• Central attack = attacking midfielders (AM) + centre forwards (CF)

An appropriate responsibility distribution* in central attack can be achieved by considering key tactical roles, counterbalancing combinations and the use of system-specific tactical roles.

The information provided for each of these considerations is explained in the Playing System Balance guide and the associated tactical theory* guides that it links to.

Example combinations of player roles and duties in central attack are provided in the Example Tactics article.

1. Key Tactical Roles

It is recommended to use number-nine central attackers*, central attack runners*, number-ten central attackers*, pressuring central attackers*, central attack goal-scorers* and spearheads*, as detailed below.

1.1. Number-Nine Central Attackers

General Usage

Recommended minimum number of players: 1.

However, if you use a vacating player* as a number-nine central attacker then you may want to also use an alternative number-nine central attacker.

Vacating players:

  • Wide-dribbling central attacker => Run Wide With Ball + AM/CF

A wide-dribbling central attacker can be a sufficient alternative number-nine central attacker to another wide-dribbling central attacker.

Tactical Roles

  • Required tactical instructions:
    • Offensive player => Get Further Forward
  • Suitable tactical instructions:
    • Roaming player => Roam From Position
    • Channel-running central player => Move Into Channels
    • Drifting central player
  • Required unactive tactical instructions:
    • Sitting player => Hold Position
    • Deep-dropping player (if not system-specific)
    • Disciplined-running player => Hold Position
  • Other useful tactical instructions:
    • Dribbling player => Dribble More
    • Wide-dribbling central player => Run Wide With Ball
    • Restricted-dribbling player (system-specific - restricted target-man*) => Dribble Less
  • Atypical tactical instructions:
    • Restricted-dribbling player (if not system-specific) => Dribble Less
    • Disciplined-dribbling player
  • Typically also:
    • Pressuring central attacker (analysed below).

Player Roles & Duties

  • 5.0 - Specialist - Complete Forward (CF Attack)
  • 4.5 - Specialist - Raumdeuter (WF Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 4.0 - Specialist - Shadow Striker (AM Attack)
  • 2.5 - Designated - Inside Forward (WF Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 2.5 - Specialist - Advanced Forward (CF Attack)
  • 2.5 - Designated - Poacher (CF Attack)
  • 2.0 - Specialist - Deep Lying Forward (CF Attack)
  • 1.5 - Designated - Attacking Midfielder (AM Attack)

System-specific:

Atypical:

  • [if not used as system-specific] 2.0 - Designated - Target Man (CF Attack) - restricted target-man

1.2. Central Attack Runners

The central attack runner role category is a 'broader' version of the number-nine central attacker role category.

General Usage

Recommended minimum number of players: 2 (including 1 number-nine central attacker).

However, if you use a vacating player* as a central attack runner then you may want to also use an alternative central attack runner.

Vacating players:

  • Wide-dribbling central attacker => Run Wide With Ball + AM/CF

A wide-dribbling central attacker can be a sufficient alternative central attack runner to another wide-dribbling central attacker.

Tactical Roles

  • Suitable tactical instructions: as for number-nine central attackers required active and suitable tactical instructions detailed above.
  • Required unactive tactical instructions: as for number-nine central attackers detailed above.
  • Other useful tactical instructions:
    • As for number-nine central attackers detailed above.
    • Deep-dropping player (system-specific - false-nine*)
  • Atypical tactical instructions: as for number-nine central attackers detailed above.

Player Roles & Duties

  • All of the number-nine central attackers listed separately above.
  • 5.0 - Supplementary - Trequartista (AM/CF Attack)
  • 4.5 - Supported - Trequartista (WF Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 4.0 - Supplementary - Mezzala (Off-Centre CM Attack - auxiliary off-centre AM)
  • 4.0 - Supported - Advanced Playmaker (WF Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 3.5 - Supported - Advanced Playmaker (WF Support - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 3.5 - Supported - Advanced Playmaker (AM Attack)
  • 3.5 - Supplementary - Complete Forward (CF Support)
  • 3.0 - Supplementary - Mezzala (Off-Centre CM Support - auxiliary off-centre AM)
  • 2.5 - Supported - Inverted Winger (WM Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 2.5 - Supported - Inside Forward (WF Support - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 2.5 - Supported - Defensive Forward (CF Support)
  • 1.5 - Supported - Deep Lying Forward (CF Support)
  • 1.0 - Supported - Central Midfielder (CM Attack - auxiliary AM)
  • 0.5 - Supported - Attacking Midfielder (AM Support)

