Or, corollary to that, ‘Why False 9 Isn’t a Viable System Anymore (At Least in Europe).’
Why hello there, BFB. Long time, no talk.
Well actually, there’s been plenty of talk but it’s mostly been about this year’s Barça. Not enough possession, too direct, crap defense, the whole nine yards. But I’m here to blather on about this other thing that hasn’t been beaten to death enough and that is: Barça need a striker, preferably one with height and can play a hybrid CF/RW role.
“No!” you say. “What Barça need are center backs! I mean, come on, they just signed Neymar.”
Well, I don’t disagree with you about the CBs – and yes, I think we do need another CB even with Bartra – but I’m going to detail all the ways Barça need a striker (which Neymar is not) and hopefully by the end of this gargantuan post, you’ll agree with me.
But before I do that I want you to turn the clock back to the 2008-09 season, commonly known as the treble winning season. Do you remember exactly how Barça played back then? If you don’t, it was like this: Messi played on the right wing, Henry on the left wing, Samuel Eto’o in the center as a striker, Pep was there, Hleb was there, and we won a bunch of stuff.
Also, Messi often subbed in for Hleb. Don’t believe me? This just in: pictorial evidence.
But that isn’t the important point. The bigger question I want to ask is: do you remember how the opposition teams defended Barça back then?
If not, then hey oh. That’s what I’m here for. I’m going to refresh your memory.
a return to glory days, where it all began : barça 2008/09
Barça at that point was a team that was defended like one that had a central striker. What does that mean? It means in a four-man defense, the two CBs would defend Eto’o (the striker), the left full back would defend Messi (the right winger) and the right fullback would defend Henry (the left winger).
Now, teams will always look to nullify the main threat – that’s just basic tactics. The reason the likes of Messi and Henry were often left one v one against their respective fullback was because the opposing team felt that Eto’o was the main goal scoring threat. Think about the roles wingers usually have: they are there to support (i.e. assist) the striker who scores the goal, so even when they beat their marker, it’s likely that they will just square the ball back to the striker instead of going for goal themselves. The opposition team, anticipating this, will have two players on the striker so they can cut out the pass before it reaches him.
It might sound laughable now that teams would choose to focus on Eto’o instead of Messi but you have to remember the context back then. Messi was not a known goal scorer (his career best back then was 15 goals and that was seen as very impressive), was often injured, and Eto’o had been the club’s leading goal scorer for many seasons while Henry was still trying to fit in, so he was quite inconsistent. Therefore it made sense, tactically, to try and stifle Eto’o, and take their chances with Messi and Henry one-v-one against the fullbacks.
Of course, this was treble-winning Barça, not the Barça that had finished 3rd the season previous 21 points away from RM, so that worked about as well as you might expect.
With Eto’o occupying the CBs, all Henry and Messi had to do was beat their marker and they’d be free in loads of space to score themselves instead of squaring a pass to Eto’o – and they both did that regularly, Messi especially.
For an example, take this goal. It was the goal-ahead goal against Malaga on March 22, 2009.
In a regular passage of play Xavi gets the ball in the center circle.
That’s Eto’o in the middle and Henry at the top of the picture is maintaining width. Xavi spots Messi on the right (off-screen) and passes to him.
As you can see (or maybe not, sorry for the picture quality!) Messi is one-on-one against the Malaga left back. I circled Eto’o (in yellow) because I want you to notice how many defenders are in and around his area. Malaga is rushing to cover their left back since it’s clear Messi is in a dangerous position, but it goes to show how they focus on closing the space around Eto’o.*
(*But even then, Malaga aren’t marking Eto’o as tightly as they do to “false 9 Messi” but I’ll get to that later).
As you’d expect, Messi beats the Malaga fullback in one move – a beautiful chest pass to himself.
In the picture below, you’ll see there is a defender in front of Messi and one that is trailing behind Leo on the left hand side. Normally, Messi is double teamed by the left back and the left midfielder who comes over for cover. If things get really dicey, maybe the left center back will come over too, but that’s it. Just something I wanted to mention.
Anyways, Messi will continue his dribble but the interesting thing is the Malaga center back I’ve circled in red. You’d expect him to come over and help the defender circled purple and/or act as cover in case purple-circled defender gets beat by Messi. But he doesn’t. Why? Because he’s keeping his eye on Samuel Eto’o. Remember – wingers generally pass to the striker and leaving Eto’o open and in space is a pretty bad idea, so they’ll take their chances with Messi.
