I started this season with my main focus being the Serie A title after being runners up to Juventus in the last two seasons I want us to go to the next level and establish ourselves has the number 1 team in Italy. So how did we get on in the first half of the season?
Spezia (Away) Won 4-0 The opening game of the season and a very good 4-0 win, we led 3-0 at the break with goals from Kondogbia, Stones (Penalty) and a Parigini own goal. The 2nd half gave me a chance to give Berardi and Xhaka a rest with both carrying slight injuries. Vietto got his 1st league goal for the club to make it a resounding 4-0 win. I used my tried and tested 4-3-3.
Pescara (Home) Won 4-0 First home game of the season and chance to use my new system, Verticalità based on the philosophy of Marcelo Bielsa. So Pescara were the visitors to the Meazza. We came out the blocks firing with first half goals from Vietto 2, Stones and Perisic. 4-0 at the break and that’s how it ended, I was pleased with the performance and the new system.
Sampdoria (Away) Won 4-1 Before the game I decided that we would use our new system for the away trip. We started the game on the front foot and was rewarded in the 2nd minute with a Ruben Neves goal. We looked in control dominating the ball and got a second goal before the break this time Steven Jovetic cutting in from the left side and beating the Sampdoria keeper with a piledriver of a shot 2-0. I told the lads ‘to keep it up in the second half’ and brought Zivkovic on for the injured Berardi. The 54th minute produced a superb team goal Vallejo started the move from the back and 18 passes later Neves fired home for his second and our 3rd. 76minutes we got a penalty, Kondogbia was fouled in the area and Ruben Neves stepped up and put the game beyond Sampdoria with his 3rd 4-0. On 76 minutes I took Jovetic and Xhaka off for Gnoukouri and Pjaca. A very nice victory with the boys getting to grips with our new system.
Lazio (Home) Drawn 2-2 A strange game we led 2-0 after 11 minutes thanks to a brace from Luciano Vietto however after dominating the game we did the unthinkable and somehow squandered our lead and drew the game 2-2. Nagatomo and Telles looked good going forward for the duration of the game.
Fiorentina (Home) Won 2-0 A switch back to our 4-3-3 for the visit of the Viola which produced another brace for Vietto in the first half in the 22nd and 25th minute. This time though we looked solid resulting in our visitors not having a single shot on target.
Torino (Away) Won 4-0 A visit to Turin and a switch back to our new formation produced a solid 4-0 win against a Torino side playing a 3-5-2. Vietto opened the scoring with his 8th goal in 6 games in the 23rd minute, Domenico Berardi got on the scoresheet just 6 minutes later making my half time team talk easy has I told the boys not to get complacent in the 2nd half. Berardi added a third his second before John Stones put the tie to bed with our fourth. A good 3 points on the road and top spot in the league.
Empoli (Home) Won 6-2 The visit of third placed Empoli was a lot closer than the scoreline suggest’s, we had Yuto Nagatomo sent off in the second half and scored 3 goals in the last 4 minutes. Vietto 2, Berardi, Kondogbia, Neves and Xhaka all netting for us. We end the month on top of the table.
Bologna (Away) Won 3-0 We recorded a 3-0 win with 3 first half goals courtesy of Nagatomo, Telles and Vietto who is proving to be a top class signing.
Udinese (Home) Won 2-1 Udinese had the better of the first half and led up until Andrija Zivkovic pulled us back in to the game in the 31st minute. The game looked to be heading for a draw so I decided to go for broke and introduced Berardi and Odegaard to the game and changed to overload, within 5 minutes they combined to create the winning goal with Odegaard playing a pin point pass for Berardi to slot home….booooom get in (we all know that feeling when you make that match winning change).
Palermo (Away) Won 1-0 The Renzo Barbera was the setting for our next game against an in form Palermo side. In an hard fort game it was another late substitution that gave us all 3 points with Steven Jovetic scoring the winner just 3 minutes before time after replacing Vietto. (I am getting used to this bring on Napoli)
Napoli (Home) Won 4-2 Another month ended with us still undefeated in the League with a 4-2 win against one of our title rivals. Goals from Telles, Vietto 2 and Berardi.
Genoa (Away) Won 1-0 I wanted to mix things up a bit and decided that we would revert back to our 4-3-3 formation for the visit to Genoa who are pushing for European qualification. Ivan Perisic returning from injury got the only goal of the game after 17 minutes which we held on too, until the full time whistle.
AS Roma (Home) Won 6-0 Roma visited the Meazza in bad shape they are bottom of the table and manager less. We took no pity on the Romans. We scored 3 goals in both half’s with no reply. Gnoukouri, Stones and Kondogbia gave us a 3-0 lead at the break.In the 2nd period 3 more goals courtesy of Kondogbia, Nagatomo and Neves rounded the day off for us.
AC Milan (Away) Drawn 1-1 The Milan Derby is always a test and this one was no different. Milan led early on after a Abate goal in the 5th minute. We kept knocking on the door with Berardi, Vietto and Perisic all coming close but it was Eric Pulger who scored an own goal after 72 minutes turning the ball in to his own net after a low cross from Nagatomo. We got the point that we deserved against a spirited Milan side who are having a good season.
