It was Kevin De Bruyne who first coined the phrase 'free-eight'.
Thanks to the tutelage of Pep Guardiola, he is now the most Spanish of Belgian midfielders and revealed more about his role when speaking to Belgian newspaper Het Laatste shortly after the Catalan manager’s arrival in Manchester.
“It’s a different role, it’s all right. It’s a little change but it’s alright. The coach has his own tactics. I play not as a number ten but as a free eight with a lot of movement everywhere.”
Spain are a team of free-eights and attacking playmakers and, looking at their team on paper, it’s the most enjoyable tactical challenge for a football manager to try to get them all in the same eleven.
4-3-3 Quirks From Lopetegui to Hierro
Fernando Hierro has wisely continued where Julen Lopetegui left off and they play in much the same way they did during qualifying. It’s a 4-3-3 with a couple of hallmarks defined by the wide players in the front three.
The sacking of the soon-to-be Real Madrid boss shortly before the first ball was kicked at this World Cup was supposed to send Spain spiralling out of control and possibly out of the tournament in the group stage as they did in 2014. But with midfielders like these, control is something they will never lack.
So how does Hierro fit the likes of David Silva, Isco, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Thiago Alcantara, and Koke into the same side?