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What Do Forwards Do in Football (Soccer)?

Nigel is a Football (Soccer) fan since his childhood days. He also plays football as a Left-Back and is a long time fan of Liverpool Fc.

Strikers of world football, (from left), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sergio Aguero, Robert Lewandowski, Harry Kane and Edinson Cavani.

Strikers of world football, (from left), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sergio Aguero, Robert Lewandowski, Harry Kane and Edinson Cavani.

What's a forward? & What do they do?

To put it in simple terms, a forward are players on the football (soccer) field that play the closest to the opponent's goal. They are responsible for scoring goals on behalf of their team. Considering they are the closest to the opponent's goal, forwards are expected to score more goals than their teammates on other positions. These days, forwards can be deployed as tactical players, such as the false 9, which are "dummy forwards" where they lure the defenders away in order to let a winger/another striker make a run into a goal scoring position.

Luis Suarez during his time with Liverpool Fc

Luis Suarez during his time with Liverpool Fc

How to be a great forward player?

1) Train your finishing skills

Firstly, to score a goal, you must go through the goalkeeper and in order to go through the goalkeeper, you must work on targeting the areas in goal where a goalie isn't able to reach, for instance, the top corner. Besides accuracy, shot power plays an important role in scoring too.

2) Practice to be cool under pressure

Many of the great forwards in the world have the ability to keep cool in the situation they're in with opposing defenders. Indeed, being a forward is a high-pressure position, however, when you're cool and stay calm, you can score goals with no issues.

3) Be unpredictable with your movements

When you have quick reactions and/or accurate finishing skills, you can be a deadly forward as the defenders do not know where you will be going next. Keep the opposing players guessing your next move. Some of the ways is to, sprint behind the defenders or create a deep link-up play.

Cristiano Ronaldo in action against Bayer Leverkusen in the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League group stages.

Cristiano Ronaldo in action against Bayer Leverkusen in the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League group stages.

4) Train your physical build

Most forwards have a pretty decent muscle build or strength or pace. Some forwards have all and some have at least one of the attribute. This is to move the opposing defenders away from you when you hold the ball or to get away from the opposing defenders during a goal scoring opportunity, thus, giving the player some clear air towards the goal.

5) Play for the team

Sometimes, the forwards have to sacrifice for the team. In some scenarios, forwards may not hold the ball for long because another player may have a better goal scoring opportunity and you must pass to them. Playing as a team makes you a great forward too, it isn't always goals but team work wins the game.

Learn some of the striker skills with infinity football skills

Forwards (in red) in a 4-3-3 formation.

Forwards (in red) in a 4-3-3 formation.

The different types of forward positions

Center-forward

The traditional position for a forward, usually dubbed the "traditional number 9" position and the role of this position is to score the goals on behalf of the team. Besides scoring goals, this position requires the player to win passes, receive long balls or passes and retain possession of the ball. Also, to provide passes for other teammates or retain possession until one can score the goal.

Striker

The role of a striker is similar to the center-forward as both positions up-front requires the player to score goals. However, strikers are required to have pace and quickness to get away from the opposing defenders or to run into blind spots to receive the ball in a goal-scoring positions. Some notable strikers include, Michael Owen and Sergio Aguero.

Second Striker

This position is more of a tactical position where the player can play as a dummy striker (similar to false 9) or a target man. This position is known as the "number 10" position where the player needs to be good in his/her dribbling ability, passing and link-up play with the striker. A second striker has more freedom to roam as they do not need to stick in one area of the field. Some notable second strikers include, Michel Platini (Juventus) and Wayne Rooney (Manchester United & DC United).

Inside Forward

Inside forwards may not be seen often today as the position was popular in the late nineteenth century to early twentieth century. Inside forwards play as support to the strikers. This position was used in the 2-3-5 formations of traditional football (soccer) where they play slightly behind the main strikers. This role is known as a "second striker" role today.

Outside Forward

Similar to the inside forward position an outside forward was popular in the same time frame as the inside forward where they players make runs to the front and find a passing opportunity to the center-forward to score a goal. These days, the position is known as a winger.

An example of where inside forwards and wingers (outside forwards) play in the past.

Inside forwards (now second strikers) and wingers (previously outside forwards) in a traditional 3-2-5 formation.

Inside forwards (now second strikers) and wingers (previously outside forwards) in a traditional 3-2-5 formation.

Wingers

Wingers are the modern day version of the outside strikers, they play on the wide sides of the fields near the boundary lines. Wingers are commonly used in the 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 formations. A winger's duty is to beat the opposing full-backs and cut into the penalty box or create crossing chances to find the center-forward for a goal. Wingers are usually the quickest players on the field.

False 9

A False 9 is the modern term for a second striker, however, these days, they are important for a team as opposed to the traditional striker position. In today's game, false 9s creates problems for center-backs by luring them into marking the forwards so that wide midfielders (eg, wingers) can make a run into a goal scoring position. One example of a false 9 player is Roberto Firmino of Liverpool Fc.

Target forwards

There is a term for this forward position, which is, "target man". This forward position is catered to the players who have the ability to win balls on air in order to score goals or create chances for other team-mates to score. These players are usually tall and physically strong. Some good examples of these players are, Peter Crouch (England) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden).

The two most prolific "target forwards" in the sport

(Left) Zlatan Ibrahimovic and (Right) Peter Crouch. Both tall and strong.

(Left) Zlatan Ibrahimovic and (Right) Peter Crouch. Both tall and strong.

Some notable strike teams in the world

Strike partnerships is when two or more strikers who work together in a team. In the history of football (soccer), there are many teams that have the honor to house these star strikers in their team, helping their team win trophies, these strike partnerships include:

- The Fab Four (Liverpool Fc in 2018) consisting of Roberto Firmino, Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho who all together have 47 goals for a single UEFA Champions League season.

- MSN (Barcelona 2015-16) consisting of Lionel Messi (M), Luis Suarez (S), Neymar (N) where the trio has scored 131 goals in the 2015-16 La Liga season.

- SAS (Liverpool Fc in 2013-14) consisting of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge in the 2013-14 Premier League season where the two nearly won Liverpool Fc the league title that season.

© 2020 Nigel Koay Talks Football