Juventus (Home) Won 2-0 Probably the most satisfying result of the first half of the season, we went with the 4-3-3 formation and took the game to Juve from the off. We went in at the break goalless so I gave my players a rocket to fire them up and it worked, we created chance after chance in the 2nd half and got our reward in the 72nd minute with a Neves header and again on 78 minutes via a Xhaka strike from 18 yards 2-0 and a vital 3 points against our nemesis.
Verona (Away) Won 4-2 Vietto scored a superb hat-trick which paved the way for a another win on the road. John Stones sealed the win in the 89th minute. 3 more points and Juego De Posicion leads the way in Italy.
Cesena (Home) Won 3-0 The Luciano Vietto show another hat-trick to cap a wonderful performance from the Argentine forward who as scored 29 goals in the first half of his debut season for the Nerazzurri.
Carpi (Away) Lost 2-3 A surprise result to end the first half of the season saw Carpi rumble us 3-2. Kondogbia and Pjaca scoring our goals in the first half.
We lead the table by 9 points after a solid first half of the season which as given us a solid platform to mount a challenge to Juventus domination in the league. Juve are 12 points behind us but I know they will mount a challenge so we will be focusing on maintaining our lead when we restart in January.
Champions League 2017-2018
Chelsea (Home) Lost 0-1 Not the best of starts to our Champions League campaign, I went with the 4-3-3 formation with a top 3 of Vietto, Jovetic and Berardi. We created plenty of chances but failed to take them and went down to a Zouma header.
FC Steaua (Away) Won 3-2 We needed to take all 3 points from our visit to Romania and that’s what we did despite going down to 10 men after a Kondogbia red card. Our scorers on the night Vietto 2 and Xhaka.
Sporting Club (Away) Won 2-0 Our visit to Lisbon started off by Vietto picking up a knock inside 10 minutes, I replaced him with Berardi up top. Xhaka got another European goal to put us 1 up after 26 minutes and then Berardi doubled our lead just after the half hour mark. We held the lead in the 2nd half and left Lisbon with a vital 3 points.
Sporting Club (Home) Lost 0-1 Our worst performance of the season, Sporting deserved all 3 points and dented our chances of winning the group.
Chelsea (Away) Won 3-1 On the back of our worst game of the season we produced our best performance in Europe with a 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge. All 3 goals came in the 2nd period from Neves and a Vietto brace.
FC Steaua (Home) Won 3-0 Neves, Perisic and Vietto scored the goals that put us in to the knockout round draw in Zurich.
Zurich Champions League Draw
We sat in anticipation of the draw and then Rui Costa pulled us out of the bag Internazionale will play……Real Madrid, a big draw which pits former Real Centre back Jesus Vallejo against his former employer….game on
Under 20’s (Development Squad) And Under 18’s
I have taken over the running of the Under 20’s for the first half of the season, it as given me the opportunity to get to know the squad. We have some promising talent coming through our system that should bear fruit for us over the next few years. Both the youth teams are top of the division which we hope will continue. Both youth teams are playing our new system.
I am not going to go in to depth with this tactic now because my next post will be about this tactic.
I have created this tactic to supplement our 4-3-3 system built on the philosophy of Marcelo Bielsa . One of Bielsa starting shapes at Athletic Club see below is what our new system is built on. Whilst Athletic Club were dynamic in breaking forward wit the ball they were also adept at holding on to the ball until an opening was made. I am not trying to recreate an identical tactic with identical roles however the shape of the tactic is very close with slightly different roles. Below you can see the roles I am using within the system.
“Bielsa’s teams are very aggressive. They don’t let you breathe,” Guardiola said. “Seven arrive in the penalty area, they lose the ball and 11 defend. Their games are all up and back, up and back, without stopping.” Guardiola
Sweeper Keeper / Defend
Central Defender / Defend
Ball Playing Defender / Defend
Left Wing Back / Attack
Right Complete Wing Back / Attack
Half Back / Defend
Box To Box Midfielder / Support
Advanced Playmaker / Support
Left Inside Forward / Support
Right Inside Forward / Support
Complete Forward / Attack
The two full backs create width in the attacking phase which enable both our inside forwards to come in field and support the Complete Forward, My central midfield 3 are made up of a Holder / Runner / Playmaker, this is the engine room. The 2 Central Defenders are both very good in possession of the ball but I only play one of them as a Ball Playing Defender, in front of them is the Half Back who drops in between the centre backs in the defensive phase. We look to close down aggressively in hope of turning possession back to us quickly.
Training during the season is set to Balanced / Defensive Positioning
Individual Training is tailored to each player and the role they play with in the team.
So that’s the first half of the season wrapped up, we are about to enter the transfer window which may be interesting as a couple of players may leave due to lack of game time. There is a possibility of a player coming in who as played in this type of system for Pep Guardiola but I will not say who it is until the deal is done. The second half of the season should be entertaining has we are in a good position to go on and win the title. We have a big Champions League clash against Real Madrid to look forward too as well. I have also signed a contract extension until 2022. My next post will be based on my new system Verticalità. Thanks for reading Arriverderchi
The Story So Far
2017-2018 Supercoppa Runners Up – European Super Cup Winners
2016-2017 Serie A Runners Up – Europa Lge Winners – Supercoppa Winners – Coppa Italia Runners Up
2015-2016 Serie A Runners Up – Coppa Italia Winners
Verticalità will be my next post about the system I have developed inspired by the philosophy of Marcelo Bielsa