ATG Manager Draft Final - Big Dunk vs harms (N. Rocco vs. V. Lobanovskyi)

Who will win this game (also taking realization of the tactical blueprint into account)?


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Synco

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TEAM BIG DUNK (Nereo Rocco)

Inspiration/blueprint


Nereo Rocco's AC Milan: 1st spell (1961-63) & 2nd spell (1967-73).

Team specific: 1969 European Cup Final - AC Milan 4-1 Ajax

Playing style, tactics

Highly disciplined and defensively organised 4-3-3, while still being very potent and direct on the counter attack. Scirea performs the libero role (modern ball playing centreback) whose expert positioning and movement is still effective with the modern offside rules. Bergomi, Cannavaro and Maldini can be assigned specific man marking duties, while also incorporating the modern catenaccio variation of mixed zonal marking. Deschamps can hold while Maldini or Scirea move forward. Bergomi, Scirea, Cannavaro and Maldini are all competent on the ball and with the ball, able to initiate attacks.

Our industry is matched by our artistry and prolific threat in attack. Having three in midfield will help to contest against possession-focused opponents, and help to control the game with and without the ball. We can build play through Scirea from deep. Our defence and attack is linked by French pair Deschamps and Tigana. Our creative play will flow through Zidane, and through Stoichkov and Figo on the flanks. Luis Figo can swap wings or move centrally. Our attack is very dangerous on the counter attack, and on well-timed vertical passing transitions. Stoichkov will cut in from the left wing, whose runs will create space for Batistuta.

By allowing and encouraging our opponent to attack, I believe I have the ultimate defensive platform to nullify my opponent, then counter with a very potent and clutch attack. We possess defensive strength, all-round team balance, workrate, creativity and goals. We have the tools to adapt to each opponent and exploit their weaknesses.

Player roles
Gianluigi Buffon 03-06 (Goalkeeper) - the greatest goalkeeper of all time, Gianluigi Buffon. He will form an impenetrable unit alongside Maldini, Cannavaro, Bergomi and Scirea. I have not seen a more complete goalkeeper than Super Gigi.

Giuseppe Bergomi 88-91 (Right back) – you cannot get a superior upgrade for Angelo Anquilletti than Bergomi. Angelo Anquilletti was actually an inspiration for a young Claudio Gentile. Bergomi will be utilised as my defensive right back. Bergomi is one of the greatest man-markers of all time, if not Italy’s best ever stopper. His defending style combined the no-nonsense tough-tackling reminiscent of classic catenaccio, with defensive discipline that set him apart from other tough markers of his era and before. Giuseppe was a tenacious but very efficient tackler, whose awareness for danger and space helped him to break down attacking moves and anticipate counter attacks.

Fabio Cannavaro 03-06 (Stopper) - Fabio Cannavaro will be forever immortalised for his defensive performances at the 2006 World Cup, and being only the third defender to ever win the Ballon d’Or. A complete centreback, Cannavaro was a very durable and consistent defender. Standing at only 5 feet 9 but showing off a solid frame, Cannavaro possessed a fighting spirit that made him seem like an unpassable giant on the pitch, and a colossus in the air. Fabio was a born leader, and possessed that special ability of how to raise his teammates to a higher level, breeding confidence and calmness against any storm. Cannavaro is an elite defensive upgrade to Roberto Rosato: "a powerful, consistent, hard-tackling, and tenacious man-marking centre-back, regarded as one of the greatest and most complete Italian defenders of all time. In addition to his tough, determined, physical, and aggressive style of play, he was also extremely composed and elegant on the ball, due to his notable technical ability and balance; he was also known for his commanding influence on the pitch."

Gaetano Scirea 79-82 (Libero) - il Grande Capitano, Juve’s greatest ever defender. Scirea is technically and tactically a perfect ball-playing central defender. Scirea transformed the limited and defensive interpretation of the sweeper role, and perfected it into the integral creative fulcrum from deep. Scirea possessed an allround game, demonstrating an elegance on the ball and passing skills that set him apart from other libero’s of his era. In this free role, Scirea will roam along his back line, shutting down attacks, closing down any spaces, covering his man-markers and anticipating any threat, then using his vision and playmaking skills to dribble the ball forward or pass to his midfielders and forwards with accurate longballs. Scirea wasn’t an aggressive tackler, but instead made well-timed interceptions and slide tackles. One-on-one against a striker or winger, you could almost always guarantee Scirea coming out with the ball, gracefully gliding forward to initiate another attack.

Paolo Maldini 92-95 (Left back) - Not only the greatest left back of all time, Maldini is unquestionably one of the best players in football history. Paolo Maldini is the ultimate defender; in the sense he has every quality and skill you need at fullback or centreback. In the 90s you could appreciate him as a true athlete, nearly impossible to run past and powerful charging forward with the ball. Maldini controlled, crossed and passed the ball with great composure and precision. Maldini’s positioning, reading of the game and discipline was world-class. He executed perfectly- timed slide tackles and strong interceptions. When he positioned himself between the ball and attacker, his opponent had no chance in outmuscling and winning back the ball from the strong, agile and towering figure of Maldini. Maldini has more attacking licence down his flank than Bergomi, while also forming a solid 3-man defence with Cannavaro and Bergomi, when Scirea joins the attack. There is no finer upgrade to Schnellinger or Sabadini than Paolo Maldini.

Didier Deschamps 96-99 (Defensive midfielder) - The highly disciplined Didier Deschamps will break down my opponent’s attacks, screen my back four and distribute the ball with accuracy. His tactical and positional intelligence in the enforcer role is very important. Deschamps has a massive match engine too, demonstrating his tenacity and pressing in areas across the midfield, both deep, central and high up the pitch. For the sheer balance he brings, vision and leadership he possesses, Deschamps is a key cog here. Giovanni Trapattoni was Nereo Rocco’s anchor, linking the Rossoneri’s defence and attack. Deschamps is the clinical master of this.

