The Day Lionel Messi Changed Football Tactics Forever

The Day Lionel Messi Changed Football Tactics Forever
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OVERVIEW OF: The Day Lionel Messi Changed Football Tactics Forever

Lionel Messi, Football Tactics, Real Madrid, Barcelona

The Day Lionel Messi & Pep Guardiola Introduced a New Kind of Formation & Player in Association Football ||

On May 2, 2009, Barcelona visited arch rivals Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu for a pivotal league encounter. To the surprise of the hosts, Guardiola called an audible in the 9th minute and signaled right winger Messi and center forward Samuel Eto’o to swap positions. Once again, the opponents did not know how to defend the false 9, and Barcelona would go on to claim a resounding 6-2 victory. The false 9, in some ways similar to a more advanced attacking midfielder/playmaker role, is an unconventional lone striker or centre-forward, who drops deep into midfield. The purpose of this is that it creates a problem for opposing centre-backs who can either follow the false 9, leaving space behind them for onrushing midfielders, forwards or wingers to exploit, or leaving the false 9 to have time and space to dribble or pick out a pass. The term comes from the traditional number for centre-forwards (nine), and the fact that normally a centre-forward traditionally stayed near the line of defenders until they got an opportunity to move past the toward goal. Key attributes for a false 9 are similar to those of a deep-lying striker: dribbling ability to take advantage of space between the lines, good short passing ability to link up with the midfield and vision to play through teammates making runs from deep to goal. The day Leo was transformed into a false 9 is the day every European side crumbled and cowered into fear. When the name of Barcelona would arise, Messi’s brutality on the field would instantly be pictured. Real Madrid suffered a barbarous blow in the Argentinian’s first game occupying the intricate role as Barça battered them 6–2 at the Bernabéu in May 2009. Los Blancos had no counter to the Catalans’ forward line and simply witnessed Pep’s men wreak havoc. Though both clubs have come a long way since then, it’s fair to say Real Madrid still get nightmares from that era. Of course, Leo was a ruthless striker even before he had been introduced to the unfamiliar role of a false 9, but this particular position made him, and his teammates surrounding him, imperishable. To this day, Messi’s reign of supremacy as a falso nueve [ False Nine ] is remembered as he tore apart Europe with the most terrifying team by his side. ||

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