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Introduction

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During a long haul flight I recently endured (who decides it's a good idea to fly from the Far East to Europe at 8 in the morning?) I read the book "Inverting the Pyramid" by Jonathan Wilson. The book details the tactical evolution of various systems since as far back as we have records. One passage caught my eye: the 3-5-2 probably invented by pragmatist Carlos Salvador Bilardo. Using this system Argentina won the '86 World Cup, bringing home El Mundial for the second time in eight years. Another possible inventor of the 3-5-2 is Ciro Blazevic with Dinamo Zagreb in the early eighties. It's all semantics, because within this 3-5-2 the style of the two managers were very different. Before Bilardo took Argentina to back-to-back World Cup Finals, César Luis Menotti had won the Cup using a much more aesthetic and eye catching approach in '78. However, the '82 failure saw Menotti resign and Bilardo brought a new concept to the federation and nation as a whole: win at all costs. For a proud footballing nation this was very controversial and a divide in tactical thinking was created; menottismo y bilardismo.

Menottismo is strongly influenced by Total Football and the Dutch way of playing. Menotti used a version of what we know now as the 4-1-2-2-1, or 4-3-3. Mario Kempes was given a free role behind the front 3 as a playmaker and won the final almost alone, making surging runs in the great spaces left by the Dutch team, who couldn't cope with the movements of the Argentine front 3. Kempes scored twice in a 3-1 win after ET and that was that.

Bilardismo is much more pragmatic and cynical. Bilardo and Menotti would over the years become footballing enemies and the latter would use every chance he got to criticize the way the Argentine team was playing under Bilardo. Bilardo faced a huge challenge when creating the 3-5-2 - how to implement the demi god of football Maradona in a five man midfield. Back then this was unheard of, everybody knew that a player like that would only thrive in a 4-3-1-2. Bilardo solved this by making the defensive midfielder a "destroyer" and giving free roles to the wing backs when Maradona was man-marked out of a game. The wing backs would then be asked to cut inside and making runs to confuse and break the shapes of the opponents. When the English decided against man marking, Diego he scored the Goal of The Century. When Bilardo explains this it sounds ridiculously simple, I'm sure there was more to it. However, bilardismo is known as antifútbol in South America, even though he had great success.

Over the years not only managers, but also the footballing journalists of Argentina have chosen sides. The two schools can be seen as tactical religions and until you as a manager have substantial success on your own, you are either a menottista or bilardista. Although most managers choose the Menotti way (La Volpe, Gallardo, Pekerman, Sensini), the Argentine coach with most success in recent years is a Bilardista; Diego Simeone. 

This is from an Argentinian website:

Quote

While today there are many coaches who merge the best aspects of each, as the cases of Marcelo Bielsa or Jorge Sampaoli, there are still some technicians who prioritize the line of the only two coaches who lifted the World Cup with la Selección. Characters such as Marcelo Gallardo, Ángel Cappa or Alfio Basile lean under Flaco's orbit, while Diego Simeone, Mostaza Merlo or Caruso Lombardi, to cite some examples, prefer the mechanisms of the Doctor.



Despite living in South America for 6 years, I never really knew much about the different tactical schools of Argentine football. I thought to myself, as I was reading up on this, why not make a hybrid of the two and go from there? Turns out someone, IRL, thought of this before me. In other words, in my alternative universe Marcelo Bielsa was never born and I am the one to unite these two theories to create something bastardly and surprising.

 

The 3-3-3-1/3-3-1-3

My idea was to create a system that was both defensively solid and spatially oriented, meaning that I would find a tactic that would work well against superior and inferior sides, needing only slight changes in roles to make changes. I read up on the various Bielsa systems in addition to Bilardo, but never wanting to go full Bielsa I looked for something in between. I didn't want a possession system and I had to find a way to make use of the two traditions of Argentine football: one libero/sweeper and one pure No 10. Both Menotti and Bilardo had each one truly great enganche, or #10 in Kempes and Maradona respectively. Bielsa used the libero/sweeper role that Bilardo used in his system, but used the wingers more associated with Menotti.

