Know Your Role: Segundo Volante

Football Manager 2021

The Segundo Volante literally means (as per Google Translate), “Second Steering Wheel” or “Second Balance”. The idea being that a Segundo Volante is utilised as the second player in a double pivot, alongside a regista or a deep-lying midfielder – where the other midfielder controls the tempo, the Segundo Volante imposes that tempo on the opposition.

What is the Segundo Volante Role?

Let’s say you’re playing a deeper 4-2-3-1, with two CDMs rather than CMs. One of these is a regista, in the mould of Andrea Pirlo or Sergio Busquets, or perhaps just a defensive blocker, like Fabinho or Fernandinho. These players will control how the game is played, the ball will go through them at all times, they determine the speed of attacks, when and when not to play long balls, and will feed the attacking 4 (and full backs), whilst remaining in their spot in front of the defence.

regista alongside a segundo volante

Defensively, the Segundo Volante, will remain alongside their midfield partner, providing double cover in front of the centre backs. But, when possession is won, and the regista plays their signature through ball to the left wing, the Segundo Volante begins their run – moving at speed past the opposition midfield, past his own CAM and wingers, to get to the box to support the striker as the ball comes in via a cross or final ball.

They don’t always affect the ball itself, but the sudden inclusion of a completely untrackable run makes life very difficult for defenders, and space can now open up for the conventional attackers.

What are the Attributes?

Primarily, they are a defensive midfielder – the Segundo Volante will spend most of their time in front of the back four, it’s the unpredictability of their runs into the final third that throw off defenders. So, they need strong Tackling, Strength, Bravery attributes.

However, they will need good attacking ability too, and ideally able to affect the play aerially – height, Heading and Jumping Reach are bonuses.

But the key is physicality – they need to have the Stamina, Pace and ideally Natural Fitness to execute potentially game-winning runs, even as the clock ticks late on in the game.

  • Tackling
  • Bravery
  • Strength
  • Dribbling
  • Heading
  • Jumping Reach
  • Pace
  • Stamina

This might seem like quite a specific skillset – it’s a very specific role! This tactically ambiguous, “Hail Mary” role doesn’t sit particularly well with modern football, so not many players are built for it. Naby Keita above would be my definition of a Segundo Volante, encompassing the necessary physical and attacking ability, whilst also assuming defensive responsibility if required.

At a more cost-effective level, Ibrahim Sangare of PSV represents the precise attributes of a defensive midfielder with all-round ability – fused with the magical trait “Gets Froward Whenever Possible”.

Segundo Volante in Action

The Segundo Volante as a tangible vibe of the “Frank Lampard” role, arriving late on the scene to snatch a goal. The difference though is that the late arriving CM is nominally involved in the attack further up the pitch anyway, but they time their runs effectively to be at the edge of the box for the pull back or rebound.

The Segundo starts deep, remains deep, until the ball moves quickly forward, at which point they do the same.

Here, from a goal kick, most players are in their normal positions – the winger has come deep to receive the ball directly from the centre back (notice the CB missed out Sangare, the Segundo Volante, during the build up play), and has spotted a pass to be made cross field to the left winger.

At this moment of the ball moving forward, Sangare is away, pushing ahead of the wingbacks, CAM and midfielders. Only the left winger and striker are ahead of him.

When the ball then reaches the box, and the striker is through on goal, Sangare is at the edge of the box, ready for a rebound and just drawing defenders away from the play. 8 seconds earlier, he was deep, 5 fives ahead of the centre back. Now he’s in the box, and although he didn’t affect the ball this time, these dangerous runs can keep your opponents on the back foot, wary that any counter attack will driven by the extra man in midfield.

The Segundo Volante is not for the faint-hearted. It’s not for games you control (as the element of surprise is lost), and its not for holding out a 1-0 lead. But it can get you that goal when your strikers just aren’t scoring, or as the key man in a quick counter-attacking system.