The False 9


It’s a position that has been used since the early 1930’s, by the Austrian “Wunderteam”, who ended up finishing 4th in the World Cup having played the formation throughout. It was Matthias Sindelar that made the ‘False 9’ position an effective way of technically gifted centre-forwards dropping deep and playing the ball out of midfield. Others that have been successful in the position include Francesco Totti and Johann Cruyff. In today’s world of football, Lionel Messi dominates as a False 9, having been pushed inside from the right-wing, by former Barcelona coach, Pep Guardiola.

As mentioned, the main aim of a False 9 is to drop deep and leave space in attack to run at defences, and the most technically gifted players are able to dribble their way past defenders, or even play it out wide, to a more advanced or suitable position for a cross to come in. These players needn’t be the strongest or aerially great, but what they do is drive at a defence that are facing 4 top quality attackers.

With the Spainish National team, Cesc Fabregas is the man they use as the False 9. While he isn’t the quickest, Fabregas excels at dribbling and creating positions for players to run into, thereby creating a lot of efforts on goal.

Having been recently appointed as Bayern Munich boss, Pep Guardiola will no doubt bring the tactics that made Barcelona successful, into the Bundesliga. Bayern have acquired Mario Gotze, and with that huge price-tag comes a lot of skill and versatility Bayern will possess next season. There have been suggestions that Gotze will fulfill Guardiola’s requirements in a False 9, and you can understand why. Having made his name as an attacking midfielder and winger, Gotze is seen as a perfect False 9, and in an era where attack is the main point of interest, with 3 attacking midfielders behind the centre-forward being the norm, Gotze will excel at bringing the ball out of midfield and playing in a similar fashion to Messi.

We’re hearing all types of rumours and crazy price-tags – Falcao, £46m, Cavani, £43m, Lewandowski £25m and Rooney, £33m. However, No one’s looked at what we’re actually in possession of.

This brings me to my main point. Not many have realised that Chelsea have a player that has all the necessary qualities needed to be a great False 9. A player that lacks in height, but still has a mighty jump, a player that has lightening pace, quick feet, and the ability to turn defenders inside out with absolute ease. He’s got a powerful shot and is also gifted with a very special ‘curling’ ability with the ball. He enjoys playing the ball out wide as well as through the middle, and overall is a team player that is individually brilliant.

You may have guessed by now that I’m talking about none other than our Belgian number 17, Eden Hazard.

Having started mainly on the left-wing this season, he has been very effective. He controls that whole left side, as well as cutting in to play between the lines and exchanging passes with our other creative players. His glorious ability to receive the ball at his feet and keep his balance while he flies past players marking him, makes him one of the most feared players in the league, as well as in Europe.

This video perfectly sums up what he’s about, keeping in mind he was most effective for Lille when he played in the hole.

In no way am I suggesting that this SHOULD happen, but merely putting forward an idea that has been successful for teams like Barcelona and Spain, and if we do have the talent, why not use it in a different position? We paid all that money for Hazard, and given a more central yet free role, I’m definite he will take advantage of all the space that he’s able to run into, and actually go past players with ease. We are looking more and more like a team that are capable of scoring and attacking when playing the ball on the floor rather than pumping them forward for the big centre-forward, and experimenting with Hazard in the False 9 position is surely something we could try. It all starts in training, so if Mourinho does arrive, I’ll personally be hoping he has an open mind towards Hazard and a False 9 formation, though Mourinho has been at his best with a big physical centre-forward leading the line.

With all the qualities I’ve listed, I’m certain Hazard would make a perfect False 9, under the right manager. It would involve a lot of the players spreading out wider to make space for Hazard to run through the middle, and definitely demands a world class defensive midfield to handle if the False 9 loses possession.

Would you like to see Hazard tried in this position, or in the hole? Or is he at his best on the wing?

Leave me your comments below!

  1. pertaub says

    di matteo used hazard as a false 9 against juventus and if you remember this proved to be a very bad idea!

    1. SahilSW6 says

      Yes, I do recall this. However that was just one game against a very very tough opponent in a very very big game. As mentioned, it all starts in training.

    2. ShawnS'tha says

      we played without a striker and we didnt actually play false 9. we had 5 defenders and played the formation of 5-2-3. to play a false 9 it should be 4-2-4 or 4-2-3-1. that wasnt tha case.

    3. krak says

      he used Mata not hazard

  2. Zane says

    Excellent Sahill.

    I do agree with you that he can master this position. He has the pace,close control and the dribbling skills to run at a pack of defenders and beating them. We also have one other player who can play this position. He’s Oscar. I don’t know about you but I’ve seen him in a similar position for the Selecao.

    1. SahilSW6 says

      Yes, his close control is an asset needed in any top False 9.

      I do agree with you about Oscar, but I’ve seen him play for the National team, and I have to conclude that he’s brilliant in central-midfield. Really very effective due to his quick vision, pace and overall dominance in dictating play. High hopes for him wherever he does end up playing!

  3. robben16 says

    If Chelsea buy Neymar or Cristiano Ronaldo, this formation may occur.

    1. SahilSW6 says

      I do believe we already have the perfect False 9, rather than spend over £30m for a new one. Just need the right manager to execute it properly.

  4. kal says

    this guy is skilled , that’s it, Don’t tell me Messi,

  5. Vaibhav Kumble says

    M not a gr8 fan of the false 9.. but if u look at the way Torres plays.. he pretty much does the same thing.. dropping in deep when required and playing along the lines otherwise. I think Torres is more suited for this role..

  6. xtian says

    Yeah Torres could fill in just like Hazard Mata and Oscar for a false but they would all fall short just like Torres now. A false 9 has to be a good and composed finisher like a main striker. His main responsibility is to shoulder the burden of scoring goals. We all saw that Hazard and Mata could not hold their own against Juventus. They both played as false 9 and I don’t think they enjoyed the pressure.

  7. naz says

    agree….but chelsea need a solid CM player first

  8. robben16 says

    if mourinho come, sami khedira or xabi alonso will follow…

  9. king Elijah Oluwadurotimi says

    Hazard is simply the player we can place in that position but how are we going to do that? It becomes a question, it becomes something to keep pondering over till we have the new manager.
    Hazard will certainly become the chelsea legend if he’s used in the right position.

  10. Star Evansoh says

    Indeed this a good article, one of which have been expecting and thenx that at last i got it… lemie say hat as far as am concerned, Hazard is even better than Mata only that Mata was consistent this season than Hazard.. this being his first season in the bluez squad, he helped Mata prove himself and also make Oscar who he is…. in my opinion, Hazard is the best of the three and make the other two complete when playing with them

    about him playing as a #9 is a good idea buh we need a talent like him playing in his previous position if it will be effective

  11. Anonymous says

    Good idea,Torres can even play out wide in a 4-3-3 formation. Cech
    Azpi. Luiz. Cahill. Cole
    Oscar. Mikel. Ramires
    Torres. Hazard. Mata

  12. alvanoo says

    a false 9 is a player with good shot, pass, and creativity right? IMO hazard is still lacking in his shooting skill.

Comments are closed.