This tactical posts starts with Indenpendiente in Argentina, I then moved to Benfica after being offered the job as the Apertura 2018 was about to begin. Therefore, some of the contents will deal with the Independiente side that won the Sudamericana and Clausura (I still use those terms, even though they now are one tournament). Then the tactic evolved slightly in terms of roles at Benfica, because the squad there is much stronger and have different types of players.

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This image is from a Copa Libertadores match against Palmeiras. At Independiente I used a more cautious approach as most opponents are either equal or superior in ability. In this image you can see the defensive shape, where we form a defensive wall of 6 defensive players. It is the job of the two CD's to break play ahead of the libero, to stop any advances from the forward 3 Palmeiras players. Once winning the ball they will look to pass it forward quickly and vertically.

The formation here is straight out of the Bielsa playbook, the shape/mentality is not. In this post I will not go into detail on the various settings and roles, I will do that in a separate post. But I think you can see what the objective is: Stretch the play wide to create spaces in the central areas. The inverted wingbacks will serve as central midfielders when we have the ball high up and drop deep to build a wall in defense. The central areas must then be used for full effect, both by our free-flying playmaker and said IWB's. 

Two examples below of the wingbacks scoring from open play:

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Both of these goals came against very defensive sides. The leftmost image displays my left winger Blanco putting a low cross in between the goalie and defenders, Fabricio Bustos has snuck free and scores from a simple tap-in. The AP is barely visible, right next to Bustos, also free from defenders. In the rightmost image our right winger Benitez drops back and deep, receives the ball from the DM and using two touches the right wingback Britez is through on goal, scoring. 

Next up I will go into the tactical side and then finally give you some inspiration in the form of Bilardo vids and hipster blogs.

Edited by Ji-Sung Park

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After switching to Benfica I knew I could play with more risk, especially in the league. Having only 2 really good teams besides ours, most matches will see us favorites and we can push forward. With that in mind I am currently working with this setup:

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Changeable TI's:

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The default it counter still, but I realize it's too careful for a team such as Benfica. I often switch to control during a match, but have to be careful with the defensive line as I don't have a lot of pace in the back three. By going control you  also go as wide as possible. It's a constant thought process for me and I try to adjust as the games play out.

By the looks of it there is a huge gap between our midfield and the front four. Let's see what the TC says about this:

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The Playmaker

Furthermore, we have an attacking playmaker. During a recent clasico against Porto I saw how well this worked first hand, as Filip Krovinovic ran rampant and and won man of the match with an 8.9 rating (without scoring or assisting). Here is how he performed in the role:

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Left: Touches (186!). Middle: heat map. Right: Key passes/chances created. He is not our set piece taker either, this is all open play.

All over the place, dribbling, passing, setting up players. He only lacked an assist or a goal. Very pleasing.

The Libero

Bilardo preferred a sweeper, I prefer a libero. The Libero on support duty will act more as a toned down ball playing defender, while on attack he will be more forward, and in our system form a double pivot when playing with a regista in midfield. My libero at Benfica had to be Samaris, as there were no other real options available. After some retraining he is performing okay. The Libero role will not produce outstanding ratings, instead you have to look at him as a pawn in a system and his role is there to push the others forward.

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Left: touches in a league game. Middle: average position without ball, on attack duty. Right: Andreas Samaris attributes, with Libero on Attack highlighted.

It's very early still in my Portuguese career, so it's impossible to say if this will work with a vastly better side against better opponents. So far I am undefeated, so I'm optimistic.

Edited by Ji-Sung Park

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A few clips and blogs on this topic.

Carlos explains his back three:

On reaching a WC final:

The final itself:

The last clip is hilarious. "Even my wife laughed at the Brazilians." (on using Leonardo as a playmaker)

Blog:

Run this through google translate:
El Enganche

 

Edited by Ji-Sung Park

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Buen tema instalado....

Espero publiques tácticas de ambos técnicos por separado y poder construir una en conjunto...

Probarla y abrir opiniones....

Gracias.

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31 minutes ago, carloshcorbalan said:

Buen tema instalado....

 

Buenas Carlos,

For now I have stayed with the Bielsa inspired hybrid, but I would love to make a Menotti inspired version. Let's see how much free time I have.

Muchas gracias.

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Just now, False 9 said:

Do you have any PI's? Interested in trying this

Lots. I will try to make a post on this, there are a few issues with my laptop at the moment so I have to do it later on. 