So what happens? Well, you can guess. The right center back ends up coming across but by then it’s too late and Messi scores.
So that was how many goals were scored in that season. Great, huh? Well, it wasn’t always that easy.
Of course, once it became apparent that Messi was scoring many, many goals from the right wing and was becoming the bigger threat, teams did what they always do: they adapted. That meant they started to overload the flanks — that is, throw a bunch of people Messi’s way instead of Eto’o’s – and tried to limit the amount of space Messi has.
And that last point is key and something I was to stress right now. Leo Messi is obviously a brilliant footballer who could dribble in a phone booth, but one thing is very clear: Messi is at his most dangerous when he has space to play.
It’s a simple equation: Messi + space = dangerous and Dangerous Messi = bad things for the other teams = Barça winning a lot. Therefore Barça managers (and any manager with sense) are always thinking about how to devise a system where Messi is in the most space. (Some succeeded better than others, but that’s the focus.)
That may seem like an obvious bit of common sense, but sometimes it isn’t.
So the most space Messi has in that era is on the right where he only has two defenders at most to deal with. Fantastic, play him there. Except teams said nope, and tried to put a stop to it. How? Well, just look at this from the Copa del Rey quarterfinal against Atletico Madrid on January 2009 (yep, from the same 2008-09 season. Teams adapt fast to deadly threats, don’tcha know?)
In the above pic, Messi just received the ball on the right. He has Alves with him and you can see the four (arguably five, if you could Simao) defenders in his way.
Messi and Alves actually link up in the following moments to score the first goal (sick backheel from Alves) but it’s interesting to note how open Seydou Keita is (circled in red) and how much space Bojan (technically the striker here, circled in green) has. This will have a bearing on what happens when a false 9 comes into play.
Also – another thing I want to add: it’s pretty obvious here that between Bojan, Iniesta (who was playing LW) and Messi, Leo is the bigger threat. Thus, Atleti focused on limiting his space and not Bojan’s, despite the latter being the striker. Remember: teams nullify the biggest goal scoring threat.
As an aside: That Atleti game is actually one of my favourite Messi games, because even though it was just after winter break, Messi was coming back from injury, and Atleti was totally focused on him, he still scored a hat trick and completely dominated the game. It was awesome.
Okay, so now that I’ve refreshed your memory about that Barça, let me move onto the main tactical system of the Guardiola era: the false 9.
what is the false 9 system
To make this short: it’s when a player plays in the 9 role – that is occupies the two CBs – but drops into the midfield. It makes the CBs marking that player unsure as to whether they should follow him or stay in position (which is hard for them because there’s no one there to mark anymore). That hesitation causes gaps in the defense to form, allowing space for midfield runners to crash the box and the player in the false 9 position to spray passes into space for the wingers.
why false 9 worked
Well, the main reason why the false 9 was so successful was it allowed Messi to stay in pockets of space close to goal and influence the game in the most dangerous zone of the pitch – the center. It allowed him to escape being boxed in on the wing by defenders (like in that Atleti pic from above). Messi’s ability to dribble and his vision made it doubly effective. He could pass with startling accuracy (just think of David Villa’s second goal against RM in the 5-0 Clasico) and if that fails, he could simply dribble past his marker and generally wreak havoc.
Also, teams still thought Eto’o was the striker (which he was, to be fair), so when Eto’o moved to the right wing, it threw the opposition CBs and the LB for a loop because the CBs weren’t sure if they should follow Eto’o out wide and the LB was not sure if he should follow Messi to the center.
There are two games from the treble season where the above happens that I want to highlight. The first is the 2-6 Clasico on May 2, 2009 when Barça effectively sealed the Liga title and was one of the most memorable wins of the Pep era.
In this match, Barça were only two points ahead of RM and the game was sandwiched between those two Chelsea games in the CL. Barça came into the game drawing 0-0 with Chelsea and the momentum was in RM’s favor – they had closed the gap on Barça from 12 points at Christmas to a paltry 2 and were feeling good about themselves.
This game was memorable not only because of scoreline (but oh yeah, that’s part of it!) but also because it was the first game I can recall where Pep used Messi in the false 9 position to start the game (as shown in the picture below).
