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Tactical theory: Centre-connector
Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2022-01-27 23:50:11
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History is always unearthed, but not always credited to its main origin. This happens with football and on many other occasions in life. The false 9 concept, for example, which is almost as old as football, but people credit it to more recent eras. The false 9, moreover, is brought back from period to period, with its last success being marked in the history of Pep Guardiola's F.C. Barcelona. This, however, is not the main theme of the topic, but another tactic used by the elders of Breton sport and which was very common in Central Europe in the 20s, 30s and parts of the 40s: the centre-half which could be the centre-forward.
For start of topic, what is a centre-forward? A goalscorer? A playmaker? Well, that depends on the characteristics of the player. However, this tactic itself is aimed at the great schemers of the offensive center. See Dr. György Sárosi, for example, who was an exceptional centre-half and who later became an outstanding centre-forward. In Dr. Sárosi's characteristics, he was not only a tactical master, passing and unique combiner, but an exceptional goalscorer. Dr. Sárosi was both: a goalscorer and strategist at the same time. Even so, is the first characteristic really necessary? I mean, the goalscorer? I believe that Koželuh, with his calm, intelligence and sense of positioning, could have been an accomplished centre-half, too. Alfréd Schaffer proves this.
Schaffer — in his 1920s style — was not just an exceptional centre-forward, no. He was a complete axis, a player who could play in the center of midfield and in the center of attack. Kalb, who was a player who learned a lot from Schaffer, was a centre-half with technical and tactical qualities that could make him a master of attacking actions. Furthermore, Schaffer, in the 1924/25 season, played centre-half games while young Matthias Sindelar was the team's centre-forward. The player possessing a very high technical and tactical knowledge and presenting a calm psychological in the field — Schaffer, basically — can carry out transition actions and offensive actions.
Dr. György Sárosi.
Imagine Hofmann, one more example, playing on an eventual offensive line. Hofmann was a calm player, a tactical genius, with a technique and elegance of the highest class of his time. Hofmann had complete knowledge of positional play. And if he acted in the offensive actions, I mean, in the event of Gschweidl's abstinence, could he not have commanded the offensive actions with splendor? With first-rate passes, accurate and unexpected passes, he could play in the same way as Dr. Sárosi – not being a natural goalscorer, but an exceptional schemer, the axis of the team's creation. Others of Hofmann's style have played like this, as is the case of Karel Pešek-Káďa, who has played a few times as a centre-forward for the A.C. Sparta team. György Orth was an exceptional centre-half and centre-forward. Jenő Kalmár, too. József Turay and etc... Among the main examples of the 1940s, I highlight Nagymarosi, who acted a few times as centre-half and withdrawn centre-forward for Újpest.
How could something like this be accomplished in modern football? The basic plan for this type of game would be a style of constant infiltration and combination. The good side of having a centre-half from Káďa's school in attack is that he could easily hold the ball and connect with midfielders or wingers. Furthermore, due to the transition feature base, the player would be constantly returning to the midfield, thus increasing the number of player in the middle block and sometimes generating a numerical advantage. The player would not need to be fast, but very well posted tactically, as the sectors would need one more player to create connections and generate spaces.
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LW CC RW
Already in the offensive phase, the same athlete would not need to go up much, but supply the wingers or the infiltrating midfielder with passes between lines or between the last line. Infiltrations would be constant, always abusing a defensive loophole. A player who possessed an impressive repertoire of passing, intuition and change of direction — in terms of positioning each pass — could deliver throughballs or even a high-quality combination game.
Basically, the difference of a false 9 for this type of centre-forward would be a more defensive characterization. In today's football, a team that defends with everyone stands out, and the first defensive line is always the attack line. Dr. Sárosi, for example, in addition to being a brilliant schemer and goalscorer, had a more defensive style as well. When his teams were attacked, Dr. Sárosi used to return to compose the defensive system. Currently, if a centre-forward constituted the marking phase with more emphasis, the teams would have a defensive advantage.
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- CC -
On the occasion above, while withdrawing from his position, the player would be creating two scalene triangles with the wingers and midfielders, therefore opening up more connections with teammates. Furthermore, depending on the level of tactical knowledge of the defensive midfielder and the two opposing defenders, the centre-forward could attract a defender, thus opening space for a pointer to internally exploit the defensive flaw. Failing that, the CC would create a numerical advantage in midfield.
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LW - RW
- CC -
In the above demo, the CC retracts, therefore attracting an opposing defender. With that, the LW, which would not play just as a classic winger, would infiltrate between the created space, therefore having a clear chance of scoring a goal. The CC, on the other hand, would not need to advance much, but rather be positioned further back in case the play is broken down and the opposing team tries to counter-attack.
In addition, the player would not need to go up as much to score goals, but always launch teammates and assist in combinations.
In the event of an opponent's advance, the CC would be positioned just ahead of the real teammate defensive midfielder; covering the side the opponent would attack:
In conclusion, why would it necessarily have to be a centre-half? Generally, a player who manages to carry out a transition of the ball with extreme simplicity and, still, intelligence, in addition to connecting directly with the attack, could connect the midfield to the offensive actions.
Furthermore, if he were a largely cerebral player, he could use his repertoire of dummies, fake passes, turns and unexpected moves to create an offensive situation. Consequently, the two wingers would be the main scorers of the team and even the two central midfielders could score more. In summary, the centre-connector is just a helper, but a fundamental piece, perhaps the most important one of line players.
Examples of centre-half becoming centre-forward took place mainly in old Central Europe, as the text mentions above. Still, it's worth mentioning that there are newer examples that could replicate the aforementioned playstyle. Don Alfredo Di Stéfano, who did not go from a centre-half to become a centre-forward, had these characteristics in the first half of the 60's, when Di Stéfano was already on the verge of to retire.
As much as Di Stéfano was no longer at his peak, he managed to perform with excellence. Don Alfredo, moreover, was no longer as incisive as before, but he was much more defensive, always seeking to contain more spaces, go through the opposing player and disarm whenever possible. In fact, Di Stéfano had these characteristics long before, but not in the same proportion — which was much greater. Di Stéfano — 1960s — is a perfect example that reflects the lines of this text.
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