Long gone are the 5-a-side days of just turning up with your mates, sticking the dunce in goal, and kicking lumps out of the opposition until the final whistle. Now, the game is full of tactics, individual player strengths and weaknesses, and intricate, total football.
The toughness and goal gluttony still exist in spades, but when it comes down to it, 5-a-side has become much more refined, especially with the emergence of super-centres such as Goals, with their FA accredited pitches and in which to strut your stuff.
When picking a 5-a-side team, there are five key aspects to cover. Well, so says Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.
On the subject of players for 5-a-side, Wenger told FourFourTwo, “You must have speed, skill, an eye for goal, the ability to pass, vision and above all the intelligence to put all these aspects into practice.”
This can best be laid out with player examples. From Wenger’s blueprint, the likes of Per Mertesacker, Nemanja Matic and Edinson Cavani wouldn’t be best suited to the smaller pitch, despite their respective talents.
Goalkeepers, meanwhile, need to be sharp and agile. There would be no room for David Ospina with his ‘sack of potatoes’, two handed dives. Speed and dynamism are essential, and while your mates may not be Cristiano Ronaldo, they should certainly tick boxes.
So lets us take you through the positions, put up ideal candidates from the world of football, and provide you with the tools needed to pick your perfect 5-a-side team:
Goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer, Hugo Lloris, Marc-André ter Stegen
From our experience, goalkeepers on the smaller pitches (with smaller goals) need to be cat-like. Agile, switched on, and with good distribution on the floor. Tottenham’s Lloris is a good example of the agility needed, as is Barca man Ter Stegen.
On the other hand, a dominant, commanding presence at the back is equally as beneficial. Bayern keeper Neuer is as strong as they come, with his large frame able to cover most of the tiny goals on the 5-a-side pitch. His sweeper qualities would certainly come in handy too.
Defender: Raphael Varane, David Luiz, Dani Alves
In 5-a-side, defenders are not really defenders. Not in the traditional sense. On the smaller pitch, they need to be able to switch from defence to attack in an instant. Someone in the mould of David Luiz would be a great pick here, considering his aggression, vision and power all great attributes.
Dani Alves may not be the tallest, but that doesn’t matter with headers off the table. His raw speed and strength make him ideal. Real Madrid’s Varane is proven master of ‘tackling at speed’, yet another great trait for a ‘defender’.
Midfielder: Alexis Sanchez, Paul Pogba, Lionel Messi
Box to box is the key phrase here. Dictation and pace setting is needed in the middle of the park, with Paul Pogba certainly fitting the bill, with hid sneaky box of tricks, great power, and blockbuster engine.
You don’t have to be tall by any means, with Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez and Argentina captain Leo Messi both falling into the other category. Great core strength, bursts of pace, and superb vision. Selflessness is a factor here too, with both able advocates of the ‘total football’ paradigm.
Striker: Luis Suarez, Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney
Up top, its pretty simple. Bang them in. But to do that, you really need either quick feet or relentless aggression. Or both! A sharp mind, as Wenger points out, to put things into motion, is also a must.
Luis Suarez is surely the best pick. With his tenacity and never-say-die attitude. Rooney also has similar traits. Neymar and Ronaldo would also be fine additions, for obvious reasons! Lucky we don’t actually have to pick this team, we’d have about 20 substitutes!
What do you think? Any superstars with super traits we’ve forgotten? How about Arjen Robben and his pace? Arturo Vidal? Sergio Aguero? Let us know your 5-a-side picks in the comments below!
Playing football this weekend?
Fancy playing a 5-a-side game with your friends? Goals, the world’s largest and most respected operator of 5-a-side pitches, is the place to be. With over 500 pristine, FA accredited pitches at all-weather centres spread across the UK, Goals is the ultimate destination to scrap for bragging rights under beaming floodlights.
Ranging from between £60-£73 per pitch (just over a tenner each), and with leagues and tournaments to join/create, top notch shower and changing facilities, an exclusive app to keep track of progress, and fully licensed BT Sport lounge bars in every location – you and your mates will be strutting the Ronaldinho on (and off) the pitch in no time!
And if that wasn’t enough, how about receiving new gear and beer on the day, and potentially winning prizes from a treasure trove worth £200,000?
Goals are gearing up to launch their Kick Off Festival week, and teams booking a pitch on or after the 6th September will be given a guaranteed scratch-card on their arrival, with prizes ranging from new shin pads and goalie gloves, to pitchers of beer for celebrations (or wound licking) after the game!
There’s also an automatic entry for those teams into the main prize pot, with an Xbox One, PS4, Go Pro and iWatch just some of the amazing kit up for grabs!