Jean Tigana 83-86 (Box to box midfielder) - One of the finest box-to-box midfielders of the 80s and all-time, Jean Tigana fulfils two roles in this position: 1) his tenacious tackling, pressing, intelligent covering and endless workrate across the pitch is invaluable defensively; 2) 'Jeannot' was also effective bringing the ball forward, knitting play together with incisive short passes/through-balls and driving into the last third. Tigana's all-round game and defensive influence when we don't have the ball is vital. The defensive assurance that Tigana and Deschamps provides allows the creative likes of Zidane, Figo and Stoichkov to express themselves freely. Tigana is the integral engine room of my team, as both Benetti and Lodetti so perfectly served under Rocco.

Zinedine Zidane 98-01 (Attacking midfielder) - The artist amongst all the industry, Zizou is my fantasista. Not only one of the best playmakers of all time, but one of the all-time greatest footballers. A creative midfielder possessing pure technique: whether it be his elegant ball control and dribbling, accurate passing or highly technical shooting, Zidane moved with the ball with balance and grace like no other. Excellent vision, football IQ and an ability to shine the brightest in the biggest games. Zidane has the perfect defensive cover and workrate in Deschamps and Tigana, and the ideal attacking partners in Stoichkov, Figo and Batistuta. As Gianni Rivera before him, Zidane is the dream artist to complement the ruthlessness of Catenaccio.

Luis Figo 99-02 (Right winger) - Arguably the greatest playmaking winger of all time. Figo's dribbling and crossing ability made him the most effective right winger in football history. His football intelligence and link-up play makes him dangerous cutting in too, combining with Zidane centrally. Figo adds creativity and goals from the right wing (a monstrous 55 goals and 62 assists in his allocated 3 seasons). To ease the creative responsibility on Zidane, I will make use of Luis Figo's high workrate on the right wing - Batistuta will no doubt benefit from Figo’s accurate crosses from the flanks, through-balls and drilled cut-backs. A tactical change and upgrade to Kurt Hamrin: Figo offers me more of a playmaking threat (creative winger-type > direct wingforward), adding superior workrate (both attacking and defensive) and covering behind. Figo gets the best out of Batistuta-Stoichkov-Zidane, like no other winger in history could.

Gabriel Batistuta 97-00 (Centre forward) - I needed a clinical finisher, lethal with both feet, in the air, in the box and from long range. A complete striker who was arguably the most consistent and finest striker in Serie A in the 90s, and regarded as one of the greatest centre forwards of all time. ‘Batigol’ is both a prolific goalscorer and a creative team player (excellent link-up play with his secondary strike partner/playmaker). His sheer power and shooting technique was world-class, adding to his predatory instinct and intelligent positioning. Batistuta represents all the qualities of José Altafini and Angelo Sormani wrapped in one offensive package.

Hristo Stoichkov 91-94 (Supporting striker) – Ballon d'Or-winning complete forward who enjoyed one of the greatest peaks in the 90s... adding more pace and power to our attack. Stoichkov swaps out Laudrup-Romario for Zidane-Batistuta. An explosive goalscoring/creative dynamo that will 1) help stretch our opponent's back four with his pace and dribbling ability 2) create space for Batigol & Zizou 3) provide fluid movement with Zidane-Batigol-Figo 4) can cross/pass/get on the end of Figo's crosses & Zidane's through-balls 5) run the channel/get in behind/work between the lines 6) a powerful counter attacking lethal weapon 7) offer tenacious pressing 8) execute powerful/accurate shots from long-range and delicate finishes in the box. Just like the legendary Pierino Prati, Stoichkov is a talented and opportunistic player, possessing the versatility to adapt to the game – both at the start and in-game when the situation arises them to do so. Prati and Stoichkov both have a keen sense of finding an open space in the final third and can either make diagonal runs inside from the wide position or hug the touchline and make the pitch big, which allowed his teammates more space to penetrate.

Alterations from the original

Nereo Rocco’s system evolved through the eras, and he was open to make the necessary tactical adjustments. Here, we apply the modern adaption of the offside rule and positional discipline in the back four. Including an update to the mixed man/zonal-marking duties, in order to keep shape and not allowing any spaces for our opponent to work in. Rocco’s expectation of hard-work and adaptive organisation is thus maintained.


TEAM HARMS (Valeriy Lobanovskyi)

Inspiration/blueprint:
USSR 1988 (from 1988 Euros semi-final against Italy)

Before the game, neither the press nor the public opinion gave USSR even the benefit of the doubt – Italy looked practically unbeatable. The defensive unit consisting of Zenga, Bergomi, Baresi, Maldini and Ferri would prove itself to be the greatest defensive unit ever assembled; in midfield they had experience of Ancelotti and flair of Giannini & Donadoni; and up front they had creative genius of Mancini and goalscoring prowess of Vialli. Vasily Rats, Soviet defender, was not being humble when he said:


In the dressing room Lobanovsky did something that was completely out of character. Instead of simply giving the players tactical instructions, he had gathered them all together and simply asked:
– If we are to win tonight, we're going to need to press them for the entire 90 minutes without any breaks. Would you be willing and able to do that?
The answer was unanimous. Heavy underdogs, Lobanovskyi’s side outplayed the Italians in a 2-0 victory. The Soviet Union were so impressive, former Italy coach Enzo Bearzot approached Lobanovskyi after the match. Fittingly, Berzot admired the Soviet players’ commitment:


Formation: Free-flowing 4-4-2/4-5-1

Playing style/tactics:

1. Managers duel.
It's a bit unfair towards Rocco (as I have a more modern manager), but in Lobanovsky he faces arguably the least suitable opponent for his tactics (alongside the Dutch school – Michels/Cruyff/Pep). Rocco's catenaccio is a system built on the principle of man-marking – and Lobanovsky's football, with constant positional interchanges and fluid formation, is the worst possible fit for such a system. If we're staying true to the theme of the draft, it's quite likely that this game would end like the infamous Match of the Century in 1953 – where England had no idea how to cope with fluidity, intensity and quality of the Hungarian side.

