Presentation of the modules

Antonio Conte surprises all and responds to absence of Marchisio and deployment of Naples with a 3-5-2 that sees in front of Buffon, from right to left Barzagli, Bonucci and Chiellini, with Lichtsteiner and Estigarribia to guard the bands. In midfield with Pirlo playing in the middle and right mezzala Vidal and Pepe left mezzala. Pair of attack Matri-Vucinic.

No surprise for Mazzarri’s Napoli with Inler that recovers, but loses Cavani. 3-4-1-2 for the hosts: De Sanctis in goal, Campagnaro-Cannavaro-Aronica defensive line, Maggio and Zuniga on the outside, Gargano and Inler inside position and Marek Hamsik behind the two strikers Pandev Lavezzi

Tactical developments of the match

Mr. Conte solves the problems created by the absence Marchisio and to tactical questions proposed by Naples showing off a new and unpredictable 3-5-2. Starting from the words of coach in the post-game press conference and analyzing the game is reasonable to assume that the motivations that led Conte to the unique choices are varied. I had repeatedly stressed that one of the difficulties that often Naples presents to its opponents is the ability to cover the whole amplitude of front of attack with both wingers (Maggio and Dossena / Zuniga) high and placed almost on the line side, a center striker and two players (Hamsik and Lavezzi) in an intermediate position.

The problems for opposing teams are primarily of a purely “numerical”: defending in 4, to have equal numbers, or better, superior numbers, it is necessary to lower one or two midfielders. Playing with a 4-4-2 generally lower the outside of midfield, with a midfield three mezzala is often forced to give back support on the outside. In any case, the team goes down. There is also a problem of “zone of responsibility” in the output of the defenders with readings often complicated for fullbacks in the intermediate zone between the wide striker and cover off the output off the winger. Conte gives his answer to the question of choosing a tactic proposed by the Napoli with a 3 defense plus two full-wingers, Lichtsteiner on the right and Estigarribia on the left.



Any hesitation on the outputs of the defenders in the intermediate zone are eliminated: on the wide atacker in the intermediate zone goes the “outside” center-back and on the full-winger of Napoli covers the full-winger of Juventus: looks very good in the next slide with Chiellini coming out on Hamsik in intermediate position and Estigarribia covering Maggio.

The defensive line 3 +2 proposed by Juventus also makes Juventus secured on the weak side at the cross (still remember the goals made the last season in Naples) as seen from the slides 2 and 3. Another advantage that often Napoli manages to create is the power play created by the deep advanced of Campagnaro and Aronica which, along with the full winger and the outer forward often create a 3 vs. 2 in the lateral area in favor of Naples. Juventus faces in equal numbers in this situation with mezzala that comes high on the advanced of Naples defenders, as in the case shown in next slide is Pepe on Maggio.

From a defensive point of view the choice of Mazzarri to play Hamsik in the area of Pirlo makes life easier to Juventus.

In fact, the offensive deployment of hosts with a playmaker and two strikers allow Juventus to maintain numerical superiority on defense in the central area (3 defenders against Pandev and Lavezzi), the classic attack in 3(2 half strikers + a center Striker) surely would have created more problems on Juventus defense forcing her to to play in equal numbers to further expanding the position of the three central defenders. The deployment proposed by Conte also helps not to lower too much the core of the team and not to give up the module with three midfielders. The principle remains the same and the mezzali, more than providing support on the wing, press high vertical; we have already seen the work of Pepe on Campagnaro, we see Vidal on Aronica.

The choices of pressure of Juve mezzali not allow the team to drop and release Matri and Vucinic from a too intense pressure on Naples central defenders. The maintenance of the module with three midfielders has also consistent offensive meanings, as we shall see later, and in particular in the analysis for the second half. Turns out a game in mirror, with well-established duels : Maggio-Estigarribia, Zuniga-Lichtsteiner, Hamsik-Pirlo,Pepe-Gargano, Inler-Vidal, exacerbated by the practically typical man markings implemented by the Napoli man.

Interestingly is on the attack front of Juventus the position of Mirko Vucinic who chooses his marker, Aronica, gravitating in the center-right. We will deepen this aspect, decisive in achieving the draw. In the game of mirrors, however Juventus acquires a potential advantage and, until the goal of Hamsik, real. As seen in Figure 6 in the Juve defensive zone is created a 3 against 2 in favor of Juventus that in addition to the defense benefits cited, creates good advantages in attack. In practice passing the ball well between the defenders there is always the possibility to leave the defensive zone and find a free man. In the picture below, with Pandev on Bonucci, Barzagli on Lavezzi and Hamsik on Pirlo, Bonucci finds Chiellini with plenty of space in front of him to play the ball.


In the situation that follows is Barzagli which is free to run with the ball at foot.

