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Friday October 6 2017
Azzurri need tactical shift

With a 4-2-4 formation costing Italy dearly against Spain, Giampiero Ventura should switch to a more balanced approach, writes Vilizar Yakimov.

Alessandro Del Piero, Francesco Totti, Filippo Inzaghi, Luca Toni, Alberto Gilardino and Vincenzo Iaquinta. That was the list of forwards with which Marcelo Lippi’s team lifted the World Cup in 2006. Yet despite having the comfort of choosing from so many quality attacking options, the tactician never actually fielded more than two strikers, as he stuck with his preferred 4-3-1-2 formation throughout the tournament.

Totti was Lippi’s first choice for the trequartista role behind Gilardino and Toni, who occupied the two striker positions in most games. This means that players like Del Piero and Inzaghi were often left outside the starting XI, which brings the question are Italy’s current attacking options good enough to compromise the team’s balance and tradition?

Andrea Belotti, Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne and Antonio Candreva are all talented players and there is no doubt that Ventura’s 4-2-4 formation can be extremely effective against the so called lesser teams. However, the defeat against Spain proves that fielding such an attack-minded setup against a top-notch opponent might not be the best option for the Azzurri.

Belotti’s injury is a big blow for Italy ahead of the crucial games against Macedonia and Albania, but it also gives Ventura the perfect chance to modify his approach and test another formation. The absence of Il Gallo means that his former Coach at Torino should not feel the pressure of fielding so many attacking players together, as he can switch to a 4-3-3 or even a 3-4-3 formation. Both tactical setups could provide more cover at the back and improve the team’s balance in the middle of the pitch.

With Ciro Immobile’s fantastic form since the start of the season, the Lazio man should lead the attack, as either Insigne and Simone Verdi, or Federico Bernardeschi and Stephan El Sharaawy, could provide support from the wings.

Adopting such an approach should also see extremely talented defenders like Daniele Rugani, Alessio Romagnoli and Mattia Caldara getting more time on the field and taking over from the ageing BBC trio. After all, with some exciting young attacking talents emerging, people tend to forget that Italy’s strength has always been at the back.

And while every Azzurri fan is hoping to see the next Roberto Baggio, Del Piero or Totti, the tifosi should remember that each of those players had someone like Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Nesta or Fabio Cannavaro covering their backs.

In order for Italy to get the most out of both their attacking and defensive talent, Ventura should recognize that sacrificing the team’s balance and abandoning Italy’s tradition just for the sake of playing attractive football can and is already backfiring badly. Therefore, switching to a 4-3-3 or even a 3-4-3/3-5-2 hybrid formation with the two wings helping out the midfield, might be the best way of achieving short-term results as well as integrating Italy’s young talents in to the squad.

After all, it’s no coincidence that the Azzurri earned an unbeaten run of 56 international qualification games throughout the last 11 years by sticking to their strengths and playing style. Ahead of two decisive games and hopefully the World Cup in Russia next year, Ventura should be smart enough to take a step back and rediscover Italy’s balance and cohesion, which were found under Antonio Conte during the Euro 2016 campaign.

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Have your say...
Buffon Conti - Bonucci - Chiellini - Darmian Florenzi - Verratti - Jorgingo Candreva - Belotti - Insigne would be my first 11 if all are fit and in form for the WC (if they get there, that is) Not ideal, but at least it gives 2 strong assist players down the right to service Belotti, lets Insigne join him, and has a decent mixture of grit and guile in midfield. 
on the 16th October, 2017 at 10:52pm
Except for the finals against France in 2006, the Azzurri mostly played with Toni and Gilladino. So I think the author is right the formation was first 4312 until DeRossi got himself banned against USA. Camoranesi and Perrota being regulars I the WC winning team.

That said, its embarrassing how Ventura's Italy is playing. A 433 is suitable for Italy right now

Buffon
Conti Bonnucci Chiellini Darmian
Flornzi Verratti Marchisio/Bonaventura
Candreva Bellotti Insigne
on the 10th October, 2017 at 8:52am
@VERATTITURN a 3421 formation is better equipped,For this italian squadWhere you can use the 2 support strikers to return quickly on a counter attack and the midfield becomes equipped with a 6 man midfield on the counter which is very effective against teams like SPAIN AND GERMANY who require high level passing games in the middle.So in a nutshell 3421 on attack and 361 on counterattack when being forced back.This system also helps your support strikers deliver crosses to your point striker.
on the 8th October, 2017 at 10:42pm
@Maldini's heir right on about the author's correction on 06 in Germany...Also wanted to point out Iaquinta and Zambrotta to that addition which gave Lippi the formations of 442 4411 and 4141 with at least 6 forwards to pair up leading to that world cup tournament and championship win.
on the 8th October, 2017 at 10:18pm
I totally agree with dsquib....also we did not pass the first round in 2010 and 2014 and now we are on the brink...maybe we shouldn't qualify and maybe then that will be the wake-up call to make changes to serie A. there are times when there are 2 Italians on the field....not good for developing players....
on the 7th October, 2017 at 6:21pm
Please, Ventura needs to now today, at this rate his tactical knowledge worse than Sunday morning kids football. We will not qualify for Russia, GET HIM OUT NOW. Players and formation and apponents Cannot read the game, too stubbon to change. He has taken Italy back
on the 7th October, 2017 at 1:29pm
As soon as you have a coach that provides all sorts of excuses for this abysmal result, that offers little confidence for the next game, let alone the future.

