What is a False 9 in Soccer?

Soccer teams sometimes use a false 9, which is a deep-lying striker position situated between the center forward and the number 10. The traditional number 9 is the team’s offensive focal point, while the false 9 presses on the opposition’s backline and is poised to score from crosses, creating confusion on defense.

In addition, the false 9 contributes to the team’s possession plan by dropping deep into the midfield, allowing wide forwards and attacking midfielders to operate more freely. To be a successful false 9, a player must have exceptional dribbling, passing, and scoring abilities, as well as field perception and anticipation.

While the false 9 is a hybrid position, combining striker and playmaker roles, it is formally called a deep-lying striker. The false 9 has been in use since 1920 and was popularized by the Hungarian team’s success in the 1954 FIFA World Cup with Nándor Hidegkuti.

Teams use the false 9 to create different passing angles, maintain possession, and score goals, but the position has disadvantages as well. For instance, it can lead to confusion on the pitch, making it challenging to identify who should take shots on goal. Additionally, when the opposition’s defensive midfielders press high to restrict the false 9’s movement, the play can get overcrowded.

Overall, the false 9 is a versatile position that can create opportunities on the pitch, but it also requires careful consideration of its drawbacks.