Friday, 16.04.2021

How Guardiola & 3-2-2-3 (ultimately) solved the defending meta

Guardiola’s image in the football world is complex to describe. While polarizing, everyone seems at least to agree that he is an unique innovator. Funnily enough, he is polarizing exactly because of this mutual agreement of critics and fans. The public discourse about his Barcelona team mainly revolved about the positional style of play and – even contrasted with Aragones’ successful EURO campaign with the Spanish national team – was highly focused on his idea of playing football and how it differed from most teams. Building up from the back with passes on the ground and involvement of the goalkeeper even under pressure, overload in the center while maintaining high width and depth, or even their extreme pressure with an extraordinarily high line to enable early regain of possession have conquered football back then (with two Champions League titles in four heavily favored campaigns) and since taken over the ideas of others teams more and more – some of them, Guardiola had started already in his first year as head coach back at Barcelona B.

AC Milan’s Revival under Stefano Pioli

AC Milan have undergone somewhat of an unexpected revival this season, transforming themselves into surprise contenders for the Scudetto whilst also performing admirably in the Europa League as well. Stefano Pioli is no doubt slowly but surely steering the Rossoneri back to European prominence, with a free-flowing attacking mantra that make Milan thrilling to watch.

Leicester’s 4-2-3-1 under Brendan Rodgers

Leicester City have made constant progress since the arrival of Brendan Rodgers in February 2019, from securing Leicester’s position in the top six in his first full season to now contesting for the Premier League’s top spot half-way into the 2020-21 season. The improvements are evident and though claims that Leicester are not title contenders are played down by Rodgers himself, their performances this season suggest otherwise. In fact, it would be of much surprise if Leicester were not in the running for a top four finish if not more come the end of the season.

Lazio’s 3-1-5-1 Build-Up Approach

Simone Inzaghi & Lazio enjoyed a hugely successful 2019-20 season, with a Supercoppa Italia to their name and achieving domestic qualification for the Champions League for the first time in five years. The way in which they did so was equally impressive, scoring the 3rd highest goals in Serie A with Ciro Immobile the centrepiece of their attacking prowess.

Gerhard Struber’s intense pressing system at Barnsley

When he was appointed as Barnsley manager in November, Gerhard Struber was a relative unknown to the typical English football fan, but the Austrian had begun to make a name for himself in Europe with his high intensity philosophy and his success at Wolfsberger AC. When he was appointed, Barnsley were rock bottom of the Championship and were without a win in sixteen, and so the aim was very much to fight against relegation.