Midfielder vs Striker (Football) – What’s The Difference?

Midfielder and Striker are two positions with connected roles. The former is the chance maker in the game while the latter is the finisher.

How different are these two positions? Check out what you need to know below:

The Difference between a Midfielder and a Striker

A midfielder is the mind of the team with various roles. No wonder the team’s starting lineup always includes more than one midfielder. They serve as a link between the backline and the frontline.

Meanwhile, a striker is the one leading the line upfront. His task is simpler, to score goals or at least to provide assists. Yet, he can be the one who makes the difference between winning or losing.

Here’s the detailed breakdown of these two positions:

Position on the Field

The midfielders’ and strikers’ positions are different. Midfielders tend to have more variations than the latter.

Midfielders cover the area outside the penalty box

Midfielders are crucial to the team’s game plan. They cover the second line on the pitch. Their tasks include winning the ball and building up the attack.

Strikers cover the area inside the penalty box

Strikers tend to stay upfront. They roam around the opposition’s penalty box. In modern football, they would need to be involved in the swift transition between attack and defence.

Common numbers associated with these positions

In the past, the squad numbers tended to be stricter with the players’ positions. Yet, the rules have been more flexible. It would let any on-field players wear any numbers they like.

The midfielders consist of four positions. There are defensive midfielders (number 6), central midfielders (number 8), attacking midfielders (number 10) and midfielders left or right (number 7 or 11). Yet, strikers have always been using the number 9.

Both left and right midfielders con be considered as wide midfielders, and you can find out how they differ from a winger here.


When it comes to the roles of these two positions, it can be quite a contrast:

Midfielders are the team’s mind

The midfield players have always had the toughest task with their wide range of tasks. The defensive midfielders (CDM) often function as stoppers. They have to win the ball or intercept the opposition’s attack.

The central midfielder players (CM) are the ones who start the attacking build-up. They can also attempt to score and create chances from the second line.

You can find out more about the differences between chances created and key passes here.

Attacking midfielders (CAM) focus more on the attack. He is in charge of penetrating into the opponent’s six-yard box to make assists or score when necessary. AMC is like a second striker and can transform into the ‘false nine’, or striker-like midfielder.

You can find out how a CAM differs from a striker here.

Last but not least, the wide midfielders (LM or RM) cover a wide area on the left or right side. They are responsible for delivering crosses and passes to the frontman.

Strikers are the team’s weapon

As the leading figure upfront, strikers should be able to score from any position. The team relies on them to make the difference by converting the chances into goals.

Traits required for these 2 Roles

Each position has the ideal traits of its own, which can be different from each other.

The best Midfielders are Versatile and Intelligent

Considering the midfielder’s various tasks, the best traits for them are versatility and intelligence. Whether you play as CDM, CAM, CM or LM and RM, you are bound to be good at defending as well as setting up an attack.

The defensive skills include winning the ball, pressing the opponents, and tackling. Meanwhile, ball control and passing are vital in leading the attacking transition.

Intelligence is another quality midfielders should have. They have to be able to read the game. They should know how the opposition defends and attacks, find the space to exploit and so on.

Football intelligence skills include ball control, creativity, and composure to handle pressure. The last one is also important because it can change the course of the game when the team is under attack.

The best strikers are quick and lethal

As the main men upfront, strikers need to be quick and lethal, once they have the chance. Strikers must decide when to chip the ball, shoot from long range, dribble, or round the goalie.

To be quick in the final third, the front men must be agile and mobile in the six-yard box. Such needs great natural fitness and stamina. They should be good at off-the-ball movement and dribbling too.

Strikers should have good positioning, heading and determination to be lethal. Having physical prowess is important to engage in aerial duels with the defenders.

Famous Examples

Here are the famous examples for each position:


#1 NGolo Kante

The French midfielder rose to prominence when he was Leicester City’s key man in winning Premier League 2016. He has helped Chelsea win more trophies since joining there in 2016/17 season. Kante was a key figure in helping Les Blues finish second in EURO 2016 and win their second World Cup title in 2018.

Kante exemplifies the ideal defensive midfielder. He is well-known for his work rate and excels at tackling. The former Caen man is also good at pressing and anticipating the opposition’s attack.

#2 Xavi Hernandez

The current Barcelona boss was once the best midfielder in the world. He was a key figure in Barcelona and Spain and won numerous accolades for his club and country, including four Champions League titles, two EUROs and World Cup 2010.

Xavi was a versatile and creative midfielder centre as he could play as CAM. He excelled at dictating the play due to his great vision in the game. His remarkable dribbling, passing and powerful long shots were his best traits too.

You can find out how the World Cup differs from the Euros here.


#1 Erling Haaland

There is no more feared striker in the world today than the new Manchester City forward. Despite not winning many trophies yet, Haaland has scored more than 170 goals in his career so far.

The Norwegian international masters almost all skills a forward needs. He excels at heading, positioning, acceleration and off-the-ball movement. Besides, the former Dortmund man has exceptional stamina, pace and clinical finish.

#2 Ronaldo Luiz

The Brazilian Ronaldo was one of the most prolific strikers in the world. Unlike CR7 who played as a winger before, he was always the dangerous frontman in the penalty box. He won plenty of major titles for big clubs and his country, including World Cup 2002.

Il Phenomenon was famous for his outstanding dribble, pace and clinical finish. Before his terrible injury, he relied more on his flair, acceleration and ball control. In his later years, the former Barcelona, Inter, Real Madrid and AC Milan played more direct by counting on his positioning, effective technique.


Here is a brief comparison between these two positions:

Position Outside the penalty boxInside the penalty box
Common Numbers6,8,10, or 7 and 119
RoleHeavily involved in defence, attacking
build-up and create chances.
Scoring and assisting
Skills Required Tackling, ball control, passing, long shotsClinical finishing, positioning, heading
Famous ExamplesNGolo Kante
Xavi Hernandez
Erling Haaland
Ronaldo Luiz Nazario

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