Watch professional level soccer long enough and you will notice certain aspects to the game that every team performs consistently- switching the point of attack, one or two touch play, possession to produce weaknesses, using the width of the field, etc. One key aspect that isn't always discussed however, is maintaining possession in your attacking half of the field and the tactical reasons why.
Once a team has built the attack out of their defensive third (post 11/27) and across the half, there are some key components to maintaining possession of the ball and player positioning on the field. Much of this is determined by the formation that the team is playing, but overall, the concepts and tactics do not change much from one formation to the next.
Goalkeeper- Circulate the ball short and to free players, and support the ball near-side as an option to circulate the ball
Center Backs- Split to approximately the width of the penalty box. Shift the opposition’s first pressing line by circulating the ball to one side and then quickly shifting to the other. The center backs must move forward of the halfway line to keep the ball in the attacking half.
Full Backs (Outside Backs- Get high and wide, positioning level and outside of the opposition’s first pressing line.
Defensive Center Midfielder- Be positioned centrally between the two center backs and in the same horizontal line as the full backs.
Attacking Midfielders- Play between the opposition lines in the midfield spaces. Attract opponents and create space in behind by dropping in front of the midfield line.
Outside Midfielders- Get and maintain width with a high line of attack. Drop back to support and cover any attacking runs by the fullbacks
Forward- Play between the center backs and be active in movement. Drop into available spaces to receive the ball and support attacking midfield players.
The goal in attack is to score. However, it is important that other tasks be performed before that can happen. Maintaining a high defensive line- INSIDE THE ATTACKING HALF- is among the most important tactical aspects. Switching the point of attack from one side of the pitch to the other also allows for creating gaps in the defense to exploit.
Tactics may vary from coach to coach. The most important thing a player can do is to listen to the coaching directions and tactical responsibilities for ALL positions. This way, the players have a clear understanding of the overall plan and approach.