Saturday, 20 Apr 2024

The Resurgence of the Second Striker: A Tactical Revelation

second striker

Second Striker roles are making a belated, albeit strong reemergence in the tactics notebooks of managers from the top football leagues. If it is true that football tactics are cyclical, then perhaps it’s high time we reembrace the potential of this attacking player.

But just what is a Second Striker, why is the Football Manager franchise excited about it, and which of your favourite managers are using this role at the moment?

What is a Second Striker?

The Second Striker is an attacking player that operates just behind the team’s main striker. This role can be best understood as a manager’s compromise between playing a game with a central attacking midfielder or with another forward.

While it’s easy to split hairs on the matter, the Second Striker’s role is similar to that of an advanced playmaker, a False Nine, or a deep-lying forward. Technically speaking, certain characteristics set the player apart from similar roles.

The Second Striker is often deployed as the secondary goal-scoring threat in a 4-4-2 formation. While in recent years, the 4-4-2 has been treated as an antiquated way of deploying players, it is making a comeback.

The Second Striker must possess, above everything, great ability to head the ball and strength. Unlike the False Nine, the Second Striker doesn’t operate between the lines by strictly using technique and speed, but rather physicality and heading.

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While many Second Strikers possess excellent skills, they contribute to their team’s defensive setup. As mentioned, the 4-4-2 is a balanced formation. The Second Striker is expected to track back and press relentlessly.

4-4-2 formation with a Second Striker

Why is a Second Striker different from a Central Forward?

The Second Striker, like the Classic Number 9, lost a bit of popularity in recent decades. This is because some managers believe that these roles are not very versatile. This has, however, been disproven often.

But what is the difference between a Second Striker and a plain, old Central Forward?

Both players play in an advanced role. The Second Striker will usually play a supporting role for the Center Forward.

Ideally, the Second Striker is a player that provides more assists than goals. He uses physicality and spatial awareness to set up the Central Forward.

Famous Second Strikers

In the era where the 4-4-2 formation was the go-to tactical starting point for most teams, the football world was filled with famous Second Strikers.

Many of them were skilful, quick players capable of creating scoring opportunities for a powerful Target Forward. Players like Alessandro Del Piero, Dennis Bergkamp or Ronaldinho embodied the Second Striker position.

Dennis Bergkamp Arsenal Second Striker

Antoine Griezmann is one of the most famous Second Strikers in the world. He has often played in a counter-attacking 4-4-2 for Atletico Madrid and shone behind players like Fernando Torres or, more recently, Memphis Depay.

Antoine Griezmann atletico Madrid second striker

Another Second Striker with a great reputation is Lautaro Martinez. While the Argentine has also been deployed as a poacher in the past, it was when playing a supporting role for Romelu Lukaku while both were playing for Inter that Martinez found the best form of his career.

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Lautaro Martinez. Second Striker

With teams often setting up in a 4-4-2 recently and managers returning to some of the tactical tenants of old, clearly, this is not the last time we’ve heard of the Second Striker role.


Q: Is the Second Striker role suitable for all types of teams?
A: The Second Striker role is adaptable to various team setups, but it is particularly effective in a 4-4-2 formation.

Q: Can a Second Striker also be the main goal scorer?
A: While it’s not the primary role of a Second Striker, they can contribute with goals if given the opportunity.

Q: Are there any young rising stars who play as Second Strikers?
A: Yes, there are several young talents who excel in the Second Striker role, such as João Félix and Erling Haaland.


As the world of football continues to evolve, tactical trends from the past have a way of resurfacing. The Second Striker role is one that is experiencing a renaissance, with managers rediscovering the value and versatility that this position can bring to a team.

Whether it’s providing crucial assists, creating space for the main striker, or adding an additional goal-scoring threat, the Second Striker has proven to be a valuable asset on the field. As more teams embrace the 4-4-2 formation and its variations, we can expect to see the Second Striker continue to make its mark in modern football.

For more insights into the world of football and its evolving tactics, visit Pesstatsdatabase – your ultimate resource for all things football.

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