From: -4191 [Daniele Paserman]
Subject: Re: CATENACCIO!
Date: 30/06/2000

Shintaro Ikegaki  writes:

>Are you sure you want to be put on the same level as Paraguay?
>I still remember a match report on Paraguay vs. France written by Ariel,
>which started with "Massive, massive huevos."  But there should be no room
>for a melodrama in a team of such (potential) caliber as Italy's.
>Italy were overall unimpressive in this match.

Sheen, Sheen. Such impatience on your part surprises me.
Didn't I promise that I would elaborate on good and bad catenaccio?

before getting into details, let's put things straight.
In the first 30 minutes of the match, Italy was utterly
pathetic. They played the ugliest form of catenaccio possible.
After that, they became slightly more presentable.
But still a long way from what "calcio all'italiana"
should be like. But you can blame that on the red card.
Overall, I agree, they were not impressive. But can you blame
me if I feel proud of the incredible huevos showed in this
game? Even the Argentinians feel proud of their 1990 WC team..

>> A nmore detailed account of this match, and
>> of what is good and what is bad catenaccio to come later.
>In my understanding, in order to claim yourself to be a guardian of the
>Catennacio, you have to WIN the game.  It is supposed to be a form of art
> of
>football, whose sole purpose is WIN it, not exactly proceed to the next
>stage in a knock-out stage.

No. Not at all. Catenaccio is a tactical style. The word catenaccio
itself means "big ugly chain". In Italy, it is used only in a derogatory
form: catenaccio is the ugly brother of "calcio all'italiana",
(italian style football), which is instead a brilliant and
virtuous tactical style. That's why I found that banner very
amusing. Those fans were laughing at how awfully we were playing,
and at the same time celebrating teh incredible heart we put in
that performance.

So, what is "calcio all'italiana"? It is the tactical style that
seems to be genetically built into all Italian teams, even those
that preached they would play a differenet style of football
(i.e., Sacchi's team at USA '94). It consists of leaving mostly
the initiative to the opponent, but then strike quickly with
lightning fast counterattacks (possibly involving players from the
midfield and the defense) that take advantage of the spaces
left in the opponenst' defense.

When I state that Italy 1982 played the best football ever,
I am only partially trolling. Look at Cabrini's goal against
Argentina, or Tardelli's goal in the final. How many Italian
players were in the opponent's box when the ball went into
the back of the net? Five, six?

Now, I am under no illusions as to whether this type of football is
appreciated by the neutral fan. It is not. Most neutral fans
like to see a possession style of football, with lots of passes,
overlapping fullbacks, changes of front, etc. This can be
an effective tactic, and in some cases it is highly
spectacular. But calcio all'italiana, if done well,
can be highly spectacular as well. It requires great
performers though. On the other hand, even a team
square-footed hoofers like Sweden (honestly, no offense
to Sweden, even though it seems I've been picking on them
a lot lately) can look good by playing an aggressive brand
of football. The problem with calcio all'italiana is that
the margin of error is small. If it is not done well,
it degenerates into catenaccio very easily (as in today's game).

Unfortunately, the proper type of calcio all'italiana seems to have
disappeared from modern football. Nesta and Cannavaro never venture
out of their own half, and most of the attacking options are left
to Inzaghi, Totti and Fiore, (and Conte, before he got injured),
who are meant to make the most of the few chances that occur to them.
Now, against relatively weak opposition such as Belgium, Sweden, and
Romania, this worked quite well. Italy left the initiative
to the opponent, but was able to create enough good chances on the
counterattack, and won relatively comfortably.

Against a more serious opposition like the Dutch, it just all
broke down. The first thirty minutes were painful to watch.
Italy hardly ever got out of its half, and was forced to commit
countless fouls, that generated one yellow card after the other.
Zambrotta's red card was just a natural consequence of our
inability to stick our head out of our own half and allow the
defense to breathe. After that it got a bit better: in 10 men
Italy became much more organized, Zenden (who had caused all sorts
of havoc on the left) ended up facing Cannavaro and disappeared from
the game, and Italy tried to build some interesting counters, most of them
stifled by the excellent defending of Stam and De Boer.

>Italy hardly won this match, did they?  They were "outpossessed" (which is

Being outpossessed is a natural outcome of calcio all'italiana,
and it is quite meaningless.

> and mostly outplayed (which is not fine)

Clearly, when the opponent has 60-65% possession, it will
create goal scoring chances, and will also shoot at goal
relatively often. But how many of those shots were really
dangerous, from the second half onwards? I'd say a good run
by Kluivert in extra time, and little else. That is the
essence of Italy's great defending today. If you look back
at Italy-Brazil '82, you'll find that the Brazilians also
did not create as many good goal scoring chances as their
territorial dominance would have suggested.