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1 minute ago, Ji-Sung Park said:

Lots. I will try to make a post on this, there are a few issues with my laptop at the moment so I have to do it later on. 

Great! Thanks

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(My laptop keeps overheating, not easy running FM while making posts)

How does it work?

The width of the back three will be influenced by the opponent. If they field for instance one striker and two wingers in the AM strata, the defenders will be narrower throughout. If you face a single striker formation they will be very wide, thus buildup play from the back is very easy. The GK have a PI that he will distribute to the Libero. This a version of "La Salida Lavolpiana", created by Ricardo La Volpe and later adapted by Pep Guardiola. 

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In the Salida Lavolpiana a DM is used to drop in between the CDs and make it easy to shuttle the ball out of defense in a safe manner. This is also what we do with the Libero, who in this example is the DM.

Since I do not focus at all on possession I really don't make a plan for what happens next. The PI's I have chosen deal more with the shape if anything else. I am obsessed with shape, so what the players do is more up to them, as long as they stay within the confines of this frame.

Creating overloads:

A natural consequence of playing very wide is that the one side will be more crowded by opponents, than the other, as seen below (Spoiler alert: Our left wingback Grimaldo is about to score).

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Our playmaker makes a short pass to Cristante (Reg) and he puts Grimaldo through on goal:

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Achievement unlocked: Backslide celebration.

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There are plenty of ways to adjust as you go. I have for instance played with Grimaldo as a supportive IWB and Franco Cervi on attack on the left wing. It paid off in terms of goals, but I didn't study carefully the pros and cons of that maneuver. Another thing I frequently alter is the mentioned "patroler" role of the DM. With Bielsa he used a DM in front of the back three to work the space between defense and midfield. I use both Fejsa and Cristante. With Fejsa I go for the DM on support and Cristante is a regista. In any case they need to be defensively sound enough to stay in position when we are being pushed back. The regista is not a role that will chase all over, so in terms of shape it's a good choice.

Player Instructions.
GK: Fewer Risky Passes, Distribute to Libero.

Lib: Dribble Less (because of limited skills)
CD: N/A
CD: N/A

IWB: Close Down More. When on (s) duty: Get further Forward as well.
DM: N/A
IWB: Same as the opposite side.

Winger: N/A
AP: Roam, Get Further Forward
Winger: N/A

DLF: Roam and Move Into Channels.

Edited by Ji-Sung Park

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Just be "that guy" and a bit of a pedant... Guardiola and La Volpe haven't even met yet, let alone worked together.  Pep played under Juanma Lillo at Dorados in Mexico though...

 

Great postings so far though dude.

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great  post, i can see from the last clip the back 2 is very split and the libero  moves forward into the gap. do you find that often that space behind the libero is exploited by the opposition?

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51 minutes ago, MrVogel said:

Wheres the download link mate?

i dont think this is tactic sharing more just showing what hes done. 

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1 hour ago, Lordluap said:

Just be "that guy" and a bit of a pedant... Guardiola and La Volpe haven't even met yet, let alone worked together.  Pep played under Juanma Lillo at Dorados in Mexico though...

 

Holy moly, my bad. I saw a piece written by Pep ahead the WC in Germany and thought he played under La Volpe. 

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1 hour ago, argenmik said:

great  post, i can see from the last clip the back 2 is very split and the libero  moves forward into the gap. do you find that often that space behind the libero is exploited by the opposition?

The only time that happens is if the team loses ball between themselves in the back three, i.e. one CD makes a bad forward pass. I've never used a slow player in the Lib position though, so it could be an issue with slower type players. Not sure. Most conceded goals comes from set pieces and long range.

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There's lot of things I'd like to say, but the first one: What is the point of talking about Menotti and Bilardo when at the end you're making none of them?

Menotti was a fan of the 4-3-3, with a rock solid DM (Gallego in 78, Russo in 73). He used two good playing centerbacks (Galván-Passarella), and two free midfielders (Ardiles-Kempes) with the wingers (Larrosa tracked back to free Kempes) and a 9 upfront. They played short, but really fast. The defending was zonal. 

