Football

Explained: Top 5 Positions That Revolutionised Modern Football


Nothing is permanent but change. Like everything in the world, football also works on the same principle. The game has come a long way since its inception and has become more complex as advancements were made. And this has caused a massive change in how the game is played. For instance, in the modern game, there is almost no place for positions like Trequartista, Libero, Second striker, or Classic winger. Traditional fullbacks, Poacher. 

However, when one position dies, it is replaced by another. So now we have the Mezzala, Inverted fullbacks, Raumdeuter, Overlapping centre-backs and many more. These positions signal the transition in football where a player must be multifaceted, i.e. help in attack and defence. 

These positions transformed the game of football, and the team could not imagine playing without them. Here are the top five positions that revolutionised modern football.

Top 5 positions that revolutionised modern football

Mezzala 

Perhaps the most important positions that revolutionised modern football. The Mezzala position in football is the successor to the Trequartista. However, Mezzala puts more onus on the player to be more involved in defending while being the creator-in-chief for the team. He usually plays in a three-men midfield as the most attacking player. His job is to connect with the forwards and ensure his team does not get dominated in the midfield. 

To play in the Mezzala position, a player must be an exquisite passer, quick-witted, and have an excellent vision. A Mezzala can spot the tiniest gaps in the opposition’s defence. In addition, they must also take up space on the wings once the wingers drift inside near the ball. 

In modern football, there are several examples of Mezzala like Angel de Maria, Paul Pogba, and Luk Modric. However, Kevin de Bruyne is the best Mezzala currently in football. The Belgian has been the chief creator for Manchester City since joining them in 2015, helping them win four Premier League titles. You can know more about the Mezzala position in our explainers.

Inverted fullbacks 

Pep Guardiola has been one of the most influential coaches in modern times. The Catalan pioneered the famous tiki-taka through which he won the Sextuple with Barcelona using the famous tiki-taka. However, one of the other revolutions he brought was the inverted fullbacks. And when inventing the role, the coach had the perfect player for the position in Phillip Lahm. 

The job of inverted fullbacks is to act as midfielders when the team is in possession. Their job is to crown the midfield to create multiple overloads and passing lanes,’ Since Guardiola’s system is based on short passes, the inverted fullbacks become an integral part of it. 

At Manchester City, the Spaniard has turned Kyle Walker, Joao Cancelo and Oleksandr Zinchenko into inverted fullbacks. The inverted fullbacks slot into the midfield besides the defensive midfielder frees up space for the attacking midfielders to be more involved in the attack. 

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Pressing forward 

When Jurgen Klopp arrived at Liverpool in 2015, they had one of the worst squads among the top teams in the Premier League. However, even then, they had Roberto Firmino, a player who would be one of the essential cogs in Klopp’s Gegenpressing system. 

Firmino’s role is known as the ‘Pressing forward’. The aim is simple, defend from the front. However, since Liverpool’s purpose is to win the ball back in the attacking third, the forward’s role is more than just being a goal scorer and attacking contributor. 

And it has been one of the most successful positions in football, so much so that now every team wants a forward who can cover a lot of ground and close down spaces and passing lanes to disrupt the opposition’s rhythm. 

Overlapping centre back 

One of the most important positions that revolutionised modern football is the overlapping centre-back. Fullbacks are not the only ones being asked to contribute more to the attack. In some systems, their defensive partners are also doing the same. For example, under Gian Piero Gasperini, Atalanta have played a three-men back, demanding that centre-backs get more involved in the attack. 

Coach Gian Piero Gasperini’s system demands overloads in the broad areas, which means that the wide centre backs are expected to get forward to help the wing backs and wingers. At Atalanta’s, Berat Djimsiti was that defender regularly venturing forward to help the team.

It was so successful that Atalanta finished third in Serie A and reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League. However, the overlapping centre-backs can only work in a three-man defence. However, it remains one of the most revolutionary inventions of modern football. 

Raumdeuter 

Ich bin ein Raumdeuter (I am a space interpreter). Perhaps there is no other position in football that one player has dominated. Thomas Muller of Bayern Munich is the first and possibly the last Raudmdeuter. His German career has been laden with trophies, and he is a top player due to his unique skills. 

The role of the Raumdeuter is to find space in the opposition’s defence. The player does not have a fixed position, roams everywhere in the attacking third, looking for space in the defence. A Raumdeuter’s sole objective is to score goals, provide assists and be an attacking threat whatever he can. 

While the player may not be eye-catching on the pitch, he is the most threatening. A player with perfect sense of space will occupy half-spaces on the pitch, break down low blocks through overloads on one side of the field and just be a general nuisance. 

As the famous journalist Uli Hesse said, “Thomas Müller can’t beat you with his close ball control. He can’t beat you with his pace. And he can’t beat you with his dribbling skills. He just beats you”.





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