A center-half, sometimes known as a ‘central defender’ protects the area immediately in front of the goal and tries to stop opposing teams from scoring. This is accomplished by blocking shots, tackling, intercepting passes, contesting headers, and marking forwards to deter the opposition side from passing to them.

Most teams play with two center-halves but some formations can require three, for example, the 5-3-2. Man-to-man marking and zonal defense are the two main defensive tactics that a center-half can be used in.

What is required to play as a center-half?

For a player to play in this position, it is common that they are strong, tall, and have good heading ability, using this to clear crosses from wingers. However, in modern soccer, depending on the quality of squad or formation played, a center-half can be required to help the midfielders keep possession or make long, precise passes to the attacking players.

Another requirement is the ability to tackle, as the center-half is at the heart of the defense, it is essential they can successfully tackle and not risk giving away a free-kick or penalty kick.

It is common in Soccer for the center-half to go forward into the opposition’s penalty area for set pieces, usually corners. Using their height and heading ability they try to help their team score a goal.