Xabi Alonso Explains Why It Was So Hard To Defend Against Lionel Messi In The False Nine Role
Xabi Alonso has opened up about the deadly threat of Lionel Messi when he was deployed as a false nine and how Real Madrid eventually tried to contain him.
The former Bayern Munich and Liverpool midfielder, 37, spent five years at Los Blancos and had a tough task in stopping the Argentine superstar in El Clasicos.
And Alonso, who became Real Sociedad B manager in June, made an appearance on The Coaches' Voice and revealed why the 32-year-old Barcelona captain was so effective in that position.
He explained: "He used to be in this, like, false nine -- you know, it's been told so much about the false nine.
"But Xavi used to come here to get the ball and when I used to go to press him -- this space -- Messi came from the number nine position to this position behind me.
"And they used to do two against one against me, and [Sergio] Ramos came to press Messi where this big space used to be created and when Messi got [the ball] he used to play for [David] Villa or for Pedro in that position."
Why is the false 9 role so difficult to defend against? @XabiAlonso explains. pic.twitter.com/9nv3qDxEbs
- The Coaches' Voice (@CoachesVoice) October 8, 2019
According to Alonso, Madrid started to adapt to Barcelona's tactics under Pep Guardiola and discovered the best way to contain Messi on the pitch.
He continued: "And that's... when we started controlling better this, I think that Ramos used to say, 'Xabi, Messi's coming.' And I didn't go to press Xavi where I would stay with Messi.
"They used to have more control, but they were not that dangerous.
"When we controlled a little better that situation, I think that we were closer to compete with them."
Manchester City boss Guardiola succeeded Frank Rijkaard in 2008 and initially used Messi on the right wing.
But Guardiola would shake up his tactics and use the five-time Ballon d'Or winner in a false nine role to link effectively well with Barcelona legends Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
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