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ZONA MISTA - The Lost Art of Counter-Attacking


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Misunderstood Genius of Herrera and His Legacy

I think Helenio Herrera, the grandfather of Zona Mista, said it best to describe his controversial playing style:

"I invented catenaccio, the problem is that most of the ones who copied me copied me wrongly. They forgot to include the attacking principles that my catenaccio included. I had Picci as sweeper, yes, but I also had Faccheti, the first full-back to score as many goals as a forward."

- Helenio Herrera

Much of the negative reputation of Catenaccio has come from misunderstanding of its central counter-attacking principle. As I mentioned above it is not "anti-football" or "park the bus" strategy. It was certainly not conceived that way by Herrera. He was never concerned with drawing a game so his team would not lose. His aim has always been to win easily and efficiently, and win every time. Thus Catenaccio, and later Zona Mista, were never tactics designed for the underdog to draw out a game. Instead the elite Italian clubs of their time, such as Inter and Juventus used this style to amass a record trophy haul between 1960s to mid 1990s.

Using Zona Mista, Juventus played some of its finest football ever, setting a domestic record of six league titles and two cups in ten years. Juve also carried this success to the international arena. In less than a decade between 1977 and 1985, the club won the UEFA Cup (made even more impressive by the fact that their team didn't include any foreign footballers), Cup Winners' Cup, European Champions Cup, UEFA Super Cup and the Intercontinental Cup. This unprecedented achievement made it the first, and so far only, club to have won all possible official international competitions.

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So that was the legacy of Catenaccio. Something that we forget when we attribute the "anti-football" label to it today. Similarly to his tactics, Herrera himself was often misunderstood by his peers. He was seen by many of his critics and opponents as a tyrannical and obsessive manager. In reality he was probably one of the first truly modern managers operating at a time before the era of statistical analysis and VAR. Highly competitive and an utter perfectionist, Helenio Herrera was able to amass quite a trophy cabinet with Inter Milan. All in a mere two years between 1963 and 1965. His wins included 3 Serie A titles, 2 European Cups and a single Intercontinental Cup. And all of these came from using his famous Catenaccio tactics. To maintain this success, Helenio wanted to isolate the winning formula and remove the element of luck from the sport.

"I hate it when they ask about being fortunate. I don't believe in good luck. When someone has won so much in twenty years, can it be fortune?"

 - Helenio Herrera, when asked about luck in sports towards the end of his career. By this time he had 16 domestic and international trophies in his cabinet.

An idea that is not so foreign to most current managers who sometimes draw more benefit from a course in mathematical statistics then football tactics. While sometimes this single-minded focus on winning carried Herrera into the realm of esotericism (how about shamanistic bonding rituals and pre-game herbal tea?), his focus on player nutrition and conditioning was ahead of its time. To him everything was controllable or could be made better. In the end he simply wanted to give every advantage to his players while neutralizing every opposition chance. All in order to make the probability of winning as close to 100% as possible. No simple feat.

 

 

"Parry and Riposte" Football

Parry and Riposte - The parry riposte uses the strength of one's own blade to avoid the opponent's. After performing it, the fencer then counters the attack with a full-out attack aimed to force the opponent to parry, and allowing you to counter parry the opponent's blade, and penetrate their next parry to win.

 - Classical fencing tactic, 18th century

 

Unfortunately with the passing of time, it is the ruthless, hard-tackling defending that Herrera's Inter became famous for. While in reality the dark defensive arts were really a means to end, a first step in the two step approach. Besides the team's defensive organization when off the ball, the other essential elements of Herrera's Grande Inter were its use of vertical football and very quick, efficient counter-attacks. These quick aggressive ripostes allowed them to score clinical goals, using as few passes and touches as possible. In complete contrast to their defending, Inter's counter-attacks, fueled by Herrera's innovative use of overlapping fullback/winger hybrids. happened quickly and suddenly. En Garde! Touché!

