Why is the Number 10 role so important?

This is actually quite a new phenomenon, or at least it’s importance is new. In the past the ‘number 10’ has usually been the secondary striker, or in more simple terms, the player that plays behind the striker. Dennis Bergkamp was a famous ‘number 10’ and one of the best. Henry was the player that played beyond him with Dennis instigating most attacks. However, these ‘number 10’s’ could also play as the main striker if needs be. In this day and age, the ‘number 10’ role is often played by the attacking midfielder. So a few current examples are Mesut Ozil, Juan Mata and David Silva. They will still instigate most attacks but will not be a replacement striker.

The ‘number 10’ role took a back-seat when Barcelona introduced their 4-3-3 system in which two of the three midfielders will play the box-to-box role. The wide players will provide outlets. As Barcelona had Lionel Messi as their main striker, they didn’t really have to worry about how well they played the system but they did and for a number of seasons we saw how devastating it really was.

The Spaniards have adopted this formation but altered it slightly because they have used a ‘false 9’ which basically means that the player who is put in the centre forward position will just be used as an extra midfielder. Francesc Fabregas was deployed by Spain as the player that played in the ‘false 9’ system.

However, for these systems to work, Barcelona and Spain have got truly exceptional players in their ranks which makes their success using their system a lot easier to come by. There has been a decline in the effectiveness of this system as Bayern Munich beat Barcelona using a ‘number 10’ formatted system.

A ‘number 10’ can do a whole host of jobs for his club. They can be as creative as they like because they receive the ball often enough to try new things. They link the deeper midfielders to the strikers and vice-versa as they constantly filter through any passes or they can spread the play out wide to introduce the wingers. As the attacking midfielders sit quite deep, they can also help out defensively which is extremely important for a team to have as many players behind the ball as possible. Finally, they can pressurise opposition from high up the pitch and create another barrier for the opposition to get past.

In conclusion, the ‘number 10’s’ importance around the world is shining through at the moment because a number of teams have adopted a formation or style of play which allows them to use the ‘number 10’.


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