Central Defence Roles

Aim: to choose player roles and duties in and near central defence that enable you to balance your playing system and implement your tactical style.

Central defence roles and duties are analysed below. This includes all of the roles/duties that are available in the DC playing positions.

The use of roles and duties in other playing positions that move into or near to central defence is also analysed.

Two DCs is usually sufficient if you also use a DL or DR on the flanks but three DCs is advisable if you use a WBL and WBR on the flanks instead.

In particular, three DCs can be useful if you want to balance the use of other more attacking playing positions or roles/duties (such as a WBL and WBR instead of a DL and DR, an extra MC instead of a DMC, and an extra STC instead of an AMC), use a more defensive formation or use the Libero role.

Positional Responsibilities

Try to assign positional responsibilities in central defence by choosing roles and duties such that for:

  • Providing attacking cover – at least two players perform.
  • Providing defensive cover – at least one player performs.
  • Applying defensive pressure – at least one player performs.
  • Playing safe – at least one player performs.

You can also use two Support duty players who contribute to a responsibility as an alternative to one player who performs it. This implements a more fluid aspect to your playing system, with the responsibility concerned being carried out more fluidly, even if your system fluidity elsewhere is more structured. In practice though, this is essentially not relevant in central defence due to the lack of Support duties available.

Providing defensive cover is usually performed by one of the players who provides attacking cover to avoid problems with providing defensive cover in the defensive transition phase. However, it is possible to separate these responsibilities by using two players who perform providing attacking cover but not defensive cover; for example …

  • … 2 Stopper duty DCs, …

… And combining them with another player who performs providing defensive cover but not attacking cover; for example …

  • … Libero (DC Support).

… As long as both players have a higher or versatile focus for providing attacking cover and defensive cover (that is, Defend, Stopper, Cover or Support duties in most cases).

If you are using a formation with three DC playing positions then it can be useful to assign the responsibilities of providing attacking cover, providing defensive cover and applying defensive pressure symmetrically to help to retain spatial compactness effectively. This is done by assigning each responsibility to either the central DC or to both the DCL and the DCR.

Analysis of Performers & Contributors

Roles/duties that can carry out central defence responsibilities are analysed in the tables below.

Explanation of analysis:

  • Natural playing styles – the main playing styles that the role/duty is most suitable for based on the number of tactical instructions given by the role/duty that are suitable for each playing style (but not taking into account forward movement partnerships).
    • Attacking – attacking football.
    • Defensive – defensive football.
    • Direct – direct plays.
    • Short – short plays.
    • Aggressive – aggressive pressing.
    • Cautious – containment.
    • Fairly – most suitable for the stated playing style but only to a small extent so also reasonably suitable for a contrasting playing style.
    • Very – most suitable for the stated playing style to a large extent so not very suitable for a contrasting playing style.
    • Extremely – as for “very” but to an even larger extent.
Role (position duty):Providing attacking cover:Providing defensive cover:Applying defensive pressure:Playing safe:Natural playing styles:Forward movement scores (pen. / sol. / sup.):Overall specialism level:
Central Defender (DC Defend)performs
Specialism: 2 - moderate
performs
Specialism: 0 - very low
performs
Specialism: 0 - very low
performs
Specialism: 1 - fairly low
balanced0.0 / 4.0 / 0.00.75 - fairly low
Central Defender (DC Stopper)performs
Specialism: 2 - moderate
performs
Specialism: 3 - fairly high1
performs
Specialism: 1 - fairly low
balanced0.0 / 4.0 / 0.02.00 - fairly high
Central Defender (DC Cover)performs
Specialism: 2 - moderate
performs
Specialism: 3 - fairly high1
performs
Specialism: 1 - fairly low
balanced0.0 / 4.0 / 0.02.00 - fairly high
Libero (DC Support)contributes
Specialism: 0 - very low
performs
Specialism: 3 - fairly high1
attacking, short0.0 / 3.0 / 1.01.50 - fairly high
Libero (DC Attack)(atypical, vacates area)2
performs
Specialism: 3 - fairly high1
very attacking0.0 / 2.0 / 2.03.25 - extremely high
Ball Playing Defender (DC Defend)performs
Specialism: 2 - moderate
performs
Specialism: 0 - very low
performs
Specialism: 0 - very low
attacking, very short0.0 / 4.0 / 0.01.25 - moderate
Ball Playing Defender (DC Stopper)performs
Specialism: 2 - moderate
performs
Specialism: 3 - fairly high1
attacking, very short0.0 / 4.0 / 0.02.67 - very high
Ball Playing Defender (DC Cover)performs
Specialism: 2 - moderate
performs
Specialism: 3 - fairly high1
attacking, very short0.0 / 4.0 / 0.02.67 - very high
No-Nonsense Centre Back (DC Defend)performs
Specialism: 2 - moderate
performs
Specialism: 0 - very low
performs
Specialism: 0 - very low
performs
Specialism: 4 - very high
defensive, direct0.0 / 4.0 / 0.01.50 - fairly high
No-Nonsense Centre Back (DC Stopper)performs
Specialism: 2 - moderate
performs
Specialism: 3 - fairly high1
performs
Specialism: 4 - very high
defensive, direct0.0 / 4.0 / 0.03.00 - extremely high
No-Nonsense Centre Back (DC Cover)performs
Specialism: 2 - moderate
performs
Specialism: 3 - fairly high1
performs
Specialism: 4 - very high
defensive, direct0.0 / 4.0 / 0.03.00 - extremely high
Half Back (DMC Defend)performs
Specialism: 4 - very high
short0.0 / 3.5 / 0.51.50 - fairly high

