martedì 17 luglio 2012

Capello and Russia

Fabio Capello is the new Russia boss. Will he be able to get the best out of this players generation? Former Real Madrid, Juventus, AC Milan and Roma manager had various winning stints on his résumé and with different tactics employed. But last big game coached by Capello was the embarrassing exit from the 2010 World Cup. Two of his last three title winning sides, Juventus and Real Madrid, have been based on a 4-4-2 formation with two holding midfielders. The other, AS Rome, was a 3-4-1-2 in 2000/01. With the Italian side, Capello had two wing-backs moving up and down the line in Cafu and Vincent Candela, and a forward as Marco Delvecchio, which had the duty to drop back in the defensive phase, making the system switching to a compact 4-4-2 defensively. Playing with two holding midfielders give your side the benefit to become hard to break down. A good example of this kind of tactics were the utilization of Patrick Vieira alongside Emerson in Capello’s 2005/06 season at Juventus. Having a wide player was a key in Capello's formations. He employed creative players in those positions, as he did at AC Milan with Dejan Savicevic or at Real Madrid with Raul, or offensive wingers able to support the midfield and also to break and play behind the forwards and in front of the opposition’s back four, such he did at Juventus with Pavel Nedved. With England too, he often had Teho Walcott running up and down the wing. With the British, Capello went with a rigid 4-4-2 throughout 2010 World Cup qualifications but used different systems –  4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2, and 4-2-3-1  –  after this experience. Under Capello, England had not a clear identity. On defense, they sometimes dropped off and parked the bus, sometimes tried to press high. Latest England version under the Italian manager have seen the utilization of three central midfielders, with the British that had more options in possession. What about Russia? A key theme of Russia under Dick Advocaat was the use of  the Zenit play style, with their midfield triangle rotating and with the play counting on fast-breaks. The fixed system was a 4-3-3, the same Advocaat played at Zenit, with two interior midfielders  – Konstantin Zyryanov and Roman Shirokov –  ready to attack the box and with Igor Denisov being a very disciplined deep-lying playmaker.  On defense, CSKA gave the base of the squad with the goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev and the centre-back pairing of Aleksei Berezutski and Sergei Ignashevich, that played together at the Moscow's club. Up top, Alan Dzagoev is the wing man Capello likes. A question up top will be if  Capello will go with a target man as Pavel Pogrebnyak or Roman Pavlyuchenko or with a mobile one, such as Russia did during Euro 2012. In this second case, Aleksandr Kerzhakov could start upfront, playing the same way Wayne Rooney ran under Capello. But the main question here is: how to insert Andrei Arshavin? Capello could line up former Arsenal's player as a No. 10 in a 4-2-3-1 or keep him as inside forward opposite to Dzagoev adding an extra defensive man in midfield. Capello played this way after the 2010 World Cup campaign. Against Switzerland, he employed a 4-2-3-1 but utilized a more defensive left-winger in James Milner, and two holding midfielders as Steven Gerrard and Gareth Barry, which played in the centre of the pitch. Russian's classic starting midfield is much offensive oriented, although without the ball Shirokov and  Zyryanov worked well, pressing heavily. But the whole team, despite its great fast-break play, is much possession oriented while Capello's sides often don't retain the ball and rely more on the counter-attacking play. So we will see if Capello will adapt his mind to the players' skills or if he will try to adjust them to his football idea. In Yury Zhirkov, Capello will have a  left-back who goes forward, up and down the line, while he will have to find a more defensive right-back to line up alongside the two slow centre-backs, or the risk will be to have both full-backs moving up leaving Russia vulnerable to fast-breaks. About the rising stars, Capello could try to add new faces other then CSKA and Zenit players, as the attacking midfielder Alan Kasayev of Rubin or Spartak’s left-sided wing-back Dmitry Kombarov. At the end, no-one is calling for Capello to abandon his philosophy and became like Pep Guardiola but defensive quality has to be mixed with passing and penetration due to their great quality in build-up. Capello could start with a 4-2-3-1 and if it don’t work well here, he could revert to a more classic approach.

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