libero (SW Attack) - offensive central defender

2.5. Running Central Defenders

Player Roles & Duties

  • 5.5 - Specialist - Inverted Wing Back (FB Attack - auxiliary* wide and off-centre centre back)
  • 4.0 - Designated - Libero (SW Attack)
  • 3.0 - Supported - Libero (SW Support)
  • 3.0 - Supplementary - Inverted Wing Back (FB Support - auxiliary wide and off-centre centre back)

2.6. Skilled Central Defenders

Player Roles & Duties

  • 5.5 - Specialist - Inverted Wing Back (FB Attack - auxiliary* wide and off-centre centre back)
  • 4.0 - Specialist - Ball Playing Defender (CB Stopper)
  • 4.0 - Specialist - Ball Playing Defender (CB Cover)
  • 3.0 - Specialist - Libero (SW Support)
  • 3.0 - Specialist - Ball Playing Defender (CB Defend)
  • 3.0 - Supplementary - Inverted Wing Back (FB Support - auxiliary wide and off-centre centre back)

Vacating:

  • 4.0 - Specialist - Libero (SW Attack) - offensive central defender

3. Symmetry

If using a three-man central defence* (and therefore using wide and off-centre centre backs) then it is recommended to use covering and stopper central defenders symmetrically.

For example, this can be achieved by using either:

  • One covering central defender between two stopper central defenders, or
  • Two covering central defenders either side of a stopper central defender.

4. Counterbalancing Combinations

It is recommended to assign appropriate counterbalancing* tactical roles* when using particular types of restrained central defender and stopper central defender.

4.1. Restrained Central Defenders

A restrained central defender who focuses more on providing defensive cover*, such as ...

  • ... Sweeper (SW Defend),
  • Libero (SW Support)
  • Central Defender (CB Cover),
  • Ball Playing Defender (CB Cover), or
  • Defensive Centre Back (CB Cover), ...

... Can be balanced with either:

  • Two stopper central defenders (listed above), or
  • ... Defensive Centre Back (CB Stopper),
  • Central Defender (CB Stopper), or
  • Ball Playing Defender (CB Stopper).

4.2. Stopper Central Defenders

A stopper central defender who focuses more on applying defensive pressure*, such as ...

  • ... Defensive Centre Back (CB Stopper),
  • Central Defender (CB Stopper), or
  • Ball Playing Defender (CB Stopper), ...

... Can be balanced with either:

  • Two restrained central defenders (listed above), or
  • ... Sweeper (SW Defend),
  • Libero (SW Support),
  • Central Defender (CB Cover),
  • Ball Playing Defender (CB Cover), or
  • Defensive Centre Back (CB Cover).



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