Tactics and strategies have changed in soccer over the years, and new positions have emerged to adapt to the ever-evolving nature of the game.
One such position that has gained prominence in recent years is the “False 9.”
The False 9 is a forward who operates in a unique manner, challenging traditional notions of a striker’s role.
The False 9 in soccer is a tactical role where the player, although positioned as a striker, drops deep into the midfield to create goal-scoring opportunities, disrupting the traditional defensive setups of the opposition.
This role has evolved as a sophisticated attacking strategy to confuse and dismantle structured defensive lines.
Training and skill development for a False 9 emphasize ball control, vision, and passing abilities, with notable players like Lionel Messi and Francesco Totti showcasing the effectiveness of this role through their ability to both create and score goals, blending the responsibilities of a midfielder and a striker.
Below we look in more detail at the key responsibilities and duties of a False 9, its evolution, training and skill development, and highlight some notable players who have excelled in this position.
The False 9: Key Responsibilities and Duties
The False 9 is a tactical approach that involves deploying a forward who drops deep into midfield, creating space for other attacking players to exploit.
This position challenges the traditional role of a striker, who typically operates closer to the opposition’s goal.
The False 9’s primary responsibilities and duties include:
- Creating space: The False 9’s movement and positioning create gaps in the opposition’s defense, allowing other attacking players to make runs into those spaces.
- Linking play: The False 9 acts as a link between the midfield and the attack, often dropping deep to receive the ball and initiating attacking moves.
- Playmaking: The False 9 is expected to possess excellent vision and passing ability to create scoring opportunities for teammates.
- Dribbling and ball control: The False 9 should have the ability to dribble past opponents and maintain control of the ball in tight spaces.
- Goal scoring: While not the primary goal scorer, the False 9 should still possess the ability to score goals when presented with opportunities.
The Evolution of the False 9
The concept of the False 9 can be traced back to the 1960s, where it was first popularized by Hungarian football.
The Hungarian national team, led by coach Gusztáv Sebes, employed a system that involved a deep-lying center forward who dropped into midfield to create space for wingers and attacking midfielders.
This approach was highly successful and became known as the “False 9” system.
However, it was not until the 2000s that the False 9 gained widespread recognition and adoption.
The most notable proponent of this tactic was Pep Guardiola, who popularized it as the former Barcelona manager.
Guardiola revolutionized the game by deploying Lionel Messi as a False 9 in his Barcelona team.
Messi’s ability to drop deep, link play, and create scoring opportunities for his teammates made him a formidable force in this position.
Since then, the False 9 has become a popular tactical approach used by many top clubs and national teams around the world.
It has proven to be an effective way to break down compact defenses and exploit spaces in the final third of the pitch.
Training and Skill Development for the False 9
Becoming a successful False 9 requires a combination of technical skills, tactical understanding, and physical attributes.
Here are some key areas of training and skill development for players aspiring to excel in this position:
- Passing and vision: Developing excellent passing ability and vision is crucial for a False 9. Players should focus on improving their short and long-range passing accuracy, as well as their ability to spot and execute through balls.
- Dribbling and ball control: The False 9 often operates in tight spaces, requiring exceptional dribbling skills and close ball control. Players should practice various dribbling techniques and work on maintaining control of the ball under pressure.
- Movement and positioning: Understanding how to create space and exploit gaps in the opposition’s defense is essential. Players should work on their movement off the ball, making intelligent runs, and positioning themselves to receive passes in dangerous areas.
- Decision making: The False 9 needs to make quick and accurate decisions on when to drop deep, when to hold the ball, and when to release it. Training sessions should focus on improving decision-making skills under different game scenarios.
- Physical attributes: While not as physically demanding as traditional strikers, the False 9 still requires good agility, balance, and acceleration. Players should work on their overall fitness, including speed and agility drills, to excel in this position.
Notable Players Who Excelled as False 9s
Several players have made a significant impact in the False 9 role throughout the history of soccer.
Here are some notable examples:
- Lionel Messi: As mentioned earlier, Messi’s success as a False 9 under Pep Guardiola at Barcelona is legendary. His ability to drop deep, create space, and score goals revolutionized the position.
