Tuesday, October 19

Spain – Italy, ball against ball | Soccer Eurocup 2021


Roberto Mancini and Luis Enrique, the coaches of Italy and Spain.
Roberto Mancini and Luis Enrique, the coaches of Italy and Spain.FILIPPO MONTEFORTE STUART FRANKLIN / AFP

Spain and Italy have many points in common. From the style of play to the system. From the similar individual characteristics of some of its players to the way they express them within the collective organization. They are two teams created to attack more than to defend and have the ball as their hallmark. For the first time so far in the championship neither of them will have to face the always tricky effort to overcome a wall of opponents perched behind the ball and they will be able to play football and not handball or fronton. Neither Italy nor Spain show glittering footballers. There are no galactics. Your references are on the bench. They, Luis Enrique and Mancini, are the leaders. The creators of two sets carved in his image in his likeness.

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The benches

The two technicians took over their respective teams in 2018 with two months difference. Both bet on a non-negotiable style of play and start from the same football pattern: ball possession, occupation of the opposite field, high pressure, amplitude, advanced defense…. All this reflected in a 4-3-3 in which the wings and the wingers have a great role. Luis Enrique waited for Busquets, despite suffering the covid in full concentration, considering him essential in his tactical organization. Mancini did the same with Verratti, his most complete midfielder and with the greatest area of ​​influence. Another gesture of common identity has been their confidence in the possibilities of their team, proclaiming that they were among the favorites to fight for the tournament.

Defensive line

With Donnarumma and Unai Simón as fixed in the goal and in the heat of phase of moral reinforcement, both teams are planted when defending with a line of four men quite advanced, but as soon as they begin the exit of the game one of the two sides, preferably the left, is incorporated by its band and becomes a rear of three. Jordi Alba and Spinazzola, until their injury, played similar roles, with freedom to reach the rival area, reaching great prominence in the collective game by swinging many the attacks of their respective teams on their bands. The Verratti-Spinazzola-Insigne triangle has its photocopy in which they form Pedri-Alba-Sarabia. To start the game long, Laporte, with his changes of orientation and driving overcoming lines, tries to exercise Bonucci. It still lacks. And it also does not have a Chiellini next to it. Azpilicueta and De Lorenzi, on the right, join the attack with more surprise and take responsibility for forming the line of three when the side of the opposite band has become a winger.

Bonucci celebrates the victoria contra Bélgica with Donnarumma.
Bonucci celebrates the victoria contra Bélgica with Donnarumma.ANDREAS GEBERT / AFP

Midfield

A midfielder and two interiors. Jorginho is Busquets. Verratti plays Koke and Barella plays Pedri, although one on lane 8 and the other on lane 10. An almost symmetrical organization. Busquets and Jorginho maintain the position and are in charge of the coverage. When they jump to the pressure they know that automatically Koke and Verratti will cover their zone. Barella, like Pedri, is deeper. Try to be closer to the forwards than to the defenders. They both play well face to face and have good vision of the last pass. The two Italian interiors are more perpendicular and deeper than the Spanish ones, allowing your team to reach the opposite area with less passing rhetoric. Possibly so far they have also shown one more point of energy and a better sense of anticipation on split balls.

Forwards

Three references above. Luis Enrique asks his two men from the gangs to open up more, while Mancini gives Insigne more freedom of movement. He goes down a lot to receive and as soon as he heard Spinazzola’s strides, from now on Emerson, he would get into the finishing zone near Immobile. For these three most advanced positions, Mancini has basically used four men. On the right wing he started with Berardi (left-handed) and now Chiesa (right-handed) plays. Luis Enrique has also alternated Sarabia, Ferran Torres and Dani Olmo. Even Gerard Moreno has served the double game of center forward-forward.

Morata, after scoring Livakovic's fourth goal for Spain against Croatia.
Morata, after scoring Livakovic’s fourth goal for Spain against Croatia.WOLFGANG RATTAY / Reuters

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