System-specific:

Atypical:

  • 2.5 - Supported - Enganche (AM Attack) - restricted-dribbling player
  • [if not used as system-specific] 1.0 - Supported -Target Man (CF Support) - restricted-dribbling player

1.3. Number-Ten Central Attackers

There are two different types of number-ten central attacker - technical number-tens* and target-men*. A player can also be both a technical number-ten and a target-man.

General Usage

Recommended minimum number of players: 1.

It is recommended to choose a type of number-ten according to your desired playing style, as follows:

  • For direct attacking football and possession football - use one or a mixture of the above, as desired, such as ...
    • ... A technical number-ten,
    • A target-man,
    • A technical number-ten and a separate target-man, or
    • A player who is both a technical number-ten and a target-man.

However, if you use a vacating player* as a number-ten central attacker then you may want to also use an alternative number-ten central attacker.

Vacating players:

  • Deep-dropping attacking midfielder
  • Wide-dribbling central attacker => Run Wide With Ball + AM/CF

Tactical Roles

  • Suitable playing positions (target-man): CF.
  • Suitable auxiliary players* (technical number-ten):
    • Offensive* DM or CM acting as an auxiliary AM.
    • Supporting* CM acting as an auxiliary AM.
    • Narrow*, roaming* or inverted* WF acting as an auxiliary wide and off-centre AM.
    • Offensive, and narrow, roaming or inverted, WB or WM acting as an auxiliary wide and off-centre AM.
    • Supporting, and narrow, roaming or inverted, WM acting as an auxiliary wide and off-centre AM.
  • Suitable auxiliary players (target-man): none.
  • Required active tactical instructions (technical number-ten):
    • Ball-playing central player (if not also an offensive central attacker) => More Risky Passes (but not Get Further Forward if WF/AM/CF)
  • Required active tactical instructions (target-man):
    • Hold-up centre forward => Hold Up Ball
  • Suitable tactical instructions:
    • Offensive and ball-playing central attacker => More Risky Passes (if WF/AM/CF and instructed to Get Further Forward)
    • Dribbling player => Dribble More
    • Wide-dribbling central player => Run Wide With Ball
    • Hold-up player (other than hold-up centre forward) => Hold Up Ball
    • Passer => increased player PASSING DIRECTNESS slider
    • Creative player
  • Required unactive tactical instructions:
    • Safe-passing central player => Fewer Risky Passes
    • Restricted-dribbling player (if not system-specific) => Dribble Less
    • Disciplined-dribbling player
    • Restricted-passing player => decreased player PASSING DIRECTNESS slider
    • Disciplined player
  • Other useful tactical instructions:
    • Restricted-shooting central attacker => Shoot Less Often
    • Deep-dropping player
    • Roaming player => Roam From Position
    • Channel-running player => Move Into Channels
    • Drifting player
    • Restricted-dribbling player (system-specific - playmaking-hook* and restricted target-man*) => Dribble Less
  • Atypical tactical instructions:
    • Shot-taking central attacker => Shoot More Often

Player Roles & Duties

Technical number-tens:

  • 5.5 - Specialist - Inverted Wing Back (WB Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 5.5 - Specialist - Wide Playmaker (WM Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 5.0 - Specialist - Trequartista (AM/CF Attack)
  • 4.5 - Specialist - Trequartista (WF Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 4.5 - Specialist - Advanced Playmaker (AM Support)
  • 4.0 - Designated - Mezzala (Off-Centre CM Attack - auxiliary off-centre AM)
  • 4.0 - Specialist - Advanced Playmaker (WF Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 3.5 - Specialist - Advanced Playmaker (CM Attack - auxiliary AM)
  • 3.5 - Specialist - Advanced Playmaker (WF Support - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 3.5 - Specialist - Advanced Playmaker (AM Attack)
  • 3.5 - Specialist - Complete Forward (CF Support)
  • 3.0 - Specialist - Advanced Playmaker (CM Support - auxiliary AM)
  • 3.0 - Specialist - False Nine (CF Support)
  • 2.5 - Specialist - Inside Forward (WF Support - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 1.5 - Specialist - Deep Lying Forward (CF Support)

