Winger vs Striker

Winger vs Striker – What’s The Difference?

Wingers (WF) and Strikers (ST) are the most popular positions in football. When a football match is on, they are usually the talisman of the game.

What are these 2 positions, and how are they different?

Here’s what you need to know:

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The difference between a Winger (WF) and a Stiker (ST)

A Striker is a player who leads his team in attack and shoulders the responsibility of goalscoring. He is usually at the receiving end of passes and finishes goalscoring opportunities

On the other hand, the winger plays out wide and mainly attacks from the wide area. His primary function is to provide and finish goalscoring opportunities for the team.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of these 2 positions:

Position on the field

Both of these players are forward in the attack. However, there are noticeable variations between them:

A ST is positioned around the penalty box

They are usually the focal point of his team’s attack. Strikers are positioned in the centre, where they roam in and around the box to pounce on chances. 

A WF is positioned on the wings

Although the WF is an essential aspect of the attack, he is not the focal point of the team’s attack. Instead, wingers play out wide on either the left or right flank. 

However, they move in and around the box to provide chances for the team and also score goals.

Common numbers associated with these positions

In the past, squad numbers were used to indicate players’ positions. However, the rules are more flexible now, allowing on-field players to wear any number.

Pure strikers are usually associated with the iconic number 9 shirt. However, Wingers usually wear the number 11 and the number 7.

Role

Both of these positions have very well-defined roles:

An ST is the primary attacker of the team

As the focal point of the team’s attack, the striker’s main responsibility is to score goals. He is usually on the end of chances created by his teammates to get the goal

A WF is incredibly important to the team’s attack

Although WFs are not the main goalscorers of their team, they are expected to capitalise on their chances and score as many goals as possible. 

Their task on the pitch also includes creating chances, helping buildup play, and stretching the opposition defence wide.

Traits required for these 2 roles

Here are some traits that these 2 positions should possess:

A ST should be a competent and reliable goalscorer

The striker is the primary attacker of the team, and as such, he must be competent enough to capitalise on the chances created by his teammates. Goals win games, and the striker is crucial to the outcome of his team’s efforts.

Thus, a ST must embody the right qualities to finish chances and help his team win. Likewise, as a striker, you must display the right attributes to validate your teammates’ efforts since they all count on you. 

Lethal Finishing Ability

Being the striker means you will be on the end of multiple chances. Therefore, a striker must be lethal in these situations and score goals for the team.

This means that the striker must be sharp and make correct decisions on the fly. Strikers have an arsenal of techniques they employ in finishing chances, and all good strikers must apply them appropriately. These include:

  • Chip-shot
  • Curler shot
  • Power shot, etc.

A striker can improve his finishing skills and learn how to apply them in games through continuous practice.   

Good Heading Ability

A ST is expected to be a good header of the ball as many teams create their chances by swinging in crosses from the wide areas. Therefore, the skill to head the ball well could prove crucial in such situations.

Many important goals have come from set-pieces and outfield crosses. In situations like these, the striker must use his heading abilities to make the best of it.

Headers are also used in winning high balls. When the ball is launched long, the striker must be able to use his excellent header skills to retain possession for his team.

Off-the-ball Movements

 Strikers must be as fluid as the game. The ST leads the attack and should not remain rigid even when he does not have the ball.

The Striker must move consistently to take advantage of spaces between and behind the opposition defence. Movement like these helps free up space for his teammates and creates an opening for him to score.

Great Awareness and Timing

The Striker must be highly aware of the team’s play. It is crucial to maintain awareness as a dip in concentration could foil the team’s efforts. High awareness helps the striker make the right moves at the right time.

The skill of timing and awareness also proves crucial in the case of the offside trap. As a striker in such a situation, you should be aware of the opposition’s defensive shape and move at the right time to beat the offside trap.

Strength, Stamina and Pace

Being the primary attacker, Strikers are usually up against two or more defenders. The confrontations with these defenders can get rigorous. Thus, the striker must possess enough strength to avoid getting outmuscled.

Although STs do not require much speed, the striker must be quick enough to get on the end of balls from his teammates. This also requires them to have great stamina as they must work hard to get on the end of as many chances as possible.

Good Dribbling Ability

A striker is not usually a great dribbler as they stay high up the pitch. However, a striker must be skilful enough to dribble through opponents when necessary.

A WF is dangerous in attack

In comparison to an ST, WFs shoulder less of the goalscoring responsibilities. However, they must provide much needed threat from wide areas that help ensure the team’s success in creating and finishing chances. 

In essence, wingers are a massive pillar of the team’s attack. Hence, they are meant to be technically gifted and proficient in the final third.

The winger’s task is no soft work. As a good winger, you should be good at scoring goals, creating chances, dribbling, progressing the ball, opening space, and even pressing.

A WF should be a good dribbler

Wingers always receive balls in wide areas and will have to cut into the box to create chances for the team. Thus, a good winger should possess excellent dribbling skills to evade the opposition’s press and get into good positions to create chances.

