Napoli vs. Catania
Formations and Tactics-
Napoli were playing there standard 3-4-2-1 and Catania played a 4-4-2 almost 4-3-3 with Schletto operating higher than his opposite # on left flank.
Catania neutralizes Napoli but fail to get out of their half-
The Catania manager had two potential problems to deal with going in to the match how he would neutralize Napoli’s trequatistas and their defensive wingers. The Catania manager was very smart in the way he set out to neutralize the 2 Napoli trequatistas. He played the back 4 very narrow which meant that Hamsik and Sosa couldn’t run into the space between Catania’s Fullbacks and centerbacks. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6ymCvx_rN4&feature=player_detailpage#t=144s) Although playing a very narrow back 4 did solve 1 problem, it didn’t solve the other. He still had to neutralize Napoli’s defensive winger and if he failed to do so his back line would be stretched and Napoli’s Trequatistas would be free again.
He solved this problem by having his wingers drop into the defensive line to cover the spaces out wide left by his fullbacks pushing in. Essentially he created a back 6 to deal with Napoli’s attack.(see Figure 1)
This was very effective, far more effective than if he just left his wingers in midfield and have expected them to track Napoli’s Defensive wingers.(Zuniga and Maggio) The reason why the latter wouldn’t have worked is because Schletto and Marthino aren’t the best of defenders judging from this game and asking them to one, accurately mark Napoli’s quick and tireless defensive wingers and 2, hassle and hurry them in midfield would have been insane.(why it was effective http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6ymCvx_rN4&feature=player_detailpage#t=1s ) If Diego someone didn’t have his defensive wingers into his backline they would have got skinned more often than not and Catania’s defensive plan would have failed epically. (Napoli defensive winger skins Catania’s winger, Catania’s fullback has to move wide to stop a cross from coming in, which opens space in the middle for the 2 Napoli Trequatistas and we can all figure out what would happen next.)
Although having their wingers drop into their defensive line worked very well. (Napoli only had 4 shots in the first half) It hurt them going forward. They only had 6 minutes of ball possession whilst Napoli had 19, and they only had one shot on goal. The main reason for Catania’s inability to keep the ball was due to the fact they had no out let. Their wingers were operating in their defensive line when they didn’t have the ball so they had no wide outlet, and there 2 strikers were outnumbered by Napoli’s back 3 so they had no central outlet. Also to be honest they didn’t look that interested in getting out of their own half during the first half. I think they wanted to defend and leave the match with a draw and they were almost well on their way of doing that by the end of the first half.
Even though Catania defended well Napoli’s quality shone thorough getting a penalty which Cavani missed and one lucky opportunity that Zuniga put away.
Napoli and Catania attack but for different reasons-
Both teams set out to attack more but Napoli wanted to close out the game and Catania just wanted to get level. There were a few changes in the Second half; Napoli pass quicker, Catania moved to a 4-2-3-1(see second half changes), and pressed higher and higher as they grew more and more desperate to level the score line. (41st minute pressing at half way line near end of match pressing high up the fieldhttp://espn.go.com/espn3/player?id=131267&league=Serie%20A&size=condensed)
Catania adapts 4-2-3-1 to deal with Napoli’s 3-4-2-1 –
Instead of using 1 AM and 2 wingers in their 4-2-3-1 Catania decided to use 3 AMs to form a very narrow 4-2-3-1 which relied on their fbs getting forward for width. This was another clever move from Diego Simeone he left Napoli’s defensive wingers with room to attack knowing they wouldn’t refuse and it made Napoli more susceptible to the counter attack. (See 48th minute http://espn.go.com/espn3/player?id=131267&league=Serie%20A&size=condensed 1:09:20 on espn) As we all know space is recycled and by using an only 6 players to defend at a time Napoli’s Trequatistas found more room usually in wide areas though. Diego Simeone once again had a clever solution to this problem. By using 2 dms he prevented the 2 Napoli Treqs from running at the back line.(See Napoli’s passing sequence 51st minute or 1:12:30 espn) Also he denied them space in their favored area of the field right in front of the back 4. Lastly if one of the fbs were beaten their cb would move across with the dm covering the space just vacated.
More chances created-
With both teams attacking and Catania opening up there were bound to be some more opportunities created the match would be decided by who created and took the better opportunities. Napoli Conceded free kicks in dangerous areas from which Catania threaten from. (See 57th and 68th minute on espn link)
Catania using 1 main striker and 3 AMs in behind threaten Napoli’s back line and helped create chances (http://soccernet.espn.go.com/gamecast?id=304907&cc=5901 see majority of Catania’s shots came in second half after all the changes) Using 1 striker instead of 2 worked in Catania’s favor, they looked more dangerous usually with Maxi Lopez threatening .(see 83 minute on espn) The reason why 1 striker usually works vs. 3defender is because the striker threatens the central defender who is suppose to be free and you can play ball into the left or right channels easier see 83 minute.
– If you plan on defending and the opposition is going to use 2 Treqs to run into space between your fb and cb you should use a narrow back 4.
– If the opposition plans to counter that by simply having their wide players to try to stretch your back line than you can either have your wide man track them. This isn’t advised unless you have good defensive wingers. Or you can simply have them drop back and fill the wide spaces left by you being narrow.
– Being compact and defensive generally works well against a side that is technically superior to you, but don’t be surprised if they still create chances. (The penalty and goal were still created even though Catania really defensive)
– Using 2 strikers generally ineffective vs. back 3 and having one man up top or 4 central attackers usually works better.
– When you change your formation you still have to adapt it to deal with the oppositions players.