The Regista And the Evolution Of The Playmaker

Andrea Pirlo runs rings round England midfieldTHE deep-lying playmaker. This position from which a player conducts his orchestra is known as the regista to Italians. From Spain where Xavi and Xabi Alonso weave their tactical magic from deep, to Germany where İlkay Gündoğan plies his trade, the regista is the modern day phenomenon that has taken football by storm. Perhaps the player who first brought the position to prominence is the elegant Andrea Pirlo: the regista above all other registas.

The playmaker has always been the primary attraction in football; the one that draws the crowds and in essence captures all that we love about the beautiful game. Through the decades, playmakers have graced the fields displaying their passing, decision making, tactical intelligence, movement and composure. Rivelino in the 1970’s, Michel Platini in the 1980’s, Rui Costa in the 1990’s and Zinedine Zidane in the late 90’s, early 2000’s; to name just a few.

All the playmakers listed above imposed their genius in the centre of the park connecting the midfield with the attack and provided all the creative thrust for their respective teams. To a large extent playmakers had always been given a free role in central midfield or behind the strikers.

Much like ordinary life the game of football evolves according to its needs. Traditional “Number 10″ playmakers became marked men, prior to games even kicking-off, as football has become tighter, more tactical and seen more pressing. Furthermore football formations have evolved and thus we have had the emergence of the regista and the resounding success obtained with them. Nowadays playmakers orchestrate play from deep picking up the ball from the centre backs and initiating play while still involved during all stages of the build-up. Xavi, Pirlo, Gündoğan, Alonso, Ricardo Montolivo, Hernanes and Marco Verratti are some of the modern day registas who have become masters of their trade.

Italy won World Cup 2006 using a regista (Pirlo), Spain won Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 using a regista (Xavi) and both Italy and Spain reached the final of Euro 2012 using the regista. Furthermore between 2007 and 2012, 5 out of the 6 Champions League winners used a regista. For Manchester United and Chelsea, champions in 2008 and 2012 respectively, Paul Scholes and Frank Lampard who might not have been “traditional” registas played a very similar role for their teams. Only Internazionale who won the trophy in 2010 did not use a regista, but instead relied on the traditional attacking central midfield playmaker in Wesley Sneijder.

The regista is predominantly utilised in its purest form in Serie A. The Scudetto winners in each of the last three seasons (Juventus twice and AC Milan once) have all used one. Interestingly on each of those three occasions for two different teams, the regista has been none other than Andrea Pirlo. In the final 2012/2013 Serie A league standings, the champions Juventus, third place Milan and fourth placed Fiorentina all predominantly used a player in this way.

It is important to understand that a regista is not a position so much as a role. While initiating attacking play from a deep-lying position, the regista will thereafter be available all over the pitch to execute the mandate demanded from him. From a tactical viewpoint, the success of a regista hinges on building a team around him. Teammates should be aware and in fact will be instructed to provide him with the ball at every opportunity. The attacking moves will originate from the regista who will remain at the pivot of every attacking play. In essence the regista becomes the focal point as well as the organisational mastermind of a team.

The deployment of a regista stems from teams increasing desire in modern day football to control possession and dictate the tempo of games. Registas ultimately possess unparalleled ability to dictate play. Without a deep-lying playmaker, there is no specific player to bring the ball out of defence which can lead to teams struggling to work the ball forward from the back, and instead having to play longer passes. This tactic is contrary to the belief of maintaining good and consistent retention of the ball.

While the exemplary attributes of a regista are clear for everyone to see perhaps their biggest asset, which might not always be clearly visible, is their understanding of the game. Carlo Ancelotti, who famously converted Pirlo from an attacking midfielder to a regista, said that “He is one of the few players that you need to say little or nothing to, he understands everything by himself. For me, he is the strongest central midfielder in the world.”

As I have already mentioned, Andrea Pirlo is the epitome of the regista. The former AC Milan player has for the better part of a decade defined and embodied the role much in the same manner as Claude Makélelé defined the defensive midfielder position. The diagram below displays every pass which Pirlo made against Germany in their 2-1 semi-final victory at Euro 2012. With 61 out of 66 passes being successful, the playmaker achieved an admirable completion rate of 92.42%.