2. More realistic picture. I think most of you should remember my previous write-ups, so I'll concentrate on the differences between USSR 1988 and Dynamo Kiyv 1975. Lobanovsky's key approach remained the same, but there were, obviously, some tweaks from his previous tactics. For example, much more attention was focused on short passing and one-twos – the playing style remained direct and vertical, but that side was better at keeping the ball (especially under pressure). It was even more compact and in a truly totaalvoetbal fashion, everyone participated in both phases of the game, creating pressing traps and numerical advantages all over the pitch.

Here's an example – this is one episode. In the first picture you see the end of the (unsuccessful) positioning attack – look at the amount of players participating in it (it was not a set-piece):
Then there's the next stage – after losing the ball USSR tries to win it back as soon as possible (and succeeds). Kuznetsov, Lytovchenko and Aleynikov (slightly off camera) from the first screenshot had already dropped back to face a player with the ball. Take note of Rats' positioning – he is a left back! Behind them there's only one center back and Dasaev – but that's enough, because Italians were not ready for this and lost the ball immediately:

Player roles:
GK. Sepp Maier (Rinat Dasayev). A complete and aggressive keeper with incredible reflexes and assured control of the box.
LB. Javier Zanetti (Vasily Rats/Anatoliy Demyanenko). The ultimate Lobanovsky's fullback – tireless, versatile and great in both phases of the game.
CB. Paul McGrath (Vagiz Khidiyatullin). Fast, strong, agile, versatile and good with the ball.
CB. Lilian Thuram (Oleh Kuznetsov). Capable of playing in multiple positions across the back and nearly unbeatable one-on-one.
RB. Cafu (Volodimir Bessonov/Anatoliy Demyanenko). A dominating presence on the right wing, providing width and keeping things safe in the back.
DM. Valeriy Voronin (Oleksiy Mykhaylychenko). The roles in the midfield 4 were even more variable in that Lobanovsky's team, but Voronin is very well capable of playing in any midfield capacity, which is well illustrated by his career – creative central midfielder in 1964 Euros final against Spain; dominating box-to-box in 1966 World Cup's game against Italy; ruthless man-marker in the same tournament against the likes of Eusebio and Florian Albert and, of course, more or less classical defensive midfielder over the course of his career.
LM. Paul Breitner (Sergei Aleinikov). One of the greatest midfielders of all-time with plenty of experience on the wing – be it in his stint as a left back or even in his peak as a midfielder (he had quite often peeled out wide – not only on the left, but on the right as well).
CM. Lothar Matthäus (Oleksandr Zavarov). As usual, Lobanovsky's "number 10" is crucial for his system – with forwards being in constant movement he both participates in the defensive phase and rushes forward into free space.
RM. Kevin De Bruyne (Hennadiy Lytovchenko). A more creative player who not only plays centrally but also goes out wide to cross or to combine with an overlapping fullback on a regular basis. It's hard to imagine anyone playing this role better than Kevin De Bruyne.
ST. Uwe Seeler (Oleh Protasov). The only real striker in this set up – the most complete, prolific and yet selfless that you can choose for this.
FW. Zbigniew Boniek (Sergey Gotsmanov/Igor Belanov). It's hard to justify replacing Johan Cruyff, but in this game I needed my forwards to run even more intensely – and asking Cruyff to press for the entirety of 90 minutes is a bit of a sacrilege. Boniek is another player who is almost tailor-made for Lobanovsky, especially in terms of his pace and workrate (again, Cruyff didn't have that blistering pace of Blokhin or Belanov, which Boniek did). Also, check out my new compilation while it's not blocked by FIFA yet:
 

Šjor Bepo

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i thought i would go with harms but after dunk went for Stoichkov and improved massively his workrate on the front line think i will probably stay away from the voting though if i decide to vote its going to be for harms.
 

2mufc0

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Although replacing Del Piero moves away from that theme Stoichkov is an excellent addition after thinking the team couldn't be improved further.
 

Jim Beam

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Where is Cruyff?? It is brilliant to get Lothar, I can understand the reasoning, I get that he fits the tactics, but not at the expense of Cruyff. I prefer that semi-final team and actually think it is better. Would get my vote instantly as in that 100 km/h and press as crazy approach I just rate Cruyff influence higher.

Cheers harms, now am not sure for who to vote.
 

Enigma_87

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THB I liked harms SF team better with Cruyff in it. To me BD team is really spot on and gets my vote.
 

GodShaveTheQueen

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Think harms pulled off a tactical master class there. I still don't think it will be enough, but I like this a lot. Perhaps even more than the team from the previous rounds.

For Big Dunk, the Cannavaro pick in semis reinforcements sealed it for me.

I'd probably have upgraded Deschamps and let Del Piero remain for the romantic side of it, but still its a brilliantly built squad that wins on the basis of the initial drafting itself. No matter what reinforcements he made, it was always reaching the final easily.
 

harms

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Where is Cruyff?? It is brilliant to get Lothar, I can understand the reasoning, I get that he fits the tactics, but not at the expense of Cruyff. I prefer that semi-final team and actually think it is better. Would get my vote instantly as in that 100 km/h and press as crazy approach I just rate Cruyff influence higher.

Cheers harms, now am not sure for who to vote.
THB I liked harms SF team better with Cruyff in it. To me BD team is really spot on and gets my vote.
I got bored from fielding basically the same team over and over. I've done the Cruyff/Lobanovsky collaboration and took that off my bucket list.
 

BIG DUNK

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We welcome our opponent’s high-press and short-pass possession. We are built perfectly to play against that very style.

How we will beat the press and kill our opponent on the counter:
  • We possess the elite defensive platform to soak up their press, then hit them on the counter. You cannot allow the likes of Batistuta, Stoichkov, Figo and Zidane the room, time and space to attack. They are unlikely to be double-teamed here, and instead more likely to take advantage of their respective one-on-ones, with their defenders on the back foot. If this forces our opponent to commit more midfielders behind, then their press is even more weakened. Our opponent will be susceptible to the overloading of their single DM pivot and fullbacks too.