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This is why I chose fencing images to illustrate Catenaccio. Both are not really about defending as much as choosing the right moment to deliver the lethal blow. Winning a fencing match is all about a perfect counter-attack timing, that is parry and riposte. You can't win by purely defending. It is the same with Catenaccio. The formation's solid defensive core is key because it's required to "parry" the opponent's attacks, preventing them from scoring. But to succeed with this style you need to have a perfect striker pairing. One that cannot be stopped once the opposition exposes themselves to their combined "riposte". To give an example, let us first look at one such a lethal pairing in FM21.

 

Catenaccio's Striker Partnership - The Beauty and The Beast

Herrera did not want his teams to obsess over dominating possession. He summed up his style as:

"A small number of short, very quick passes to get to the opposition’s goal in as little time as possible. There is almost no place for dribbling. It’s a tool, not a system. The ball always moves further, and more quickly, when there isn’t a player behind it.”

- Helenio Herrera
 
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Typical in any counter-attacking strategy, the striker pair needs to be able to operate independently, at maximum efficiency. They need to be able to pounce on any chances or half-chances as well as sometimes create their own. Thus ideally their skillsets need to compliment each other and cover all the areas of creation and finishing.

At Herrera's La Grande Inter, the partnership of Mazzola and Peiro was central to the functioning of the whole tactic. Mazzola’s Secunda Punta position in the team was especially important. On paper he was tasked with filling the Secondary Striker role, but it was actually more complicated then that name might suggest. Because in Calcio, secondary supporting strikers were not like the traditional #11 in English football. In Zona Mista this was the spot where you played your Fantasista. A creative player like no other, whose very name was inspired by the magic he created on the pitch. Creativity personified if you will. If you are still wondering what exactly fantasista is then take a look at this article or my own examination of this role in FM19.

 
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Sandro Mazzola creating his magic at the front.

 

Mazzola was indeed a fantasista, a fantastically creative player whose golden touch was only exceeded by his outstanding pace and agility. His main job was to receive and control long passes from the midfield regista and/or libero and immediately feed them to the primary striker, Peiro. Or sometimes Mazzola would shoot on goal himself. Mazzola actually a rather prolific goalscorer, due to his eye for goal, and powerful and accurate kick. Inter's system relied upon maximum efficiency from its two strikers, as they had to make the best of every chance. It was largely down to the fantasista Mazzola to turn half-chances and long-shot passes into clear-cut opportunities.

So while the Seconda Punta is creativity and beauty of football personified, the #9 role or the Prima Punta can best be described as The Beast. If you have a giant of a Targetman then that is where he should go. Ideally he could use his strength and height to bully opposition defenders when fantasista's golden touch is not enough. If your Primary Striker also possesses clinical finishing and is quick on his feet then that's an added bonus. Essentially you want a well-rounded complete striker without actually getting into playmaking territory. In that respect, Seconda Punta should compliment your Beast with his dribbling technique and creative vision.

 

Example from FM21

 

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So together your two strikers should be a great team by themselves. To illustrate this lets take a look at Jadon Sancho and "Beast" from the North, Haaland. At Dortmund, they perfectly compliment each other and if played together up top can form one of the deadliest striking partnerships in the game. It is not surprising seeing how their attributes look in FM21.

The Beauty:

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And The Beast:

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Pretty self-explanatory. So now with the two key striker positions out of the way, the next update will examine the midfield roles. Hopefully you guys will stick around to see how the rest of my Zona Mista tactic is shaped.

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Edited by crusadertsar
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Just now, crusadertsar said:

Should be fixed now :) Thanks for letting me know. My fault for being lazy and not uploading the images straight to the forum. Copying directly from Wordpress doesnt work apparently.

All good, can't wait for the rest of the thread. Currently working on a 3412 in my own save and feel like I may be able to draw some inspiration from what you're doing here

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7 minutes ago, LHurlz said:

All good, can't wait for the rest of the thread. Currently working on a 3412 in my own save and feel like I may be able to draw some inspiration from what you're doing here

Glad to inspire! And looking forward to any insights you get from your save. I will try to post the midfield setup and rest of the tactic on here soon ;)

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Great post!

