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Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2022-08-19 14:42:26
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Centre-half, the first axis of the team, the player aimed at supporting the attack, sides of the field and, mainly, the defense. With the introduction of the 2-3-5 system, the centre-half was born, and so were its transformations and many variations. From the most tactical style to the most dynamic; from the most technical to the most crude; from the most defensive to the most offensive, centre-half was marked in several ways that even today, through the defensive midfielder, comparisons between styles can be noted. For instance, Leopold Hofmann and current defensive midfielder of F.C Barcelona, Sérgio Busquets — being the more defensively positioned Barcelona player than Hofmann was.
In the beginning, the centre-half was geared towards the defense, with emphasis on players who kicked balls directly into the attack; whether the offensive line belonged to the Scottish style or Kick and rush style. Consequently, centre-halves were born with much more offensive styles, being several times considered a sixth forward — Hans Kalb, for example —, but with his basic point always being the defensive system. Over the years, quick and ground passes were introduced in the half-back line, so the Scottish-style centre-halves were born: more technical and scientific.
The 2-3-5 of the stabilized pyramid was a template for other variations that would eventually happen in the future. In this particular style, the centre-half not only plays a defensive role, but it also coordinates and launches forward advances. This style was specifically linked to a more open and much less defensive game than its future variations.
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In this more technical and tactical style, players like, for example, Dr. György Sárosi, Leopold Hofmann, Karel Pešek-Káďa. In the case of Czech, as has been mentioned several times, he was, alongside Václav Pilát, the important axis of the A.C. Sparta, with Praha's team attacks turning on Káďa. On the other hand, in this same formation, there were more dynamic players, but still with a lot of skill, such as, for example, Josef Smistik, Luis Monti — this one before acting as centro metodista — and James Cowan.
Even after the Second World War, this centre-half position still continued for many years in action in some territories, until it lost position to adverse acceptances, therefore with teams finally switching systems.
Following variations on the centre-half, the Italian system featured a different centre-half than the old standard poramid system. The centre-half was positioned further back than usual, therefore performing a more defensive role than the old system. In such a way, many confused the centre-half and even asked Vittorio Pozzo if players like Luis Monti or Michele Andreolo were centre-halves or a kind of third full-back. However, the Italian coach always replied that Andreolo, for example, was a centre-half.
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Even being a centre-half position with more defensive characteristics, nothing prevented the axis from going forward and scoring its goals. Dynamism, marking, vigor and a more physical game were main characteristics of this style. Perhaps the club that most represented this style was F.C. Juventus. This style of centre-half was used mainly in Italy, although other nations eventually used this formula. In Italy this system was gradually losing ground to the defensive formation in 'M'.
This centre-half style was a more direct response to the offside rule change. Already at that time, it was more common for the centre-half to have a more defensive role. However, with an entirely new tactical idea of the 2-3-5, the centre-half turned completely into a full-back, more precisely called the centre-half stopper, a third back, a style of centre-half characterized specifically to not let the centre-forward have more space. This style spread throughout Europe, mainly in Western Europe. Early on, this style of system was greatly underestimated and touted as a fearful and cowardly tactic by many who supported the more offensive game. However, it ended up taking up space – and a lot – all over the world. Of the teams that used this system the most, Arsenal F.C. was the one that stood out the most.
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This style, over the years, has become common throughout the world. The third defender was adopted, giving more security to the defensive system.