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6 tactics that changed the football forever

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1.74K   //    07 Jan 2018, 20:00 IST

In the world of football, strategies and formations get implemented and refused every day. But some tactics used throughout the years have inspired generations of footballers, coaches all over the world. The influences are still relevant. Here are six revolutionary tactics that evolved over time and transformed the world of football forever.


#6 FALSE 9

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The great Austrian team with Sindelar in the second row

The ‘False 9’ tactic was actually a very old idea. The term was derived from number nine (9), a traditional shirt number for centre-forwards. Normally a centre-forward stays up the field just behind defenders’ line until they get an opportunity to move past in space. The tactic was first introduced to the world when Matthias Sindelar, centre-forward of the great Austrian team of the 1930s, dropped deep in the middle of the park drawing centre-backs from their natural positions. Thus creating a chance to beat the relatively slower defenders in the open space created by drawing the centre-backs in the midfield. This also allowed the wingers or the wide forwards to get behind the defence line easily.

The tactic went out of fashion as the regular No. 9 became the standard. But in 2005, realising Francesco Totti’s significant playmaking ability, the Italian manager, Luciano Spalletti resurrected the forgotten position in Roma. He brought Totti into withdrawn role creating a numerical advantage in the central area of the pitch. Roma managed to attain a record 11 match victory streak in Serie A.

The term is mostly associated these days with Messi from Guardiola era. In 2009, Pep Guardiola helped to initiate the “Messi era” when the little Argentine was featured as ‘False 9’ in El Clasico. The then 21 years old Messi drifted down in the middle of the pitch, enabling Samuel Eto'o to slot into the right wing. Messi’s dropping down in the midfield created confusion among the Real Madrid defenders who were unsure of whether to follow him to the midfield or hold the deep defence line. Thus, Real Madrid defenders constantly found themselves out of position, which resulted in a 6-2 humiliating loss against Barcelona.

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Barcelona's False 9 system under Guardiola

The term has been immensely misinterpreted throughout the years. For instance, Germany opting to play Mario Goetze or Thomas Mueller as centre-forward was labelled as False 9 system. But in reality, they were forced to adapt this for complementing the shortage of eminent striking force.

Over the years and after many attempts, some counter tactics have been invented and executed successfully by the managers to defy this strategy. For example, Jose Mourinho’s “Parking the Bus” approach has been found extremely useful in halting the False 9 strategy. But it is still a strong weapon when put in the hands (or, should I write legs?) of the right person, and Lionel Messi was certainly the right man.




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