The numerical superiority in the defensive zone, thanks to the rigid defensive system of Mazzarri, tends to affect other areas of the field when Juventus comes from his own half by exploiting the numerical advantage. It occurs continuously, as mentioned, until the goal of Hamsik. Let’s see an example in this regard. Chiellini is once again released. Is created with Pirlo and Pepe a 3 against 2 in an advanced zone.


The 3 against 2 forces Gargano to mistake the times of the output on Chiellini who can take advantage of, going forward and force Maggio to drop Estigarribia translating even further the numerical superiority in the area of the ball for Juve. Maggio lands Chiellini and takes the yellow.



The advantage gained by Juventus is very clear in both phases of the game. In the first seven minutes Juventus goes on shot three times, with Pepe on 3 rd and 6 th minute and Vucinic to 7 °. Napoli finds a penalty for Juve naivete that leaves a total 2 vs 1 on the corner and individual of Pirlo who enters awkwardly on Lavezzi and then on the goal of Lavezzi’s free-kick. Up to goals there was no danger coming from action of Naples for Buffon. The tactical advantage of Juventus, even in the first 22 minutes is not fully exploited because of inefficiency shown by the new module put into the field, mainly daughters of automation clearly not oiled. The team implements in a somewhat “mechanical” the game intended, as a schoolboy still not quite sure when the lesson is learned and a little long, partly because of the game very little maneuvering of Naples abuser really of long passes.

In particular, the offensive phase works poorly for reasons that we will see in a little while. After the goal of Hamsik, Napoli raises the intensity of their pressure and Juventus can no longer rely on the numerical superiority that we have previously described. The rotations from the weak side are more effective , the ball is regained by the Neapolitan in the highest area and Juventus attacked as a result of these steals with fast counterattacks. Let’s see a model action. On the Juventus goal kick, trying not to kick at all times long the ball, Hamsik, as he will throughout the first half, leaves Pirlo and pressure on Bonucci creating a 3 against 3 with defenders of Juventus. Bonucci, received the ball from Buffon, calls into question the Juventus goalkeeper that opens Barzagli under the pressure of Lavezzi.


Barzagli releases in dribbling from the Argentine and creating numerical superiority: can pass to Pirlo free of Hansik gone to pressure on Bonucci. The rotation on the weak side of Pandev, however is made ​​with the right timing and pressure on Pirlo from the blind side was successful: the Macedonian steals the ball from Pirlo goes towards the goal and kicking from the edge towards Buffon.




Since the goal of Hamsik Naples finds the right time of pressure, wiping out the numerical advantages described above, thanks to Juventus who loses the necessary calm to circulate the ball. There should be emphasized that in any case, the second goal of Napoli is born from a dead-ball situation ( Campagnaro foul) and the only shot on target from action of the Neapolitan is that of Pandev just described above, and originated of a high recovery of the ball. Sign that the defense plan of Conte holds quite well the game of Naples that never makes trouble with his weapons (amplitude and play on the outside) the tactical project of Conte.

Even the counter-attacks of Naples are well managed by the Juventus defense but on the dead-ball gives a penalty and two goals to Naples. Too much and all in first half. In addition to the aforementioned non-fluency in the development of the game, the movement of the ball after the first goal conceded is even less bright due to the lack of peace in the management of the balloon, to a certain extent, the characteristics of Pepe, who is not used the role and to circulate the ball receiving it in a central position. It is also missing a piece, critical, of the overall tactical plan from the Conte’s outset and fully implemented only in the second half. The coach wants to play on the characteristics of Naples and its weaknesses. The defensive principles of Neapolitan provide that, especially for the three behind, set the marking in their own area at the beginning of action, these are maintained for all the duration of the action, limiting to minimum the deliveries of markings between a player and the other and following the cuts even in areas far away from their original jurisdiction.

Conte wants to turn to its own advantage these features of Neapolitan defensive system and does not give up the deployment of three midfielders exactly to allow the mezzali to enter deeply using the movements and cuts of the strikers in the defense and imbalances caused by companions to man these movements and these cuts. Besides this coach identifies, rightly, in Aronica the weakness of the Naples defense and puts Vucinic to play in the center-left of the blue defense, with Matri on the “free” Cannavaro, so less available to close the holes created. Campagnaro is avoided, objectively far better marker then Aronica. The big problem of the first half is that the entries provided by Pepe and Vidal are not there. We see in the slide action a model of the first half and compare it with the actions of the second half. In the first half Vucinic gets down in the left zone, marked strong and high by Aronica, with Matri in the Cannavaro area. Vucinic passes to Lichtsteiner.

Matri plays on the space vacated by Aronica that marks strong Vucinic causing slippage to the right of the entire defense of Naples with Cannavaro and Campagnaro. The space vacated by this set of movements, including Campagnaro and Maggio to guard Estigarribia very wide, is not exploited by the inclusion of any Juventus midfielder, with Pepe and Vidal who remain in their positions.