The main thing about Bilardo is pragmatism: if most of the teams play with two strikers, I play with three defenders and add one man to the midfield. Why are you playing with only one midfielder? When you're defending, you deliberately leave free the midfield. Bilardo wanted to overload the midfield with five men and Maradona. The defending was man-marking (especially with the strikers) and tackled hard (Bilardo played in the violent Estudiantes 68-70). 

Why you use a Líbero in attack when none of them used it? Why give up the three man midfield (Ardiles-Gallego-Kempes / Enrique-Batista-Burruchaga), probably the most important thing they shared? It's really complicated what you're trying to achieve but I don't think this is the way to do it. 

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18 hours ago, Lordluap said:

Just be "that guy" and a bit of a pedant... Guardiola and La Volpe haven't even met yet, let alone worked together.  Pep played under Juanma Lillo at Dorados in Mexico though...

 

Great postings so far though dude.

Actually he did met La Volpe. He just never played under him.

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23 hours ago, Lordluap said:

Just be "that guy" and a bit of a pedant... Guardiola and La Volpe haven't even met yet, let alone worked together.  Pep played under Juanma Lillo at Dorados in Mexico though...

 

Great postings so far though dude.

Haha I'm glad you said it not me, otherwise this is a downright fascinating thread.

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On April 16, 2018 at 07:41, PonjaConRulos said:

There's lot of things I'd like to say, but the first one: What is the point of talking about Menotti and Bilardo when at the end you're making none of them?

Menotti was a fan of the 4-3-3, with a rock solid DM (Gallego in 78, Russo in 73). He used two good playing centerbacks (Galván-Passarella), and two free midfielders (Ardiles-Kempes) with the wingers (Larrosa tracked back to free Kempes) and a 9 upfront. They played short, but really fast. The defending was zonal. 

The main thing about Bilardo is pragmatism: if most of the teams play with two strikers, I play with three defenders and add one man to the midfield. Why are you playing with only one midfielder? When you're defending, you deliberately leave free the midfield. Bilardo wanted to overload the midfield with five men and Maradona. The defending was man-marking (especially with the strikers) and tackled hard (Bilardo played in the violent Estudiantes 68-70). 

Why you use a Líbero in attack when none of them used it? Why give up the three man midfield (Ardiles-Gallego-Kempes / Enrique-Batista-Burruchaga), probably the most important thing they shared? It's really complicated what you're trying to achieve but I don't think this is the way to do it. 

I would be actually very interested to see a take on a Menotti tactic. I don't think anyone has ever tried to replicate one. Is there even enough information to go about trying?

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9 hours ago, yonko said:

I would be actually very interested to see a take on a Menotti tactic. I don't think anyone has ever tried to replicate one. Is there even enough information to go about trying?

Prolly the only way is to watch the games. Not a lot of footage going around the net about that team so good luck to any1 who wants to commit

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2 hours ago, Jean0987654321 said:

Prolly the only way is to watch the games. Not a lot of footage going around the net about that team so good luck to any1 who wants to commit

That is why I questioned if there is enough info to try to replicate Menotti. I remember reading something somewhere about a tactical tweak he did for the final vs Holland in WC78. I will see if I can find it again.

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Interesante seria la participación/ opinión de expertos como Rashidi o Cleon...

Desglosar las tácticas de Bilardo y Menotti y publicar un enlace con formaciones para probar y opinar...

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14 hours ago, carloshcorbalan said:

Interesting would be the participation / opinion of experts such as Rashidi or Cleon ...

Break down the tactics of Bilardo and Menotti and publish a link with formations to test and comment ...

I agree especially with @Cleon expertise of SA tactics :D

 

Of course, I know a thing or two but both men's time at the world's game was well before my time :D

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On 4/21/2018 at 02:16, Jean0987654321 said:

I agree especially with @Cleon expertise of SA tactics :D

 

Of course, I know a thing or two but both men's time at the world's game was well before my time :D

Yeah, but this isn't their thread to hijack and just asking them to do something doesn't imply they will or should. They have lives as well, ya know

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Nadie esta diciendo, ni obligando a que lo hagan....

Hablamos de que seria muy bueno que participaran....

No mezclen acerrin con pan rallado...

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This is a ****ing cool system man, regardless of how much it's connected to Menotti and Bilardo or not, I enjoyed reading this. :thup:

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