Box to box in football

Focus on another midfielder profile: The box-to-box .

A term from English meaning “From zone to zone”, the box-to-box is a player with a hybrid profile, neither strictly defensive nor strictly offensive. He must be present when recovering the ball but also be able to pierce the opposing lines to bring up the block. The box-to-box work is therefore spread over both surfaces, hence the importance for players in this position to be complete, both defensively and offensively, but also above average at the level. athletic, including strong endurance and an ability to resist enemy contact.

There is no shortage of modern references to this position, particularly in English football with legends such as Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Paul Scholes. On the French side, we can of course cite N'golo Kanté, considered by many to be one of the best box-to-box players of his generation, notably thanks to his enormous volume of play and his ability to multiply runs over 90 minutes. .

We can distinguish several profiles among box-to-box players. Yaya Touré and Blaise Matuidi for example, are two box-to-box players, but with very different characteristics. Blaise Matuidi is a tireless recoverer, not very skilful in front of the opposing goal, while Yaya Touré, when he was a starter in the Manchester City team, had technical ease and great precision in front of goal, but lacked stamina and of speed.

Blaise Matuidi is also the example that the box-to-box profile is no longer only associated with the midfielder position. Indeed, the French international was used in a left winger position in the knockout matches of the 2018 World Cup. Through this repositioning, Didier Deschamps wanted to free Antoine Griezmann from his defensive work, allowing Paul Pogba to play higher on the pitch in the offensive phase, but also to annihilate potential opposing counter-attacks thanks to the volume of play of the native of Toulouse. This configuration, although criticized for its aesthetics, proved that it was extremely effective and capable of bringing a second star to the French team. Yet another reason to explain the soaring prices for box-to-box players on the transfer market.

In 2023, young midfielder Jamal Musiala has established himself as one of the best box-to-box players in the world. At just 20 years old, he has already impressed fans and football pundits with his dazzling performances for Bayern Munich and the German national team. Boasting exceptional technique, remarkable game vision and extraordinary agility, Musiala has the ability to win the ball and advance it quickly with elegant dribbling and precise passing. He is also capable of scoring important goals thanks to his striking power and his ability to find spaces in opposing defenses. With his versatility and ability to play in different positions on the pitch, Jamal Musiala is undoubtedly one of the most promising players in world football, and his potential continues to impress.

In summary, here are the main characteristics of Box to Box:

  • Endurance : Box to Box players must be in excellent physical condition as they run long distances for the duration of the match, going from one penalty area to another.
  • Versatility : They must be able to defend by recovering balls and contribute to the attack by creating scoring chances or scoring themselves.
  • Technical and Tactical Abilities : These midfielders must have good technical skills to control the ball, pass, and shoot. They also need to understand the game to know when to go on offense and when to stay back to defend.
  • Game Vision : The ability to read the game is crucial for a Box to Box player, as he must constantly evaluate when to support the offense and when to assist on defense.

Curious to find out more about football-specific roles? Browse through our articles for a deep dive into each position:

  • Libero - The tactical goalkeeper behind the defensive line, orchestrating the play.
  • Box-to-Box environment - The embodiment of endurance and versatility.
  • Regista - The conductor from midfield.
  • Carrilero - The full-back providing balance between defense and attack.
  • Mezzala - The artist of half-spaces.
  • Trequartista / Enganche - The creative intermediary between the midfield and the attack.
  • Inverted winger - Uses his strong foot to penetrate and threaten the goal.
  • Fake New - The attacker who deceives the defense with his movement.