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Dezső Schön: the secret to the success of Italian football III.

Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2022-06-22 22:22:31


Data providers: Isaque Argolo.
Part III.
Dezső Schön | 29/07/1930, Milan

After the presentation of the national organisation of Italian football, the management of the clubs and the Italian training schedule, I think it is worthwhile to present the Italian tactical ideas, which Italian football has adopted after careful testing. By way of introduction, I must draw the attention of the Hungarian football community to the great interest that the Italian sporting press has shown in football theory. Hungary, which has produced its own academic professors of football tactics and football strategy, seems to be neglecting these issues, which are of inestimable importance for the education of young people. FIRST RULE: DON'T LOSE
There are now three derbies in Hungary. Before there was only one. In Italy there are ten. By derby, we mean those matches of decisive importance, with uncertain outcomes, in which there is maximum interest. The theorists of Italian football have had time to realise, for example, the principle that no matter how much stronger one team is than the other in a particular match, you have to take better care of your own goal than of your attack. It became a guiding principle: Play the game not to lose it and secondly to win it!
In a few sketches, I will outline the tactical ideas that have been identified and accepted in the Italian literature. The style of Italian teams is generally based on defence. They do not take risks. They do not accept as a principle of life that attack is the best defence, they believe that even the best attacking team can be caught by unpleasant surprises if it takes a reckless approach to defence. Hence one of the basic principles of Italian defensive tactics: five forwards against four defenders!
If the opponent attacks with five forwards, the Italian tactic is to back up the two wing half-backs in addition to the two full-backs. Experience has shown that these four men can keep five opposing forwards at bay.
To keep the three opposing half-backs at bay, there is the centre-half and the two inside forwards next to him. The opponent's two backs in a regular line-up are then faced by three forwards. Practice shows (as the Hungarian public has seen from the Italian national team and Ambrosiana) that these three, if they can play football, are much more dangerous than the other five (represented by empty circles in our diagram).
Speaking of tactics, something must also be said about the Italian sports pages. Almost every city in Italy has its own sports paper. Apart from the daily Gazzetta dello Sport and the Littorale, there are many weekly newspapers, the most notable of which is the Guerin Sportivo in Turin.
These papers are all strongly local patriotic and the style of the old Szeged-Szombathely rivalry can only be compared to their local battles. Guerin Sportivo had an interesting role to play in the development of this year's championship.
The Juventus case is the best example of how a big and rich club with nine world-famous international players in its squad can be ruined by a bad system of play: the two great players Rosetta and Caligaris are sent out from the middle, where the most important part of the game, the scoring, takes place...
The example of Juventus proves that if a club sets out with the intention of imposing a certain system on its team, it will not achieve results, because playing systems do not have to be applied, but must develop themselves according to the players' abilities. AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHERS, THE WISE LEARNS: AMBROSIANA
Ambrosiana started the season in Scottish style. Five forwards followed by all three half-backs. Ambrosiana took a risk. All in, that was their motto: if we score, we win the game. What was the result? Ambrosiana played brilliantly in every single game, but — lost. In the first half of the season, they finished no higher than fifth or sixth.
When the aforementioned article by Guerin Sportivo appeared, Ambrosiana embraced the Turin tactics, but only partially. They no longer attacked with eight men, but kept one or two for the defence. They also abandoned the principle of attacking with five forwards. Ambrosiana's forwards learned to score goals even when there were only four or three up front.
And in the space of a month, Ambrosiana fought for the top of the league and no longer lost first place. THE ITALIANS ARE CONSTANTLY PLAYING WITH THREE FULL-BACKS
The Italians soon realised (Hungary only began to realise after Meazza's arrival) that three forwards against two full-backs could score goals with ease. Therefore, the goal should not be left to two full-backs. So one of the half-backs must go backwards, but in his place a forward must go backwards. WHO SHOULD BE THE THIRD BACK?
It's one system when the third defender is a centre-half and another when he's a wing half-back. If it's the centre-half, there are two half-backs all the time. This is the worse method, because practice shows that the centre-half must always be in front, without exception, to support his forward line. Go to the back line with one of the wing half-backs! This tactic is nothing new to us Hungarians. After all, the Hungarian wing-halves must also be constantly on the move according to the accepted Hungarian tactics. If, for example, the ball is carried by the opponent's right wing, the left full-back attacks, the right full-back moves to the middle and the right half-back must move back to fill the empty space on the side. But here, if the team starts attacking again, the right half-back moves forward again and follows his forward line. THE DRAW: A SURE POINT
In Italy, this designated wing half-back is by no means going anywhere. Three, and often four, defenders are deployed exclusively for defence. I think that the Hungarian approach is more in keeping with the spirit of the game, and with a good wing half-back, it is the more perfect way to play, but it is worth considering the rationale of the Italian approach: if we defend well, we can draw. And a draw: a point! But you must never defend with eleven men. Another guiding principle is to keep the centre-forward and the two wingers up front. Because even if the other eight men tire defensively, there are three rested men up front, always ready for a surprise counter-attack.
The Italian national team's great achievements were due to the fact that the presence of Meazza, who learned the art of attacking with three forwards, played all his league games in this style and was joined in the national team by two wingers like Costantino and Orsi. In the national team, the Ambrosiana system prevailed in a more perfect edition.
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