What is a Defensive Midfielder in soccer?

Hey, soccer fans! In this article by fcscout.com, we will talk about a position in soccer that might not get as much attention as other positions – the defensive midfielder. You might have heard the term before, but do you know what a defensive midfielder does and why they are important? Let’s dive into it!

What is a defensive midfielder

The Role of a Defensive Midfielder

So, what exactly is a defensive midfielder? Well, as the name suggests, they play in the midfield position, but their primary role is to defend. They are responsible for stopping the opposing team’s attacks and breaking up their plays. This is different from other midfielders who are more focused on creating and scoring goals.

To become a defensive midfielder, you need to have specific skills and attributes. You need to be physically strong and have good stamina to cover a lot of ground. You also need to have good tackling skills and be able to read the game well. Some defensive midfielders also have good passing and vision, which they use to start counterattacks or set up their teammates for goals. Below is a list of some of the most talented defensive midfielders in soccer history:

  1. Sergio Busquets
  2. N’Golo Kante
  3. Fernandinho
  4. Casemiro
  5. Fabinho
  6. Joshua Kimmich
  7. Thomas Partey
  8. Wilfred Ndidi
  9. Allan
  10. Marcelo Brozovic
  11. Declan Rice
  12. Rodri
  13. Jorginho
  14. Lorenzo Pellegrini
  15. Franck Kessie
  16. Boubakary Soumare
  17. Leandro Paredes
  18. Ruben Neves
  19. Marcelo Saracchi

There are different types of defensive midfielders, depending on their playing style. Some are more aggressive and physical, while others are more focused on positioning and interceptions. The role of a defensive midfielder can also vary depending on the team’s playing style and the manager’s tactics.

Marcelo Brozovic Defensive Midfielder

How Defensive Midfielders Function in a Soccer Team

So, how do defensive midfielders function in a soccer team? Well, their primary role is to stop the opposing team’s attacks and break up their plays. They do this by intercepting passes, making tackles, and providing cover for the defense. However, defensive midfielders also have offensive duties. They are responsible for starting counterattacks and linking up with the team’s attacking players.

Successful teams often use defensive midfielders effectively in their tactics. One example is the Barcelona team during their golden era, with Sergio Busquets as their defensive midfielder. Busquets was responsible for breaking up the opposition’s play and starting Barcelona’s attacks. Another example is N’Golo Kante of Chelsea, who was crucial in their Premier League title win in 2017.

Becoming a Defensive Midfielder

If you’re interested in becoming a defensive midfielder, there are several things you can do to develop the necessary skills. Here are some tips:

  1. Work on your physical attributes: As a defensive midfielder, you need to be physically strong and have good stamina. Focus on building your strength, endurance, and agility through exercises like weight training, cardio, and agility drills.
  2. Improve your tackling skills: Tackling is a crucial skill for a defensive midfielder. Work on your timing, technique, and positioning to make effective tackles.
  3. Develop your passing and vision: While defensive midfielders are primarily focused on defending, they also need to be able to start counterattacks and link up with their attacking players. Practice your passing and vision to be able to make quick and accurate passes.
  4. Understand tactics: To be an effective defensive midfielder, you need to have a good understanding of tactics and how they apply to your position. Study the game and your team’s tactics to be able to make the right decisions on the pitch.
  5. Mental attributes: Being a defensive midfielder requires mental attributes such as focus, determination, and resilience. Work on developing these traits to be able to perform at your best on the pitch.

There are also many drills and exercises that can help improve your skills as a defensive midfielder. These include tackling drills, passing drills, and position-specific exercises. Additionally, playing in small-sided games can help you develop your decision-making skills and ability to read the game.

Allan Marques Defensive Midfielder


In conclusion, defensive midfielders play a crucial role in soccer by stopping the opposing team’s attacks and breaking up their plays. To become a defensive midfielder, you need to have specific skills and attributes, including physical strength, tackling ability, passing and vision, and a good understanding of tactics. With hard work and dedication, aspiring soccer players can develop the necessary skills to become effective defensive midfielders. So, if you’re interested in the position, keep practicing and working on your skills – who knows, you could be the next great defensive midfielder in soccer!


Explore more professional clubs by continent.