I do think it's worth taking the time to directly add the images, as years later many great old threads have the images disappear. The host will sometimes redo their URL structure, or websites they draw from shut down, etc. I've tried a few times to use archive.org to find old images, etc., but it's pretty hit or miss and a lot of work.

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I m a big fan of Italian football too,Great post!However I m wondering that you talk a lot about Italian football,about mezzala,TQ,why you use  DLF and AF role? A little bit disappointed with this,I thought you could give us a solution to use TQ role in game.Sorry for my poor English and thank you for this post!

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Following this with interest. I also have plans for a fluid-counter attack, asymmetric system :) I'm particularly interested to see how you set up the right-wing and playmaker.

 

Quote

I m a big fan of Italian football too,Great post!However I m wondering that you talk a lot about Italian football,about mezzala,TQ,why you use  DLF and AF role? A

I also wondered why you chose the DLF role? You probably don't want the ball-magnet effect of a trequartista but maybe a shadow-striker could also work? 

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45 minutes ago, Manutd1999 said:

Following this with interest. I also have plans for a fluid-counter attack, asymmetric system :) I'm particularly interested to see how you set up the right-wing and playmaker.

 

I also wondered why you chose the DLF role? You probably don't want the ball-magnet effect of a trequartista but maybe a shadow-striker could also work? 

I think SS will probably play like Raul Garcia in Atletico and Fellaini in Everton.hope u could understand what I mean!

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Part 1: Strikers

 

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Happy New Year everyone! So I thought it wouldn't be a Zona Mista recreation without actually using an Italian club, right? :cool:

For this one I decided (perhaps unsurprisingly given how this thread started) to go with the Rossoneri.

But it is not just because they are my favourite childhood club. I believe that in FM21 they have become an ideal team to set up and try out this system. In recent years, Milan managed to get some very interesting players such as Brahim Diaz, Jens Petter Hauge, Sandro Tonalli, Alexis Saelemaekers, Rafael Leah, Theo Hernandez, and Ante Rebic. Essentially the squad has been restructured over the last two seasons to become a much more creative and offensive powerhouse. Ideal for a structured counter-attacking approach, especially against the current Serie A giants such as rivals Inter and Juventus. And in Europa we will be able to test our mettle against stronger teams. I like the fact that winning domestically or continentally is going to be a challenge (given our media prediction of 5th place finish). I think that this combined with the infusing of exciting talent makes the FM21 experience with AC Milan more similar to what Inter was like at beginning of 1960s when Herrera took it over. A sleeping giant on the cusp of greatness.

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Just a little reminder, of what sort of formation I am trying to recreate. Structurally (from solely role perspective) there are virtually no differences between Herrera's Catenaccio and later Zona Mista variation. From 1960s to mid 1990s It always looked like an asymmetric 4-4-2 with four defenders, four midfielders and two strikers. As I mentioned in my previous post, the major exciting difference was under hood in how Zona Mista tried to take the best elements of Catenaccio and Total Football and integrate them. It did this by using a blend of zonal marking and man-marking. Also there was more focus on some players performing multiple jobs and operating simultaneously across different strata such as in attack, midfield and defence. Essentially with Zona Mista, Italian clubs were trying to integrate the free-flowing, hard-working, team-focused Dutch Total Football into the more structured highly-disciplined Italian football approach. In a way it was the strict discipline of Roman legions meets the Sun Tzu's "Art of War". The best of two very different football cultures. And it really worked!

The Recreation

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This is how I see the formation in FM21.