The majority of passes are short but there are a number of long passes as well. Every single long pass from Pirlo was accurate and used predominantly to switch play. This categorises the wide range of passing ability a regista requires and also how the regista controls possession.

Read: Italy FIFA World Cup 2014 Preview: Prandelli is Azzurri’s Ace

Importantly the presence of a regista in the line-up creates disharmony in the tactical makeup of a team. Registas are given a moderate amount of defensive responsibilities and do require effective defensive positioning, however this is not enough. Having a specialised individual gifted in every aspect which contributes to the attack, necessitates the requirement for a purely defensive minded player to create balance in the team. Pirlo’s legacy for the Italian National team could not have been achieved without the defensive work performed alongside him by Gennaro Gatusso and more recently Daniele De Rossi. However this is no different to the traditional attacking midfield playmaker setup. The combinations of Zidane – Claude Makélelé for Real Madrid and Zidane – Didier Deschamps for France are examples of the playmaker – defensive midfielder tactical balance required.

Pirlo and Xavi are two of the most influential players of their generation. They have redefined the role of the playmaker and marveled fans worldwide with their football intelligence. Quite ironically, in a game that has become so complicated with False nine’s, inverted wingers, counter-pressing and integrate formations, it has been their simplicity which has allowed them to stand above the rest. The regista’s understanding of the game allows their pure, simple football to be more attractive at times than the step-overs, back heels and flicks of the more illustrious attack minded players. While not all teams around the world use registas there has been a definite evolution in the role of the playmaker. Players like Toni Kroos, Marco Reus, Mario Götze and Juan Mata are different examples of modern day playmakers (not registas) who can play anywhere in midfield, wide or central, can play between the lines and are physically robust. As football has progressed and the Zidane’s and Platini’s of this world are but a distant memory, we may have seen the end of the traditional number 10.

You can follow Ebrahim on Twitter here.

, , , , ,

28 Responses to The Regista And the Evolution Of The Playmaker

  1. Bradley July 7, 2013 at 10:06 AM #

    Very interesting read indeed… If I sit back I actually can’t think of any traditional number 10′s in any of the big sides in the world other than perhaps Mesut Ozil who still plays with a deep lying playmaker behind him at Madrid.

  2. Saffron Cleanse Supplement June 12, 2014 at 8:57 AM #

    When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added”
    checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four e-mails with the same
    comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service?
    Many thanks!

  3. tampa car accident June 14, 2014 at 11:01 PM #

    What’s up to all, as I am genuinely eager of reading this web site’s post to be updated
    on a regular basis. It consists of fastidious material.

  4. Best Acne Care June 17, 2014 at 12:27 AM #

    I have read so many articles or reviews on the topic of the blogger lovers except this
    post is really a pleasant article, keep it up.

  5. déménageurs June 19, 2014 at 8:25 AM #

    My partner and I absolutely love your blog and find the majority of your post’s to be precisely
    what I’m looking for. Does one offer guest writers to write content for you?

    I wouldn’t mind publishing a post or elaborating on a few
    of the subjects you write regarding here. Again, awesome blog!

  6. centre chiropratique sherbrooke June 21, 2014 at 3:06 AM #

    What’s up friends, its great piece of writing concerning cultureand completely explained, keep it up all the time.

  7. std tests in atlanta June 21, 2014 at 2:26 PM #

    So therefore, the outlook isn’t great.It is an inherited disease.
    While ladies adore knowing that they are loved, men adore knowing that
    they are virile. Unless you solve that trigger, you will have problems.

  8. collision center Sacramento June 26, 2014 at 8:47 AM #

    Hey there! Quick question that’s completely off topic.

    Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?

    My website looks weird when viewing from my iphone4.
    I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to fix this problem.
    If you have any recommendations, please share. Thanks!

  9. volume camion déménagement June 27, 2014 at 3:46 PM #

    I got this site from my pal who informed me on the topic of this web page and at
    the moment this time I am browsing this web site and reading
    very informative content at this place.

  10. dentiste la June 28, 2014 at 7:47 PM #

    Do you have a spam issue on this blog; I also am a blogger, and I was
    wondering your situation; we have developed some nice procedures and we are
    looking to swap strategies with others, why not shoot
    me an email if interested.