Target-men:

  • 5.0 - Specialist - Complete Forward (CF Attack)
  • 3.5 - Specialist - Complete Forward (CF Support)
  • 2.0 - Designated - Deep Lying Forward (CF Attack)
  • 1.5 - Specialist - Deep Lying Forward (CF Support)

System-specific technical number-tens:

System-specific target-men:

  • 2.0 - Designated - Target Man (CF Attack) - restricted target-man*
  • 1.0 - Designated - Target Man (CF Support) - restricted target-man

1.4. Pressuring Central Attackers

General Usage

Recommended minimum number of players: 1.

However, if you use a vacating player* as a pressing central attacker then you may want to also use an alternative pressing central attacker.

Vacating players:

  • Deep-dropping attacking midfielder

Tactical Roles

  • Required active tactical instructions: at least one of the suitable tactical instructions detailed below.
  • Suitable tactical instructions:
    • Aggressor (or fairly aggressive player) => increased player CLOSING DOWN slider
    • Man-marking player => Mark Specific Player/Position
    • Tight-marking player => Mark Tighter
    • Hard-tackling player => Tackle Harder
  • Required unactive tactical instructions:
    • Cautious player (or fairly cautious player) => decreased player CLOSING DOWN slider
    • Zonal-marking player
    • Loose-marking player
    • Easy-tackling player => Ease Off Tackles

Player Roles & Duties

  • 5.0 - Supplementary - Complete Forward (CF Attack)
  • 4.5 - Supplementary - Raumdeuter (WF Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 4.5 - Supplementary - Advanced Playmaker (AM Support)
  • 4.0 - Designated - Shadow Striker (AM Attack)
  • 4.0 - Specialist - Defensive Forward (CF Defend)
  • 3.5 - Supplementary - Advanced Playmaker (AM Attack)
  • 3.5 - Supplementary - Complete Forward (CF Support)
  • 3.0 - Supplementary - False Nine (CF Support)
  • 2.5 - Supplementary - Enganche (AM Attack)
  • 2.5 - Supplementary - Advanced Forward (CF Attack)
  • 2.5 - Supplementary - Poacher (CF Attack)
  • 2.5 - Specialist - Defensive Forward (CF Support)
  • 2.0 - Supplementary - Deep Lying Forward (CF Attack)
  • 2.0 - Supplementary - Target Man (CF Attack)
  • 1.5 - Supplementary - Attacking Midfielder (AM Attack)
  • 1.5 - Supplementary - Deep Lying Forward (CF Support)
  • 1.0 - Supplementary - Target Man (CF Support)
  • 0.5 - Supplementary - Attacking Midfielder (AM Support)

1.5. Central Attack Goal-Scorers

General Usage

Recommended minimum number of players: 1.

However, if you use a vacating player* as a central attack goal-scorer then you may want to also use an alternative central attack goal-scorer.

Vacating players:

  • Deep-dropping attacking midfielder
  • Wide-dribbling central attacker => Run Wide With Ball + AM/CF

Tactical Roles

  • Suitable tactical instructions:
    • Shot-taking central attacker => Shoot More Often
  • Required unactive tactical instructions:
    • Restricted-shooting central attacker => Shoot Less Often
  • Other useful tactical instructions:
    • Offensive central attacker => Get Further Forward
    • Dribbling central attacker => Dribble More
  • Atypical tactical instructions:
    • Sitting central attacker => Hold Position
    • Deep-dropping central attacker
    • Restricted-dribbling central attacker => Dribble Less
    • Hold-up central attacker => Hold Up Ball

