Zvonimir Boban labels Antonio Conte’s 3-5-2 system the ‘best in history’, but is critical of the formation’s use in a ‘tactically decadent’ Italian football.
Speaking to the Gazzetta dello Sport, the former Milan man turned Sky Italia pundit has revealed his take on the state of calcio at the moment.
“Italian football is tactically decadent,” Boban has considered in the interview.
“I don't like Italy's use of 3-5-2 and the midfield diamond, because their hold on space is precarious - teams suffer if they defend too deep at the top level.”
Boban also had something to say about current Azzurri boss Antonio Conte, whose team faces Croatia on Sunday in Milan.
“[Conte's] 3-5-2 is the best in history. He's the only Coach who doesn't play a 5-3-2. But he struggles against opponents with good wingers, who are able to switch play quickly.
“Big teams don't have any problems doing that. You can't dominate or set a trend with 3-5-2.
“The only great game Conte's Juve played in Europe was against Real Madrid, when they switched to a 4-3-3.”
One of Italy's more respected football experts, Boban went on to analyse how Italy's academies are favouring tactical concepts over the development of skills, whilst the League failed to plan and develop when it was on top of the world.
“Italy has betrayed its talent and art a little by developing tactical and collective concepts of play, only to then do them to death.
“Without work on individual skills, young talents can't develop their potential during their formative years. One-on-ones are ignored.
“It's a very serious issue, it's hard to produce the new Totti or the new Del Piero, which is why 15 years separate Pirlo from Verratti.
“Youth teams need to produce footballers, not results.
“Italy's mistake was to not invest and plan for the future when it was at the top, both in footballing and economical terms, when it boasted Ronaldo and Zidane among its ranks.
“Italy thought it could dominate forever, but it wasn't football's equivalent of the NBA.
Italy has no improvisation, plans or creativity.”
Yet despite this Boban, who won four Serie A titles with Milan after moving from Dinamo Zagreb in 1991, still recognised that the peninsula is still an attractive proposition to foreigners today.
“[Italy is] still a major destination because of how people live and think about football, not to mention the passion.
“You keep teaching the world your family secrets because they're being used all over the world, and your Coaches are working all over planet.”
With Croatia and Italy tied at the top of Group H in Euro 2016 qualification, Boban gave his two cents about Sunday's crucial tie at San Siro.
“Neither Croatia's team nor its football can be more important than Italy's...we're coming off a bad World Cup.
“This generation can certainly do better. It'll be a very open game, it could go either way. [It'll be] a tough, physical, tactical game. Probably a draw.
“Croatia is more a team, Italy's play will be less fluid without Pirlo and Verratti. We'll put you in difficulty. It's a 50-50 game. Strange, usually it would be 80-20...”
As a parting note, Boban joked about Conte's days as a player - “he couldn't mark me!” - before briefly delving into the Balotelli case.
“It's the right moment to call up [Balotelli], because when he's on form, he feels he's superior. Now he's down.
“All in all he hasn't behaved as badly with the Azzurri as he has at club level.
“This is his last call, and it's coming from a Coach who wants to bring him back to the fold.
“Mario has goodness in him, which people don't see when he behaves in an absurd and unbearable way.”
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