SS vs CF

Second Striker (SS) vs Centre Forward (CF) – What’s The Difference?

Last updated on April 22nd, 2022

You may have encountered the terms Centre Forward (CF) and Second Striker (SS) before when watching football. Or maybe, you may have seen these terms when you’re playing PES.

What are these 2 positions and how are they different?

Here’s what you need to know:

The difference between CF and SS

A Centre Forward (CF) is usually the most advanced player in the team, where he is responsible for scoring the goals for the team. Meanwhile, a Second Striker (SS) plays slightly behind the CF, and his main job is to support the attack by dropping deeper.

Here is a further explanation of these 2 roles in football:

Position on the field

Both of these positions usually occupy the central area of the pitch. Both the CF and SS will play highest up the pitch, usually in a 4-4-2 formation.

CF and SS Positions

CF is the most advanced player

The centre forward is usually the furthest forward on the pitch. They usually play around the penalty box and do not drop deep.

As such, they will be the main goalscorer of the team, and will be looking for every opportunity to score a goal.

However, it is also possible for defenders and goalkeepers to score goals too.

SS plays slightly deeper than the CF

Meanwhile, the SS plays slightly deeper than the CF, where he may help with the buildup, instead of waiting at the goal.

Second strikers may be referred to as deep-lying forwards as well.

Common numbers associated with these positions

In the past, squad numbers were used to indicate the player’s positions. The rules are more flexible now, which allow on-field players to wear any number that they can choose.

For centre forwards (CF), they are usually associated with the number 9 shirt. However, second strikers usually do not have a fixed number.


Both of these positions have very well-defined roles:

The centre forward is the focus of the team’s attack

The centre forward is the focal point of the team’s attack, where almost every attack will go through him. He will usually be the player that the flanks will cross the ball to, or he will be around the penalty box to poach any rebounded shots or goalkeeper saves.

The second striker drops deeper to move up the play

Meanwhile, the second striker’s role is to support the attacking play for the team, and he may not necessarily be the one who’s scoring the goals.

Usually, he may drop slightly deeper to help with the buildup play. However, he may also roam around the penalty box to draw defenders away from the centre forward.

In this way, a second striker is different from a centre attacking midfielder (CAM), which mainly operates in the centre of the pitch.


Here are some of the skills that both positions would need:

A centre forward is physically strong and has strong finishing

A centre forward needs to be physically strong, so that he can have a presence in the penalty box. He will need the strength to outmuscle any defender that gets in his way, and get into a good position to score.

Having good strength will allow him to hold up the play if needed, so that it can buy time for his teammates to run into space to receive the pass from the CF.

Moreover, a centre forward has to be clinical. Goal scoring opportunities don’t come often, and a striker has to make use of every chance he gets. As such, his shooting technique has to be excellent.

Being comfortable with using both feet to score would be a bonus too!

A second striker is more skilfull

Second strikers are usually more technically gifted compared to the centre forwards. This is because they will need to dribble their way out of tight spots to make space for the centre forward.

They will need to have good positional awareness too, so that they know how to make the correct runs to draw defenders away from the centre forward.

Notable Examples

Here are some notable examples of players who played as a centre forward and a second striker.

CF #1: Olivier Giroud

Olivier Giroud has all of the technical abilities of a centre forward. He is physically strong, which allows him to have a huge presence in the penalty box.

Furthermore, his finishing skills are one of the best, where he has scored plenty of amazing goals.

CF #2: Andy Carroll

Andy Carroll is another player who would come to your mind for being a perfect centre forward. Similar to Giroud, he has the physical strength as well as the shooting skills to be the perfect target man.

It is a pity that his career was filled with injuries, as he would have certainly been a feared striker to play against!

CF #3: Romelu Lukaku

Similar to Giroud and Carroll, Romelu Lukaku has the perfect combination of strength and clinical finishing.

Now, here are some notable examples of a second striker:

SS #1: Antoine Griezmann

Antoine Griezmann played as a second striker at Atletico Madrid when they play in a 4-4-2 formation.

He had a few striking partners, such as Mario Mandzukic or Fernando Torres.

SS #2: Lautaro Martinez

During the 2019/20 and 2020/21 Serie A seasons, the striking partnership of both Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku was feared throughout both Italy and Europe.

In the 2019/20 season, they both combined to score a total of 55 goals!

While Lukaku was the centre forward, Martinez played slightly backwards as the second striker.

SS #3: Dennis Bergkamp

One of the greatest legends to play the game was Dennis Bergkamp, who scored 87 goals and 94 assists in 315 games in the Premier League.


Here is a quick summary between these 2 positions:

Centre ForwardSecond Striker
PositionFurthest forwardSlightly deeper
RoleThe focal point of
the team’s attack
Drops slightly deeper to
help with the buildup
Skills requiredPhysical strength

Clinical finishing
Better dribbler

Good positional awareness
Famous examplesOlivier Giroud
Andy Carroll
Romelu Lukaku
Antoine Griezmann
Lautaro Martinez
Dennis Bergkamp

Both of these positions are crucial in helping their team score goals!

If you would like to find out how a striker is different from a centre forward (CF), you can check out this guide here.

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