Comparing the Roles of Cavani, Falcao, Lewandowski, Ibrahimovic and Suarez

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterApril 17, 2013

Comparing the Roles of Cavani, Falcao, Lewandowski, Ibrahimovic and Suarez

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    In modern football, no striker is exactly the same.

    We used to have just two key roles: target man and poacher. They'd work as a tandem and play off of one another, using size and speed to their respective advantages.

    Now we have well-rounded strikers that can do everything, or hybrid forms that take on most of the jobs that fall their way. It's led to teams utilising only one striker most of the time, making that man's job much harder than before.

    Here, we look at some of the top strikers in Europe and break down their individual roles.

Radamel Falcao

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    Radamel Falcao is the best pure striker in world football.

    His manager, Diego Simeone, is aware that his finishing ability inside the box is second to none—be it with his head or his feet—and looks to maximise his freshness in that area.

    As such, Falcao does almost nothing in every other part of the pitch. Simeone has stated in television interviews that he actively tells his Colombian star to avoid vigorous pressing, while the striker contributes lightly to buildup play and passing.

    Atletico Madrid play in a more vertical manner, leaving only a few players capable of racking up the pass totals. 

Edinson Cavani

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    It's easy to put Edinson Cavani and Radamel Falcao in the same basket, but there are differences in their games.

    Cavani, a lone striker for Napoli, isn't strictly required to put the work rate in but does so for his side. His strengths as a goal poacher and 18-yard finisher are beyond superb, but he's also shown himself capable of dropping deep.

    Walter Mazzarri makes some curious formation switches in an attempt to get the better of his opposition, leaving Cavani dropping very far into the midfield and running with the ball or even playing from the left.

    He's a far more complete player than many give him credit for. 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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    "To Zlatan"—to dominate on and off the field (Swedish dictionary).

    And dominate he does. As an incredibly well-rounded player, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has all the tools to do, quite literally, whatever he so pleases.

    Using him as a pure target man for his immense size is a waste, and Ibra often drops in and creates, firing inch-perfect passes over the top of defences or linking with his wingers.

    He often looks like he was born as an oversized No. 10, and Sweden's coaches over the years have tried him in the playmaker position. 

Luis Suarez

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    Luis Suarez has the most diverse role of the five we compare here.

    The Uruguayan is everywhere, drifting wide of centre when playing up front and drifting inward when playing off the touchline.

    His dribbling prowess enable him to maneuver outrageous positions, while his ability to do the unexpected constantly flummoxes defenders. He's a good ball-player, and the only thing he lacks is natural height.

    In terms of quickness and ingenuity, he's unrivaled in the English Premier League. 

Robert Lewandowski

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    Despite standing at just 6'0", Robert Lewandowski has one of the safest chests you can deliver the ball to in world football.

    Physically, he is superb—he has the pace to run the channels, aerial prowess to beat defenders and strength to hold the ball up. We spoke earlier of the striker that can do everything, and Lewy is a prime example.

    His side, Borussia Dortmund, struggle badly in moving the ball forward without him in the lineup even with the skill players they have in midfield.

    Lewandowski takes on an even heavier role carrying the Polish national team.