The roles and their positioning are mostly decided on, except I am still unsure about my two strikers. I know that @thevulgar and @Manutd1999 wondered about the previous lack Trequartista? In the game it seems like a perfect Fantasista equivalent in the game. Well, initially I was worried that he would not drop deep enough and get involved with build-up like I envisioned Sandro Mazzola doing in real life. From researching a bit on the forum, I understood that Trequartista does indeed drop deep and play a capable support role in a two striker partnership. Given a right player of course. So because I am planning to mostly use young Brahim Diaz in this role who is not exactly a work-horse, I decided to go with a little compromise and put him in AMC position. This way he will have more space and time on the ball to create his magic without necessarily drifting about aimlessly or playing right up against the shoulder of opposition defenders. Also it should a make a positive difference when he is closer to our midfield to receive long passes. Of course initially I will be watching our matches in full or on comprehensive highlights to see how the striker partnership works. Overtime I expect his workrate and teamwork to improve considerably by which point I might consider moving him up to striker strata. Or until I get a more  hard-working replacement for him. He is only on loan afterall. So nothing is set in stone yet. Same applies to any of the other roles I will present here. 

So starting with the strikers I will present my reasoning for the role choices and how I expect them to operate within the greater tactic. Keeping with the tradition, it is going to be a very regimented guide where each player is given a number to exactly define his ideal role. And once I select someone as Regista for my system, he will only play as the Regista, and that is what I will expect from his training. The classic numbering system is perfect for this. But I will also try to use the correct Italian names for the roles too.

11 - Fantasista  or Seconda Punta 

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I already gave the reasons why I went with AMC position to recreate Mazzola role. The choice of Trequartista also seems fitting, at least from the game description perspective. I really need a player that operates across both Attacking and Midfield strata. So inline with his midfield duties he needs to find space for himself to craft out chances his striker partner or as a second striker himself finish chances by himself. A very well-rounded footballer and the first real infusion of Total Football into the formation. Just looking at the PI automatically set for the role, it should really be a player that you feel confident enough to give FULL creative and attacking freedom. Here is my Fantasista:

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So maybe it is a bit of risky choice but for my First Team Seconda Punta I chose the young Brahim Diaz. Perhaps Ibrahimovic or Hakan Calhanoglu would have made more sense to you. Whilst they are both very creative attacking players, unfortunately they both lack in one important aspect which Sandro Mazzolo had. They are not the fastest (especially aging Ibrahimovic). To perfectly complimet the Prima Punta, The Beast, traditionally the slower, stronger finisher of the two, my Fantasista should ideally be more nimble and pacier. The two aspects which, judging from his potential, DIaz still has a lot of room to develop. The other aspect that I will be training intensely is his "attacking intelligence", giving special attention to his Anticipation, Composure, Decisions and Off The Ball. But again because of his age and hidden potential I really expect him to improve those rapidly and really grow into the role. 

 

9 - Prima Punta 

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Again I reworked my original conception of the role from that of Advanced Forward to Complete Forward (A). I'm sticking with the team of giving complete freedom to my attacking duo. Afterall they need to be able to operate self-sufficiently in case they are isolated from the rest of the team as is sometimes the case with counter-attacking tactics. The description of CF just seems to perfectly describe what I need from this player. While not the same creative fulcrum that his Trequartista partner is, Prima Punta will be required to fashion chances for himself as well get on the end of team moves. And he needs to perform his job with complete freedom. Even with Attack duty he will craft out chances for himself while spearheading attacks. Thus here is another role where you need a complete Total Football with good overall technical, mental and physical attributes. As I mentioned before if he has great Jumping Reach and Heading then it's even better. 

 

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And this is my Prima Punta! Very happy to be using Rafael Leao again after managing him in both FM17 and FM18 with Benfica where he was my favourite, by far, wonderkid. At the start of FM21 he has already developed into a decent young player but still has a loads of potential to be molded into one of the most complete strikers in modern football. Very lucky to use his talents again with Rossoneri

 

Edited by crusadertsar
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Part 3: Flank Players

Before moving to explain the Zona Mista system's defence, I think I need to spend a bit of time analyzing its flank players. I believe that these two positions, similarly to libero and mezzala, are key in providing verticality and balance to the whole system. And the best way to explain this element is to give the example of Helenio Herrera's wide players. In the image below, it was the left-back Facchetti and right winger Jair doing the flank duty for Herrera's Inter side.

