The wing position in soccer is one that is highly strategic and requires a lot of field awareness and a winger is a player who can cut in from the left or right side of the field.
They are the players who are tasked with providing width and attacking from the flanks. They are essentially the outside players.
The importance of width cannot be stressed enough. In a soccer match, wingers ensure that the field is kept as wide as possible. This ensures that the opposing team has to cover as much distance as possible.
An attacking team can easily stretch the opposition as well as lay off passes to the attacking players. It is important to understand the role of the winger in order to understand how they can help your side.
In this article, we will try to explain what a winger is, their responsibilities, how to play as a winger, and a few examples of their roles in different formations.
READ: What Does A Defender Do In Soccer?
What is a Winger?
A winger is a player who plays on the left or right side of the field. It is the position where a player is an outside midfielder. They often cut inside to receive the ball, but they are also expected to dribble and pass the ball out wide.
The outside midfielder can often be found on the wings because they are the players who can provide width. They rotate the area of the field where the attack is moving.
This allows other players to move into space and create new opportunities for scoring. A good outside midfielder is one of the most important players on the pitch. A team can achieve great things with an effective outside midfielder.
How to Play as a Winger
There are many aspects of being a winger that every player should understand. The most important aspect of a winger is knowing where to be on the field.
A winger should be positioned outside of the center of the field. This allows the winger to constantly keep their outside open.
When a pass comes inside, it is the winger’s job to immediately try to bring the ball back outside. This allows the team to have a new attacking option.
If the pass comes inside, the winger is expected to immediately look to try to bring the ball outside themselves. There are many different aspects of being a winger that must be understood.
READ: The 9 Best Soccer Formations
We’ve seen some effective wingers in the game over the years whose abilities on the ball meet the requirements explained above. Some of them are very good with the ball on the feet, can dribble, and are very fast and sometimes prolific.
We’ve seen the likes of Sadio Mane of Liverpool, Junior Vinicius of Real Madrid, Angel Di Maria, and Christian Pulisic of Chelsea, amongst others.
The Roles of a Winger on the Pitch
1. Stretch the opposition and provide width
The most important task for a winger is to provide width for the team. This is why they are positioned on the flanks. It is important for them to make sure that no matter where a pass comes from, there is a wide-open area for it to reach the other side of the field.
2. Provide penetration from the flanks
Wingers should also help their team in penetrating the opposition’s defense. This is done by cutting inside and creating havoc.
If the team is attacking down the wings, the winger should be looking to cross the ball to try to penetrate the opposition’s defense.
It is important for the winger to penetrate the defense, as this is something that can often result in a goal. A winger should also know when to pass or cross or make an attempt on a goal when they see space.
3. They may be required to act as wingbacks
A winger could also be deployed as a wingback based on the formation in place by the manager of a team. Here the winger is assigned to primarily defend and attack from the flanks. Here, the winger prioritizes defense over the attack.
READ: What is the meaning of a Clean Sheet in Soccer?
Features That A Winger Should Have?
There is a common misconception amongst soccer fans that a winger must not be physically imposing unlike other positions on the pitch but this is not the case. It is all down to the player’s abilities on the ball, not his physical appearance.
We’ve seen some wingers that were physically imposing and impressed during their time in the position. The likes of Marco Reus, David Alaba, although primarily a full-back, Wilfried Zaha, Yannick Bolasie, Milos Krasic, and Cristiano Ronaldo, amongst others, are some of the physically imposing players that excelled when deployed from the wings.
A winner just has to be good on the ball with his feet, possess decent control of the ball, be fast, know how to dribble, and be creative, Being prolific is an added advantage for a winger.
Examples of the Winger Role in Different Formations
The 4-3-3 formation is a formation that is often used by football teams. The wingers are expected to provide width on the wings. They are also expected to bring the ball down the wings and pass it to the forwards.
The 4-2-3-1 formation is another formation that is often used in football. It is often used by teams that play with two defensive midfielders. This allows the winger more freedom.
The aforementioned formations are very popular formations where the presence of a winger as well as the role is of utmost importance. It doesn’t mean that they are the only formations where the role of a winger can be useful.
Other formations such as 3-4-3, 4-4-2, and 4-5-1, amongst others, also allow for the presence of a winger. Wingers bear the brunt of creativity in a team. They do most of the work of creation and it comes as no surprise when they emerge tops in the list of most assist makers in a team.
As mentioned earlier, a winger that wants to stand out must be very positionally aware, know when it is ideal to shoot, pass, or cross, and also know how to score goals when the chances arise.
READ: 15 Best Soccer Movies To Watch In 2023
The wing position in soccer is one that is highly strategic and requires a lot of field awareness. A winger is a player who plays on the flanks and can cut in from the left or right side of the field.
The most important task for a winger is to provide width for the team. They should also help their team in penetrating the opposition’s defense and occasionally track back to help their defense when their team is under attack.
A winger should also know when to pass or cross the ball, and make an attempt on a goal when they see space. A winger could also be deployed as a wingback based on the formation in place by a team.