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A maneuvering striker: the "false 9" in Spalletti's Roma

A maneuvering striker: the "false 9" in Spalletti's Roma

 
5 exercises progression to get the team used to create and attack the spaces behind the maneuvering striker

 

THE “FALSE 9”. THE ORIGINS: Luciano Spalletti did not invented the “false 9” but certainly he was the one who brought this interpretation of the traditional role of the centre forward to the fore again. But where did the false 9 originate? After the Second World War Marton Bukovi introduced in Hungary this tactical innovation after he lost his starting centre forward Norbert Hofling transferred to Lazio. The Hungarian coach wondered how the striker could be replaced and began to examine the skills of his winger Peter Palotas, a short-statured player with great technical abilities and vision of play, not powerfully built but he had good timings of runs, a high technique level and a good vision of play.

So Bukovi decided to elaborate an original 3-1-2-4 all based on dynamism and insertions. Palotas became the centre forward wearing number 9.

In the annals is also the tactical move adopted by Gustav Sebes, the coach of the Hungarian national team, during a match against Switzerland in the International Cup in 1952: he placed Palotas back to his original position, and Nándor Hidegkuti, a fast, very technical winger as centre forward. This tactical move was constantly applied in the two following years and allowed the Hungarian coach to take his national team to the 1954 World Cup final that they lost against West Germany.

 

Back to our day, Pep Guardiola revived Sebes’ tactical ideas with his tiki-taka, proposing a young Messi as a centre forward in his Barcelona. With the insertions of the wingers and the attack into the spaces left by the movements of the Argentinian star, the Barcelona of the time won practically everything. Also the Spanish team of those years coached by Del Bosque was rearranged according to Guardiola’s tactical ideas, using players like Fabregas and Silva in the position of “playing in the hole”. Together with the excellent quality of their play, the results of the Spanish national team are hard to forget.

 

FROM PALOTAS TO PEROTTI – Palotas and Hidegkuti in the ‘50s, Messi and Fabregas in Liga and in the Spanish National team, Rooney in the Ferguson era, Totti in Spalletti’s Roma and more recently in Rudi Garcias’ team, Vincenzo Montella’s football in Florence: these are the most effective and successful examples of false 9 on the world stage. Recently, having attained the bench of Bayern München, Pep Guardiola has tried to manage the Bavarian team according to his tactical beliefs; After benching Mandžukić, he transformed Thomas Müller in his striker “playing in the hole”. Positive results were soon achieved with the Catalan coach and Bayern München won the European Championship Cup, the World Cup for Clubs and the Meisterschale, beside  the German FA Cup.

The history of the false 9 restarts from Italy, namely from Spalletti’s Roma. In his second Roman adventure the Tuscan coach uses Perotti as his striker “playing in the hole” in many occasions, with positive results.

Here follows a video showing the movements of Roma’s attacking unit, mainly Perotti’s movements in his role of centre forward, together with a progression of 5 exercises focused on the movements for creating space behind the centre forward and numerical superiority in midfield.

 

Progression

 

Deep-lying Striker: The false 9 - Exercise 1

Simplified game to stimulate players in performing units movements adjusting timings in presence of a "playing in the hole" striker 

 

Deep-lying Striker: The false 9 - Exercise  2

Simplified game to stimulate players in performing units movements adjusting timings in presence of a "playing in the hole" striker 

 

Simplified game to stimulate players in performing units movements adjusting timings in presence of a "playing in the hole" striker 

 

Simplified game to stimulate players in performing units movements adjusting timings in presence of a "playing in the hole" striker 

 

Simplified game to stimulate players in performing units movements adjusting timings in presence of a "playing in the hole" striker 

 

A fake 9 example from Spalletti's AS Roma

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