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The interesting thing about these two players is that they played in perfect counterbalance to each other. Facchetti was a left-back who played like an inside forward, scoring 59 open-play goals during his time with Inter. And Jair was a natural forward who played like a defensive fullback.

Let's start with Facchetti. Player like no other. Dani Alves of his time. Truly one of the first complete wingbacks of the era. A naturally left-footed player, Facchetti was famous for his dribbling runs on the goal. Those 59 goals by a fullback is even unheard of today. Even Dani Alves could only manage 34 goals across 554 career games. Facchetti managed to score his 59 in some 470 games. At Inter his role has become something known as Terzino Fluidificante, essentially a deeplying offensive winger. A wingback if you will. 

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The formation's right winger was in many ways similar to the left-back but in other ways his perfect foil. Where Facchetti was seen as a essentially a defender that was expected to transition quickly from defence into attack (in order to add another dimension to Inter's counter-attack), his right wing partner Jair was the opposite. An attacking winger who was expected to drop deep to contribute to defence. It was a perfect balancing act.

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Here we had Brazilian Jair da Costa, who was more used to playing as an explosive forward in his native country. Then at Inter he was converted to a more complex role. On paper he was what Italians called Ala Tornante, or "hairpin" winger, basically a hard-working wide player who would start the match higher up the pitch but then had to track back almost like a fullback at times to cover his side defensively. Somewhat like a Wide Midfielder or Defensive Winger in FM games. But this was only the first half of Tornante's function. That is playing as a tireless "returner" to counter-balance Facchetti's aggressive forward runs from deep left flank. At the same time Jair's experience as a forward aided him in performing the second part of his function. The moment Inter won back possession and were on the counter-attack, Jair would spring into action. Due to his physical conditioning and pace he was able to surge down the right wing and sometimes act like a third striker. His ball-carrying ability was key when Inter transitioned from defence to attack. "Hairpin Winger" was a very fitting name indeed. 

So as you can see, Catenaccio's left-back and right winger were important roles that have to be discussed separately from both midfield and defence roles. While the two wide roles might initially start in those strata, they are essentially transition, link-up players that operated across the whole field. They were tasked with providing much-needed balance and offensive edge to Inter's formation.

And this is how I am planning to translate the flank players' positioning and movement to FM21. Hopefully via the combination of roles and player traits I can recreate this delicate counter-balance between and Tornante. Especially the forward movement from the left flank and right flank winger dropping back from the higher position. 

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3Terzino Fluidificante

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Essentially, there is not much difference between the kind of player you will want to fill both your #3 Wingback and #7 Winger "Tornante" roles. Both need to be very well-rounded players, capable to exceling in both attack and defence. It will be their job to provide much of the formation's verticality. That is they will need to be able to run back and forth along their respective flank for the whole 90 minutes. And even if the wingback will be more involved in the attacking function of his role, he still needs the Workrate, Positioning and Tackling attributes in order to help the defence when out of possession. That is why I want a deeper role there rather than another winger. So far Theo Hernandez seems like just the type of player I need. 

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7 - Ala Tornante

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I would probably be happy if I could put another Hernandez-type here. As I mentioned before my Right Winger is a "Hairpin Winger" which essentially operates as a defensive counterbalance to my left wingback. He starts higher up and is supposed to track back and get more involved in midfield and defence. Essentially playing as an advanced fullback. Initially I was torn between a Defensive Winger and Wide Midfielder roles. In the end WM (S) won out because it is a much more customizable role by default. It allowed me to add a few Personal Instructions which I hope will make the role more like a hybrid forward/midfielder/defender. Again for this to work you will need a very special type of player here. A very hardworking jack-of-all trades winger. One who will work his buns off winning the ball back, tackle hard and then chip in with a goal or two.

Think Dirk Kuyt or Park Ji-Sung type of player. 