I imagine that Mr. Conte, who in my opinion had also planned for the first time in the area not attached in the action shown in previous slides, deep insertions of Pepe and Vidal, at half time has put his foot on this point. To prove this, ready after 42 seconds the first insertion of Pepe. Vucinic is receiving the ball coming to meet followed as usual by Aronica. Matri in the area of Cannavaro cuts in the area of Aronica and not covered by Cannavaro, with Zuniga off on Lichtsteiner is attacked by Pepe who receives the passage of Vucinic has enough time and space to get the shot.



Vucinic is crucial in these situations of the game, playing superbly for the timing of the movement, unloading and the ability to jump into dribbling Aronica. In the sequence that follows receives the ball, gets rid of Aronica and finds Pepe in the right space of Campagnaro, attracted internally by the movement of Matri. It’s Maggio this to time to close, at the price of freedom given in the left wing to Estigarribia.


Again an action with Vucinic gets down and Pepe who steps in to receive the ball from the Montenegrino.



In the occasion shown by the following two slides Vucinic is released in dribbling from Aronica, Cannavaro forced to move into range. The space created is attacked by Vidal who sows Inler.


Finally, even the simple motion, without receiving the ball of Vucinic, creates inviting spaces for entries, in this case of Vidal.


The show actions starring the extraordinary Vucinic of the second half, and entries by Pepe and Vidal are so many, but I guarantee you that there are others. A theme repeated obsessively by Juve, clearly winning against Napoli (I repeatedly stressed in the previous comments the goal conceded by Napoli from Toni Kross in the match at the San Paolo against Bayern Monaco) and which fruits of the goals of 2-1 and 3-2. We see the first of the two. The action comes with ball at Chiellini bearing ball and goes to close on the winger.


We see already in the the second slide the space between Aronica and Zuniga. Hamsik seeing Chiellini in difficulty leaves Pirlo and closes on Pepe, with Inler which rotates on Pirlo, releasing Vidal. Chiellini is good to get out of difficult situation and passes to Pirlo. Inler is late and Pirlo can pass to Vucinic who from first, anticipating the attack high of Aronica download on Vidal that usually attacks the space between Aronica and Zuniga.


The defense is now unbalanced at this point: Vidal can get in, Cannavaro is going to close as Zuniga. Vucinic attacks space behind Cannavaro dragging inevitably Campagnaro. Vidal has two solutions: a good on Lichtsteiner, dropped by Zuniga and another excellent on Matri, in the space vacated by Campagnaro forced to follow Vucinic. Vidal chooses the second option and Juventus scores a beautiful goal.


The key action is the pass of Vucinic and the inclusion of Vidal, which exclude from the action Aronica and force all the defenders of Naples to turn free up space and beautifully attacked by players of Juventus. The video of the second goal confirms the importance and the provision of Vucinic, of mezzali insertions who along of the superior numbers and movements created by the Montenegrin generate huge imbalances in the Napoli defense. In the video we can see that initially receiving of Vucinic “pull out” Campagnaro. Following Vucinic gets rid of Aronica, called out. The Naples is forced to defend area without Campagnaro and Aronica with Cannavaro on Matri and Maggio forced to tighten because of the absence of key defenders and the central placement of Pepe. It is inevitably free Estigarribia at the far post and the Paraguayan is very good at the chance to turn into goal.

For the second half Naples comes on goal only twice, always on counters, closing at zero the number of shots on goal from open play in fielded defense of Juventus, except for a very long distance shot from Inler and rather off-center on 82 minutes on the result of 3-3. One of the opportunities created by Naples is the goal of Pandev and is really a gift too big of Leonardo Bonucci. The situation is very simple and easily manageable. On the Maggio long run, Bonucci has plenty of time to find the right position to mark Pandev because the action slows dramatically in May, because Pandev and Lavezzi not cross and the Macedonian remains fairly static. In a reading situation rather obvious Bonucci takes wrong placement and the cross, seemed quite random to me of May, comes at the feet of Pandev.




Throughout the second half Napoli suffers defensively the movements of Vucinic, the cuts of Matri, the wide open position of Lichtsteiner and Estigarribia and postings by Vidal and Pepe. The effective pressing only after the goal Hamsik back to spin thanks to increased verticality of Juve daughter of entries already mentioned. Naples also structurally does not have a credible management of the ball at high levels and thus Juve is master of all the second half. The changes made ​​by Mazzarri not change the match: moves Hamsik forward and replace him with Santana, then replaces Aronica with Fernandez, in glaring difficulty moving Campagnaro in the Vucinic area. But not enough. Juventus drew with percussion from Pepe and the match ends 3-3 with Juventus double comeback.