Venturin needs to accept that in the last few games, Italy has lacked any form of intensity required at international level.

He is no Conte & I wouldn’t expect him to be but any true professional would accept their weaknesses & prepared to keep working hard.

Buffon, too old, time for the old man to go & let the young guns play.
on the 7th October, 2017 at 11:10am
SPOT ON @Dan
on the 7th October, 2017 at 1:10am
Even worse than what I was anticipating tonight. Everything was abysmal, a lack of: shape, intensity, cohesion, composure, attacking threat... even the defending was awful. On the evidence of tonight, no one will fear us in the play-offs. I would get rid of Ventura now, & get us a competent coach that will get us past the play offs & rebuild us for the WC. We have decent players that, whilst not world beaters, are being made to look so much worse than they actually are.
on the 6th October, 2017 at 9:54pm
Ill reserve judgement till I see what this clown produces next. imo though midfield still remains a huge problem for Italy unless I see new blood here.
on the 6th October, 2017 at 7:39pm
Please, guys, no more talk of Balotelli. Don't be like many Messi fanboys born after 1995.

He was part of the disastrous Prandelli era. He is an invention of the Italian press/media.

A 60% fit Pepito Rossi is worth MORE than a 100% Balotelli.
on the 6th October, 2017 at 7:10pm
If Ancelotti does eventually take the job before Russia, would he at last call up and give a try to Pepito Rossi

???

If he is playing and training, why is he always overlooked? He could easily play behind whichever two strikers work well together. That would be formidable.
Great reserve player.

The other leak in the boat is Buffon.
I say put Perin or Donnarum in there.

Don't be too down, guys. Look at Argentina and Messi and the thread they hang by. They may not be in Russia next year!
on the 6th October, 2017 at 6:03pm
The Azzurri need a more astute and gifted manager.
His name is Carlo Ancelotti. He should have been hired after South Africa.

Ventura, whose experience is hardly a blip, has had his chance (Spain in Sept).

And call up Pepito Rossi.
on the 6th October, 2017 at 4:12pm
Problem is Italy don't produce number 10s like Del Piero/Totti anymore. Have nice players like Insigne & Bernardeschi but they're more wingers who take long shots. 3-4-3 still leaves you open in midfield so it's a tricky one, maybe best to just swallow some pride and go back to 3-5-2/3-5-1-1.
on the 6th October, 2017 at 2:54pm
This was Italy's starting XI in the final
Gianluigi Buffon - Gianluca Zambrotta, Fabio Cannavaro, Marco Materazzi, Fabio Grosso - Mauro Camoranesi, Andrea Pirlo, Gennaro Gattuso, Simone Perrotta - Francesco Totti, Luca Toni

Seems to me a 4-4-1-1
Brilliant team!!
on the 6th October, 2017 at 1:52pm
I fantasized yesterday Ventura quits Ancelotti is brought in and leads Azzurri to world cup final against Germany where Giovinco scores winner in a 3-2 game and Balotelli gets a brace you may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one..,
on the 6th October, 2017 at 1:31pm
Buffon
Conti - Bonucci - Chiellini - Darmian
Florenzi - Verratti - Jorgingo
Candreva - Belotti - Insigne

would be my first 11 if all are fit and in form for the WC (if they get there, that is)

Not ideal, but at least it gives 2 strong assist players down the right to service Belotti, lets Insigne join him, and has a decent mixture of grit and guile in midfield.

But apparently Jorginho doesn't have a role, as Ventura said. Yet he thinks Montolivo does.
on the 6th October, 2017 at 10:43am
Wow wow wow what is the writer on about? Italy’s formation in 06 was 4-4-2 with Camoranesi and Perrotta on the wings and Toni and Totti upfront. Current Italy side? 4-3-3 or 3-4-3 since we have no strikers and lots of wingers.
on the 6th October, 2017 at 10:15am
You mean manager shift.
on the 6th October, 2017 at 10:14am
Tactical flexibility is one of the most essential qualities of an international manager, where you can't simply buy players to fit your system. I wanted to support Ventura when he was hired because of his great work with Torino, which still deserves praise, but when you continue to act like only two formations exist in the world, neither of which suits Italy's best players, I don't know how he can be kept on. For real, bring in Ancelotti - if Gasperini isn't interested . . .
on the 6th October, 2017 at 9:05am

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