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Yeah, a player that won't take anything $#@& from anyone. Especially when outnumbered. A true energizer bunny on the wing. 

I believe I have someone at AC Milan who could grow into this role, given the right training focus and attention. Glad to have you on board Jens! 

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Edited by crusadertsar
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Posted (edited)

Part 4: Defence

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In Zona Mista system the key role is that of the libero. It is the player around which the rest of the formation should be built. Libero is your playmaking director in the defensive strata. And while on paper he is part of the defence trio, in reality libero plays a simultaneous, transitional role in both defence and attack. Similarly to terzino fluidificante, ala tornante and box-to-box midfielder (mezzala). 

 

Armando Picchi and The Evolution of Libero

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The inclusion of the libero was the big innovation of Italian Catenaccio. It was the one element that initially separated the Italian system from the original Swiss Verrou ("doorbolt" in French) from which it evolved. The innovation  and the invention of the libero role came about when Herrera moved his right back Armando Picchi behind the two centrebacks. In this new "free" sweeper role, Picchi would excel for the rest of his career at Inter. He defined the role in how he would "sweep" up any loose balls and double-mark any opposition striker that got past the two stoppers in front of him.  

However Picchi had a more old-fashioned defence-focused interpretation of his role. Famous for his defensive skills and strong physique he was hard in the tackle and often played with the edge to his game despite his short stature. Thus he excelled at winning back the ball or clearing loose balls - the "sweeper" part of the role. As a creative defensive director he was sometimes capable of getting forward to carry the ball into midfield. And pass it long and accurately due to his good passing range and vision. But he was no Pirlo. And most certainly not Gaetano Scirea. This was perhaps one of the weaknesses of the more traditional Catenaccio of Helenio Herrera. Grande Inter was too reliant on the creativity of a few individual players such as Picchi and Suarez. And as they aged and opposition learned how to play against them, Inter was not able to find suitable replacements to inject more creativity into the tactic. The system stagnated. Also the coming of Total Football exposed the weaknesses of a purely man-marking system. So in the 1970s changes needed to be made.  

One of those changes was implemented at Inter's rival Juventus by its most celebrated manager Giovanni Trapattoni and his libero Gaetano Scirea. 

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As Picchi ended his career in 1969, the career of Gaetano Scirea started and he would redefine the role of the libero to how it is known today. A modern-day libero that is more playmaker than defender. Unlike Herrera who converted a fullback into a libero, Trapattoni (the forefather of Zona Mista) took an attacking midfielder and played him as a libero. This was revolutionary as it allowed Trapattoni's team to have an extra passer in the midfield once possession was won and libero pushed forward.

Catenaccio was forever changed, and Zona Mista born. Trapattoni's Zona Mista became an evolution of the earlier defence-focused Catenaccio, improving it with the more fluid elements of Total Football. While his team largely used the same traditional 3-5-2 shape popularized by older Catenaccio proponents such as Nereo Rocco and Helenio Herrera, Trapattoni's Juventus did not focus so much on sitting back and defending. Juventus' counter-attacks became a lot more fluid and elegant while still staying true to Catenaccio's "few touches" ideal. All this was thanks to Trapattoni's star in defence, Gaetano Scirea (pictured above with his manager).

Starting off as an attacking midfielder, Scirea embraced his assigned libero role by taking his midfielder skillset and combining it with the defensive responsibility of a defender. But he did not play as a simple defender (nor as a fullback) most of the time. No, Scirea's style was what we associate with libero now and what inspires us still to this day when we remember Catenaccio or Zona Mista. Scirea defied the Dark Arts reputation of Italian defenders of his time and showed that football was not all about physicality and "dirty" tactics. Without resorting to the ruthlessness often used by other Italian defenders (especially his partner in the back, Claudio Gentile), Scirea elevated the role of the libero with his sportsmanship and pure class (he never earned a single red card). Due to his impeccable technique, vision and above all else, ability to read the game. Libero's role became about more than just passing it long and as quickly as possible to the players up front, who could do something with the ball. Scirea's libero became THE player who could do something magical with the ball as he instinctively read the field around him, realizing where the ball needed to go and direct it there. Truly dictating the game. And that is why in Zona Mista, before any other role, libero is the role you need to build the rest of the tactic around. 