  • What is of utmost importance is disciplined defending. I have built a back four, midfield pivot and attack famed for their defensive work-rate, intelligence and quality. A collection of some of the finest masters in zonal/man-marking.

  • Both Seeler and Boniek are covering a lot of space when pressing our back line. What we will do is drop the Tigana-Deschamps pivot deeper and make either Stoichkov/Figo drift inside centrally. We want to create as many passing lanes as possible, and now Seeler and Boniek have even more angles to cover. If this forces Matthaus and Cafu/Zanetti to tighten their press and follow Tigana-Deschamps or our winger, this will create space in the respective area. Both Scirea and Cannavaro can also step out the defensive line and either 1) carry the ball forward or play a long vertical pass to our attack in the spaces that have been evacuated. Maldini and Bergomi/Figo can split even wider too to offer a direct diagonal passing option, stretching our opponent’s forward line (who are all more naturally inclined to move centrally anyway). Gaetano Scirea is a press-killer. Tigana and Zidane can also make decoy diagonal runs to commit Breitner and De Bruyne out of their default press position, before allowing a free pass to the dropping Deschamps/Scirea when open. By creating these gaps we generate more half spaces for Tigana and Zidane to thrive in and work themselves out the press.

  • Specialist markers: I feel Bergomi is the perfect marker to nullify Boniek’s movement and attacking influence. He can follow him deeper, wider or pass him to Tigana. Cannavaro has the complete physical and defensive skill to negate Seeler’s all-round game. I expect two titan defensive performances from them (who specialised in big Finals). Scirea will offer elite covering and an opportunity to double up on Seeler/Boniek/Matthaus. I have faith in Cannavaro/Bergomi/Scirea/Maldini being effective in every defensive position across the back.

  • Opponent’s lack of width: I feel the offensive threat of both Stoichkov and Figo will mean both Cafu and Zanetti’s attacking/creative influence will not be maximised. Our opponent’s narrow midfield needs the like of Cafu and Zanetti to stretch us and offer width and support on the wing. I don’t believe they will be able to execute this fully. This will force more dependence on De Bruyne/Breitner and Boniek to drift wide and allow more room in the middle. Maldini and Bergomi, the greatest defensive fullbacks, (coupled with Deschamps/Tigana) are formidable defensive flanks to snuff out congested areas centrally, or push back out wide. Figo and Stoichkov were also known to support their fullbacks. De Bruyne/Boniek/Seeler/Brietner will all want to move inside centrally. There is an undeniable lack of true width. We won’t be stretched. We won’t be pulled out of shape as there is a defensive master to cover and pass eachother’s movement and assignment. There is no deadly pace to get in behind. We will welcome their central movement, as we have the perfect defensive blocs to break up their play and counter them.
 
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harms

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We possess the elite defensive platform to soak up their press, then hit them on the counter.
What is of utmost importance is disciplined defending. I have built a back four, midfield pivot and attack famed for their defensive work-rate, intelligence and quality. A collection of some of the finest masters in zonal/man-marking.
Your defense (as insane as it is) isn't actually that much better than Maldini-Baresi-Ferri-Bergomi (Cannavaro is a certain upgrade, but I'd say that Baresi is a marginally better defender than Scirea), which is the defensive unit (best ever defensive unit that was assembled in real life) that got overwhelmed by Lobanovsky's side... but literally every one of my front 5 is a (significantly) better player that their original prototype.

That's the beauty of an innovative manager. He gives his team an advantage – because he thinks outside of the box and if he does everything right, his players can outperform a set of a better individuals.

Specialist markers: I feel Bergomi is the perfect marker to nullify Boniek’s movement and attacking influence. He can follow him deeper, wider or pass him to Tigana. Cannavaro has the complete physical and defensive skill to negate Seeler’s all-round game. I expect two titan defensive performances from them (who specialised in big Finals).
I know that not everyone cares about that, but personally I always look at what managers say in their arguments and judge the potential performance of their team accordingly. So you can't even imagine how happy this comment made me.

The idea that you can use a marker to "nullify Boniek's movement and attacking influence"* shows that you don't actually understand his role (and the nature of his game), hence you had overlooked and underestimated him in your instructions.

There's a brilliant love letter by @antohan about him which is well-worth (re)reading, but before posting this wall of text, let's put his own short summary first:

@Arbitrium I wrote a post some years ago about how Boniek had a similar style as Thomas Müller in terms of searching for and finding space... but with blistering pace on top.

Genius player. Ever since then I hadn't seen anyone with such a fantastic brain and movement off the ball and suddenly everyone was full of praise for Müller as if he had invented some new way of playing football.

Just watch his hat trick vs Belgium (the greatest Belgian side ever, runners up in previous Euro) and tell me he is a striker, or a winger. Nope, he is a free roaming forward that tears defences apart.

On Boniek

Christ, looks like I'm the only one who bothers write on these threads. Gotta go. Delighted with the win, but posting this on Boniek I had prepared for you guys since I kept banging on about wingers and their roles and no one seemed fussed or aware boniek needed explaining (I guess few have seen him enough).



This is what I can’t understand. You shouldn’t need to read about them. Profiles should give you a fairly accurate idea or else the manager should make it clear how the player’s attributes are being utilised.

Any hyperbole you read about Boniek will be true, I can tell you that now, the issue though is that different managers at different clubs kept deploying him differently and not quite working out how to best use an evidently very talented player.

The way he has been deployed here is one such case. Since no one has taken up the challenge of explaining the difference between Boniek’s European and domestic performances for Europe, I shall do it.

Boniek was nicknamed “Il bello di note” (Beauty at night) a somewhat backhanded compliment on his amazing midweek European nights being of a much higher standard than his daylight Serie A weekend games.

It wasn’t him being a big game player alone or inconsistent. In fact, I think he was every bit as effective in Serie A, just not the one who would get on the scoresheet, maybe not even the assist charts, but a crucial player for that Juve side nonetheless.