Just look at the sheer amount of space, particularly between the lines – that means between Lass and the CBs, which I’ve indicated with a black line – and between Ramos and Cannavaro. That becomes important.
If I go in-depth about this match, this post will be a million pages long, so I’m only going to highlight two of the goals Barça scored: Thierry Henry’s equalizing goal and Messi’s first.
Madrid actually pressed Barça well in the first 15 minutes of this game and took the lead through Higuain. Luckily Barça responded minutes later.
It starts here with Messi picking up the ball.
You can see Cannavaro’s moved up to try and close Messi down, so Ramos shuffles over to try and cover for him – but that allows Henry to make a run behind Ramos. (Note: Look at Sammy Eto’o and how he occupies one of the CBs for Madrid in addition to the Madrid LB. Remember that although he was playing right wing in this game, he’s still a striker. I’ll talk about this later)
As seen above, Messi plays a brilliant pass to Henry. Ramos tries to intercept with this weird flying kick thing (lmao) but it’s obviously ineffective, and Henry goes on to score.
A couple of minutes later, El Capita Puyol heads Barça ahead which was beyond epic (kissing-the-armband celebration FTW) and things are looking good. It would look better when Xavi and Messi combine to put Barça up 1-3 at halftime – and that’s the other goal I want to dissect.
I’ve talked pretty extensively on how Eto’o moved right, but another key factor of the false 9 are the midfield runners. In this goal, it’s highlighted brilliantly through Xavi.
It starts off with Madrid under pressure. Messi had robbed the ball off Gago but Cannavaro manages to pass the ball back to Casillas before Henry gets to the pass. Casillas dishes the ball to Metzelder (one of the two CBs RM played, the other was Cannavaro. Good times, eh?) and he passes to Lass.
Unfortunately for Madrid (hahahaha), Xavi is still high up the pitch and he robs Lass of the ball.
Xavi passes the ball to Messi and you can see where this is going:
And then it’s off to the races and Leo scores.
In general, Xavi played further up the pitch under Pep – but it was in these “false 9 Messi” games where we could see the impact he had when he played that far up.
So that was the first of the two false 9 games I mentioned. The second? The 2009 Champions League Final against Manchester United.
There are so, so many things I can say about this game but if I did that, this post would never end, so the bit that I want to blab about is the first 10 minutes of the game.
Here’s an interesting tidbit: teams back then used to try and battle Barça for possession. It seems like a foregone conclusion nowadays that Barça will have 60-70% possession but that wasn’t the case then, so when the false 9 system went into effect there were often large pockets of space for Messi, Iniesta and especially Xavi to play some deadly passes into. (Forgoing possession to Barça was another way teams adapted, and the “parked bus” tactic came to be the norm against Barça when teams realized giving space to FCB by pressing Barça players was a terrible idea – but I’ll get to that later.)
So in this game, Man Utd started the game with the majority of the possession and much like Madrid in the 2-6 Clasico, they really pressed Barça.
Pep started this game with Eto’o in the centre and Messi out wide marking Evra. (Apologies for the picture quality!)
The thing is, Man United prepared this game with Eto’o in the center in mind. They knew that Messi liked to drift inside, so early on they often passed the ball to Evra who moved forward to great effect.
For example, Vidic in the above pic passes the ball to Evra (circled in yellow in the pic below). Messi doesn’t track him and Evra makes a run forward.
You can see Anderson making a run forward as well, but what I want you to focus on is Puyol.
Defenders have two jobs: to defend the attacking player, but also to defend space as well. What does “defend space” mean? Look at the area I’ve marked in red. That’s empty space Puyi has to defend.
Puyol can’t close Evra down because if he comes over, he’s leaving a lot of space behind him. Anderson is making a run – but so are many of the Man Utd players. Just look at Cristiano Ronaldo and The Yaya who is marking him (underlined in yellow). If Puyol commits to Evra, he’s leaving The Yaya at risk – there’s no doubt Cristiano will run into that space that will open up. And, uh, that’s pretty bad, to say the least.
As I said before, Man Utd started very brightly in this game. Anderson continues his run and is fouled by the Yaya. That leads to a free kick that Valdes has to save and a rebounding shot from Park Ji-Sung (or Ji-Sung Park, for those who want the Western naming conventions) that Pique blocks brilliantly.
Around four minutes in, Pep has seen enough and switches Messi to false 9.
I know this because a minute later, you can see how Barça line up.
