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Sunday July 7 2019
Bring Calcio back to basics

The best defences win titles, so Inter, Napoli and Juventus are bringing the focus back to solidity, insists Kaustubh Pandey.

Calcio has historically been renowned for a defensive brand of football that relies on tactical organisation and structuring.Ask anyone who doesn’t follow Serie A closely and that is what they’ll no doubt tell you it represents.

Ever since Inter won the Champions League in 2010, that reputation of Italian football has never really dominated Europe. Juventus, who themselves played a pragmatic brand of football under Massimiliano Allegri, came close twice, but they could never win the elusive crown.

Italian football has lost its dominance over the years, as the Spanish and English counterparts have reached out and gone ahead. Their different approaches to the game have seen clubs from England and Spain win European crowns over the years.

But when Napoli signed Kostas Manolas from Roma, it made many look up and take notice. Not because they had signed the Greek defender, but because they were pairing him up with one of the best centre-backs in the world- Kalidou Koulibaly.

If Juventus sign Matthijs de Ligt from Ajax, the Dutchman will join the likes of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini. Elsewhere, Inter already have a considerably impressive backline which will likely play three defenders at the back in Stefan de Vrij, Milan Skriniar and summer signing Diego Godin.

In Antonio Conte, Inter have a Coach who thrives on playing a pragmatic brand of football. Keeping things safe at the back comes first for him and his preference for playing an extra defender at the back shows that. If a manager like him is given a defensive line like that, a massive part of the process is complete. Inter have some other issues to sort out as well, with Nicolò Barella still not done and talks for Romelu Lukaku ongoing.

Napoli still have to decide who they play at full-back with Mario Rui and Elseid Hysaj on their way out, but Giovanni Di Lorenzo already a Partenopei player. It is likely that Di Lorenzo plays at right-back and Kevin Malcuit is on the left, like he did many times last season. They too have a more pragmatic manager at the helm. While Ancelotti has carried forward Maurizio Sarri’s system to mould it into a more Ancelotti-esque style, he will certainly make sure that things at the back are sorted before anything else.

While Sarri relies more on attacking football, the capture of De Ligt can be a game-changer. They’ve already confirmed the capture of Merih Demiral and by the looks of it, Juve already have a secure defensive line. Daniele Rugani is expected to be the second-choice centre-back and there is still every chance that Joao Cancelo stays.

All three sides are a work in progress. Napoli might be in their second season of rebuilding under Don Carlo, but they will need to get some things on track when it comes to scoring goals. Both Inter and Juve have new Coaches who will take time to get the combinations right, but the foundation has been set already.

These teams are all built on defences that can, on their day, be world class. It is what Calcio has always been known for and has been long been proud of ever since the Helenio Herrera days. The three biggest clubs in Italy are trying to reform that lost legacy.

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Have your say...
Back to basics?...Ya mean when every club was 70/30 Italian/foreigner,and the foreigners were best players in world.When every stadio was filled to capacity at every game,when fans and ultras filled the stands with giant banners and chants from start to finish,when clubs didn’t go bankrupt,when 1 team didn’t rule entire league,but 5-6 different teams could win scudetto or a trophy,when Italian clubs dominated CL,or Uefa.when 1 club players were treated with honor,when FIGC wasn’t ran by fools...
on the 8th July, 2019 at 7:27pm
@ Maldini's heir

Because De Ligt is better than Rugani, probably. For his age he's one of the best CB's around and Juve would be crazy not to sign him. He could be their top CB for 15 years

There are too many transfers in Italy, but signings like De Ligt should be encouraged

It's the crazy stop-gap signings that need to be culled

Roma have 33 players, and that includes the bizarre/expensive signings of the likes of Pastore,Nzonzi,Juan,Fazio who were either overrated or hopeless to begin with
on the 8th July, 2019 at 1:36pm
agents money? Prepare for another barren season in European football. The sooner they ban football transfers altogether the better.
on the 8th July, 2019 at 2:19am
So far the summer transfer market has been another farce. Already 251 arrivals and 541 departures. compared to 116 arrivals in the Premier League and 140 departures. Serie A is once again on course to have double the number of transfers of the other top leagues. What's the point of Juve signing Ligt when they have Rugani and Chellini? What's the point of the merry-go-round of strikers at Inter, Roma and Juve? What's the point of the transfer market other than to make directors look busy and
on the 8th July, 2019 at 2:17am
players are no longer allowed to go near each other.
the days of dominant center backs is long gone
on the 7th July, 2019 at 10:28pm
Italian football reputation was built on the back of a never ending supply of brilliant Italian and foreign centre backs you look of a team of samp in the mid 90s having vierchowod or napoli ayala or parma thuram or inter zanetti or genoa with signorini or roma with aldair or lazio with nesta now we are talking manolas come on this is miles away from the kind of quality which made serie a the best in the world. Italian football needs to look forward the day of the great cb are long gone.
on the 7th July, 2019 at 7:48pm
I dont think Malcuit played even one second at left back last season.

Luperto played there early season when both Mario Rui and Ghoulam were hurt.
on the 7th July, 2019 at 6:11pm
Ah, Football-Italia. Scraping the bottom of the barrell.

Once again, this creatively lacking and laughably uninformed dilettante has penned another horrendous article.

"Ask anyone who doesn’t follow Serie A closely and that is what they’ll no doubt tell you it represents." - If you don't follow a league, you'd make lackadaisical comments like "Serie A is a farmer's league, no quality whatsoever", not "Calcio is only known for strategy and defensive football".

Can we stop this tripe please?
on the 7th July, 2019 at 5:46pm
If De Ligt arrives Serie A will have many of the world's best centre-backs next season.

Juve need to hurry up and sign him.

Juve, Napoli, Inter will all have fine CB options.

Atalanta and Milan are decent there atm

Roma badly need at least 3 top/good CBs (Izzo/Mancini might be good)

Lazio should get one too.
on the 7th July, 2019 at 2:17pm
Who is this third rate writer? Malcuit didn't once play on the left last season. It was Hysaj who sometimes played on the left. Also repeats the word "capture" in back to back sentences which is just lazy writing. How much does Football Italia pay these hacks. Quality here is so mixed.
on the 7th July, 2019 at 1:09pm

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