The game of soccer is arguably the most popular sport game in the world today. It is played on the World level: the FIFA World Cup, Continental levels: Copa America, Gold Cup, European Championship, African Cup of Nations, Nations Cup and Asian Cup in South America, North America, Europe, Africa, Oceania and Asia respectively. It is in fact known that in the 21st century, the game of soccer was played by 250 million players in more than 200 countries. Around the world, there are also many countries with flourishing football leagues where different soccer players ply their trade. The earliest history of the soccer game points to China during the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC. Early modern soccer started in England in the 18th century.
The official association responsible for the administration and rules governing the game is FIFA: International Federation of Association Football. The game of football/soccer is played on a rectangular ground of grass measuring hundred yards in length and sixty yards in width, with a goal on each opposite sides of the field. The purpose of the game is putting the ball in the opposite goal. A soccer ball is usually made of leather and pig’s bladder to ensure quality and better resistance.
Soccer is played by two teams comprising eleven players each. In a team, there are ten players and a goalkeeper who mans the goal. Like all other sport games, soccer is technical. All players on the field are mandated to play different roles in kicking the ball around, maintaining good and accurate passes and most importantly scoring goals against the opposing team. A coach and technical assistant are hired to oversee and manage the affairs of a soccer team. Since soccer is a team sport, a soccer team must work together on the field of play to achieve the desired results. While the importance of other players in a team cannot be underestimated, the attackers also referred to as strikers play a very important role in the success of a team. A soccer team attacker is expected to have distinct talents among which are pace, ability to dribble, accurate ball passing, and an eye for goal. A team depends heavily on the attacker to score goals they need to defeat their opponents.
It is important to note that attackers are different from each other as talents, skills and abilities are all unique to various attackers. While some rely on pace and witty dribble to bring down the defense of the opponent and score goals, the others may rely on aerial expertise and accurate shots on goal to do the same. Usually, a coach parades two different attackers on a field of play. In a 4-4-2 formation for instance, there are four defenders, four midfielders and two attackers in that order. The aim of this is to technically shatter the defense of the opposite team with the expertise of the two attacking players. In a situation where just one attacker is played, the bulk of the goal scoring job weighs the player down which makes the opponent able to read and dictate the game. Soccer game attackers are potential game changers. In a soccer game, when the chips are down, the coach relies on the attackers to score the goals and lift the team out of misery. Since soccer is all about scoring more goals to defeat the opponent, and the onus lies on the attackers to score such goals, their importance is underlined.
There have been cases when coaches tried to experiment with their teams by leaving out attackers. The results have not been very good. Although it worked on a few occasions, such teams had to go an extra mile to get the goals. This emphasizes the need for attackers in a soccer game. A close observation of attackers playing around the world reveals that to every attacker there is a unique style of play. While some of them thrive on ego and overconfidence, others are simplistic and tidy. Obvious examples are Niklas Bendtner, who plays for Juventus Football Club in Italy, and Lionel Messi, who plays for Barcelona Football Club in Spain. While Bendtner prides himself on being the best striker in the world with little or no class to show for it, Messi has won accolades for his wonderful goal scoring abilities on the soccer pitch. It is also worthy to note that attackers are not only responsible for goal scoring, they also drop back to their own half to defend onslaughts from opponents in the course of a game.
There are differences in the styles of various attackers. While some play from the left flank of the pitch, and some from the right, others are comfortable playing centrally, usually dropping to link up with other teammates, who are normally the midfielders. Another quality peculiar to attackers in soccer is strength. It can be safely said that no matter how much accuracy and finesse an attacker has, without strength, it does not amount to much. This is because the opposing team on normal conditions delegates two players as marksmen to an attacker. The attacker therefore needs as much strength as possible to be able to out-muscle these marksmen and keep the ball safely in possession. This is not to say attackers do the job alone, connections can be created directly from the defense to the attack through long balls. This technique was effectively used by Chelsea Football Club of England under the management of Coach Jose Mourinho. Long balls, which were meant to locate the then attacker Didier Drogba, were played from the heart of the Chelsea defense to the penalty areas of the opposing team. Drogba who led the attack picked up these balls and with deft touches and amazing strength usually converted them to goals. Other football managers and attackers have tried to copy this style but have achieved little or no success simply because of not being able to find the balance.
In a typical soccer match, the searchlight is mostly beamed on the attackers. They work hard, try to keep the hope alive in moments of despair, and act as shining examples to the other team-mates, the reason why in most teams the captaincy goes to the attacker. The soccer game has witnessed great strikers in the history of soccer. The world renowned Pele of Brazil, Diego Maradona of Argentina, Eusebio of Portugal, and Marco van Basten of Holland all played as attackers in their active days.
Soccer has become an enterprise. With many transfer deals involving tens of millions of dollars, young people all over the world dream and aspire to play in a big club someday. There is no doubt about the entertainment soccer brings to people all over the world. Around 200 million people worldwide were reported to have watched the Euro 2012 final match. Viewers sit behind their TV screens to be entertained by the skills and amazing talents of their most favorite attackers in the world.
Currently, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the leading soccer attackers in Europe. As the world has come to accept soccer as a sport and with millions of talents yet unnoticed, there are certainly exceptional attackers in the near or distant future that will play to entertain the viewing public worldwide in years to come.