Let’s start with one thing, he was an AM/FW who could be effective across the frontline but you couldn’t quite assign him a specific place or role, there isn’t any similar player I can think of that he could be compared to either. He certainly was not an out and out winger in the traditional sense. He popped up everywhere, to the extent that in the 50s game I was close to posting a teamsheet with Boniek shirts in every place I expected him to show up. It was very crowded and people would have rightly asked why I had so many players on the pitch, it being a ruse, etc.

In your average Serie A game Juve was the far superior side, they took the initiative and kept their opponents constantly on the backfoot. They faced tight Italian defences defending for their lives, i.e. there wasn’t much space. A player like Boniek with no space to attack is unlikely to shine or score. What Boniek did do was to use his pace, stamina and insane workrate to patrol the entire frontline back and forth, all the time, tirelessly. I keep referring to him as “a Duracell bunny gone berserk” and to this day I haevn’t seen anyone offer a more apt description. Where this was hugely beneficial to Juve was not in him scoring or even assisting, but dragging defenders all over the place. He was nominally a left winger yet it made no sense to say the fullback was keeping tabs on him because he very rarely was in his area of influence. He thus required zonal marking, but the problem was he created such a constant state of confusion that sooner or later his zone’s marker would be dragged away just about enough to create the space for the likes of Rossi or Platini to steal in and score. It is pretty much the role assigned in my vs. Brwned 50s final teamsheet (notice how completely different that looks from the chap being on the halfway line so you have to assume that is NOT what he was doing here, surely).

In important European games though Juve weren’t as gung-ho, particularly when playing away. They would play in a much more conservative way, which makes sense in a knockout competition! It was defence first, and while Platini sometimes even seemed like a bonafide striker in Serie A, in Europe he pretty much sank into central midfield and acted as a deep-lying playmaker for large portions of the game. In that setup there were usually acres of space to exploit and no one better than Boniek to do so! It was indeed those Hollywood balls by Platini and irrepressible runs by Boniek which resulted in his most memorable goals and significant contributions to Juve’s European success. That’s the way he was deployed in the teamsheet for the game vs. Gio, with Schuster acting as Platini.

Which of these versions of Boniek would work in this game? The Serie A one, no doubt. And that’s precisely why I pointed out Vasovic-Ferdinand was a good pair: excellent game readers and positional players who won’t be fooled into committing themselves and leaving someone else utterly free. You don’t need a stopper to stop Boniek, much the opposite.

But no, he was called “a winger” and placed in midfield, specifically for the purpose of making that midfield look more solid/dominant. As a winger he wasn’t as special. He didn’t cross too much, preferring to dribble his way through and more often than not ended up running his way into dispossession. He did have incredible pace, stamina and workrate so you would see him track back and forth all day long, no question about it, never again seen a player be as all over the pitch as Boniek, ever.

The mention of Rooney earlier though is quite appropriate for comparison. He puts a shift and sometimes you see him end up covering at left back. Everyone would agree that is one of his huge contributions to the side, while lamenting those additional contributions sometimes mean he is not as available and effective upfront.

Same with Boniek where he was placed, there’s no question he would end up embroiled in a wing-back job going back and forth with Facchetti in one of the key duels of the game. It would help reduce the impact of Facchetti, surely, but would be a losing battle. Facchetti is obviously the better defender, however much application Boniek puts into the job, but was also the more effective wide threat since he offered better crosses and his goalscoring record was a match for Boniek’s (actually Facchetti’s peak record is marginally better)...
The one thing I was worried about in this game was not Pelé, I had that as reasonably covered as I could and there was feck all else I could do about it. It wasn’t Rummenigge, despite him certainly being an awesome centre-forward. It certainly wasn’t Blokhin vs. Zanetti. No, it was Boniek across the frontline unsettling my defence. Of course I demanded to be told how he was playing. It made all the difference as far as I'm concerned.
There's also a great story about how Juve's chairman had said that whoever plays next to Boniek will end up the league's top-scorer. At the time when he had said it, Platini, who had played with Boniek, had topped Serie A goalscoring chart in 3 times in a row. After those words (somehow) Boniek was sold Roma... and Pruzzo, his new striking partner, had become the new capocannoniere with 19 goals to his name. I've seen someone interpret those words to argue that Boniek was an incredible playmaker, which kind of makes sense – you'd expect those kind of quotes about someone like Laudrup or De Bruyne/Özil if we're talking contemporaries. But this is not the case – at all; Boniek had a way of using his movement, like no one that I've seen before or since, to create space for others. There aren't many players with comparable quality of their off-the-ball movement and most of them (like G. Müller or Cristiano) used it to put themselves into goalscoring positions. Thomas Müller is kind of similar (I think he had broken or was about to break the assist record this season with 21 without him being, well, a real playmaker), but Boniek had all of Müller's strengths and on top of that he was blistering fast and had great technique.

* You actually can nullify him by using a man-marker, but it has to be a spare man that operates without a dedicated position with a steady back 4 behind him; a relevant example would be Bergomi on Rummenigge in 1982 World Cup final, where Italy had a Cabrini-Collovati-Scirea-Gentile back 4 and Bergomi unleashed on a man-marking job.
 

harms

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There's also a relevant story about tactics that always fascinated me. It's told quite nicely in Jonathan Wilson's book "Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics". A little introduction from there as well – seeing as you have Scirea and not Malatrasi/Picchi as a libero, it's even more fitting:

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Italy were in the phase of il gioco all’ Italiana rather than out-and-out catenaccio, but they were still notably defensive. Just as much as the game in the Azteca in 1970, their meeting with Brazil in the Estadi de Sarrià was seen as an allegory. To try to alleviate the shortfall in midfield caused by Herrera’s version of catenaccio, Italian football had followed the route of Dutch and German football, by making the libero a far more rounded player - a converted inside-forward such as Pierluigi Cera or Gaetano Scirea rather than a converted full-back like Ivano Blason or Armando Picchi - capable of stepping out from the back and making an extra midfielder when his side had possession.

