The Role of the Central Defensive Midfielder: Protecting the Defense and Starting Attacks

As a central defensive midfielder, your primary objective is to protect the team’s defense by disrupting opposition attacks and regaining possession of the ball. You may also be responsible for distributing the ball to your teammates and helping to build up attacks. Some specific responsibilities of a central defensive midfielder might include:


  • Providing cover for the center-backs and shielding the defense
  • Winning the ball through tackles, interceptions, and other defensive actions
  • Distributing the ball effectively to initiate attacks
  • Supporting the team’s attacking players and helping to create scoring opportunities


  • Having to cover a lot of ground defensively and stay focused for the entire game
  • The risk of picking up yellow or red cards for aggressive tackles or fouls
  • The need to have strong physical and technical skills, as well as good game intelligence and decision-making ability

Below are some players notable in this position and should be considered great examples and can be analysis through video.

Sergio Busquets with FC Barcelona
  • Sergio Busquets: Busquets is a Spanish player who has spent most of his career with FC Barcelona, and is known for his defensive abilities and ball-winning skills. He has won numerous titles with Barcelona, including the Champions League and multiple domestic league titles.

  • N’Golo Kante: Kante is a French player who has played for a number of top clubs, including Leicester City, and currently playing with Chelsea FC. He is known for his tireless work rate and ability to disrupt opposition attacks. He has won the Premier League and the World Cup with France.

  • Casemiro: Casemiro is a Brazilian player who plays for Manchester United and the Brazilian national team. He is known for his defensive skills, ball-winning ability, and passing range. He has won multiple Champions League titles with Real Madrid.

The formation in which a central defensive midfielder plays can have an impact on their responsibilities and the overall shape of the team. For example, in a 4-3-3 formation, the central defensive midfielder may be part of a midfield three, with one player sitting deeper to protect the defense and two more advanced players supporting the attack. In a 4-2-3-1 formation, the central defensive midfielder may be part of a double pivot with another central midfielder, with the two players working together to defend and distribute the ball.