Zonal Defending the Italian Way

An in-depth look at the Italian Flat Back Four and Total Team Defending

Michele Tossani, 2009, World Class Coaching

Due to the lack of a good biography or tactical analysis of the work of Arrigo Sacchi, who brought the 4-4-2 to Italy and developed it to perfection, I moved to books about the general concepts of Sacchi, to learn more about it. Therefore it is interesting to read in the introduction of this book that “the Italian Serie A changed their focus in recent years because of the desire to see attractive, attacking soccer by television audiences” and “the four man defensive system is the most utilized defense system in Italy. Even when playing with three in the back gained more popularity around the world.” Without being to harsh, it seems to show a bit of ignorance to the fact, we know not only after reading The Blizzard Issue Two, that both goes back to Sacchi. That it was him, who introduced the four man defense and the attractive game to Italian soccer end of the eighties and that before that an impenetrable defense was seen as the perfection of soccer, based and strongly supported by the philosophy of Gianni Brera.
The book covers the basics of positional movement in zonal defending, whether it is with three or four players in the defense. It also describes how the midfielders and forwards have to move. Additionally to the theoretical background it also describes training exercises used by different Italian coaches, like Sacchi, Lippi, Zaccheroni, Prandelli or Capello. The exercises might be new but the general concepts and positioning in zonal defending you can also read in Zauli’s book Modern Soccer Tactics. It also follows Zauli’s book with the bad translation. So, why would you like to pay twenty bucks for the book? If you are not interested in every extra piece of information about Italian soccer, you shouldn’t. As a standalone book it is interesting to read to understand Italian defending but with the other literature out there, you should save the money for a book which covers more tactical principles than Tossani’s book has to offer.

Biography: 0/3
History: 0/3
Background: 0/3
Tactics & Game philosophy: 2/3

Next book: Ist doch ein geiler Verein (German, Oct 17th)


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