The irony is that ‘il gioco all’ Italiana’ was itself dying. ‘It was effective for a while,’ Ludovico Maradei explained, ‘and, by the late 1970s and early 1980s everybody in Italy was playing it. But that became its undoing. Everybody had the same system and it was rigidly reflected in the numbers players wore. The No. 9 was the centre-forward, 11 was the second striker who always attacked from the left, 7 the tornante on the right, 4 the deep-lying central midfielder, 10 the more attacking central midfielder and 8 the link-man, usually on the centre left, leaving space for 3, the left-back, to push on. Everyone marked man to man so it was all very predictable: 2 on 11, 3 on 7, 4 on 10, 5 on 9, 6 was the sweeper, 7 on 3, 8 on 8, 10 on 4, 9 on 5 and 11 on 2.’

The match in which the shortcomings of il gioco all’ Italiana were exposed came less than a year after it had beaten the Brazilian game, as Juventus lost the 1983 European Cup final to SV Hamburg. Three of Juventus’s back-four had played for Italy in Barcelona, with Claudio Gentile and Cabrini as the full-backs and Scirea as the sweeper, the only difference being the presence of Sergio Brio as the stopper central defender. Hamburg played with two forwards: a figurehead in Horst Hrubesch, with the Dane Lars Bastrup usually playing off him to the left. That suited Juventus, because it meant he could be marked by Gentile, while Cabrini would be left free from defensive concerns to attack down the left.

Realising that, the Hamburg coach Ernst Happel switched Bastrup to the right, putting him up against Cabrini. That was something almost unheard of in Italian football. Their asymmetric system worked because everybody was equally asymmetric: the marking roles were just as specific as they had been in the W-M. Giovanni Trapattoni decided to stick with the man-to-man system, and moved Gentile across to the left to mark Bastrup. That, of course, left a hole on the right, which Marco Tardelli was supposed to drop back and fill. In practice, though, Tardelli was both neutered as an attacking force and failed adequately to cover the gap, through which Felix Magath ran to score the only goal of the game.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Now, your system is probably not as fragile as Juve's, but it's still a rigid system. More importantly – and this is evident from both your write-up and your follow-up, it's set up to face another system (since I'm going to use the word chaos-χάος next, dare I say, cosmos-κόσμος); yet, while Lobanovsky's side was actually built with a very complicated (yet, perfectly coherent) system in mind, to a neutral eye it looked like chaos itself.
 

harms

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As a follow-up on Boniek, here's another interesting thing. This is Boniek's record against Scirea – both players had peaked around the same time, so there are no cases of individual mismatches here. Note, that in every one of those 6 games Boniek is playing for an inferior, on paper, team.



A link for those who want to check out the squads etc.
 

Enigma_87

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As a follow-up on Boniek, here's another interesting thing. This is Boniek's record against Scirea – both players had peaked around the same time, so there are no cases of individual mismatches here. Note, that in every one of those 6 games Boniek is playing for an inferior, on paper, team.



A link for those who want to check out the squads etc.
I'm not sure I'd agree with that. Obviously Juve had a great team, but Roma were probably the biggest challengers they faced during the early/mid 80's. Roma became champions in 82/83 and were always 2-4 points behind Juve in other seasons. Even in 85/86 as the cited year, they were leaders in Serie A with 2 games to go, only to lose to already relegated Lecce in the 29th round at home. They also won the Coppa the same year and were in great form when Juve were struggling at the turn of the year.

If anything in during the last 2 weeks Roma were much bigger favorites, considering the form they were in, beating also Juve 3-0 and Juve winning only 4 games since the new year.


They were unlucky not to win that game against Lecce (they also faced Juve a week later and gave them a tough time, although Juve had it almost in the bag by that time) and were down due to some very poor defensive mistakes.

That Roma team despite losing Falcao, still had some midfield boasting with Conti, Cerezo, Ancelotti, Gianini and aforementioned Boniek, whilst Pruzzo was really prolific in front of the goal and in the form of his life(was 2 times Serie A goalscorer in the early 80's too, so not exactly flash in the pan).

So whilst Juve had the better individuals on paper(yet players like Platini, Scirea were in the twighlight of their careers) the gap as a team was pretty much non existent and in any of Roma - Juve games played in the early- mid 80's there wasn't really a favorite and usually ended up as a draw.
 

oneniltothearsenal

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Where is Cruyff?? It is brilliant to get Lothar, I can understand the reasoning, I get that he fits the tactics, but not at the expense of Cruyff. I prefer that semi-final team and actually think it is better. Would get my vote instantly as in that 100 km/h and press as crazy approach I just rate Cruyff influence higher.

Cheers harms, now am not sure for who to vote.
Exactly my thoughts
 

harms

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By the way, this is a must watch (especially since footballia is still down)

So whilst Juve had the better individuals on paper(yet players like Platini, Scirea were in the twighlight of their careers) the gap as a team was pretty much non existent and in any of Roma - Juve games played in the early- mid 80's there wasn't really a favorite and usually ended up as a draw.
I'm not sure I'd agree with that. Obviously Juve had a great team, but Roma were probably the biggest challengers they faced during the early/mid 80's.
Roma were their biggest challengers domestically, but they were always the underdogs in that competition. At their best you can call them equals (there certainly wasn't that much between them, I love that Roma side), it doesn't in any way affect my overall point though – either he was playing for a clearly inferior team or a team that, at best, can be considered equal... that record is brilliant (or horrible in Scirea's case).

By the way, in the first game:
AS Roma
Juventus FC

In the second game:
AS Roma
Juventus FC

I know which squad is better on paper. And the original point was that a set of stronger individuals (the gap isn't even that big between our teams) doesn't equal a better team.

Note, that in every one of those 6 games Boniek is playing for an inferior, on paper, team.
 

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I feel Boniek would actually be more effective in my team than in your tactical setup. Boniek is an ideal supporting forward in a counter attacking team. Cruyff was perfect in your possession/pressure setup (with and without the ball). Boniek is a big tactical downgrade.

