Saturday March 26 2016
EDF: 'How I adapted Zeman 4-3-3'

Eusebio Di Francesco explained “two square passes are too many” at Sassuolo, but how his 4-3-3 differs from Zdenek Zeman.

The Coach has been linked with numerous top jobs, including Milan and the Italy bench, after impressing on the Neroverdi bench.

“My football is about vertical passes, give and go, attacking the space. I always tell the lads: two square passes are already too many,” Di Francesco told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

This follows on from his mentor Zeman, who also used the 4-3-3 system and used to say ‘possession is futile.’

“Movement off the ball is important, as football is all about timing and spaces. Those movements are repeated over and over again in training continually. Repetition is fundamental.

“If I had to take over a team mid-season, then I would adapt, but if a club chooses me as their Coach then they have to commit themselves to my style of football.

“There is only one problem with the 4-3-3, which is you struggle to mark the opposition playmaker. For the rest, it’s spectacular. In training I never work on a second tactical system.

“I like to have many players around the ball so they can win it back. If the opposition attacks us, we’re in Heaven… Zeman used to attack in every move, whereas I have more of my own style. Aggression is good, but not every time. On occasion you need to wait for the right moment.

“Zeman was 10 years ahead of his time. He is the Coach I learned the most from and he’s also the only one who really made me laugh.

“I will say I haven’t followed his fitness regime. I love my lads too much to put them through that! We used to run 1,000 metres 10 times for four days in a row, then run with heavy sacks on our shoulders, running up and down big steps…”

Di Francesco’s Sassuolo have a lot in common with title-chasing Napoli too.

“As with Maurizio Sarri, the reference for defenders is the ball. The defence must move to where the ball is, not the position of the opponents.

“Balance is also fundamental, as if one full-back goes on the attack, the other one has to stay close to the centre-backs. Obviously if I was the Coach of Real Madrid then I’d make both full-backs go forward. I need to be riskier.

“Facing Napoli is the toughest game to prepare this season, as they have quality in their passing and great forward lines. Gonzalo Higuain has improved so much under Sarri and fortunately Coaches still count for something. You can tell Lorenzo Insigne worked with Zeman at Pescara too.

“The approach Zeman taught us was if you aim to spoil the opposition’s approach, you have to change your own, and I will not change my own. I prefer to talk about us, not the opposition.

“Of course it’s worth knowing anyway that Napoli play more on the left and run into the box without the ball on the right. Jose Callejon is phenomenal at that.”

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