Why Michu can be Spain’s new false nine

by Jonathan Day

Michu-Swansea_2817100After scoring 15 goals in La Liga last season and hitting a return of 13 goals in the Premier League this time around, the call for Michu to get his chance with the Spanish national team looks finally set to be answered.

A £2.2 million acquisition from Rayo Vallecano, Michu has widely been tagged as the “bargain of the season” in the Premiership. The Spanish midfielder’s goals have been the difference for Swansea and the brace against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge helped propel the Swans and manager Michael Laudrup into the Capital One Cup final.

The versatility of Michu who can be play in central midfield, attacking midfield or as a striker is an obvious bonus to a club manager, but the preference for international managers is to pick players who play in a fixed position regularly for their club, gives the likes of Cesc Fabregas a distinct advantage over Michu.

Fabregas did feature in a false 9 position for Barcelona last season under Pep Guardiola and it was this that proved to be the telling factor for Del Bosque, who chose to play the 2012 European Championship final without a recognised striker.

One criticism levelled at Del Bosque and Spain’s possession based football during the recent European Championships was the lack of directness and cutting edge, something Michu has epitomised over the past two seasons.

The killer instinct displayed by Michu this season has been unrivalled. No player has a better chance to conversion rate (25%) when comparing players who have taken more than 50 shots in the Premier League. That is better than both Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and Manchester United’s Robin Van Persie.

Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque has already been to watch Michu in action this season, but warned the Swansea midfielder that he faces a tough task to break into the national side.

Curiously, Del Bosque recently cited Andres Iniesta, Juan Mata and David Silva as Michu’s competition and not Fabregas, suggesting a wider role for the Swansea based star, but the physical and direct approach of Michu is undoubtedly best utilised in an attacking midfield or false 9 position.

Michu’s balance and first touch means that the Real Oviedo graduate can hold up the ball high up the pitch as well as being able to drop deeper, which could give the likes of Iniesta, Mata and Silva chance to become involved further forward.

Michu also provides Spain with a much more direct outlet than Fabregas and Michu’s physicality and aerial threat has seen five of Michu’s 13 Premier League goals come from headers; a frame and a target that has often been the focal point in the Swans attack.

The continued fall from grace of Fernando Torres and a succession of injuries to Barcelona’s David Villa have severely dented the chances of Del Bosque’s first choice strikers, so the immediate appeal of playing Fabregas or Michu in a False 9 position would be a more in-form selection.

In a little over a week, Spain will face Uruguay at the Khalifa International Stadium in an international friendly and although Michu is likely to be named in the travelling party, whether the Swansea man will feature for La Roja remains to be seen.

Jonathan Day

1 Response

  1. Adam Knyole says:

    Michu only scored one v chelsea in the capital one cup semi final, Graham got the other one…

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