Player Roles & Duties

  • 5.0 - Supported - Trequartista (AM/CF Attack)
  • 4.5 - Supported - Trequartista (WF Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 4.5 - Supported - Raumdeuter (WF Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 4.0 - Supported - Mezzala (Off-Centre CM Attack - auxiliary off-centre AM)
  • 4.0 - Supported - Shadow Striker (AM Attack)
  • 3.0 - Supported - Mezzala (Off-Centre CM Support - auxiliary off-centre AM)
  • 2.5 - Supported - Inverted Winger (WM Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 2.5 - Supported - Inside Forward (WF Support - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 2.5 - Supported - Inside Forward (WF Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 2.5 - Supported - Advanced Forward (CF Attack)
  • 2.5 - Supported - Poacher (CF Attack)
  • 1.5 - Supported - Attacking Midfielder (AM Attack)
  • 1.0 - Supported - Central Midfielder (CM Attack - auxiliary AM)
  • 0.5 - Supported - Attacking Midfielder (AM Support)

Atypical:

  • 5.5 - Supported - Inverted Wing Back (WB Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM) - sitting player
  • 5.0 - Supported - Complete Forward (CF Attack) - hold-up player
  • 4.0 - Supported - Defensive Forward (CF Defend) - holding and hold-up player
  • 3.5 - Supported - Complete Forward (CF Support) - hold-up player
  • 3.0 - Supported - False Nine (CF Support) - deep-dropping player
  • 2.5 - Supported - Enganche (AM Attack) - restricted-dribbling player
  • 2.5 - Supported - Defensive Forward (CF Support) - holding and hold-up player
  • 2.5 - Supported - Ball Winning Midfielder (CM Support - auxiliary AM) - sitting player
  • 2.5 - Supported - Roaming Playmaker (CM Support) - sitting player
  • 2.0 - Designated - Segundo Volante (Off-Centre DM Attack - auxiliary off-centre AM) - sitting player
  • 2.0 - Supported - Deep Lying Forward (CF Attack) - hold-up player
  • 2.0 - Supported - Target Man (CF Attack) - restricted-dribbling and hold-up player
  • 1.5 - Supported - Box To Box Midfielder (CM Support - auxiliary AM) - sitting player
  • 1.5 - Supported - Inverted Winger (WM Support - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM) - sitting player
  • 1.5 - Supported - Deep Lying Forward (CF Support) - hold-up player
  • 1.0 - Supported - Target Man (CF Support) - restricted-dribbling and hold-up player
  • 0.5 - Supported - Carrilero (Off-Centre CM Support - auxiliary off-centre AM) - sitting player
  • 0.0 - Supported - Central Midfielder (CM Support - auxiliary AM) - sitting player

1.6. Spearheads

General Usage

Recommended minimum number of players: 1.

However, if you use a vacating player* as a spearhead then you may want to also use an alternative spearhead.

Vacating players:

  • Deep-dropping attacking midfielder
  • Wide-dribbling central attacker => Run Wide With Ball + AM/CF

Tactical Roles

  • Suitable tactical instructions: as for number-ten central attackers detailed above.
  • Required unactive tactical instructions: as for number-ten central attackers detailed above.
  • Other useful tactical instructions: as for number-ten central attackers detailed above.
  • Atypical tactical instructions: as for number-ten central attackers detailed above.

Player Roles & Duties

  • 5.0 - Specialist - Trequartista (CF Attack)
  • 5.0 - Specialist - Complete Forward (CF Attack)
  • 3.5 - Specialist - Complete Forward (CF Support)
  • 3.0 - Specialist - False Nine (CF Support)
  • 2.5 - Supplementary - Advanced Forward (CF Attack)
  • 2.0 - Designated - Deep Lying Forward (CF Attack)
  • 1.5 - Specialist - Deep Lying Forward (CF Support)

System-specific:

  • 2.0 - Designated - Target Man (CF Attack) - restricted target-man*
  • 1.0 - Designated - Target Man (CF Support) - restricted target-man