> gave away two penalties,

The first one was a silly shirt tug by Nesta. The second
one was hopeless foul by Iuliano, who was downright embarassing.
That's too bad, because I had really liked him up to
now in the tournament. Well, at least he was able to get his
behind on several Dutch shots and deflect them away from danger.

>both of which the opponents missed wonderfully, and ended up in 0-0.  It
>merely one of those fortunate draws.
>It should be called either an underdog tactic or a
>determination, depending on your view on football.  But not Catenaccio.

No, no. It was bad calcio all'italiana, i.e., catenaccio.

>> Just a note to those who think that Cannavaro
>> and Nesta's performance is not football: go and watch
>> a different sport.
>I don't think that they were as good as people claim.

Cannavaro was spectacular. There was a moment in the second
half when Bergkamp led a three on three counterattack,
and Cannavaro stole the ball from him with a daring
perfectly timed tackle. As Benny would say, an awesome, awesome
tackle. I jumped on my feet cheering that tackle as if it were
a goal.



From: Riffster
Subject: Re: Italy - U.S.A.
Date: 05/01/2002

"Jeroen"  wrote in message

> I predict the same, minus the US goal.  A 0-0 result (but AWAY!) will
> probably be enough for Arena to wet his pants and proclaim the US as
> having reached the upper echelon of National Teams.  Then we'll get to
> see Arena attempt to base the NT around defense (which is obviously
> the weakest point) and try to play some of the most boring
> catenaccio-style garbage ever.

Well, I have given up trying to educate those who equate
catenaccio with bad soccer. Bad soccer is bad soccer,
period - it has nothing to do with catenaccio unless the
team playing catenaccio is a bad team.

The US may well try using the countering game, and it will
probably be quite ugly to watch. If there is a bit of
luck (well maybe more than a bit) they might eke out
a win and maybe a draw or two if the planets are
aligned correctly. But to say (or even infer), that they
would be playing bad *because* of catenaccio is NOT
the case - it is because they are playing BAD, or maybe
more correctly, not good enough.

(Which kind of explains the US in a nutshell - they really
aren't a bad side internationally - it's just that they aren't
a really good side either. Which is definitely progress and
something Yanks should be proud of - it wasn't too long
ago that the United States was quite weak. Now they are
somewhere between 25th and 40th best in the world -
which ain't bad, but isn't going to get you to the second
round of the WC unless you catch more than a few breaks.)

So if the US had the players to play catenaccio - and IMO
they don't - catenaccio might be a decent tactic for them to
try. But they don't, namely because:

1) You need a midfield capable of turning a
defensive stand quickly into a counter with at
most two passes, one of which is probably going
to have to be a forty-meter plus pinpoint pass.

2) You need strikers with intelligence, pace, power,
and finesse to convert the counters despite the holding
and grabbing and offsides traps, etc.,

As to 1) the closest the US has to this is Mathis
and Reyna. Mathis doesn't strike me as having the
kind of experience that will enable him to see through
the kinds of traps (literally) that a WC quality defense
will resort to in order to defeat the counter. Reyna
might be able to hit on these - but then the opponents
will know this and Claudio will be followed (shadowed)
everywhere he goes. If he can get loose for three uncon-
tested passes in a game then I applaud his effort and the
form of the USA as a whole.

As to 2) the US has Josh Wolff and maybe Razov -
both are fast and have decent skills, but their strength
and experience (and therefore "intelligence" in a soccer
sense) are in question. McBride isn't at his best on the
counter, and Donovan is too lightweight. Lewis, nope,
Max-Moore, nope - although I like his game he is no
counter puncher. Anyone I missed - if so, I hope he is
very good - the US will need him.

- Riff "Arena needs to find a Christian Vieri - no problem!" Ster


From: J.Stephen Thompson
Subject: Re: Italy - U.S.A.
Date: 05/01/2002

"Riffster"  wrote:

>Well, I have given up trying to educate those who equate
>catenaccio with bad soccer. Bad soccer is bad soccer,
>period - it has nothing to do with catenaccio unless the
>team playing catenaccio is a bad team.

I was not meaning to imply that catenaccio = garbage (although I
probably could have worded my thoughts better).  However, if the US
were to attempt playing catenaccio-style tactics, the result would be
garbage because their defending is mediocre (at the VERY best) and
they have no real explosive counter-attacking ability.  No, their
strength lies with their creativity in midfield (O'Brien, Reyna,

I'll admit that I'm not the biggest fan of catenaccio, as I believe
the game should be played to score goals during play with flair and
creativity rather than waiting for an opponent to screw up and pounce
on that (imposing your own will on the game in order to achieve
victory, rather).  However, I do understand its time-honored
usefulness as a tactic on the field.  Hell, had football's foremost
astute tactical genius himself, Louis van Gaal, had the gall (teehee)
to play some catenaccio while Holland was ahead in the game late
against Portugal instead of bringing on van Hooijdonk, the Oranje
might be preparing to decipher the Engrish of South Korean signs as we