To further illustrate the move, I post the pics below:
Okay, so now that I’ve set up the stage, let’s look at Eto’o’s opening goal. It starts with Vidic receiving that ball.
He’s got four passing lanes open to him: to Carrick, to Ferdinand, to Evra and he can also pass back to Van der Sar. With both Messi and especially Eto’o closing him down, Vidic takes the safest option and passes back to Van der Sar (off screen).
However, Eto’o continues his run and closes Van der Sar down with remarkable speed.
Yeah, that dot is Eto’o. He’s running so fast, he’s literally a blur!
Anyways, Van der Sar boots the ball away and it bounces around until it reaches the feet of Iniesta. You know how that ends.
I really liked that Eto’o goal, because it showed that although Samu was on the wing, he still had the killer instinct and went for goal. The Man Utd CBs still defended Eto’o like he was a striker – and he was, but he was one who played on the wing and it opened up space for Messi and Iniesta to dribble the ball forward, and that was key to the goal.
(Also, I’ll post the links for you to watch this final again. For those complaining about this year’s Barça, take a good look at the one that won the 2009 CL final with 51% possession, 36-year-old Sylvinho at LB, Puyol at RB and The Yaya at center back – and still won.)
Alright, so that’s false 9. It was pretty sweet, to say the least.
why it doesn’t work anymore
It’s quite simple, really. Teams adapted. Again. That’s just what happens. It’s the nature of the game and what all great teams go through.
Coaches saw how much space Messi had in the center and correctly thought – this can’t go on. So they clogged the middle, which is to say what used to look roughly like this:
Now looks like this:
Time and time again, we see it happen. The dreaded “parked buses” that Barça struggle to find a way through. Just take a look at these videos, courtesy of Lev.
Remember way up in the post when I talked about Eto’o in the Malaga game? How he was surrounded by players but the marking was quite loose? That was because Malaga could afford to give Eto’o that much space. His first touch wasn’t very good and he is not a dribbler, so defenders can leave some legroom, so to speak.
This is not the case with Messi.
How many times have we seen him literally surrounded by five or six players with little to no room? Barça fans brag about it all the time – the ‘You know it’s Messi when this happens’ meme – but tactically speaking, that’s not good for the team. Just look at this GIF from a Benfica game in 2012.
Benfica collapse centrally on Messi opening up space on the wing. Often when that happened in past seasons, Eto’o or Ibra would have space to take advantage of and score. But right now Barça is in the position where Messi is the main goalscoring threat, but he has absolutely no space to work with.
In a false 9 system, the player in that false 9 position drop into the midfield. For Barça that makes Messi drops deep and that allows Iniesta and Xavi to make forward runs, as well as gaps opening up for whoever is playing on the wings, be it Pedro, Alexis, Neymar, or Tello.
The problem is, neither of those players are natural or known goal scorer, except maybe Neymar (because it’s too early for me to tell yet). They don’t really shoot very much. Xavi and Iniesta’s first instinct is to pass. That’s just how they are. And that actually goes for many for the players Barça have right now. Pedro and Tello can score a goal here or there, but they aren’t as efficient and normally want to cross or pass the ball anyway. Same goes for the overlapping fullbacks, Alves/Montoya and Adriano/Alba.
All those players – they’ll pass to Messi. That’s entirely normal because Messi has a ridiculous conversion rate. Give him the ball and a large percentage of the time, it’s a goal.
But when teams crowd around Messi, sure, space opens up for the players on the wings but more often than not, they look to pass back to Messi anyway. (Alves is particularly egregious with this). With all those players around Leo, it’s likely the ball will either be intercepted or the space Messi has will disappear and he’ll be forced to pass back (or lose possession, which is the ultimate faux-pas at Barça).
Despite being open in that above GIF, no one took take advantage of that Messi pass and Barça lost possession to Benfica in the next play. That happens very often.
I want to stress here that it’s not really the players’ fault, it’s just in their nature to pass. The term used for those kinds of players is “associative ” and Barça just happen to have a lot of associative players in the squad.
I haven’t mentioned Cesc Fabregas yet because he’s an interesting case and probably warrants a post itself. Although he’s a midfielder, he brings a more direct game and has a good eye for goal. It’s probably the effect the English game has had on him that he isn’t as “associative” as Xavi or Iniesta. Having said that, the fact remains he also isn’t a goal scorer.