There was great curiosity to see the first Juve without Marchisio. And there was every reason to be curious! Combining the need to replace the disqualified mezzala with particular tactical questions usually proposed by Naples, Antonio Conte takes an unexpected 3-5-2 out of the hat, which meets several requirements:

-the 3+2 defense can better manage the size of the game operated by Napoli on the outside with the lateral line and three offensive players on a more or less central position. Is defused a weapon related to this magnitude, that the opportunities created by Napoli in the area on the weak side of the opponent’s defense. The 3 +2 defense allows midfielders to not fall too much and the team to maintain a high center of gravity that, with a defense to 4 generally tends to fall back because of the defensive support required from midfielders to counter the magnitude the game of Naples. It also makes clearer the defensive outputs on the opponents attackers, taken from the central defensers, protected on the outside of two wide players. The real risk of this defense posture resided in the possibility of facing a possible deployment in equal numbers to three attackers of Naples. Mazzarri has chosen the deployment with a mezzapunta (Hamsik) and two strikers especially to counter Pirlo in non ball possession for Naples. I have the impression that the risk of Conte was quite calculated and that he expected the position taken by Hamsik. The 3 +2 defense worked. Tactically it worked great, because Napoli has never shot on goal (except in the aforementioned shot from long distance minutes of Inler in 82) against the lined up defense of Juventus. The amplitude of the game of Naples was not a factor in this game.

-Compared to the pre-announced 4-4-2 on the eve of the game,the 3-5-2 maintains the three midfielders and therefore lets mezzali to enter deeply into space, the true strength of Juventus in the start of the season. Just against Napoli and its peculiar way of defending themselves, with a lot of aggressive man-marking was important to have people able to attack the spaces created by the fact that the Neapolitan defenders always follow the movements and cuts of the attackers . The deployment of 4-4-2 with two central midfielders would not allow the entry of the central midfielders. And is the 3 midfield and the entries of mezzali are decisive for the tie of Juventus.In other words, sticking the neck out and distorting the deployment (but not the principles of the game: the search for the ball movement, and many coordinated movements without the ball to promote fluidity and the danger of the maneuver) Conte responds with wit and originality to the challenges posed by match. And icing on the cake, identifies Aronica the weakness of Naples, puts Vucinic in his area who takes him to school for the entire second half and becomes the key, a sort of advanced playmaker, for the realization of the offensive plan of Conte: Generate defense imbalances by releasing defenders (in particular Aronica and Cannavaro on which Matri plays), creating numerical superiority with Montenegrin and attacking the spaces generated by imbalances with Pepe and Vidal.

Looking coldly at the match amid many risks Conte was right and won the tactical match with Mazzarri. Juve are in difficulty only by Hamsik goal at half time and also at this juncture does not risk a lot. I did mention that on operated action and lined up Juventus defense, Napoli creates nothing, creating some danger of action only on counter. But Juve gives a penalty and two goals on dead-ball situation. Really too much. It should take up this situation. It still suffers the third goal with a really gross error of Bonucci. Clearly, not everything went well.

Particularly in the first half. “Handbrake on” with the team that tried to think more of what learned in training than to really play. Some embarrassment in the circulation of the ball with Pepe in a central, too static two mezzali and little quiet in operation after the goal by Hamsik. Everything changes after the half time. Conte does not review his ideas and his choices and the team plays less dissolved. Pepe, along with Vidal, begins to do what was put in the position of mezzala: attack the spaces. And it does so beautifully. In this regard, although not be cited both the height of elegance, I had already reported as Pepe could be the reserve of mezzala for Juventus the interpretation sought on the role of Antonio Conte.

Vucinic lords playing a second half, generates great numerical superiority with disarming simplicity and continuity for the opponents. Matri moves with precision and confirms himself as race scorer. Estigarribia grows and runs even more than Maggio. The draw in the end it came as a welcome. Too bad that the goals of Naples are all more or less gifts of Juventus: Juventus have three goals in his quiver to Napoli thanks to their game, the Neapolitans not. Despite the goodness of the choices of Conte worried a bit the necessity of having to change set-up for the absence of one starter, although in truth, many reasons for the choice of 3-5-2 reside in my opinion on the characteristics of Naples and not in Marchisio disqualification.

Finally, I spend a brief few words for Mazzarri’s Napoli. To really compete at high levels the Neapolitans would need to acquire a more complex and organized going forward phase. But Mazzarri has not done so despite being two years in Naples. Is known the team to give the best on the break and spreading very fast with the three in front, but really it seems too poor the construction phase of the game from which the rational difficulties against teams that leave to Naples “to do the game”. Very disappointing the going forward phase, as time passes, more and more vulnerable the principles upon which the defensive phase of Naples relies on.

source: by: Fabio Barcellona
adapted by: Mike Prise