2. Other Tactical Roles

2.1. Withdrawn Central Attackers

Tactical Roles

  • Suitable tactical instructions:
    • Sitting player => Hold Position
    • Deep-dropping player
    • Disciplined-running player => Hold Position
  • Required unactive tactical instructions:
    • Offensive player => Get Further Forward
    • Roaming player => Roam From Position
    • Channel-running player => Move Into Channels
    • Drifting player
  • Other useful tactical instructions:
    • Restricted-dribbling player => Dribble Less
    • Disciplined-dribbling player
  • Atypical tactical instructions:
    • Dribbling player => Dribble More
    • Wide-dribbling central player (if not also a restricted-dribbling player) => Run Wide With Ball (if Dribble Less is not active)

Player Roles & Duties

  • 4.5 - Designated - Advanced Playmaker (AM Support)
  • 4.0 - Designated - Defensive Forward (CF Defend)
  • 3.0 - Supplementary - Advanced Playmaker (CM Support - auxiliary AM)
  • 2.5 - Supplementary - Ball Winning Midfielder (CM Support - auxiliary AM)
  • 2.5 - Supported - Enganche (AM Attack)
  • 2.5 - Supported - Defensive Forward (CF Support)
  • 1.5 - Supported - Deep Lying Forward (CF Support)
  • 1.0 - Supported - Target Man (CF Support)
  • 0.5 - Supported - Attacking Midfielder (AM Support)
  • 0.0 - Supplementary - Central Midfielder (CM Support - auxiliary AM)

Atypical:

  • 3.5 - Supplementary - Advanced Playmaker (CM Attack - auxiliary AM) - dribbling player
  • 3.5 - Supported - Advanced Playmaker (AM Attack) - dribbling player

2.2. Relaxed Central Attackers

Tactical Roles

  • Suitable tactical instructions:
    • Cautious player (or fairly cautious player) => decreased player CLOSING DOWN slider
    • Sweeper playing position
    • Zonal-marking player
    • Loose-marking player
    • Easy-tackling player => Ease Off Tackles
  • Required unactive tactical instructions:
    • Aggressor (or fairly aggressive player) => increased player CLOSING DOWN slider
    • Man-marking player => Mark Specific Player/Position
    • Tight-marking player => Mark Tighter
    • Hard-tackling player => Tackle Harder

Player Roles & Duties

  • 5.0 - Specialist - Trequartista (AM/CF Attack)

2.3. Restricted Central Attackers

Tactical Roles

  • Suitable tactical instructions:
    • Safe-passing player => Fewer Risky Passes
    • Restricted-dribbling player => Dribble Less
    • Disciplined-dribbling player
    • Restricted-passing player => decreased player PASSING DIRECTNESS slider
    • Restricted-shooting central attacker => Shoot Less Often
    • Disciplined player
  • Required unactive tactical instructions:
    • Ball-playing player => More Risky Passes
    • Dribbling player => Dribble More
    • Wide-dribbling central player (if not also a restricted-dribbling player) => Run Wide With Ball (if Dribble Less is not active)
    • Passer => increased player PASSING DIRECTNESS slider
    • Shot-taking central attacker => Shoot More Often
    • Creative player
  • Other useful tactical instructions:
    • Disciplined-running player => Hold Position
    • Roaming player (system-specific - wide-poacher*) => Roam From Position
    • Channel-running player (system-specific - wide-poacher*) => Move Into Channels
  • Atypical tactical instructions:
    • Roaming player (if not system-specific) => Roam From Position
    • Channel-running player (if not system-specific) => Move Into Channels
    • Drifting player
  • Typically also:
    • Central attack creator (analysed below) or central attack goal-scorer (analysed above).
    • Pressing central attacker (analysed below).