[Also, on the subject of midfield and midfield runners, once upon a time we had Seydou Keita who used to crash the box, as seen in the Atleti pic earlier in the post. Iniesta and Xavi make runs, of course they do, but it’s generally a surprise when they actually chut de bol, amirite?]
As another aside: I’ve heard that people complain that Messi isn’t as “explosive” anymore or that they prefer 2009!Messi to 2013!Messi, but that ignores two things:
- Teams don’t defend Barça the same as they did in 2009. They don’t fight Barça for possession anymore, they don’t leave gaps in defense, and they clog the middle where Messi likes to play.
- How can Messi be explosive when he has no space to explode into (so to speak)? Before Messi used to have about 3 defenders on him, max. Now? Four, five, sometimes even six! And even then, Messi was still Barca’s top scorer with a ridiculous amount of goals and assists. It’s truly incredible.
But that in and of itself is a problem. Because Messi is so individually brilliant that he can often play himself out of disadvantageous situations (ie. having to play with no space and still do stuff like this while injured :
Barça figure it’s okay to just add in more wingers and not take the load off Messi. For over three seasons now, Messi has had to be both the reference point and the main goalscoring threat. That’s an enormous burden. Obviously he’s been able to carry that burden okay, but we’re arguably seeing some of the ramifications of it right now.
Messi’s not just physically exhausted but as some people have mentioned – Cesc, Xavi, Pique – he’s mentally exhausted too. It’s not hard to see why. And that’s on us.
so how can Barça fix it
And now I finally get to the main point of this post: Barça need to get a striker who can also play on the right wing, if necessary. Or, in other words, we need to go back to the model we had in 2008/09.
A striker would take some defenders attention away from Messi and give him some much needed space. I want to be clear here: when I mean striker, I mean someone whose main job and first instinct is to shoot and score.
Players like Pedro, Alexis, Tello and Neymar – they are primarily wingers. Remember what I said the role of a winger was? To assist the striker. Although it’s been shown that Pedro and co. are able to score, it’s not their main asset, so to speak. A winger at Barça is a tough job full of defensive duties. Right now, they must be able to score, because teams crowd Messi and they have to take advantage of the space – but you wouldn’t expect them to have 20+ goal seasons, for example.
In the 2008/09 season, Eto’o was the top scorer in La Liga with 30 goals. You want to know how much Messi had? 23. That was seen as a great haul by Leo. And what position was Messi playing primarily in that season? A winger.
[Note: I didn’t mention those numbers to say that we need to reduce Messi’s goal haul or something. (Please continue to score 50+ goals, Messi!) It was just to illustrate the point about the difference between wingers and strikers re goals.]
A 9 would be able to occupy defenders and allow the likes of Messi and Neymar space to play in. And it just so happens Barça had a 9 before: Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Now, the reasons Ibra didn’t work out at Barça are many and I detailed them here, but the main point is that it was not because Ibra failed as a player. Many people claimed and actually continue to claim that because Ibra was sold, a Plan B (i.e. a striker) won’t work at Barça. That is simply not true. There were so many things Ibra in the striker role brought to the side that Barça desperately need right now.
To see what I mean, I’m going to take you back to the 2009 Club World Club semi-final against Atlante.
In this game, Atlante defended very well and often clogged the middle. The score was tied 1-1 when Messi comes off the bench (he had to be a sub because he had an injury a couple of games before). In the very next play this happens:
Ibra receives the ball from Xavi and is surrounded by three players. You can also see a fourth is coming across as well.
Now, Ibra takes the ball and shuffles to the right. By doing this he draws two additional Atlante defenders, as seen below. This results in a gap forming between the Atlante left back and the rest of the defense that I highlighted in red.
Messi, spotting the gap, will start a run.
When Leo makes his run, Ibra has the vision to not only see Messi but the ability to lob a perfectly weighted pass into Messi’s path as well.
And then Leo goes on to score.
Ibra essentially took out five defenders in one move there. It was really remarkable and I just have to show you the pass from a different angle.
Here’s another example of how Messi (and by extension Barça) benefit from a 9.
This next goal is from the Getafe away match from 2009/10 season. It was the goal that clinched all three points – a header from Messi. Let’s break down it down.
It starts with Dani Alves on the wing. He’s crossing the ball to Ibra who’s made a clever run to the back post. I’ve circled Messi, though, because just look at how much space he has.
