The number 10



In general I really think that the trequartista should have an individual technique of the highest level, closely and quickly connected with a certain tactical intelligence. They are "strongbox" players, capable of "pieces of skill", but above all they can destabilize the various defensive set-ups thanks to unpredictable intuitions.

As we have already seen and read, this type of player tries to stand between the defensive midfielders' line and the forwards in the central zone, looking for space and light to dictate low and medium-distance through balls. His attempt - especially when he delivers the ball to the defensive midfielders - is to stand in the central zone unmarking himself in tight spaces. While it is difficult for his teammates to serve him forward, it is also true that if the trequartista receives the ball in that zone he becomes dangerous for the opponents. The trequartista - although receiving when he is turned away from the goal - has already read the entire situation around him before touching the ball and can understand when to stop and quickly turn in a single movement.

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This eye for situations occurring behind him allows him to quickly read the movements of players in order to serve them promptly, accurately and in the most suited way to shoot. The trequartista become protagonists of the assist since they can easily set up team-mates to score or shoot. The assist average and the percentage of the team's overall assists are two useful indicators to assess the performance of a trequartista. The contribution of trequartistas to the assists of a team is about 25%:

BAGGIO R. 2.0 33.7%
PIRLO 1.9 32.2%
RUI COSTA 2.8 29.4%
ZIDANE 2.8 26.5%
VERON 2.4 25.4%
FIOR 1.8 24.7%
SEEDORF 2.4 24.6%
LOCATELLI 1.5 23.7%
COZZA 1.4 22.3%
ZAULI 1.4 17.9%
MICOUD 1.5 16.8%
  1.99 25.2%

Except Baggio (33.7% of Brescia's overall assists) and Pirlo (32.2% in relation to minutes played) facilitated by the technical gap that distinguishes them from their team-mates, the most effective ones - in relation to the teams they play for – have been Rui Costa and Zidane.

Here are the zones where the Portuguese has served assists this season:
And here is where the Frenchman has put his team-mates in position to score:

Another way for the trequartista to move around is finding space on the wings. And he does it with ease, sure of his ability to control the ball. This is usually a way to keep possession of the ball: in those squares of space delimited by the sideline on one side, the trequartista is skilled in “keep-ball” and then finds solutions on the opposite side.

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For right-footed players it becomes natural to go left - almost vice versa for left-footed ones - and then return to the center and serve assists in the form of inswinging crosses, lobs, through balls or spread the play with a long ball. This attitude or ability of "number 10s" to spread to the flanks – as soon as he can with his body already turned inwards - and get to the cross from the byline is interesting: in this regard, it should be noted how the starting position – in midfield - is not at all correlated to the amount of crosses, but depends on personal characteristics:

COZZA 1.9 25.7%
RUI COSTA 3.2 23.3%
FIORE 2.2 21.9%
ZIDANE 2.3 18.5%
SEEDORF 1.8 17.3%
BAGGIO R. 1.4 17.1%
PIRLO 1.1 13.7%
VERON 1.4 10.3%
MICOUD 1.1 9.3%
LOCATELLI 0.7 8.2%
ZAULI 0.6 7.5%
  1.60 15.7%

For example, Zauli and Micoud rarely get down the flank to send a cross, although they often find themselves touching the ball in a wide position. When the situation is blocked, for example because a man-marking is used on the trequartista, we can verify that the player drops back to receive the ball because he needs to make his charisma felt as much as possible. He is a player sought by all his team-mates so that even in a backward position he is able to keep possession of the ball and also give way to plays or runs, as quarterbacks in American football do. That's why sometimes a trequartista is fielded along with one or two fast strikers running into space.

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For this purpose, it is interesting to note how trequartistas distribute passes between short-medium length (through balls or lobs) and long ones. Obvious differences emerge: there are players like Zidane or Locatelli who do not like to rely on long balls preferring to juggle in tight spaces with passes or dribbles; others such as Fiore or Veron who instead play long balls more often.

 Through balls+lobsLong balls
ZIDANE 52% 9%
SEEDORF 55% 12%
MICOUD 60% 12%
RUI COSTA 50% 14%
BAGGIO R 56% 17%
ZAULI 48% 17%
COZZA 47% 20%
PIRLO 55% 21%
FIORE 51% 25%
VERON 57% 28%
  53% 17%

Here is the density of long passes played by Veron:
And here are those played by Fiore:

The trequartista is also a player capable of creating numerical superiority in the most easy/difficult way of football: dribbling. They are self-confident players who never lose their coolness and skillfully cause problems for the direct opponent or can come out of complicated situations.

The statistical survey says that their average dribbles is 21.4% of the team's total and that Rui Costa carries the ball efficiently.

RUI COSTA 6.8 27.0%
COZZA 5.4 24.8%
PIRLO 5.1 23.9%
FIORE 4.2 22.2%
SEEDORF 5.6 22.2%
ZAULI 5.6 22.0%
LOCATELLI 5.4 21.0%
ZIDANE 6.4 19.9%
VERON 3.7 19.1%
BAGGIO R. 3.9 18.4%
MICOUD 3.5 14.4%
  5.05 21.4%

It is a very useful index to define the characteristics of a player: there are those who are very skilled in “sprints” and love facing the opponent in dribble (such as Zauli, Locatelli and Cozza), but also those who consider the pass as the best way to get closer to the opponents' area: as we have already seen in the long balls table, Veron has a dribbles/played balls ratio less than 4%, compared to Zauli's 11%.

ZAULI 11.0%
COZZA 9.1%
PIRLO 7.5%
BAGGIO R. 6.4%
FIORE 6.4%
VERON 3.9%

Sometimes these players are criticized for not seeking shots very much. The number of shots compared to the number of assists can be a useful indicator to assess the predisposition of a trequartista to get to it:

COZZA 30% 70%
ZAULI 42% 58%
BAGGIO R. 43% 57%
MICOUD 44% 56%
ZIDANE 45% 55%
FIORE 45% 55%
VERON 45% 55%
RUI COSTA 49% 51%
PIRLO 53% 47%
SEEDORF 57% 43%
  46% 54%

For what is shown in this table, Cozza is the most "selfish" player with a number of shots more than twice the number of assists - we will see from which positions. Seedorf and Locatelli are those who seek less shots instead.

However, it is also important for the trequartistas to move into space in order to dictate important and decisive passes. They may stand behind the opponents' defensive midfielders, in that space between the opponents' defensive line and midfield or deep into space for a low or high ball.

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In this way, trequartistas can create perfect harmony with other technically skilled players and serve important balls on a platter. Their charisma and their self-esteem give great ability from set pieces (see R. Baggio, Veron, Zidane).