Table Footnotes

  1. Consider counterbalance (see full analysis of roles and duties for details).
  2. See full analysis of roles and duties for atypical and vacating instructions.

Individual Analysis of Roles & Duties

Each central defence role/duty is analysed individually below.

Explanation of analysis:

  • Instructions – the tactical instructions given by the role/duty. Most of these instructions are the player instructions that are shown in the game (select the relevant playing position icon and click the Edit/Add button at the top-right of the screen) but for some roles/duties hidden instructions are given (these are written in terms of their related playing methods).
  • Natural playing styles – the main playing styles that the role/duty is most suitable for based on the number of instructions given by the role/duty that are suitable for each playing style (but not taking into account forward movement partnerships, which are detailed separately below).
    • For the purposes of determining appropriate natural playing styles for central defence roles/duties the following instructions may be ignored:
      • Hold Position – may be ignored for the first two central defenders instructed to Hold Position (because two players are typically given this instruction in central defence, and one in central midfield).
      • Dribble Less – may be ignored for the first two central defenders/midfielders instructed to Dribble Less (because two players are typically given this instruction in central defence and central midfield as a whole).
      • Shoot Less Often – may be ignored for central defenders instructed to Hold Position (because their deep positioning makes this instruction essentially irrelevant).
    • Ignored instructions are shown in brackets so that you can work out the natural playing styles if they are included.
  • Specific analysis – any more specific advice related to the player movement instructed by the role/duty and any additional tactical theory analysis specific to the role/duty.
  • Forward movement scores – the role/duty’s contribution scores for the team’s penetration score, solidity score and support score.
  • Forward movement partnerships – useful forward movement partnerships that the role/duty can instruct a player to be a partner in and the type of partner that the player would be. This includes advice on which playing styles (or system fluidity level in some cases) each partnership is most useful for and what type of partner the role/duty should be paired with to create each partnership.
  • Positional responsibilities – the positional responsibilities that the role/duty instructs a player to perform or contribute to, along with the relevant instructions given to the role/duty.
    • Responsibility specialism level – the extent to which the player carries out the responsibility. This is based on his instructions. For higher specialism levels, in some cases, advice is given on how to counterbalance the player with one or two other players who carry out an opposing responsibility.
    • Responsibility focus level – the extent to which the player’s duty corresponds with the responsibility. Defend and Attack duties give a player a mixture of higher and lower focus levels. Support duties give a player versatile focus levels (in most cases). A higher focus level means that the player carries out the responsibility in a more direct way. A lower focus level means that the player carries out the responsibility in a less direct way (and is therefore not necessarily a bad thing). A versatile focus level is a balance between the two and means that the player can carry out responsibilities in a more balanced way and can essentially alternate between a higher focus level and a lower focus level when required.
    • Direct instructions – the instructions given by the role/duty that are directly related to carrying out the responsibility.
    • Indirect instructions – other instructions given by the role/duty that may help with carrying out the responsibility.
    • Atypical instructions – instructions given by the role/duty that may hinder the carrying out of the responsibility.