The two Getafe defenders know what a threat the six-foot-four Ibra is in the air and so they hang back to double team him. This, of course, leaves Messi open.
Ibra doesn’t try and head the ball, though. He instead controls it and lays it into the path of an incoming Messi.
And Messi scores a nice header. (A bit counter-intuitive, that).
Now, Ibra is a special player – you will not find a player that has his height and his vision. It’s unique. But the role he played – taking away all those defenders and leaving Messi open – that’s a role that any sufficiently talented 9 could play.
For example, take this goal scored by Samuel Eto’o in the same Malaga game from March 2009. It’s something we’d get if we could find a striker who could also play on the right wing.
When the Malaga defense crowds around Messi, Eto’o cleverly stations himself on the wing.
Messi will pass to Xavi who spots Eto’o and does what Xavi always does. Eto’o does well to hold his run and keep himself onside.
And that’s that. Eto’o is mano-a-mano against the Malaga goalkeeper and scores.
This goal was interesting because Messi and Eto’o effectively switched positions to the same effect. Messi in the center technically took defenders away from Eto’o on the wing so he could score. Recall how Messi scored from the wing earlier in the post. It was from the same Malaga game, in the same half. Something to chew on.
To sum up: teams adapted to Messi playing RW in the second half of the 2008/09 season so Barça responded to that adaptation by playing Messi at false 9. Then teams adapted again to false 9 Messi but Barça have yet to respond to that.
And that, my friends, is the problem. It’s been three seasons and counting and Barça still haven’t found a change for the false 9 system.
Pep Guardiola tried to when he signed Ibra for the 9 role (the reason Eto’o was sold despite also being a 9, in my honest opinion, was that for what Pep had in mind, Ibra was actually an upgrade, being a player with height, the ability to hold off defenders, and had the vision and passing accuracy of a number 10).
But by the best laid plans of mice and Peps, Ibra hadn’t panned out and was sold. In the same summer Villa was signed, but what people forget is that in that summer Henry left the club too and tactically speaking, Villa actually replaced Henry, not Ibra. Pep made adjustments in the system so Barça could maximize the skill sets of all their players and the success of 10/11 Barça lulled people into a false sense of security and lead many fans/media to believe that meant the “Plan B” doesn’t work for Barça. I hope the above shows that isn’t true.
And actually, you can argue that the Barça players had to elevate their game to the frankly ridiculous level where they could play intricate, inch-perfect passes to dissect defenses every single game. They managed it in that 10/11 season, of course. But the so-called extreme version of tiki-taka isn’t a system that leaves much margin for error and I’m pretty sure we saw the downsides of it last season, especially when you add in fatigue (both mental and physical, and that fact that our players are in fact human beings and not football playing space aliens. Huh.)
[As for the Alexis signing, you should remember that Alexis at Udinese was a playmaker who often set up Antonio Di Natale (the striker). The big gamble that Pep and Barça took was that Alexis would be able to add another dimension to his game: score goals. Alexis struggled with that early, but he’s obviously come into his own this last year. And besides, for the kind of wingers Barça need, Alexis is perfect. Plus he can do stuff like this:
False 9 was a great system that allowed us to take advantage of teams overloading the flank because of Messi. But now that teams are now overloading the center, we need a striker who can provide an additional goal-scoring threat. Defenders went after Ibra because it was obvious he was a known goal scorer who was strong in the air and a danger in all areas of the pitch. They went after Eto’o because he was the 9 and was top scorer for Barça for many seasons.
Back then we forced teams to choose: defend Messi and you leave the striker open, or defend the striker and leave Messi relatively open. The issue is that the current Barça don’t have the players to force that choice – and it would be solved easily if they sign a striker.
It’s not even that we need Messi to play on RW. He just needs someone that will take away some defenders when he makes a run, like Ibra did against Atlante.
Another thing a striker will bring is better defence re set-pieces, but that’s a discussion that will have to be saved for another time, as will the dissection of ‘Messidependencia’ which is a notion I violently (okay, maybe passive-aggressively) disagree with. If I can really hustle, a post about match control and direct play will also be on your way.
So that’s it. Well done if you read until this far. Hopefully I’ve illustrated why Barça need a 9. Gracias for reading and see you in the comments!
[Or, if you wish, you can hit me up @officialkari on Twitter. Whichever floats your boat]