Goal! Goal! Goal! The screams, shouts, and ululations deafen the stadium space, with losers and victors getting to know their fate. But do you know who is responsible for this? Soccer strikers! They play a critical role in ensuring that the goal nets shake vehemently, which is crucial to a team’s success.
In soccer, the strikers grab the headlines in sports news around the world. They are the talk of every football fanatic conversation. Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and Kylian Mbappe are among the most famous strikers to have shown their worth on the field. Such players are challenging to find due to their goal-poaching techniques and skills; hence, they cost more to keep in the team.
Soccer strikers can change a match in seconds; hence, they are always in the spotlight compared to other team players, such as midfielders, defenders, and goalkeepers. In this article, we will discuss the soccer strikers in depth, including their roles, qualities, responsibilities, and traits.
What Is a Striker in Soccer?
Soccer matches are all about scoring goals, and for this purpose, the strikers are the elements in the team responsible for making that a reality. Strikers tend to be the most experienced players on a team, and their ultimate drive is to help their team win by outscoring the opponents. However, in modern times, there have been some modifications to the traditional role of strikers, with the introduction of specialized types like inverted wingers or false nines.
Position of a Striker in Soccer
Traditionally, soccer strikers are also referred to as “number 9s ” due to the digit usually worn on the back of their shirts. Strikers are the most amazing players to watch in a soccer match because everyone is always anticipating a goal score. Nowadays, telling the difference between a forward and a striker can be challenging due to the division of roles. However, if you were to look closely, the traditional striker attributes regarding tactics and attacking play are still there.
Functions of a Striker in Soccer
Modern strikers have a wide array of tasks to accomplish in the field today. They work with other team players to outsmart the opponent in many ways. They lead their team’s effort in scoring goals, taking advanced positions, and preparing themselves to catch the opposing players unaware. Whenever they receive a flawless pass from a teammate and score a goal, that’s when they shine the most. The strikers can also work in the following roles:
- Setting Defensive Set Pieces: During the game, set pieces such as free kicks and corner strikers offer a critical role by countering the centrebacks. Teams often position their centrebacks in the penalty area to receive the ball at the end of a cross. Strikers here can ensure that their team has enough players in the box and is not outnumbered. Thus, the strikers occupy the penalty area because it is the best spot to receive cross passes.
- Marking the Center Defensive Midfielder: If the opposing team has a good game player, strikers acquire the special role of Center Defensive Midfielder (CDM). This is effective when the striker has to stay close to these players with a high ball possession. However, experienced strikers don’t often like this role because it reduces their effectiveness in playing the match offensively.
- Spearheads of the High Press: Here, the striker for soccer matches uses the “build from the back strategy,” in which they play a focal point role for the high press. Hence, they must be willing to tackle defenders when they are on the ball. When a striker wins the ball back in advanced positions, he has a high chance of scoring a goal.
- Goal Contribution: Scoring goals is the main responsibility of a striker. In order to accomplish this task, soccer teams train their strikers extensively. They focus on improving their finishing techniques and striking practices. This requires a lot of mental effort and training to handle the pressure of games and team managers.
- Holds the Ball Up: A striker needs to have a strong core and physics to handle the ball properly. Therefore, a striker who can hold the ball long enough without losing it to the defenders is an invaluable ally for the team. They allow teammates to gain priceless seconds to get into position and buy them time to reset or transition into a new phase of play. This technique assists other forward players to gain a slick transition and recover their formation.
- Game Direct Outlet: Effective strikers are essential for advanced positions on the pitch. Teammates can help by creating direct outlets for the ball. Here, strikers must position themselves well to react to direct passes to their feet, long passes, or over-the-top passes. Playing on the shoulders of the pitch is a great way to achieve this.
5 Best Characteristics of a Soccer Striker
Today, the demands on strikers are arguably greater than ever before. Expectations from them are many if they want to help their teams succeed in the field. Let’s dive into the key attributes needed for soccer strikers.
1. Smart, Calm, and Confident
The best soccer strikers are calm in front of a goal, even in high-pressure moments such as penalties or free kicks. Having a proper mastery of this attribute is essential for their soccer success. Strikers coed soccer programs are available for players in various academies to nurture these attributes in upcoming professional players. Setbacks are common, so if they miss a goal-scoring opportunity, they do not cry over it but rather try to change tactics to improve their game.
2. Great Shooting Ability
Having a strong shooting ability is a crucial requirement for a striker. They must possess good situational awareness since they are constantly under pressure to score goals. A striker must be capable of scoring a low strike inside the box, as well as a powerful strike from a distance or a tap-in from close range. In addition, they are responsible for taking crucial penalties, which tests their shooting skills.
3. Fast Reactions and Anticipation
Having super-fast reaction times is particularly crucial for professional strikers as it enables them to tackle defenders and goalkeepers with precision and skill. Strikers need to process a lot of information simultaneously with minimal time input. They also need to determine how other players on the team react, their formation, and their utilization of the field. Anticipation will help a striker come up with multiple options for better reaction results. Prediction is paramount when it helps a striker sniff out a goal, even if the goal will not make a highlight reel.
4. Excellent Movement
Outsmarting the defenders is a paramount skill that requires a combination of excellent movement and quick reactions. Accuracy is an invaluable skill for strikers to have. They all have to focus not only on scoring a goal but also on making the best unpredictable move combinations. The best strikers in soccer teams also need to avoid being one-dimensional, as this will help make their moves much more challenging to predict by the opposing team.
5. Technical Skills
Nurturing soccer skills is crucial. It’s important to always maintain excellent ball-handling techniques to make every second count and ensure the ball ends up behind the net. This should be a top priority for strikers since opportunities to touch the ball are few and far between and should always be taken advantage of to score. A striker must possess technical skills such as smooth dribbling, precise short and long passes, and impeccable striking techniques.
Top Three All-Time Soccer Strikers
Before we conclude, let’s take some time to examine the extensive heritage of soccer’s most gifted strikers. The game has seen countless players leave a lasting impact, and thus, it’s only fitting we allot some words to the most prominent names that have played in this position.
All-time player number one! A scintillating striker soccer player. He rocked the football world with prowess and mastery like no one else, and at the age of 17, he was a focal point in the 1958 World Cup. By many accounts, Pelé is considered the greatest striker of all time due to his exceptional performance on the field.
He is known as “The original Ronaldo” to distinguish himself from the Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. He is widely regarded as one of the most skilled strikers in the history of soccer, having achieved great success with some of the world’s top clubs, including Barcelona, AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Real Madrid. No one scores better than the original Ronaldo.
3. Robert Lewandowski
A modern and energetic striker. He has ridiculously transcended the scoring rate, where he now embodies the “scoring for fun” phrase. With 41 Bundesliga goals in a single season, that is bespoke! That has led him to snatch the record of Gerd Muller, the former Bayern Munich and Germany striker and European soccer icon.
Throughout this piece, we have acquired significant knowledge about strikers, their jobs, and the exceptional attributes that enable them to score some of the most impressive goals worldwide. Strikers in soccer are required to handle a great deal of stress emanating from their teammates, coaches, and supporters. If they fail to score in a few games, the criticism bestowed on them makes them feel demoralized.
The position of being credited as the main success bringer in a soccer team is often claimed to be the best player position. Not everyone, however, was born to be a striker sensation. But with proper training, time investment, dedication, and talent, you can be the next top world soccer striker!