Welcome to The Viola Story, we have achieved our ambition of winning the Champions League in a season that as seen us complete an historic Quadruple. After last seasons failings in Europe I made changes to the squad to make us more competitive, what I never imagined was that we would end the season winning the Quadruple and crowning us Champions Of Europe.
I am pleased that we retained the title, they say it harder to retain the title and to be fair to Juventus they pushed us until we defeated them in the last month of the season. Whilst winning the Champions League was our aim it was important for us to perform well again in the league .
What can I say a fantastic result in the Final against Bayern in the Amsterdam Arena. We defeated Bayern 5-0 with a superb display of the Juego De Posicion philosophy. We went in at half time 2-0 up with goals from Carrasco and the deadly finisher Aubameyang. We dominated Bayern by taking the game to them from the kick off. At half time I knew I had to keep the lads focused and warned them about complacency. We got off to a cracking start in the 2nd half with full back De Sciglio putting us 3 up. I was now starting to realise what I was experiencing, we had withstand a spell of Bayern pressure with both Lahm and Thiago going close. Isco then put the game to bed with a classy finish after a counter attacking move on 60 minutes, 8 minutes later goal machine Aubameyang finished the rout with his 63rd goal of the season. The Champions League was heading to Florence for the first time in history. After reaching the knockout round we have faced Valencia, Barcelona and Manchester United on route to the final in Amsterdam. Against Valencia we lost the 1st leg 1-0 in the Mestalla before winning 1-0 in the 2nd leg back home before holding our nerve in a penalty shootout. Next up the Nou Camp and Barcelona were golden boot winner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a delightful hat-trick giving us a 3-2 victory. In the return Yannick Ferreira Carrasco settled our nerves with a first half goal that earned us a well deserved 1-1 draw to set up a Semi Final against Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United. You can read about the Manchester United game below.
The Antonio Conte Inspired 3-5-2 Against Manchester United In The Semi Final Of The Champions League
After watching Juventus and more recently Italy I decided to try and recreate Conte’s 3-5-2 as a back up to compliment our 4-3-3 system. In view of past games against Mourinho teams I knew this tie would be tricky and feared our 4-3-3 could leave us exposed against a pragmatic Mourinho. So why the 3-5-2? Firstly after seeing how Conte’s Juventus performed during his time at the Old Lady and secondly how Conte’s Italy beat Belgium this last week I knew in my head that this was the go to tactic that we have been searching for against the European giants of the game. With 2 Central Forwards they ocupy both centre backs in back 4 formations which I am keen on doing. Initially I used Aubameyang has a Poacher and Embolo has a False Nine but decided that to create a more compact system I would use 2 Deep Lying Forwards supported by 2 Central Midfielders and 2 Wing Backs creating the width high up the pitch both on attacking roles. The third Central Midfielder is set up as a Defensive Midfielder on a Support role in front of the 3 Central Defenders all set to a Defend role but with the central one of the 3 as a ball playing defender. Mourinho played a 4-4-2 away in Florence which surprised me because he had used a 4-2-3-1 all season. When the game got underway it was clear to see he was parking the bus and looking for that away goal. We dominated possession 60% to 40% and limited United to 3 shots and 1 on target. Our 3-5-2 without the ball looked very compact (see screenshot below) and in possession looked like a 3-1-4-2 (screenshot below). The 1st leg itself ended 0-0 but felt like a victory to me because I was confident that our 4-3-3 would get us a goal or two in the 2nd leg. I never felt so pleased with a goalless draw, my plan was to prevent the away goal and dominate our opponents because in seasons gone by I have always fell to goals conceded at home. I will continue to develop the 3-5-2 and hopefully post an analysis on the system but for now I feel I have the tools to take on Europe’s finest.
The second leg went to plan we set up in our 4-3-3 and won 2-0 at Old Trafford with our 19 year old wonderkid Abdou Diakhaté scoring both goals from central midfield against Mourinho’s 4-2-3-1 . Both goals came in the first half which we dominated and were unlucky not to get a third after Isco struck a post. The 2nd half we soaked up some early pressure from United but all in all we saw the game out to progress to the final in Amsterdam.
As a manager, Conte is known for using the 3-5-2 formation (or in certain cases, its more defensive variant, 5-3-2), fielding two wingbacks in lieu of wingers, and two pure strikers backed by an offensive box-to-box midfielder in his three-man midfield; Conte thus successfully resists the trend to use just one striker, prevalent in formations such as 4-2-3-1 that have come to dominate many clubs throughout Europe. During his time as head coach of Juventus, he won three consecutive Serie A titles using the 3-5-2 formation, which also began to be employed by several other Serie A clubs.
We got revenge on Juve after they beat us in last year’s final, Dybala gave Juve the lead against the run of play after 31 minutes, We then got what looked like a soft penalty which Isco dispatched making my half time team talk more positive, “we are playing well keep it up lads” . The second half was pretty much us dominating the ball but not converting our chances. Just as it looked like another extra time battle with Juve Yannick Ferreira Carrasco broke Juve’s hearts with a 90th minute goal giving us a clean sweep in Italy and putting Unai Emery’s job on the line.
The Viola Story So Far
Serie A Runners Up – Coppa Italia Winners
Serie A Champions – Italian Super Cup Winners – Coppa Italia Runners Up
Serie A Champions – Champions League Winners – Coppa Italia Winners-Italian Super Cup Winners
I never imagined the impact that our new signings would have this season, it’s been a very lucrative season for the trophy room. I will be back soon with my next update. Thanks for reading and following The Viola Story.