Seeing that Del Bosque is insisting on playing without a real striker in the Euro games, I came to wonder whether the 4-6-0 tactic he's trying to implement really ever worked for a team at this level.

On a side note, one could say that Torres is not on his top form, but Llorente is an amazing striker who constantly gets underestimated, and pretty much ignored in the national team. Interesting enough I believe their gameplay overall would lift having a player who takes deep runs and has some presence in the box. So over all it's clear to me that it's a matter of choice rather than making due with a limited squad.

Any such examples from the history?


2 Answers 2


I think your question should refer to non-striker tactics and that's what I will refer to in my answer.

First of all Barcelona are playing, like Spain, without a real striker but they have Messi (Villa who isn't a typical #9 was injured), and as you can see they are very successful.

You have to read the following amazing and interesting article:


It talks about Roma and Manchester United as an example of top world class clubs who played without a striker.
Then it discuss about the beginning of this non-forward tactic:

That in itself is nothing new. The Austrian 'Wunderteam' of the early 1930s had great success with Mathias Sindelar, a centre-forward who constantly dropped deep, and Vsevolod Bobrov did similarly for the Dynamo Moscow tourists who so delighted British crowds in 1945. It was then Nandor Hidegkuti's role as a deep-lying centre-forward that so perplexed England when Hungary won 6-3 at Wembley in 1953. 'The tragedy to me,' said England's centre-half Harry Johnston, 'was the utter helplessness... not being able to do anything about it.' If Johnston followed Hidegkuti, he left a hole in the centre of England's rearguard; if he stayed put, Hidegkuti roamed free.

It is the best article I've read about this topic!

  • 1
    +1: Interesting read, thanks for the link. As with your regards, I have to disagree on the Barcelona example; yes they do play a very similar football to the Spanish national team (or rather Spain plays similar to Barcelona) however David Villa is a striker who can play deep lying forward position, likewise Messi I believe is more of an attacker as a midfielder. Man U has never really played 4-6-0 as far as I know; Rooney, Tevez, Berbatov, Saha... are all originally strikers that might have fulfilled additional roles on occasion.
    – posdef
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 6:27
  • @posdef I think that Villa isn't a striker, he is more of SS (Second Striker) and most of the time plays on the wing, and this season he injured most of the season. Messi also not a real striker just a Phenomenon.. As for Man Utd, it's partially true since it connected to how you define a Striker and you can see the definition had changed over the years..
    – Dor Cohen
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 6:54
  • 1
    United played with Rooney Tevez and Ronaldo in rotation, with non of them being a 'permanent' striker (no 9).
    – user560
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 7:39
  • 2
    +1 - The Guardian do some very good football articles. Steve Bruce once tried not playing a striker at Sunderland but he failed miserably.
    – Ste
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 8:17
  • 3
    @KutF I guess we have to agree to disagree on the definition of a striker :) I think both Tevez and Rooney are very much typical strikers. There are no lazy, always-forward-no-defense strikers left in the world, and that's not what I mean by a typical striker either. What I was referring to here is that Fabregas is not a striker with any definition and lacking that sharp edge up top is presumably costing Spain & teams that play like Spain. From the Barcelona example, when Zlatan played in Barca his physical existence in the box opened up much more space for the offensive midfielders behind him
    – posdef
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 9:01

Roma made the best use of this formation. It has had it's share of successes but the failures are also quite significant. Here's zonal markings analysis of Roma's success with the 4-6-0:


I will add my personal experience of employing this strategy at a low level under-14 school tournament. My school team did not have a coach and so we did not know how to keep an attacking formation. So we decided to not have an attacking formation. There were 2 centre backs, 2 full backs and a stopper who held the defensive formation. These 5 players were never involved in any attacking move. The other 5 players simply roamed around the opposite half and took whichever position suited them for that move. Most opposition defences were man marking and their back line broke down trying to mark the chaos. Man marking fails against a strikerless formation. Again, this was from a school level perspective.

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