Further details:

Central Defender (CD)

DC Defend
Central Defender (CD) - DC Defend
InstructionsHold Position, Dribble Less, Shoot Less Often
Natural playing styles
Core
Attacking
Defensive
Balanced
Balanced
Balanced
Defensive football (0): (Hold Position, Dribble Less, Shoot Less Often)
Direct plays (0): (Hold Position)
Short plays (0): (Dribble Less, Shoot Less Often)
Forward movement scores
Penetration
Solidity
Support
0.0
4.0
0.0
Positional responsibilities ...
... in central defence:
Performs / Contributes
Specialism level
Focus level
Providing attacking cover
Performs
Moderate
Higher
Direct instructions: Hold Position
Indirect instructions: Dribble Less
Providing defensive cover
Performs
Very low
Higher
Applying defensive pressure
Performs
Very low
Lower
Playing safe
Performs
Fairly low
Higher
Direct instructions: Dribble Less
Indirect instructions: Hold Position
DC Stopper
Central Defender (CD) - DC Stopper
InstructionsIncrease pressing intensity, Dribble Less, Shoot Less Often
Hidden instructions: Hold Position (but move into a more advanced position to close down)
Natural playing styles
Core
Attacking
Defensive
Balanced
Balanced
Balanced
Defensive football (0): (Hold Position, Dribble Less, Shoot Less Often)
Direct plays (0): (Hold Position)
Short plays (0): (Dribble Less, Shoot Less Often)
Forward movement scores
Penetration
Solidity
Support
0.0
4.0
0.0
Positional responsibilities ...
... in central defence:
Performs / Contributes
Specialism level
Focus level
Providing attacking cover
Performs
Moderate
Higher
Direct instructions: Hold Position
Indirect instructions: Dribble Less
Applying defensive pressure
Performs
Fairly high (consider counterbalance)
Lower
Direct instructions: increase pressing intensity, move into a more advanced position to close down
Can be counterbalanced with: 2 players who provide defensive cover (e.g. 2 Defend duty DCs) or 1 player who does so with a higher specialism (e.g. 1 Cover duty DC or Libero Support)
Playing safe
Performs
Fairly low
Higher
Direct instructions: Dribble Less
Indirect instructions: Hold Position
DC Cover
Central Defender (CD) - DC Cover
InstructionsDecrease pressing intensity, Dribble Less, Shoot Less Often
Hidden instructions: Hold Position (but move into a deeper position to sit off)
Natural playing styles
Core
Attacking
Defensive
Balanced
Balanced
Balanced
Defensive football (0): (Hold Position, Dribble Less, Shoot Less Often)
Direct plays (0): (Hold Position)
Short plays (0): (Dribble Less, Shoot Less Often)
Forward movement scores
Penetration
Solidity
Support
0.0
4.0
0.0
Positional responsibilities ...
... in central defence:
Performs / Contributes
Specialism level
Focus level
Providing attacking cover
Performs
Moderate
Higher
Direct instructions: Hold Position
Indirect instructions: Dribble Less
Providing defensive cover
Performs
Fairly high (consider counterbalance)
Higher
Direct instructions: decrease pressing intensity, move into a deeper position to close down
Can be counterbalanced with: 2 players who apply defensive pressure (e.g. 2 Defend duty DCs) or 1 player who does so with a higher specialism (e.g. 1 Stopper duty DC)
Playing safe
Performs
Fairly low
Higher
Direct instructions: Dribble Less
Indirect instructions: Hold Position

Libero (L)

