Football is, arguably, one of the most transient and unpredictable sports in the world.

Over the course of a year, decade, or century, the rules and practices change with such regularity that the phrase ‘the only constant is change’ has never held truer than it does when we are talking about the beautiful game. It is one of the things that make football so exciting.

With constant change, however, comes a degree of predictability – and, every once in a while, things come full circle, and we see the game, the players, and the fans return to hold habits or practices which, whether for weeks, months, or years, had disappeared from the pitch. And, as one factor changes, everything follows suit, from the fans and players themselves to the world of sports betting and spectatorship.

For many years, it felt as though the strikers were growing more and more homogenous within the team – and as though the classic striker was evolving its way out of the game. This year, it would seem that the classic number nine striker is making an impressive return to the world’s stage, in a way that is already promising to transform the modern game.

Read more about the recent devolution of the game back to the classic number nine striker below.

How it Was

Twenty or so years ago, the role of the striker was relatively straightforward and clear cut. They held a definitive role on the pitch, and, for the most part, stuck to it throughout each match.

Eventually, after the turn of the millennium tactical formations became more prominent, and the set up was no longer the uniform 4-4-2 that it had been for so long. Teams suddenly had one forward, rather than two, and, as a result, the classic number nine essentially had to take on more responsibilities, and to act outside of the scope of the striker as we had long since understood it.

It seemed, for the better half of a decade, as though the classic forward was no longer a feature in the sport.

What’s Changing?

It is not at all uncommon for the game to evolve beyond itself. Football, as a concept, exists as an amorphous phenomenon for much of the time, able to shape and re-shape itself ad infinitum to accommodate a changing milieu of players, coaches, and fans – and, of course, changing technology, as the video assistant referee can confirm.

Much of the time, players dictate the change gradually, and this has never been truer than it is for players like Robert Lewandowski, who have been drawing the game back to a more traditional form, and ensuring that the classic nine striker is no longer a relic from the history books.

Now, Lewandowski has managed to break a long dry spell for the classic forward, and has been awarded the Men’s Star of the Year from Eurosport – in part, of course, because of his remarkable propensity to bring the game full circle, and ensure that some of the best features lost over time are able to make a comeback on the world’s stage.

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