Boniek isn’t as consistent as Cruyff neither as effective as the aforementioned Thomas Müller off-ball (you are a team who will have lots of the ball). Unlike Cruyff he is not as highly involved in build up play. Thus, if we deny him space by Tigana’s tenacious tackling, Bergomi’s zonal/man-marking and Scirea’s covering, Boniek will be frustrated and be less productive. His consistency is nowhere near the tier of Stoichkov/Batistuta/Figo, the dropped Cruyff, or even his forward partner Seeler.

Being under the close monitoring of Bergomi will help stop Boniek from 1) linking any play 2) slow down any penetrating dribbles inside 3) snuff out his movement and assists to Seeler. Bergomi knew when to get close and when to wait for an opponent to enter his web.


I’m not even sure you have the right players to enact this 90 minute death-by-pressing job. I feel like you could have at least stole some Dutch 60s/70s system players. I feel you lost some on-ball tempo-setting/direction/penetration and tactical constancy with the loss of Cruyff. Your starting XI could almost walk into an Ancelotti-inspired Xmas tree setup. Perhaps they would be more comfortable in that setup too. The names you drafted no doubt have gone way beyond their Lobanovskyi prototype templates, but I think this works against the very system.
 

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Scirea and Cannavaro are surely the wrong way around?

@harms, haven't seen the previous team but did you really bench Cruyff for Matthäus?

Edit: oh, I see, Bergomi is on a man-marking assignment so Maldini tucks in. Not sure he should have an arrow then. Mmm.
 
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harms

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Scirea and Cannavaro are surely the wrong way around?

@harms, haven't seen the previous team but did you really bench Cruyff for Matthäus?

Edit: oh, I see, Bergomi is on a man-marking assignment so Maldini tucks in. Not sure he should have an arrow then. Mmm.
Yeah, there were a lot of reasons but mostly I wanted to change things up because it was the same team over and over again with better defenders. It was not necessarily a move to improve the team.
 

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I’m not even sure you have the right players to enact this 90 minute death-by-pressing job.
What? :lol:

Yeah, can't agree with anything that you've said here. I feel that you still don't understand the way that my team is supposed to play, but I doubt that I'm going to be able to explain further with words, I can just wish that footballia is going to be up soon.
 

harms

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Being under the close monitoring of Bergomi will help stop Boniek from 1) linking any play 2) slow down any penetrating dribbles inside 3) snuff out his movement and assists to Seeler. Bergomi knew when to get close and when to wait for an opponent to enter his web.
Is he following Boniek all over the pitch? Because he isn't a left winger, he roams all over the pitch.
 

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Quite keen to have a full watch of the Euro '88 semi-final @harms - seen highlights before, but sounds like a fascinating contest.

Can see Harms generally taking control of midfield, but coming up against a brick wall and I'm not sure how that defence is unlocked. I can see De Bruyne and Breitner pinging the ball across the front of Big Dunk's defence, but I would prefer somebody in there who can create openings 1v1 in tight spaces. That's always the challenge against a low and organised block. Boniek complements the midfield well and would be the most compelling route to goal, but I think he'd be more threatening in a more open end-to-end game. Long range shooting always a threat with those three central midfielders, plus Zanetti cutting onto his right, but I would back Deschamps and Tigana to do the necessary screening there to mitigate the risk most of the time.

For Big Dunk there's a slight departure from the Serie A theme with Stoickhov and Figo, but both players fundamental here in (a) covering the full-backs to some degree and (b) countering at pace and with quality.
 

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Very tough call, but went with BD. Really fantastic drafting, some solid arguments (some I don't agree with) and a great defence supported with serious quality in the attack made that slightest of margain for me. Also, nailed the theme/tactics from the very start. In my eyes, very hard not to "reward" him here.

As for harms, he confirms the status of the toughest man to debate against and this would probably be the match in which he would have a serious chance to grab the win based on everything.

In short, great job from both of you.
 

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Congrats @BIG DUNK! Is this your first win? Edgar’s winners list haven’t been updated in a while.

It was a brilliant drafting by you from the very beginning, and you kept on improving. I was originally going for Stoichkov and Matthäus in Cruyff’s place (I felt like I needed to shake things up a bit), a great pick to round your side off.
 

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Congrats @BIG DUNK! Is this your first win? Edgar’s winners list haven’t been updated in a while.

It was a brilliant drafting by you from the very beginning, and you kept on improving. I was originally going for Stoichkov and Matthäus in Cruyff’s place (I felt like I needed to shake things up a bit), a great pick to round your side off.
Thank you, and great passion and research throughout the draft from you. Lobanovskyi was funnily my second choice manager after Nereo Rocco before the draft. I’m glad they both got represented here.

Yes, my first win.
 

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Congrats @BIG DUNK . Great side that you assemble there!

Tough luck @harms
Was really interesting reading more about
Lobanovsky's philosophy and it was a good recreation of his side. Recall watching the 88 Euros Semi Finals and the final back then for Demyanenko and was amazed by that Soviet side, esp against Italy who really looked like the best team on paper in that tournament.
 

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Well done @BIG DUNK - great drafting throughout and like a lot of people had you pegged as the early favourite. Thought you’d upgrade Deschamps over Del Piero but Stoichkov is a very nice fit.

Unlucky @harms - actually thought it was very close in the end and decided to abstain from voting. I liked the Matthaus pick, reckon his impact has diminished in drafts compared to a few years ago.
 

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Congrats to both. Great sides there. I couldn't really make my mind up.

I could see @harms dominating and rate both his forwards very highly for their selfless play and ability to create chances for others but felt he lacked that other guy that screamed goals (not a goal poacher but a false 9 type with equally intelligent play, can see why you wanted to try something different though). Seeler was of course a proper legit goalscorer, but it's too good a set of defenders without a third option there. That made all the difference.

