Sergio Aguero was Man City’s talisman from 2011. A man with great instinct and poaching ability. He had been injured quite some times during his City career but the injury he got in March 2020 stuck with him. It soon became recurring and with Jesus becoming inconsistent in the striker’s role, Guardiola’s team was lagging as Man City didn’t have a recognized striker to replace Aguero. The city had never faced such an issue since their takeover. So the only option left was to improvise. And that is how Guardiola came up with the False 9 tactic, a formation that his team wasn’t used to. But as time went on, Guardiola managed to do what he does best. Pull off a tactical masterclass when no one expected him to. The false nine has since gone from Plan B to Plan A, a tactic that his opponents can predict but won’t be able to counter.
Now the element of surprise can come from the identity of the false nine. At Barcelona, it was always Lionel Messi. At the city, Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden, Kevin de Bruyne, and Bernardo Silva have all their deputized in the middle of the attack. Wingers Raheem Sterling and Ferran Torres have also deputized in the middle of the attack. Guardiola has made his team a complete fluid unit.
Ilkay Gundogan and Joao Cancelo are other examples of how Pep has taken tactical thinking to greater heights.
Ilkay Gundogan’s sudden transformation into a goalscorer, Pep surprised by naming Gundogan a potential false nine. Gundogan has become more prolific and takes responsibility for scoring goals in the absence of Centre forward. He got braces at West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool and the opener at Chelsea in false-nine games.
The Portugal full-back faced difficulties during his first season in English League after a big-money move from Juventus in 2019, but he has played a crucial role in the City’s success, thanks to his manager.
On the Teamsheet, Cancelo was full-back, but when a game gets underway he was anything, but a winger or a central player.
“I like to dribble, make assists, play technical and attractive football,” Cancelo said in an after-match interview.
“The way he(Guardiola) sees football, the full-back plays a lot on the inside, with their back opposing to the goal. I was not used to it, but with training, I feel that I’m better.”
“What do you think about pep’s false 9 formation”