FM23: What makes a good False 9?

In a game dominated by 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 and 4-5-1 formations, centre-backs have become accustomed to marking just a single player. A team playing with a false nine is playing without a dedicated striker or target man and relies on midfielders running from deep to do the damage.

Take the case of Messi and Barca, considering it’s the most successful use of the system in footballing history and look at the advantages.

Defining the False 9

The false 9 position is an attacking role that’s used most often in a 4-3-3 formation with attack-minded wingers. Rather than playing as a conventional, goal-poaching striker, the false 9 looks for pockets of space between the midfield and attack.

This type of positioning and movement not only makes the attacker difficult to mark but also draws out defenders and leaves space for teammates to run into. 

A false 9 typically plays instead of a regular number 9. Since it is an unconventional position, it is often impossible to tell that a team will line up with a false 9 when looking at a team sheet or formation. 

To find out more what the video from TIFO below

False 9 Positioning

A striker’s positioning, movement, and proximity to the central defenders often influence how the centre-backs play. If the striker is constantly running in behind the defence, the centre-backs may play a high line in an attempt to catch the striker offside.

Modern centre-backs are used to handle one to two strikers. Since the past few decades of soccer have been dominated by just a handful of formations, defensive structure, and player positioning revolve around the same attacking patterns. The false 9 takes advantage of this trend, playing in the gaps between defensive and midfield lines.

The false 9 moves away from the defensive line, receiving the ball in deeper areas, usually between the centre of the field and the edge of the penalty box. Once the false 9 receives the ball, he or she is immediately looking to create goalscoring opportunities or attacking phases. When the false 9 gains possession, it is usually a trigger for teammates to make certain runs. 

Effective False 9

The reason a false 9 can be so effective is that it is hard for the defensive team to determine whose responsibility it is to follow the striker. If the centre-back follows the attacker, the defensive line is broken, leaving room for attacking players to make runs.

Attributes of a False 9

The most important attributes of a false 9 combine the key characteristics of a striker and an attacking midfielder. Most false 9s begin their careers as strikers so their primary traits include finishing, positional sense, movement, and ball control. To go along with those attributes, a False 9 must also be very capable in terms of link-up play and chance creation, have an exemplary first touch, the ability to turn quickly, excellent vision, and sufficient technical skills to execute passes and crosses.

Implementation of a False 9

The first implementation of a false 9 role was observed as early as the 1930s. It was Hugo Meisl, the coach of the Austrian national team, who opted for the use of playmaking forward Matthias Sindelar instead of a more traditional physical number 9, Josef Uridil, to fit the fluid type of football he desired to play.

Arguably the most famous use of the False 9 is when the role was given to Messi at Barcelona and to Cesc Fábregas during Euro 2012

False 9 on Football Manager

Let’s see how Football Manager defines a False 9

As you can see, the definition of a False 9 on Football Manager backs up the writing above regarding the problems that using a False 9 can cause for defenders.

Let’s look at what attributes that Football Manager highlights for the False 9.

Again, the highlighted attributes back up what is written above. The false 9 requires a mixture of the attributes of a traditional striker alongside the attributes of an attacking midfielder.

There are many player instructions for a False 9 on Football Manager however this can be changed based on the way you want the False 9 to play

Recommended False 9’s on Football Manager

NamePositionCurrent ClubNationalityAge
Kevin De BruyneM (RLC), AM (C)Man CityBEL30
Erling HaalandST (C)Man CityNOR21
Karim BenzemaST (C)Real MadridFRA34
Mohamed SalahAM (RL), ST (C)LiverpoolEGY30
Bernardo SilvaM/AM (RC)Man CityPOR27
Sadio ManéAM (RLC), ST (C)FC BayernSEN30
Phil FodenAM (RLC)Man CityENG22
Gabriel JesusAM (RL), ST (C)ArsenalBRA25
Paulo DybalaAM (RC), ST (C)RomaARG28
Marco ReusAM (RLC), ST (C)Borussia DortmundGER33
Jack GrealishM (RL), AM (RLC)Man CityENG26
Jamal MusialaM (C), AM (RLC)FC BayernGER19
Álvaro MorataST (C)AtléticoESP29
Memphis DepayAM (LC), ST (C)BarcelonaNED28
Ferran TorresAM (RL), ST (C)BarcelonaESP22
Kai HavertzAM (C), ST (C)ChelseaGER23
João FélixAM (RLC), ST (C)AtléticoPOR22
Nabil FekirAM (RLC), ST (C)BetisFRA28
Henrikh MkhitaryanM (C), AM (LC)InterARM33
Dejan KulusevskiM (R), AM (RC)TottenhamSWE22
Wissam Ben YedderST (C)MonacoFRA31
Piotr ZielińskiM/AM (C)NapoliPOL28
Pablo SarabiaM (RL), AM (RLC)PSGESP30
Diogo JotaAM (RL), ST (C)LiverpoolPOR25
Sergio CanalesM/AM (C)BetisESP31
Rodrigo De PaulM (C), AM (RLC)AtléticoARG28
Christopher NkunkuM/AM (RLC)RB LeipzigFRA24
Dani OlmoM (C), AM (RLC)RB LeipzigESP24
Lorenzo InsigneAM (L), ST (C)Toronto FCITA31
Marek HamšíkM/AM (C)TrabzonsporSVK34
Davy KlaassenM/AM (C)AjaxNED29
Ante RebićAM (L), ST (C)MilanCRO28
EvanilsonST (C)FC PortoBRA22
Ruslan MalinovskyiM/AM (C)AtalantaUKR29
Marko ArnautovićST (C)BolognaAUT33
Giovani Lo CelsoDM, M (LC), AM (C)VillarrealARG26
Emil ForsbergM (L), AM (LC)RB LeipzigSWE30
MalcomM (R), AM (RLC)ZenitBRA25
Florian WirtzM/AM (C)Bayer LeverkusenGER19
Breel EmboloAM (RC), ST (C)MonacoSUI25
Patrik SchickST (C)Bayer LeverkusenCZE26
Steven BerghuisM (R), AM (RLC), ST (C)AjaxNED30
Roberto SorianoM/AM (C)BolognaITA31
Takumi MinaminoAM (RLC), ST (C)MonacoJPN27
João MárioM (RLC), AM (C)SL BenficaPOR29
Charles De KetelaereM/AM (C), ST (C)MilanBEL21
Carlos SolerWB (R), DM, M/AM (RC)PSGESP25
Emile Smith RoweAM (RLC)ArsenalENG21
Dominic Calvert-LewinST (C)EvertonENG25
OtávioM (RC), AM (RLC)FC PortoPOR27

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Written by TheFMTeacher

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