 

6 - Libero

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Choosing the right player for the libero is probably the hardest step in setting up a Zona Mista tactic. Even if you have perfect candidates for the rest of the roles, missing the mark with your libero can break the whole system. I cannot stress this enough. Also I would suggest that rather than trying to force the libero role upon your most creative centreback or fullback, do what Trapattoni did. Play your most creative midfielder with decent marking, tackling and positioning. Disregard how comfortable he is in the role (the little green or red circles mean nothing). The attributes is all that matters in the game.

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That is why I decided to stick a natural midfielder, my wonderkid Sandro Tonali into the libero role. As you can see his key attributes fit perfectly with his new defensive playmaker function. And he even has good defensive attributes. I am even more excited by the set of traits that Tonali already possess. They are the traditional regista traits and would make him into an even better libero. Given their common midfield heritage, I just hope that Sandro can embrace the role like Scirea did. 

 

2 and 3 - Marcatore Puro

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Now there is not much to say about libero's defensive partner, traditional central defender. Here is some ways you want a very defensively responsible player. And in other ways a total opposite of libero. Someone like Claudio Gentile who at Juventus was the personification of football's dark arts and used to playing on the edge would fit in perfectly here. Essentially, a player with a good jumping reach, strong in the tackle and impeccable in his positioning. But at the same time aggressive and not afraid to strong-arm his opponents and make them afraid to come up against him in the future. Simon Kjær is probably the best representative of this type of defender at AC Milan. Nothing fancy, but just enough to balance Tonali's creativity with pure grit. 

Kjaer.png.5e9e5d0e194c7db4f59e70ca8f2f5bd4.png

 

Edited by crusadertsar
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Loving this so far! Particularly like the emphasis on the attacking aspects as I feel like catenaccio etc is often stereotyped as an ultra defensive system particularly in the modern day. I will be interested to see how you go in terms of mentality and also breaking down teams who park the bus

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11 hours ago, pezza96 said:

Loving this so far! Particularly like the emphasis on the attacking aspects as I feel like catenaccio etc is often stereotyped as an ultra defensive system particularly in the modern day. I will be interested to see how you go in terms of mentality and also breaking down teams who park the bus

I'm also wondering this. I am really keen to see how this works and how effective it is. It seems like it could really come alive in the new ME but as you rightly point out, there are teams who park the bus and if you do this with a strong team (like AC Milan) then the majority of opponents could park the bus, which renders most counter attacks in effective. 

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In the last screenshot you got a BWM (S), but in the post about the midfield roles you write about being unsure if CM (D) or BMW is the best role for that type of player. Any particular reasons why you decided for the BMW (S)? 

 

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Amazing read, thank you!
Please report how results have been when you have had the time to test the tactic out more. Especially interested in the right wing defensively. If you would put the right winger as a wing back you would get a traditional 5-3-2 formation, do you think you could get the same tasks performed by a player in that position? I do think it would be much more stable defensively.

Also on the other flank, do you see the mezzala an cwb get in each others way? Maybe with a mezzala an iwb could work?

On the other hand, perhaps these changes would destroy what you are trying to achieve?

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7 minutes ago, satan said:

In the last screenshot you got a BWM (S), but in the post about the midfield roles you write about being unsure if CM (D) or BMW is the best role for that type of player. Any particular reasons why you decided for the BMW (S)? 

 

Actually yes there is a reason. And sorry I forgot to mention it. Basically playing with a libero there is no real reason for a holding midfielder in midfield. So I decided to convert him into a more active destroyer role.