@BIG DUNK I wasn't as awestruck as others by the defensive unit and their instructions, Bergomi would get dragged all over the place, Scirea would have to stay back/alternate with Maldini. It looked a lot messier to me than you would expect from a Nereo Rocco defence once you factored in how the oppo would play. I would have swapped Scirea and Cannavaro and done away with the Bergomi instruction, there weren't enough forwards to make life complicated for yourself like that. That said, I'm a sucker for counterattacking setups and you had that aspect spot on. I rate Deschamps' ability to expedite or calm everything the feck down more than the average draft junkie. No idea who played before Stoichkov, but he provides a lot of oomph to that lineup.

Had you settled your back four to deal with the threats in front of them (they have the nous, the awareness and the ability to execute it) I would have voted you, but it looked all a bit too panicky and un-italian for my liking.
 

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I could see @harms dominating and rate both his forwards very highly for their selfless play and ability to create chances for others but felt he lacked that other guy that screamed goals (not a goal poacher but a false 9 type with equally intelligent play, can see why you wanted to try something different though). Seeler was of course a proper legit goalscorer, but it's too good a set of defenders without a third option there. That made all the difference.
I have Breitner and Matthäus who both scored 20 goals per season at their peak? You don’t think that that is enough?
 

Physiocrat

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I have Breitner and Matthäus who both scored 20 goals per season at their peak? You don’t think that that is enough?
I'd have to go and check but IIRC both of those had a lot of penalty and free kicks making up the 20. I certainly got that impression from watching a compilation of Matthaus' 20 goals for Inter season.
 

Physiocrat

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. I would have swapped Scirea and Cannavaro
I made that point in his first game and he responded that the defensive structure was more of a 1-3 with Scirea behind the other three and he would switch around with Cannavaro anyway. Now whether that is a genuinely zonal system is really another question
 

harms

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I'd have to go and check but IIRC both of those had a lot of penalty and free kicks making up the 20. I certainly got that impression from watching a compilation of Matthaus' 20 goals for Inter season.
Matthäus - 66 penalties from 201 goals
Breitner - 39 penalties from 124 goals

That is a lot, but they still scored way more from open play.
 

Physiocrat

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Matthäus - 66 penalties from 201 goals
Breitner - 39 penalties from 124 goals

That is a lot, but they still scored way more from open play.
True but we would need to look at the proportions in their peak goalscoring seasons as I suspect they were the sides main penalty taker then.

I haven't see this video for a while but this is all the goals Matthaus scored for Inter in Serie A.

 

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True but we would need to look at the proportions in their peak goalscoring seasons as I suspect they were the sides main penalty taker then.
Transfermarkt has fairly comprehensive goalscoring data for both Matthäus and Breitner...

https://www.transfermarkt.de/paul-breitner/alletore/spieler/13766
https://www.transfermarkt.de/lothar-matthaus/alletore/spieler/1527

According to this, Breitner converted 8 penalties from a total of 28 goals in 1981/82 at Bayern — and Matthäus converted 9 penalties from a total of 23 goals in 1990/91 at Internazionale, as well as 7 penalties from a total of 21 goals in 1987/88 at Bayern.

All things considered the percentages for single-season-peak are equal to or slightly better than @harms' overall statistics in the previous post:

Matthäus: 33.33% peak vs. 32.83% total.
Breitner: 26.57% peak vs. 31.45% total.
 

Physiocrat

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Transfermarkt has fairly comprehensive goalscoring data for both Matthäus and Breitner...

https://www.transfermarkt.de/paul-breitner/alletore/spieler/13766
https://www.transfermarkt.de/lothar-matthaus/alletore/spieler/1527

According to this, Breitner converted 8 penalties from a total of 28 goals in 1981/82 at Bayern — and Matthäus converted 9 penalties from a total of 23 goals in 1990/91 at Internazionale, as well as 7 penalties from a total of 21 goals in 1987/88 at Bayern.

All things considered the percentages for single-season-peak are equal to or slightly better than @harms' overall statistics in the previous post:

Matthäus: 33.33% peak vs. 32.83% total.
Breitner: 26.57% peak vs. 31.45% total.
That's good stuff Invictus. Slightly surprising to. I should have a look at these figure relative to a more obvious flair goalscoring AM and strikers to see how the percentages match up.
 

Pat_Mustard

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Very tough call, but went with BD. Really fantastic drafting, some solid arguments (some I don't agree with) and a great defence supported with serious quality in the attack made that slightest of margain for me. Also, nailed the theme/tactics from the very start. In my eyes, very hard not to "reward" him here.

As for harms, he confirms the status of the toughest man to debate against and this would probably be the match in which he would have a serious chance to grab the win based on everything.

In short, great job from both of you.
The new Gio :lol:. Strikes that great balance between clearly knowing his onions, pressing home his advantages, but not over-extending and resorting to hyperbole. Properly persuasive case he made here and it just about won me around in such a close contest. Drafting masterclass from @BIG DUNK here, and great job holding his own in the discussions too. I really didn't see myself voting against him at all after the initial drafting, but I thought @harms made a valid point in Lobanovski's style generally being a bad stylistic match-up for a Rocco team. I also admit to thinking harms nailed his theme from the outset, but subsequently realising that my go-to reference to Lobanovski's style prior to this draft were lengthy posts in a previous draft by harms

 

antohan

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I have Breitner and Matthäus who both scored 20 goals per season at their peak? You don’t think that that is enough?
A lot of set pieces, which in fairness are an absolutely legit way to score. That said, they don't "add up" as goalscoring potential (you don't get twice the probability of scoring from a penalty, for example). That defence would also be extra careful not to give many away.

You just needed that third proper forward IMO. The style you went for isn't one where you hope to nick it with a set piece, it's more about outscoring, particularly when the other team very likely would.
 

antohan

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I made that point in his first game and he responded that the defensive structure was more of a 1-3 with Scirea behind the other three and he would switch around with Cannavaro anyway. Now whether that is a genuinely zonal system is really another question
Should display it that way then. While his LB was Maldini, the arrow in him reminded me of the many times I've seen Passarella next to Bobby Carlos. Nonsensical.