Xabi Alonso: Barcelona usually out smart Madrid with Messi playing in 'false nine' role

Xabi Alonso: Barcelona usually out smart Madrid with Messi playing in 'false nine' role

Real Madrid legend Xabi Alonso recalls Messi giving him and Sergio Ramos headache back in Guardiola's days.

The Argentine used to play as a false nine back then, closely interacting with Xavi.
The former Blanco midfielder recalls that they had to put in extra effort to deal with Barca's double threat.

Talking to the Coaches' Voice, Real Madrid great Xabi Alonso analyzed Leo Messi's game back in the years when he was being used as a 'false nine'.

"He used to be, like, false nine. But Xavi used to come here to get the ball and when I used to go to press him, Messi came from the number nine position to the 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.

"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. When we controlled a little better that situation, I think that we were closer to compete with them."

Messi has arguably played the best part of his career as a false nine. According to Transfermarkt, the Argentine played 254 games for Barcelona in that position, recording 267 goals and 114 assists while playing there.

This season, the 33-year-old has been used eight times at centre-forward, and he recorded two goals and three assists.
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