domenica 12 agosto 2012

Ancelotti's 4-3-3/4-4-2

Everyone was asking during this summer how PSG could have played under Carlo Ancelotti and how the Italian manager could have inserted all the offensive talents that Parisians have. All eyes were on Paris for PSG's first game but the start left Ancelotti frustrated, after his team get just a draw against Lorient in the opener. At the half-time PSG was down 0-2. Briefly after the restart Ibrahimovic scored the 1-2 before to equalize with a penalty in the 90th minute. From a tactical viewpoint, the interesting thing was the way Ancelotti utilized his offensive weapons. Ancelotti opted to play a 4-3-3 that became a 4-4-2 on the defensive phase. Without Javier Pastore and Thiago Motta, former Chelsea's coach brought in Marco Verratti to play as deep-lying playmaker, alongside Clémenet Chantome and Mathieu Bodmer. Up top, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the target man, with Jeremy Menez and Ezequiel Lavezzi as flankers. As the modern 4-3-3, the Ancelotti's version too was flexible. Menez is more a winger then Lavezzi so he tried to give width to his team, while the Argentinian played cutting inside to reach Ibrahimovic up top. That left spaces on the left for Maxwell, but Brazilian full-back was unable to exploit them.  But what were the problems? In the first time, Ancelotti's game plan failed. Lorient's shape was great, bringing both strikers back into the midfield zone, with the whole team reamining compact due to a high defensive line able to keep the PSG's forwards away from their weak defence. The hosts were the better side, creating a lot of good fast-breaks but failed to increase or mantain the score. The forwards' work was good to close down Verratti, who played just 56 passes and mostly horizontally. There was pressure on him in the way to nullify PSG's numerical advantage 3 vs 2 in the middle of the pitch. Christian Gourcuff showed how to contain a 4-3-3 with a 4-4-2. PSG's full-backs pushed forward but the whole ball circulation was slow, transforming the offensive phase in an arid ball possession. Menez was good on the right, but he lacks of goal scoring abilities. Above all, he has not defensive skills - 0 tackles, 0 interceptions -  while in this fluid 4-3-3 he had the charge to become the fourth midfielders in the defensive phase, when the team switched to a 4-4-2, leaving Lavezzi high up. The main concern was how to help Ibrahimovic that had few support from the teammates. The bench played his part in the game as things went better when Anceloitti inserted Nene, last season's top scorer, as second forward. But generally the whole team was far from perfect. After this summer's takeover, instant success became the first rule in Paris. Every team needs of time, specially the big ones but Ancelotti had to resolve the biggest problem: how to put on place Menez, Lavezzi, Pastore, Ibrahimovic at the same time or which of them leave on the bench.

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