Fabio Coentrao to Real!
The next big thing…
2010-11, a team emerged in the Serie A: Udinese. Its not like they were unknown, they just needed consistency, and that was something that they got under Francesco Guidolin. Udinese used a formation, that was relatively known, but they used it to their liking. Udinese’s starting XI consisted mainly of Domizzi, Zapata and Bernatia in defence. In midfield, they had one of the best midfield trios in Serie A: Kwadwo Asamoah - the creative mastermind, Gökhan Inler - the deep-lying, holding midfielder and Gampiero Pinzi - the player who does the dirty work so to speak. On the flanks, Pablo Armero was the pacey winger, a player who has been a revelation in Serie A this season. On the right, responsible defensively, but also an attacking threat, was Maricio Isla. With this orchestra of a midfield, it was up to Alexis Sanchez and Antonio Di Natale to finish - and finish they did, sharing a total of 40 goals between them. However, its the formation that really comes to mind, because it was a generally similar formation the year before (3-4-3), but this version (3-5-2/3-1-4-2), really boosted the abilities of Alexis Sanchez, who played as a second striker rather than as a winger.
Sanchez had the pace and energy, however, to storm forward and become a second striker when Udinese regained possession, meaning that Inter no longer had a spare man at the back (2 v 2), whereas Udinese always did (3 v 2). The logical problem for Udinese would then be that they had a numerical disadvantage in midfield (3 v 4) but this wasn’t an issue because of the fact their wing-backs were always free on the flanks, available for an easy pass.
- Zonal Marking on Udinese vs Inter (3-1)
Nullifying the opposition
The main genius of this formation is that it can counter numerous formations at once. Playing against a standard 4-3-1-2 (a common formation in the Serie A), it possesses a 3 v 2 advantage in defence, a defensive midfielder against a trequartista, and they are outnumbered 2 v 3 in central midfield. However this is not a problem as Francesco Guidolin always plays a second striker who is capable of tackling or generally tracking the deepest midfielder of the 3 opposing midfielders. In attack, Udinese have 2 v 2 in the striker zone (considering Alexis Sanchez will go back to be the second striker), and the wingers will generally create 1 v 1 encounters on the flanks. In this situation, Udinese will generally be equipped, and it is a big part of why they beat Inter, Palermo and nearly upset Milan with 0-0 and 4-4 draws. Another formation they could be well prepared against, is a standard 4-2-3-1. Inler would track the trequartista, one center-back with the striker and the other two would track the wingers. In midfield there would be 2 v 2 battles, and the same applies to the strikers. The advantage Udinese would have in this case is that if Alexis Sanchez was to drop deeper, he would have a lot of space in which to move in. Of course playing a 4-4-2, Udinese would be a different game, but still one Udinese could deal with (as they dealt with Juventus, 1-2) because they would have 3 v 2 at the back, 3 v 2 in midfield, and considering Udinese wide midfielders would be the ones tracking the opposition wingers, it would be a 1 v 1 situation on the flanks. Alexis Sanchez would have space in between the lines as the opposition would only have two midfielders. The only problem with Udinese playing against a 4-4-2 is the full-backs. Udinese have a packed midfield, but only have two wide-men, and it would be hard to shuffle players to mark the full-backs. This is a very unique formation, and Udinese are one of the few sides that utilize it correctly.
As Udinese have finished 4th last term, they will be playing in Europe’s elite competition, and it only remains to be seen how well they will perform. Of course, with Alexis Sanchez claiming to be on the verge of leaving, there will be a slight problem when Udinese look for a similar player, seen as how he is so unique in his style of play. Francesco Guidolin is a talented manager, and he will definitely change his style of play if “El Nino Maravilla” were to leave.