The False 9

False 9 sounds like a secret military code, but is actually a very unique/handy position on the soccer pitch; a complex role that may be the secret weapon your team needs.

While the False 9 might be the toughest position on the field to play, when it works, magic happens. It’s best used when a team plays a 4-3-3 giving the 9 (center forward) freedom to drop down to the 10’s spot. This will create confusion in the opposition’s defense by allowing more movement up top in the attack, creating space for the team to make runs.

A typical 9 is fairly tall, strong, and a good header but the False 9 should be very technical. This player must be excellent at dribbling with equally strong technique plus have the ability to pass the ball in a variety of ways (chip, loft, float, bended, driven, etc.), and  They should have incredible vision to see all possible through balls and runs, and great scoring ability, obviously.

When the 9 drops down to the 10’s spot, the 7’s and 8’s must be running in behind the other team’s defense looking for the through balls. A through ball is a pass played by one player into the path of the other player’s run so they meet the ball with pace.

As the 9 becomes false the opposing defense’s 4’s will be forced to make a decision—to follow the 9 staggering the back line making it really 3 at the back, or stay put giving the attacker room for creativity.

Most defenses will follow the 9 leaving 3 at the back. As this happens the runs made by the 7 and 8 creates gaps for through balls, and allows the 2 and 3 to run up and join the attack. Now it is 6 in the attack versus 4 in the defense. This is if the 10/6 makes a run past the midfield line too.

Now, with all the numbers up, the attack can go many ways. The divergent center forward can now play the ball swiftly through to a 7/8 running past the defense for a quick-transition goal. They can send the ball out to the 2 or 3 and run in for the cross. They can go for the dribble through, make a 1-2 with the 10 and score themselves. Or they can pass out-wide, receive again in the middle, switch the field, up to the 7/8, then neatly passed around in the box to eventually find the net—SO for example the 9 to the 3 back to the 9 switched over to the 2 sent down the field to the 8 then passed to the 10 layer off to the 9 and slotted past the keeper.

There are numerous ways the false 9 position could work, but it requires multiple skills and a keen eye for movement by the 9. To follow this style pay attention to manager,  Pep Guardiola’s, style as he played Messi there and currently switching in Aguero, Silva, and Jesus in this spot on Man City. It works because of the team as a unit, not just the specific player as Manchester City often wins by 6+ goals.

Like I said earlier, it is a very difficult position, but when used correctly magical. I encourage studying many European teams as they usually play this style: Barcelona, Manchester City, and Manchester United Wayne Rooney Era played it best, but most other European teams try to incorporate this style when playing a worthy opponent. Try it out see if it works—maybe a traditional striker is your teams style or maybe the fancy footed forward is just what your team has been looking for to take your play to the next level.

The formation and style uses this number system  1= Goalkeeper 2= right back 3= left back 4’s= center back 5= defending mid 6= defending mid 7= left forward 8=right forward  9: center forward 10: attacking mid

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