Bierhoff: Centre-forward role far from extinct

Spain played their opening Euro 2012 game without a striker and Barcelona have often operated without a centre-forward in recent years but that position is far from extinct, according to Germany manager Oliver Bierhoff.

Once a dangerous target man himself, who scored the winning goal in Germany's last European title in 1996, Bierhoff shrugged off the debate about whether there was a future for that position.

"I think that in the box there should always be a dangerman. Watching the games for high up here, I am happy to see teams being successful with a centre forward," the former Germany international told reporters on Saturday.

The Germans, taking on Denmark in their last Group B game on Sunday as they look reach the last eight, have benefited greatly from the services of their own centre forward Mario Gomez who has scored all their goals in the tournament.

"I feel I have to defend my own position," Bierhoff said with a hearty laugh. "Football develops and I think about what will come after Barcelona. What comes after Barcelona?

"We all talk about Barcelona now... but the trends change because otherwise AC Milan of the late 1980s would still be the most successful team."

AC Milan dominated European football during that period, winning the European Cup in 1989 and 1990.

Spain's Barcelona have won the Champions League twice in the last four season relying largely on the goal-scoring ability of Argentine forward Lionel Messi who is as lethal outside the box as he is in front of goal.

"But if you look at Barcelona you will see that they were eliminated by Inter Milan [2010] and Chelsea [2012], both times against teams with a very tight defence leaving very little space in the centre," Bierhoff said.

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque raised eyebrows when he fielded a team without a striker in their opening 1-1 draw against Italy at Euro 2012.

He quickly rowed back in their next game, starting with striker Fernando Torres who scored twice for the world and European champions in their 4-0 demolition of Ireland.

England coach Roy Hodgson also reverted to a traditional 4-4-2 formation to snatch a brave 3-2 victory over Sweden and their opening goal was a classic centre-forward's header from Andy Carroll.

Bustling Croatia front-man Mario Mandzukic has also enjoyed a successful tournament with three goals in two games.

"Football has become faster... I often feel that someone is missing in the centre of the opponents' defence," said Bierhoff.


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