  11. un serrurier ferronnier June 29, 2014 at 3:39 AM #

    I’ve been surfing online more than 4 hours today, yet I never found any interesting
    article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me.
    Personally, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as
    you did, the internet will be much more useful than ever before.

  12. anti aging face cream July 2, 2014 at 11:21 PM #

    When someone writes an paragraph he/she retains the plan of a
    user in his/her mind that how a user can be aware of it.
    Therefore that’s why this article is great.

  13. Anny July 3, 2014 at 3:52 AM #

    It can be in point of fact a great in addition to valuable item of information. I’m just delighted that you simply contributed this handy details about. Make sure you stop us up to date in this way. Appreciation for revealing.

  14. Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thank you so much, However I am going
    through troubles with your RSS. I don’t know the reason why I am unable to
    subscribe to it. Is there anyone else having similar RSS issues?
    Anybody who knows the solution can you kindly respond?

  15. Excellent web site. A lot of helpful info here.
    I am sending it to several buddies ans also sharing in delicious.
    And of course, thanks to your effort!

  16. all in one with July 8, 2014 at 4:06 AM #

    It’s just like you read through my mind! You seem to find out a whole lot around the following, such as you composed the actual e-book within it or something. I believe that you can do with a few g. d. so that you can power the message house a little, nevertheless other than that, this really is fantastic blog site. An incredible read through. I am going to unquestionably be back.

  17. Hi! Do you know if they make any plugins to help with Search Engine Optimization? I’m trying to get my blog
    to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not seeing very good gains.
    If you know of any please share. Thanks!

  18. best volleyball ankle braces July 11, 2014 at 4:40 AM #

    For anyone who spent my youth playing volleyball, who played in senior
    high school or was ever awarded an excellent volleyball scholarship, it might appear
    such as the sport will be as old as time. The students
    go for to participate in numerous sports like football,
    basketball, volleyball, cricket, badminton, handball, kho-kho, skating, judo
    karate and athletics. Choosing this sort of ball can be nice given it carries a nice feel in it
    when the first is playing looked after isn’t very difficult to control.

  19. Vilma July 12, 2014 at 5:10 PM #

    Hi i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anywhere, when i read this paragraph i
    thought i could also create comment due to this sensible paragraph.

  20. related website July 15, 2014 at 7:38 AM #

    As soon as you locate a support service that suits your needs in the most effective possible fashion then you must anticipate developing your internet site.

  21. film terbaru barat 2014 full movie July 15, 2014 at 10:18 PM #

    Heya i am for the first time here. I found this
    board and I find It really useful & it helped me out a lot.

    I hope to give something back and help others like you helped me.

  22. sustanon for sale July 17, 2014 at 7:28 PM #

    Simply wish to say your article is as surprising. The clarity in your post is simply nice and i could assume
    you’re an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your feed to
    keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please
    continue the enjoyable work.

  23. cholecalciferol July 19, 2014 at 3:48 PM #

    I am now not positive where you’re getting your information, however
    good topic. I needs to spend a while learning more or working out more.
    Thanks for wonderful info I was searching for this information for my mission.

  24. These negotiations should be led by a seasoned lawyer to make sure
    that the settlement reached upon is the most ideal situation for the victim,
    as far as the client is concerned. A few points that could help victims choose the right professional are as
    follows:. In order to know about personal injuries claims it is
    important to know about the legality of the claim and the ways in which the compensation is paid to the injured party.

  25. I recently found your web page in error yet I am pleased I
    did so! Thanks a lot for the guidance.

  26. Naxxramus Class CHallenge July 27, 2014 at 6:00 AM #

    I do not know if it’s just me or if perhaps everybody else encountering issues
    with your website. It appears like some of the written text
    in your posts are running off the screen. Can somebody
    else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening
    to them too? This may be a issue with my internet browser because I’ve had this happen previously.

  27. travel blog sites July 31, 2014 at 8:15 PM #

    This is my first time pay a quick visit at here and i am in fact pleassant to
    read all at single place.


  1. Italy FIFA World Cup 2014 Preview: Prandelli is Azzuri's Ace - Football Analysis - June 9, 2014

    […] The Regista and the Evolution of the Playmaker […]

Leave a Reply