- Francesco Totti: Totti, an Italian football legend, played as a False 9 for AS Roma. His vision, passing ability, and goal-scoring prowess made him a nightmare for opposition defenses.
- Roberto Firmino: Firmino, a Brazilian forward, has been a key player for Liverpool in their recent success. His work rate, link-up play, and goal-scoring ability make him an ideal False 9.
- Thomas Müller: Müller, a German international, has excelled in the False 9 role for both Bayern Munich and the national team. His intelligent movement and positioning have made him a constant threat in the attacking third.
Q&A – False 9 in Soccer
1. What is a False 9 in soccer?
A False 9 is a tactical approach that involves deploying a forward who drops deep into midfield, creating space for other attacking players to exploit.
2. What are the key responsibilities of a False 9?
The key responsibilities of a False 9 include creating space, linking play, playmaking, dribbling and ball control, and goal scoring.
3. How has the False 9 position evolved over time?
The concept of the False 9 can be traced back to the 1960s, but it gained widespread recognition and adoption in the 2000s, particularly through Pep Guardiola’s use of Lionel Messi as a False 9 at Barcelona.
4. What skills should a player develop to excel as a False 9?
A player aspiring to excel as a False 9 should focus on developing skills such as passing and vision, dribbling and ball control, movement and positioning, decision making, and physical attributes.
5. Who are some notable players who have excelled as False 9s?
Notable players who have excelled as False 9s include Lionel Messi, Francesco Totti, Roberto Firmino, and Thomas Müller.
6. How does a False 9 create space for other attacking players?
A False 9’s movement and positioning create gaps in the opposition’s defense, allowing other attacking players to make runs into those spaces.
7. What is the role of a False 9 in linking play?
The False 9 acts as a link between the midfield and the attack, often dropping deep to receive the ball and initiating attacking moves.
8. Can a False 9 score goals?
While not the primary goal scorer, a False 9 should still possess the ability to score goals when presented with opportunities.
9. How does the False 9 tactic help break down compact defenses?
The False 9 tactic creates confusion for opposing defenders, as they are unsure whether to track the dropping forward or maintain their defensive shape.
This can create gaps and spaces for other attacking players to exploit.
10. Is the False 9 position suitable for all teams?
The suitability of the False 9 position depends on the team’s style of play, the players available, and the opposition’s defensive setup.
It may not be effective in all situations.
11. Can a False 9 be used in youth soccer?
Yes, the False 9 position can be utilized in youth soccer to encourage creative play, develop passing and vision skills, and promote intelligent movement off the ball.
12. Are there any disadvantages to playing with a False 9?
One potential disadvantage of playing with a False 9 is the lack of a traditional target man in the penalty area, which can make it challenging to convert crosses and set-piece opportunities into goals.
13. Can a False 9 be used in combination with other tactical approaches?
Yes, the False 9 can be used in combination with other tactical approaches, such as playing with wingers or utilizing overlapping full-backs, to create a dynamic and unpredictable attacking system.
14. How can a coach train players to excel in the False 9 position?
A coach can train players to excel in the False 9 position by designing specific training sessions that focus on developing the necessary skills, improving tactical understanding, and providing opportunities for players to practice in game-like scenarios.
15. Can a False 9 be effective in counter-attacking situations?
Yes, a False 9 can be effective in counter-attacking situations by quickly transitioning from defense to attack, exploiting spaces left by the opposition, and initiating fast and incisive passing moves.
The False 9 position in soccer has emerged as a tactical approach that challenges traditional notions of a striker’s role.
The False 9’s key responsibilities include creating space, linking play, playmaking, dribbling and ball control, and goal scoring.
The concept of the False 9 has evolved over time, with notable players like Lionel Messi and Francesco Totti making significant impacts in this position.
Training and skill development for the False 9 focus on passing and vision, dribbling and ball control, movement and positioning, decision making, and physical attributes.
The False 9 tactic can be effective in breaking down compact defenses and creating scoring opportunities.
However, its suitability depends on the team’s style of play and the opposition’s defensive setup.
By understanding the key responsibilities, evolution, training, and notable players of the False 9, coaches and players can embrace this position and utilize it to enhance their team’s attacking prowess.