An attacker in football is the most exciting position in the game and have produced the best players in football of all time. An attacker is known for their speed, dribbling and most importantly finishing. This article will be focused predominantly on the two types of attackers: wingers and strikers. Currently, the two best players of all time in football play as attackers with up and coming talent on the rise as well.
What makes a good Attacker?
A players finishing is most obviously the main attribute that impacts the quality of a striker. It is needed along with the likes of composure so that in a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper, you have the best chance to put the ball in the back of the net. Another factor that will help a players finishing is anticipation. This involves a player’s ability to predict and react to events going on around them, meaning that for example if a ball ricochets of a player’s boot, good anticipation could help the striker get on the end of the ball.
This two-goal finishing drill is a great way for players to practice shooting from middle to long range. Its an easy drill to set-up, you can implement lots of different variations and can include lots of players, however, this drill does need two full size football nets.
- The two goals need to be placed 20-30 meters apart, but this can be varied depending on what distance you want your players to be shooting from. Place a line of cones on either side of each goal as pictured above. Have players form even lines at a post of each goal diagonally across from each other. All players need soccer balls for this drill.
- The first player from each line dribbles down towards their opposite goal, cuts inside, and takes a shot. After shooting, the players switch lines. The player at the start of the line should start dribbling as soon as the player in front of them makes it to the fourth cone. This ensures that players get the maximum possible number of repetitions shooting while performing this drill in the shortest amount of time.
Dribbling is an attribute needed by an attacker, especially wingers whose main job is the skip past a player. Lionel Messi has most definitely the best dribbling of all time and in some of his goals he gets past 4, 5, 6 or even 7 players in some cases which gives him the opportunity to shoot. Dribbling is also a factor that makes you stand out from others and so having good dribbling is one of the easiest ways as an attacker to attract interest from scouts and football teams.
Some players achieve successful dribbles with lots of tricky skills like Neymar or Newcastle Saint-Maximin, this is known as indirect dribbling with lots of quick changes of direction. The other type of dribbling is direct dribbling which involves pace and power with not much changes of direction. The most notorious for this is Gareth Bale who uses is power to scream down the line with the ball.
The best way to improve your dribbling is individually and there are different drills you can do;
This is a really simple drill and you only need cones and a ball. This will improve your small touch dribbling and your agility with the ball and the 1st variation of this involves your sprinting with the ball from one cone to the other before turning around the outside of the cone with the ball, doing this as tight to the ball as possible. You can go clockwise round the cones and then alternate to anti-clockwise, also making sure you are using both feet.
This next drill is the most effective out of the lot. You need 7-8 cones, place them in a straight line about half a metre apart from one another. You then weave through cones using different parts of your foot. Firstly, I would recommend using only the outside of your boots/foot as you go through each cone, then you can change to the outside of your boot. This video, we have found to be really successful, as there are 32 different variations in how you can go through the cones, in developing a player’s dribbling.
This drill not only focuses on dribbling, but on team movement. You need to set up a square around 30X50 metres and have team with 6 players on against a team with 4 players, with each one goalkeeper each. You then number each player 1-6 in the 1st team; do not do the same to the second team. When possession is started with the team with 6 players, the first player on the ball is number 1, he/she then has to attempt to dribble to person number 2 and then then number 2 has to dribble with the ball until they reach number 3. Meanwhile, the team of 4 players has to be communicating and closing down the players with a press and every time they win the ball back they get a point, whereas every time the team with possession makes all 6 dribbles, they get a point.
This attribute is necessary only for a wide attacker, as out and out strikers very rarely have to cross the ball. The percentage of goals scored from crosses in the modern game is very high as teams more and more are looking to play expansively on attack, so they create overloads in wide areas allowing them to cross the ball; and on the other hand teams look to play wide defensively more often which means there is more space in the box for attackers. Winger often get to the by-line where they can dink a ball into the danger area or pull the ball back across the box on the floor. Sometimes wingers may be ordered to cross the ball from a deeper area, about half-way into the opposition half where they will whip the ball with pace into the box.
- This crossing drill is good as it helps both a player’s crossing, and you can get your strikers involved to help their finishing. You need a full-sized goal, a goalkeeper, a large supply of balls. One player starts in the middle of the pitch about half-way into the opposition half with one other attacker stood perpendicular to the right near the touchline. The player on the ball should be a striker and the player out wide should be a winger. 2 other players who are both defenders should stand on the edge of the box when the drill begins. Once the ball is played wide to the winger one defender goes wide to close down the winger and the other has to mark the striker. The player who receives the ball wide should attempt to cross the ball to the striker in the box.
This attribute links well with the one above as strikers will be expected meet wingers’ crosses with their heads and score. Even if you are not the tallest, you could still have a very important aerial threat which has been proved by Sergio Aguero who has 18 headed premier league goals despite being only 5ft 8 inches.
There are a few different types of headers that strikers can use to score. Firstly, the downwards header which is used as a powerful attempt towards the ground which makes it very hard for the goalkeeper to get down to and judge where the ball is going. There is also a looping header which dips up and then down with it predominantly being used to put the ball in the top corner of the net. Then finally there is the bullet header which is used as a player is running onto the end of a cross and is then met with a powerful header.
The Best Attackers | Messi and Ronaldo
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo over the last decade have been far out in front of any other players as the best in the world and a perceived as the two best players ever. Lionel Messi, a one club man has played 731 games for Barcelona with an additional 130 or so for the Argentinian national side scoring a total of 704 goals and has tallied 298 assists. He started his career as an inverted winger, however, in the recent years, he has progressed into a narrower role, almost as a striker.
Cristiano Ronaldo has played a total of 1014 games for club and country after starting his career with Portuguese side, Sporting Lisbon, before he moved to Manchester United where he scored 84 league goals in an 6 year period. When he joined Real Madrid, he netted 451 times in 438 games. He is now at Juventus and has scored 52 times so far.
In this modern day of football, it’s unfortunate that the biggest attributes looked at for, in an attacker, are power, pace, strength. And any other reasonable physical aspects which means staying in pristine condition is a big aspect needed to attract interest from other clubs.