Messi as the FALSE 9

An El Clasico game that Real Madrid would very much like to forget. In 2009, May 2nd, FC Barcelona annihilated Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu… A humiliating final score… of 6-2! A football lesson in Pep Guardiola’s signature style. That evening, the coach created a revolutionary tactic, inspired by a Hungarian strategy: the “FALSE 9”. What was this incredible change in tactics, this unlikely talk between Guardiola and Messi which undermined Real’s ENTIRE defense?

What’s a false number 9 in a soccer lineup? Essentially, it’s when a player sits between the forwards and the midfielders. It often confusing to a defense since it’s unclear who has to mark the player, the defenders or the midfielders. A false 9 or floating striker is a decoy role that disrupts the opposing teams defense as nobody knows who’s supposed to track this player.

But how in the world could you not mark or forget about Lionel Messi? Remember though, this was 2009, Messi was just start to break in to world football is one of the best. Oh, and it helps when you have Henry, Etoo, Iniesta and Xavi that Real Madrid has to worry about too!

Here’s what Xavi said Guardiola having Messi play in the false 9 position against Real Madrid.

“That was the game that he played Messi as the false 9. Guardiola knew Madrid’s center backs wouldn’t come out to press Messi when he dropped off and that meant Messi, me & Iniesta always had 2v3 in the midfield. He kept saying ‘that’s where the game is, that’s where the game is’ and we won.”