DC Support
Libero (L) - DC Support
(not available at DCL/DCR)
InstructionsDecrease pressing intensity, Take More Risks
Hidden instructions: move into a deeper position to sit off, use more creative freedom
Natural playing styles
Core
Attacking
Defensive
Attacking
Short
Balanced
Attacking football (2): Take More Risks, use more creative freedom
Short plays (2): Take More Risks, use more creative freedom
Specific analysisTactical theory: central defence countering-playmaker, auxiliary defensive midfield countering-playmaker
Forward movement scores
Penetration
Solidity
Support
0.0
3.0
1.0
Forward movement partnerships ...
... in central midfield:
Partner
High risk direct - useful for defensive football and direct plays
Ancillary partner
Pair with: an attacking partner at DL/DR, DMC/WBL/WBR or MC/ML/MR
Low risk overlapping - useful for attacking football and short plays
Attacking partner
Pair with: an ancillary partner at DMC/WBL/WBR or MC/ML/MR
Balanced interchanging partnership - useful for more fluid playing systems
Interchanging partner
Pair with: another interchanging partner at DL/DR, DMC/WBL/WBR or MC/ML/MR
Positional responsibilities ...
... in central defence:
Performs / Contributes
Specialism level
Focus level
Providing attacking cover
Contributes
Very low
Versatile
Can perform if instructed to Hold Position
Providing defensive cover
Performs
Fairly high (consider counterbalance)
Versatile
Direct instructions: decrease pressing intensity, move into a deeper position to sit off
Can be counterbalanced with: 2 players who apply defensive pressure (e.g. 2 Defend duty DCs) or 1 player who does so with a higher specialism (e.g. 1 Stopper duty DC)
Stretching play (not necessary)
Performs
Very low
Versatile
Creating chances (not necessary)
Performs
Fairly high
Versatile
Direct instructions: Take More Risks, use more creative freedom
... in central midfield (as an auxiliary sitting DMC):
Performs / Contributes
Specialism level
Focus level
Providing attacking cover
Contributes
Fairly low
Versatile
Direct instructions: auxiliary sitting player
Creating chances
Performs
Fairly high
Versatile
Direct instructions: Take More Risks, use more creative freedom
Taking chances (not necessary)
Performs atypically
Very low
Versatile
Atypical instructions: auxiliary sitting player
DC Attack
Libero (L) - DC Attack
(not available at DCL/DCR)
InstructionsDecrease pressing intensity, Get Further Forward, Dribble More, Shoot More Often, Take More Risks
Hidden instructions: move into a deeper position to sit off, use more creative freedom
Natural playing styles
Core
Attacking
Defensive
Very attacking
Mixed
Balanced
Attacking football (4): Dribble More, Shoot More Often, Take More Risks, use more creative freedom
Direct plays (2): Dribble More, Shoot More Often
Short plays (2): Take More Risks, use more creative freedom
Specific analysisTactical theory: central defence countering-playmaker, auxiliary defensive midfield countering-playmaker
Forward movement scores
Penetration
Solidity
Support
0.0
2.0
2.0
Forward movement partnerships ...
... in central midfield:
Partner
Overloading direct - useful for defensive football and direct plays
Overloading partner
Pair with: another overloading partner at DL/DR, DMC/WBL/WBR or MC/ML/MR
High risk overlapping - useful for attacking football and short plays
Attacking partner
Pair with: an ancillary partner at DMC/WBL/WBR or MC/ML/MR
Medium risk overlapping - useful for attacking football and short plays
Attacking partner
Pair with: an ancillary partner at DMC/WBL/WBR or MC/ML/MR
Positional responsibilities ...
... in central defence:
Performs / Contributes
Specialism level
Focus level
Providing defensive cover
Performs atypically but vacates area
Fairly high (consider counterbalance)
Lower
Direct instructions: decrease pressing intensity, move into a deeper position to sit off
Atypical focus level - may not perform effectively due to a lower focus (providing cover as a whole is high importance)
Can be counterbalanced with: 2 players who apply defensive pressure (e.g. 2 Defend duty DCs) (or 1 player who does so with a higher specialism (e.g. 1 Stopper duty DC) - however, this may cause problems with reverse counterbalancing and symmetry)
Stretching play (not necessary)
Performs
Moderate
Higher
Direct instructions: Get Further Forward
Indirect instructions: Dribble More
Creating chances (not necessary)
Performs but vacates area
Very high
Higher
Direct instructions: Dribble More, Take More Risks, use more creative freedom
... in central midfield (as an auxiliary supporting DMC):
Performs / Contributes
Specialism level
Focus level
Stretching play
Performs
Very low
Higher
Indirect instructions: Dribble More
Creating chances
Performs atypically
Very high
Higher
Direct instructions: Dribble More, Take More Risks, use more creative freedom
Atypical instructions: Shoot More Often
Taking chances (not necessary)
Performs
Very high
Higher
Direct instructions: Shoot More Often
Indirect instructions: Dribble More