Player Roles & Duties

  • 2.5 - Supplementary - Ball Winning Midfielder (CM Support - auxiliary AM)
  • 2.5 - Specialist - Poacher (CF Attack)
  • 2.5 - Designated - Defensive Forward (CF Support)
  • 2.0 - Supplementary - Target Man (CF Attack)
  • 1.5 - Supported - Attacking Midfielder (AM Attack)
  • 1.0 - Supported - Central Midfielder (CM Attack - auxiliary AM)
  • 1.0 - Supplementary - Target Man (CF Support)
  • 0.5 - Supported - Attacking Midfielder (AM Support)
  • 0.0 - Supported - Central Midfielder (CM Support - auxiliary AM)

System-specific:

  • 4.5 - Supported - Raumdeuter (WF Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM) - wide-poacher*

Atypical:

  • [If not used as system-specific] 4.5 - Supported - Raumdeuter (WF Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM) - roaming and channel-running player
  • 4.0 - Designated - Defensive Forward (CF Defend) - atypical central attack goal-scorer and not a central attack creator
  • 3.0 - Supported - Mezzala (Off-Centre CM Support - auxiliary off-centre AM) - roaming and channel-running player
  • 2.0 - Supported - Deep Lying Forward (CF Attack) - channel-running player
  • 1.5 - Supported - Box To Box Midfielder (CM Support - auxiliary AM) - roaming player
  • 0.5 - Supported - Carrilero (Off-Centre CM Support - auxiliary off-centre AM) - drifting player

2.4. Central Attack Creators

The central attack creator role category is a 'broader' version of the number-ten central attacker role category.

Tactical Roles

  • Suitable tactical instructions: as for number-ten central attackers required active and suitable tactical instructions detailed above.
  • Required unactive tactical instructions: as for number-ten central attackers detailed above.
  • Other useful tactical instructions: as for number-ten central attackers detailed above.
  • Atypical tactical instructions: as for number-ten central attackers detailed above.

Player Roles & Duties

  • All of the number-ten central attackers listed separately above.
  • All of the spearheads listed separately above.
  • 4.5 - Supported - Raumdeuter (WF Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 4.0 - Supplementary - Wide Playmaker (WM Support - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 4.0 - Supplementary - Shadow Striker (AM Attack)
  • 3.0 - Supported - Mezzala (Off-Centre CM Support - auxiliary off-centre AM)
  • 2.5 - Supplementary - Roaming Playmaker (CM Support - auxiliary AM)
  • 2.5 - Supplementary - Inverted Winger (WM Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 2.5 - Supplementary - Inside Forward (WF Attack - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 1.5 - Supported - Box To Box Midfielder (CM Support - auxiliary AM)
  • 1.5 - Supplementary - Inverted Winger (WM Support - auxiliary wide and off-centre AM)
  • 1.5 - Supported - Attacking Midfielder (AM Attack)
  • 1.0 - Supported - Central Midfielder (CM Attack - auxiliary AM)
  • 0.5 - Supported - Carrilero (Off-Centre CM Support - auxiliary off-centre AM)
  • 0.5 - Supported - Attacking Midfielder (AM Support)
  • 0.0 - Supported - Central Midfielder (CM Support - auxiliary AM)

Atypical:

  • 2.0 - Supported - Segundo Volante (Off-Centre DM Attack - auxiliary off-centre AM) - shot-taking player

2.5. Pressing Central Attackers

The pressing central attacker role category is a 'broader' version of the pressuring central attacker role category.

Tactical Roles

  • Suitable tactical instructions: as for pressuring central attackers required active and suitable tactical instructions detailed above.
  • Required unactive tactical instructions: as for pressuring central attackers detailed above.

Player Roles & Duties

  • All of the pressuring central attackers listed separately above.

3. Counterbalancing Combinations

It is recommended to assign appropriate counterbalancing* tactical roles* when using particular types of restricted central attacker.

3.1. Restricted Central Attackers

A restricted central attacker who focuses more on playing safe* and is not a hold-up centre forward, such as ...

  • ... Poacher (CF Attack) ...

... Can be balanced with a hold-up centre forward such as ...

  • ... Deep Lying Forward (CF Support/Attack),
  • Target Man (CF Support/Attack),
  • Complete Forward (CF Support/Attack), or
  • Defensive Forward (CF Defend/Support) ...

A restricted hold-up centre forward who focuses more on playing safe, such as ...

  • ... Defensive Forward (CF Defend/Support), or
  • Target Man (CF Support/Attack) ...

... Can be balanced with a separate player in a central attacker playing position.

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