A WF must be a good passer

As a good winger, you must have great passing abilities. A winger is expected to help the team’s attack by delivering crosses and cut-backs to their teammates in the box

Wingers usually make use of several passes, including:

  • Though balls
  • Long balls
  • Cut-backs
  • One-twos
  • Crosses, etc., to supplement the attacking threat. 

They may also implement long passes to switch wings and start counterattacks when necessary.

A WF must be pacy

Wingers are typically fast for quick buildups in attack and beat their opponents in ball duels. This quality also helps them outpace the opposing defence when on the counterattack. 

As a good winger, you must be quick enough to exploit the space in opposition defence and rapidly get into dangerous positions. 

A WF must be sharp and aware

As a good winger, you must always be aware and insightful enough to recognize suitable spaces in the opposition defence. This allows for dangerous runs that create goalscoring opportunities.

A WF must have great positioning and timing

Wingers must also possess the ability to be in the right place at the right time to create good chances for the team. As a winger, you should be proficient at timing your decisions in terms of passes and runs.

A WF should be a good goalscorer

The modern game has seen wingers embody the total attacking threat and even shoulder the burden of goalscoring just like strikers did in the earlier stages. Therefore, most great wingers nowadays are very proficient goal scorers and tremendously help their teams. As such, the WFs must possess excellent finishing to score goals. 

The type of wingers that embody these qualities are inverted wingers. Inverted positioning places right-footed players on the left wing and left-footed players on the right wing

This positioning allows them to cut in on their stronger foot to shoot at goal or even deliver crosses to their teammates.

Famous examples

There are many famous examples for each of these 2 positions: 

Strikers

These are some of the top STs in football:

#1 Robert Lewandoski

The Polish talisman is one of the best strikers of his generation. Lewandoski has proven his abilities across all levels. He is a legend with both club and country and has undoubtedly cemented his name among the football greats.

Along with his immense contributions to Poland, his fantastic tally of over 500 goals has come from memorable moments with the German giants: Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. 

Lewandoski is widely regarded as the best in the world and has won many accolades for his tremendous efforts.

#2 Luis Suarez

The Uruguayan striker is another footballer who has remained at the top level for very long. His exploits for club and country have garnered a great reputation in the hearts of football lovers.

Suarez has played and made a significant impact at several clubs, including:

  • Nacional
  • Ajax
  • Liverpool
  • Barcelona
  • Atletico Madrid

As the National team’s record goalscorer, he is also one of Uruguay’s immortals. With over 500 goals and multiple accolades to his name, Luis Suarez is a true legend of the game. 

#3 Erling Haaland

Haaland is widely regarded as one of the best young players in the world. The Norwegian striker has impressed since he entered the limelight at RB Salzburg

He is notable for his impressive pace, worrisome strength and devastating finishing abilities.

Since then, he has moved to Borussia Dortmund and reached over 100 career goals. The Golden Boy’s journey is glamorous in every way, and he is one of the players touted for a great future

Wingers

There are many talented wingers in the world, some of which are:

#1 Cristiano Ronaldo

The Portuguese is widely regarded as the greatest player of all time. Ronaldo has remained one of the world’s best since his emergence at Sporting in 2003. Since then, he has achieved many incredible feats at the best clubs in the world.

Notable in his prime for fantastic dribbling skills, incredible goalscoring abilities and several iconic moments, Ronaldo has remained at the top of his game for a long time

Over his brilliant career, Ronaldo has accrued several incredible records, including:

  • All-time highest goalscorer in football history
  • Highest International football and Portugal NT goalscorer 
  • Highest Real Madrid goalscorer 
  • Highest Champions League goalscorer
  • Most Champions League trophies(5)
  • Five Ballon d’Ors

You can find out how the Ballon d’Or differs from FIFA’s Best Player here.

#2 Kylian Mbappe

Mbappe has been the poster boy of France since he stepped on the world stage in 2018, he is widely regarded as one of the best youngsters ever to play the game.

His playstyle is a combination of incredible pace, creativity and goalscoring abilities. 

Mbappe has won several accolades in his short career and will surely win many more. The Frenchman has become one of the best players in the world.

#3 Mohammed Salah

Another tremendous player, Salah, is regarded as one of the best players of the past decade. Ever since he emerged at Fiorentina, he has blossomed at every turn and achieved great things.

Salah‘s major accolades are with Liverpool and his country, Egypt. His deadly playstyle has a direct combination of pace, dribbling and finishing to provide a great asset for every team he plays for. 

Conclusion

Here is a quick comparison between these 2 positions:

Striker (ST)Wingers
PositionIn the middle of the
attack, inside the box.
Out wide on the
attacking flanks
Common Numbers97 and 11
RoleActs as the focal
point of attack.
The primary goalscorers
of the team.
Creates chances and scores goals.
Heavily involved in the buildup of
the team’s attack as a constant threat
Skills RequiredLethal Finishing
Strength
Good Heading
Great movement
Chance creation
Great passing
Good goalscoring
Pace and dribbling
Famous ExamplesRobert Lewandoski
Luis Suarez
Erling Halaand
Cristiano Ronaldo
Kylian Mbappe
Mohammed Salah

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