A huge part of how Italians play football revolves around catenaccio, a defence-first approach. After all, the lot of their greatest players are defenders moulded to play the perfect shutdown game. AC Milan’s core players up until recently are mostly centre halves and full backs, and they were wildly successful. Any Juventus team of any era had a solid backline to rely on. Herrera’s Inter could possibly be the father of defensive football.
Nonetheless, you would be wrong to think that Italians only play hard-line defending. A host of their legends made their name through scoring. Giuseppe Meazza, Pippo Inzaghi and Paolo Rossi all helped Italy win something through their goals.
The truth is playing like the Italians is much harder to do than many other national playing styles, attests Soccer Tutor.
A Potent Blend of Defence and Offence
Not all Italian football fans recognise the truth about their style of play. The culture of defending is ever-present in Italian football, but it has changed through the years. Nobody plays pure catenaccio nowadays, and you would be crazy to do it. Teams are smarter and have strategies to unlock a rigid defence in more ways than one.
Forwards play their usual role as goal plunders in any Italian team, but they do so much today. At times, they themselves initiate the defending. It is unheard of in the past, strikers going out their way to defend. But, we do not live in the past, do we?
Loyalty in Italian Roots
There are certain parts of the Italian game you can modify, but not the focus on technique, formation and rigour. Italians play a slow game and they are very good in keeping the ball. Just look at what Zlatan Ibrahimovic does with a ball. He is not Italian but his ability to keep the ball to himself is as Italian as it gets.
As for the formation, you implement either a 3-4-3 or a 3-5-2. The former is a lot like how the Dutch traditionally set up their teams, but Italians focus more on defence. One last thing you should remember is Italians stand their ground. To play like them is to weather wave after wave of attacks without fail.
If you want a recent example of a model Italian game, try watching how Antonio Conte’s Juventus play. The manager himself is a fierce advocate of everything Italian, being one himself. Afterwards, try to make some tweaks in order to cover some gaps that modern football play can expose.
The result can only be such an Italian game that Italians would be proud to watch.