Lorenzo Insigne & Ciro Immobile did it again. A 1-2 punch by the dynamic duo put Pescara ahead of Torino...probably a decisive lead at the summit of the Serie B ranking. This match was a very impressive chess game between two tactical chiefs as Giampiero Ventura e Zdenek Zeman and a classic battle between two different systems. Both managers lined up their own teams in the usual form. Ventura with the liked 4-2-4, Zeman with his well know 4-3-3. In the first pic you can also note the interesting way in which Zeman's team starts its match. Pescara lines up an 8-men line at the line of scrimmage, 2 in the middle and 3 in each part along the ball. Match started as expected. Torino tried to play a control the ball game while Pescara pressed heavily up front at a very high tempo. Torino's 4-2-4 is based on ball control and slow the tempo. Be quit, retain the ball and wait for the opponents to come, in the way to start the action. This is because Ventura wants to beat up rivals' pressure and take the edge moving the ball from the defense through the midfield.
"Torino has always played that way, does so much possession to draw ahead the opponent. And we went forward willingly, often running wrong, but it had to be done and we done", Zeman said.
Torino's two central midfielders stay deep and don’t break forward, leaving the offensive duties to the four forwards, wich play with each other. Overlapping full-backs also aren't there. Pescara's approach was the same than usual: press high on defensive phase and move the players on the offense, with full-backs overlapping, wings cutting inside and interior midfielders getting up to support the lone forward. Against a 4-2-4, 4-3-3 obviously tends to take the edge in the middle of the pitch, so Manuel Iori and Migjen Basha faced a numerical disadvantage against Pescara's midfield trio of Matti Nielsen, Marco Verratti, and Emmanuel Cascione.
Verratti, playing the deep-lying playmaker,
was particularly free. To deal it, Torino put both forwards, Mirko
Antenucci and Alessandro Sgrigna, working tirelessly up top in the way
to close down the
centre-backs and Verratti. It dind't work and Verratti was free to play as a backward number ten, moving the ball all around, as we have seen in the first goal.
Additionally, when Verratti moved up, across Torino's front line, Iori and Basha was late in coming and not able to close on Verratti, who had still time to distribute the ball forward. The result was Torino being outnumbered in the middle.
To avoid Pescara's pressure, Torino often played long passes. Though this kind of passes are usually accurate, and utilized to start exciting combinations between forwards, this time they was disturbed by Pescara's centre-backs. Both Simone Romagnoli and Marco Capuano were in the right position to cover so Pescara defenders won the ball often.
As the game came near the end, Zeman surprised a lot when he sub Marco Sansovini, a forward, with Moussa Koné, a midfielder, switching from his usual 4-3-3 to a classic 4-4-2.
"I wanted to close spaces and not give Torino the opportunity to score", Zeman said.
At the end, as Zeman noted, it’s difficult for Ventura'side to
play unless they control the whole game, and they didnt' control it against Pescara. Their ball retention skills faced a big challenge against Pescara's high pressure. In the defensive phase of play, when Torino started its action from the centre-backs, was a Pescara's interior midfielder that had the duty to help centre-forward Ciro Immobile to press high up the pitch. That made Torino’s troubles in playing out from the back more evident as the game went on. Ventura tried to change the game introducing another pure centre-forward in the second half, but this move produced not success. In the first leg between two sides, Torino's strategy was highly based around counter-attacking, playing the ball forward quickly. At this time, it didn't work.