Ball Playing Defender (BPD)

DC Defend
Ball Playing Defender (BPD) - DC Defend
InstructionsHold Position, slightly increase passing directness, Take More Risks
Hidden instructions: make more dribbles into horizontal channels, use more creative freedom
Natural playing styles
Core
Attacking
Defensive
Attacking
Very short
Balanced
Attacking football (2): Take More Risks, use more creative freedom
Defensive football (0): (Hold Position)
Direct plays (0): (Hold Position)
Short plays (3): Take More Risks, make more dribbles into horizontal channels, use more creative freedom
Specific analysisTactical theory: central defence countering-playmaker
Forward movement scores
Penetration
Solidity
Support
0.0
4.0
0.0
Positional responsibilities ...
... in central defence:
Performs / Contributes
Specialism level
Focus level
Providing attacking cover
Performs
Moderate
Higher
Direct instructions: Hold Position
Providing defensive cover
Performs
Very low
Higher
Applying defensive pressure
Performs
Very low
Lower
Creating chances
Performs
Fairly high
Lower
Direct instructions: slightly increase passing directness, Take More Risks, use more creative freedom
DC Stopper
Ball Playing Defender (BPD) - DC Stopper
InstructionsIncrease pressing intensity, slightly increase passing directness, Take More Risks
Hidden instructions: Hold Position (but move into a more advanced position to close down), make more dribbles into horizontal channels, use more creative freedom
Natural playing styles
Core
Attacking
Defensive
Attacking
Very short
Balanced
Attacking football (2): Take More Risks, use more creative freedom
Defensive football (0): (Hold Position)
Direct plays (0): (Hold Position)
Short plays (3): Take More Risks, make more dribbles into horizontal channels, use more creative freedom
Specific analysisTactical theory: central defence countering-playmaker
Forward movement scores
Penetration
Solidity
Support
0.0
4.0
0.0
Positional responsibilities ...
... in central defence:
Performs / Contributes
Specialism level
Focus level
Providing attacking cover
Performs
Moderate
Higher
Direct instructions: Hold Position
Applying defensive pressure
Performs
Fairly high (consider counterbalance)
Lower
Direct instructions: increase pressing intensity, move into a more advanced position to close down
Can be counterbalanced with: 2 players who provide defensive cover (e.g. 2 Defend duty DCs) or 1 player who does so with a higher specialism (e.g. 1 Cover duty DC or Libero Support)
Creating chances
Performs
Fairly high
Lower
Direct instructions: slightly increase passing directness, Take More Risks, use more creative freedom
DC Cover
Ball Playing Defender (BPD) - DC Cover
InstructionsDecrease pressing intensity, slightly increase passing directness, Take More Risks
Hidden instructions: Hold Position (but move into a deeper position to sit off), make more dribbles into horizontal channels, use more creative freedom
Natural playing styles
Core
Attacking
Defensive
Attacking
Very short
Balanced
Attacking football (2): Take More Risks, use more creative freedom
Defensive football (0): (Hold Position)
Direct plays (0): (Hold Position)
Short plays (3): Take More Risks, make more dribbles into horizontal channels, use more creative freedom
Specific analysisTactical theory: central defence countering-playmaker
Forward movement scores
Penetration
Solidity
Support
0.0
4.0
0.0
Positional responsibilities ...
... in central defence:
Performs / Contributes
Specialism level
Focus level
Providing attacking cover
Performs
Moderate
Higher
Direct instructions: Hold Position
Providing defensive cover
Performs
Fairly high (consider counterbalance)
Higher
Direct instructions: decrease pressing intensity, move into a deeper position to close down
Can be counterbalanced with: 2 players who apply defensive pressure (e.g. 2 Defend duty DCs) or 1 player who does so with a higher specialism (e.g. 1 Stopper duty DC)
Creating chances
Performs
Fairly high
Lower
Direct instructions: slightly increase passing directness, Take More Risks, use more creative freedom

