giovedì 23 agosto 2012

Petkovic way

Like most managers in a new side, Vladimir Petkovic have not used a specific formation but tried different kind of football in the way to find the right one for his team. In their training camp, Petkovic has used a variety of formations, switching from 4-4-2 to  4-2-3-1, 4-4-1-1, and 4-3-3. Always featuring a four men back line with a holding central midfielder, Petkovic was fluid on lining up the other players in the middle and up top. All those formations was marked by the though to bring on an active football. But Lazio went from a reactive football ithey played under former coach Edi Reja latest seasons so this change created new problems for defenders and attackers because Petkovic asked to his centre-backs to play more high and to the forwards to press up top in a way they never done before. Under Reja, Lazio played exclusively on the counter-attack, regardless of what side their were facing. During this summer, it was almost impossible for Lazio to dominate possession, and with the midfielders moving up, the opponents were free to exploit the space left by Lazio in the middle of the pitch.                                                              

The high defensive line was often exposed to rivals' counter-attacks with Lazio's players were not able to read the moment in which collapse down to avoid a ball across the line. The new system worked well on fast-breaks, with Petkovic's side able to provide assistance to the forwards. But with no pressure up top when the possession were lost and with players with a bad attitude on coming back to help the midfield, defending against counter-attacks was still a problem here. The other issue was the distance between defensive and midfield's lines, where there was gaps exploited by the other side.
So Petkovic changed a bit during latest friendly matches, switching to a more compact three men midfield and to a more classic 4-3-3/4-5-1. The pressing line wasn't up top anymore, while the defensive line stayed more deep. So Petkovic changed a bit the route. His initial idea was - and maybe is - to play an offensive football, with five men going forward in the offensive phase. His though is to build as many trinagle as possible on the pitch, in the way to give the ball carrier almost two passing options. His 4-4-2 isn't a classic 4-4-2 with two banks of 4 behind two forwards neither a modern 4-2-4 with two central holding midfielder and two forward wings on the flanks. It's a 4-4-2 featuring two wide midfielders able to attack and two central midfielders; one more able on the defensive phase, with the task to cover the spaces in front of the back four while the second one is more an offensive playmaker, as the old Italian 'regista' was: a technical player with a good shot also able to support the attackers or to find the net. So the 4-4-2 is more a 4-1-3-1 and the 4-3-3 is more similar to a 4-1-4-1. Ball has to be played quickly with also short passes. All those concepts are attractive but not easy to install in a roster that is the same it was under the former coach. And while some players as Antonio Candreva and Ogeny Onazi seems to be energized by the new system, other ones have difficult to play under the new regime. Where line up Hernanes? Petkovic said that "Brazilian can play everywhere", but he has yet to find the right position for the most gifted of his players. During the training camp, Petkovic lined up Hernanes as central midfielder alongside Cristian Ledesma but it dind't work. So Hernanes was given the second forward role, although later operated on the flank, with Cana coming in on the middle paired to Ledesma. Petkovic is a tactician, but will have a headache to find the right positions for both Hernanes and Mauro Zarate. The switch to a 4-3-3 could help with Hernanes lined up as third midfielders while Stefano Mauri and Candreva play on the flanks. The idea to paly an offensive football is nice but how long Petkovic will stay with it if the result don't come? In that case, will Petkovic back to a counter-attacking playing style? So the only other real question here concerns the brend of football Petkovic will run during the Lazio's campaign: it will be active or it will be reactive again?


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