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22 minutes ago, OBK1 said:

Amazing read, thank you!
Please report how results have been when you have had the time to test the tactic out more. Especially interested in the right wing defensively. If you would put the right winger as a wing back you would get a traditional 5-3-2 formation, do you think you could get the same tasks performed by a player in that position? I do think it would be much more stable defensively.

Also on the other flank, do you see the mezzala an cwb get in each others way? Maybe with a mezzala an iwb could work?

On the other hand, perhaps these changes would destroy what you are trying to achieve?

Thanks for reading mate! I think wingback on the right would act alot like my WM or defensive winger. That was my dilemma and still is. But at the same time wimgbacks and defensive wingers have some behavior hard-coded that i dont want from this player such as dribbling more and crossing more. I really wanted a wide midfielder.

Regarding Mezzala, i expect that with CWB he will act more like Box-to-box. But IWB is an interesting option I might have to consider.

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First game with Sunderland using these tactics - the 1 shot we got was in the 94th minute. 

theres barely anyone moving up to counter.  the striker is isolated on counter.  

the wide midfielder isnt getting wide - all the play is central and congested.  guys running into eachother. 


image.png.84b3dd84ab9f923dcadef2451fd05e6c.png
 

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, ta11zx said:

First game with Sunderland using these tactics - the 1 shot we got was in the 94th minute. 

theres barely anyone moving up to counter.  the striker is isolated on counter.  

the wide midfielder isnt getting wide - all the play is central and congested.  guys running into eachother. 


image.png.84b3dd84ab9f923dcadef2451fd05e6c.png
 

Wow. That's disappointing. But i did mention you need very specific players for this to work properly. This is not an underdog tactic. And most certainly not a plug and win tactic.

Who did you even have for a libero, Trequartista/Fantasista and your RMP/regista? You need very good creative players in those roles.

I dont remember Sunderland squad but I'm pretty sure they dont have any players like that from that. They certainly wouldn't be my choice.

Edited by crusadertsar
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Great thread but just have a few minor questions

In the final post you mention violent, offensive and vertical transitions and I'm just curious as to why you didn't opt for Higher Tempo or Slightly More Direct passing?  Is it because you're relying on the Libero+Regista to provide the verticality naturally or is there another reason?

Also do you not feel that that forcing the opposition wide with a narrow formation can put too much defensive strain on the CWB+WM and allow them to easily get overloaded?

Either way, great thread and can't wait to play around with it a bit myself!

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Posted (edited)

@LHurlz I am hoping that Mezzala would help CWB. But with three in the back I'm not as worried about losing the battle on the wings. That's the whole point. If all three have good jumping, positioning, ect then crosses won't really pose a threat. 

Also regarding tempo. I dont think it matters so much because we are trying to create counter-attacks. And that means that no matter what starting tempo is it will go to the max once we are on the counter. But in fact higher tempo might make it harder to create counters as it forces quicker transitions when you really want the opposition to commit in your half and get caught on the back foot. You don't want to spring your trap too soon.

Edited by crusadertsar
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2 hours ago, ta11zx said:

First game with Sunderland using these tactics - the 1 shot we got was in the 94th minute. 

theres barely anyone moving up to counter.  the striker is isolated on counter.  

the wide midfielder isnt getting wide - all the play is central and congested.  guys running into eachother. 


image.png.84b3dd84ab9f923dcadef2451fd05e6c.png
 

Can I ask, outside of the comments that @crusadertsar made earlier, did you report back on the first match (mid season perhaps?) where the team has little to no familiarity with the tactic? Or did you try with the editor on to maximise familiarity and see how it works on a team that is used to it?

I don't ask to criticise your feedback, moreso to get an understanding of it. Some tactics like this work almost immediately but this one strikes me as a work in progress that won't yield results unless you have players that are used to it. 

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I suspect this is far from a plug-and-play tactic, as I ran a quick holiday sim with Milan, using the exact players that the author suggested, and I was sacked with the team down in 15th! It's not a style of play that you can easily just adapt and expect to work. I would say its an advanced tactic that needs you to understand how and why the match engine works to get the most from it.

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