No-Nonsense Centre-Back (NCB)

DC Defend
No-Nonsense Centre-Back (NCB) - DC Defend
InstructionsHold Position, increase passing directness, Dribble Less, Shoot Less Often, Take Fewer Risks
Hidden instructions: use more tactical discipline
Natural playing styles
Core
Attacking
Defensive
Defensive
Direct
Balanced
Defensive football (2): Take Fewer Risks, use more tactical discipline, (Hold Position, Dribble Less, Shoot Less Often)
Direct plays (2): Take Fewer Risks, use more tactical discipline, (Hold Position)
Short plays (0): (Dribble Less, Shoot Less Often)
Forward movement scores
Penetration
Solidity
Support
0.0
4.0
0.0
Positional responsibilities ...
... in central defence:
Performs / Contributes
Specialism level
Focus level
Providing attacking cover
Performs
Moderate
Higher
Direct instructions: Hold Position
Indirect instructions: Dribble Less
Providing defensive cover
Performs
Very low
Higher
Applying defensive pressure
Performs
Very low
Lower
Playing safe
Performs
Very high
Higher
Direct instructions: Dribble Less, Take Fewer Risks combined with increase passing directness, use more tactical discipline
Indirect instructions: Hold Position
DC Stopper
No-Nonsense Centre-Back (NCB) - DC Stopper
InstructionsIncrease pressing intensity, increase passing directness, Dribble Less, Shoot Less Often, Take Fewer Risks
Hidden instructions: Hold Position (but move into a more advanced position to close down), use more tactical discipline
Natural playing styles
Core
Attacking
Defensive
Defensive
Direct
Balanced
Defensive football (2): Take Fewer Risks, use more tactical discipline, (Hold Position, Dribble Less, Shoot Less Often)
Direct plays (2): Take Fewer Risks, use more tactical discipline, (Hold Position)
Short plays (0): (Dribble Less, Shoot Less Often)
Forward movement scores
Penetration
Solidity
Support
0.0
4.0
0.0
Positional responsibilities ...
... in central defence:
Performs / Contributes
Specialism level
Focus level
Providing attacking cover
Performs
Moderate
Higher
Direct instructions: Hold Position
Indirect instructions: Dribble Less
Applying defensive pressure
Performs
Fairly high (consider counterbalance)
Lower
Direct instructions: increase pressing intensity, move into a more advanced position to close down
Can be counterbalanced with: 2 players who provide defensive cover (e.g. 2 Defend duty DCs) or 1 player who does so with a higher specialism (e.g. 1 Cover duty DC or Libero Support)
Playing safe
Performs
Very high
Higher
Direct instructions: Dribble Less, Take Fewer Risks combined with increase passing directness, use more tactical discipline
Indirect instructions: Hold Position
DC Cover
No-Nonsense Centre-Back (NCB) - DC Cover
InstructionsDecrease pressing intensity, increase passing directness, Dribble Less, Shoot Less Often, Take Fewer Risks
Hidden instructions: Hold Position (but move into a deeper position to sit off), use more tactical discipline
Natural playing styles
Core
Attacking
Defensive
Defensive
Direct
Balanced
Defensive football (2): Take Fewer Risks, use more tactical discipline, (Hold Position, Dribble Less, Shoot Less Often)
Direct plays (2): Take Fewer Risks, use more tactical discipline, (Hold Position)
Short plays (0): (Dribble Less, Shoot Less Often)
Forward movement scores
Penetration
Solidity
Support
0.0
4.0
0.0
Positional responsibilities ...
... in central defence:
Performs / Contributes
Specialism level
Focus level
Providing attacking cover
Performs
Moderate
Higher
Direct instructions: Hold Position
Indirect instructions: Dribble Less
Providing defensive cover
Performs
Fairly high (consider counterbalance)
Higher
Direct instructions: decrease pressing intensity, move into a deeper position to close down
Can be counterbalanced with: 2 players who apply defensive pressure (e.g. 2 Defend duty DCs) or 1 player who does so with a higher specialism (e.g. 1 Stopper duty DC)
Playing safe
Performs
Very high
Higher
Direct instructions: Dribble Less, Take Fewer Risks combined with increase passing directness, use more tactical discipline
Indirect instructions: Hold Position