How to Play Striker
Playing striker successfully requires you to be a powerful aerial threat as well as a difficult player to dispossess. Strikers are central forwards that act as a target, holding the ball up to allow the rest of the team time to push further up the pitch. Usually big and strong, strikers differ from forwards in that they try to out muscle central defenders instead of using quickness and finesse. Often teams will play with a big striker and a smaller forward underneath, forcing the opposition to deal with both player types. Strikers are usually the furthest player up the field, marking up against center backs. Didier Drogba epitomizes the striker, being tall and strong while Lionel Messi is an example of a classic forward. Strikers are most often utilized with teams that rely on crossing and set pieces to score. If a striker can constantly get on the end of balls in the penalty area they can be the most dangerous scoring threat in football.
On offense strikers have to stay much more centrally than the free flowing movement of a winger or forward. Since they are the target, collecting balls from midfield and defense they have to be very good playing with their back to goal. Having a great touch, and being able to shield the ball well from defenders is a skill set that every striker should have. If a striker can overpower the opposing center backs, other players can often find gaps and through runs behind the strikers position. Strikers have to be team players content with taking harsh tackles and abuse while creating chances for teammates. On set pieces strikers have to be a dominant force in the air. If a striker can freely win balls because of their size or jumping ability, headed goals will be their primary method of scoring. Timing runs properly for crosses and corners while also having the composure to get the attempt on target signifies an expert striker. Ideally a striker will play like a center back playing at forward. Physicality and brute force can cause problems in any defense and it is the strikers job to be the teams enforcer. Coordinating attacks with attacking midfielders and forwards is required, since an isolated striker create much of a threat. While a forward should constantly be dribbling and taking players on strikers rely on passing and aerial finishing to influence the game.
On defense strikers usually stay at the half, ready to shut down either center back if they get the ball. Since strikers are usually too big to be fast balls played to their feet or chest are most effective. Since they need to be in an advanced position to hold up the ball during attack they rarely drop back when on defense. Strikers are some of the best players on the field at heading the ball so on set pieces strikers can often come back and play in a position very similar to center backs. An effective striker will have their biggest defensive impact on corners, and they are often given a lot of defensive responsibility during those times. Sometimes when a team is attempting to seal out a win strikers will occasionally come back to help out at center back forming a back five. While this only happens during extraordinary circumstances, it works since center backs and strikers have similar body types and skill sets. If used properly strikers can prevent set piece goals conceded while greatly increasing a squads set piece tallies.
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