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Aniket Srivastava

Explaining the Role of a CDM
Aniket Srivastava
May 18, 2015 15:20

A CDM or a central defensive midfielder can very well be described as the heart of the game, their role is generally underappreciated and they have to work tirelessly all around the pitch. They are usually neglected in today’s game but are as important as any star player as they help add a certain level of balance to the team. While everyone looks at Ronaldo’s tricks, Messi’s Dribbling, Ibra’s finishing, and numerous players’ crosses, It’s the defensive midfielders who work throughout the game to provide support to the defence as well as help the offence if need be. The important factor that most people ignore is that without the defensive midfielder, most teams fail to perform in the long run.

Here are a few types of defensive midfielders:-

1. Defensive Midfielder

- Their main job is to break the oppositions play. Rely mainly on ability to read the game as well as good tackling. They are generally strong in nature. However, it is not necessary as a CDM with a smaller stature can be combative as well.

- Eg: Xabi Alonso (strong CDM, good passing ability & great tactical awareness)

- Javier Mascherano (smaller CDM, combative in nature, great at last minute tackling)


2. Holding Midfielder

- These arehighly technical defensive midfielders; their primary job is of the offensive nature. They have the luxury and willingness to roam a little farther up the pitch. They are capable of performing defensively as well even though they may not be able to play as physical as a classic defensive midfielder.These midfielders mainly ‘hold’ their position in front of the defence while tactically making key interceptions so as to nullify opposition threats. Their main strength is anticipation and even though they may not be good tacklers, they get the job done by putting pressure on the attacking players.

Eg: Andrea Pirlo. He is also known as the architect because of the aforementioned reasons.




3. Hybrid(Volante)

The term ‘volante’ is a term from the Brazilian football terminology which is used to describe a player who not helps the defence but also act in a manner by which they control the flow of the game in the offence. In fact the word ‘volante’ literally translates as ‘steering wheel’. These Midfielders receive the ball from the defence after which they set up the play by passing it to the players ahead. They are both physical and the technical by nature, but do not necessarily possess the physical attributes as a Defensive Midfielder. This is why they can both be categorized as a defensive midfielder or a holding midfielder. The holding midfielder can affect the game by going ahead, well into the oppositions half unlike the Volante who like to stay a little more towards the defensive side while making ample space ahead of them.

Eg:- Barcelona’s Most Under Rated CDM, Sergio Busquets is the prime example of this type of midfielder. He can tirelessly perform his defensive duties while being able to push forward if need be. Claude Makalele was less technical but was could set up the play very well. Michael Carrick is much less physical but can provide his team much more technically as well as through his passing. Makelele is a defensive midfielder type Volante, while Carrick is the Holding midfielder type voalnte.




Here are a few attributes of a good CDM:-

  • -Tackling (strong, accurate, with both feet). They need to win the ball from their opponents as early as they can.
  • -Help in providing cover by tracking back to support the Defenders.
  • -Ability to communicate with the attack and the defence.
  • -Stamina (they need to constantly run and put pressure on their rivals when they don’t have the ball). They also have to support the attack as they build the game play and carry the ball from their own half to the oppositions’ half.
  • -Their Ability to read the game is constantly tested as they have to try to break the opposition’s game in the midfield itself. They need to fill the gaps in the midfield.
  • -Good Heading, Vision, Long Passing and Ball control are some key attributes.
  • -Strength, Speed, Agility, Balance, Composure and Long shots are all additional traits and aren’t necessary but they would help a CDM more lethal.
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