Italy Improve With 4-4-2

15 06 2010

Ghostgoal recently highlighted the advantages Ghana enjoyed over Serbia by employing a 4-2-3-1 against a 4-4-2. The Serbs never gained control of the midfield and were unable to get support up to the strikers. Italy’s game against Paraguay last night then was probably a timely reminder that, if it suits your players, 4-4-2 can be still be the way to go. Especially when 4-2-3-1 clearly does not suit your players…

Italy lined up at kick-off as follows:

The problem they had was Claudio Marchisio playing in a more advanced role than he was used to for his club,Juventus. Lippi had planned to use Andrea Pirlo, another player now used to playing a deeper role, but with Pirlo injured chose to ask Marchisio to operate in an advanced playmaker role. Unfortunately, Marchisio found himseld playing unambitious passes and generally duplicating the work of Montolivo – a far cry from the hard-running and creative display we had seen from Mesut Ozil in the role the previous evening.

In the above picture you can see Marchisio marked by the Paraguayan midfielder with De Rossi and Montolivo not even in the picture and this was indicative of the lack of support the Italians were able to get to Gilardino. On the hour mark Lippi brought the young Bianconeri midfielder off and replaced him with the experienced winger Mauro Camoranesi who operated on the right-flank, with Pepe switching to the left and Iaquinta moved up front where he is more comfortable. The new shape favoured Italy as they understandably stepped up a gear in search of the equaliser and subsequently the win:

This picture also highlights the high defensive line Italy were playing as they pressed the ball and tried to make the pitch small when out of possession. Montolivo and De Rossi are pressing onto the Paraguay midfield in a manner they clearly were not doing in the earlier image and this attempt to institute a high tempo game resulted in an improved performance.

Conclusions:

With Ghana and Germany recently earning praise for their performances in a 4-2-3-1 it was fast becoming the formation of the World Cup, at least partly responsible for the low-scoring thus far. Italy’s performance though, served as a reminder that playing players out of position in order to fit the formation can be counter-productive. It will be fascinating to see how Lippi lines his side up for the remainder of the tournament.