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Sunday, May 28, 2023

Devastating 3-5-2 – Libero Quotidiano

Claudius Savelli

L’Inter is dismantling all the clichés accumulated over the years on the 3-5-2. With the most antiquated form there is, at least according to self-styled football experts, he is coming to success. Is it a coincidence? We don’t believe. If anything, it is the demonstration that even this mistreated system contains interesting evolutions. The 3-5-2 is historically associated with the Italian style in the oldest sense of the word. In other words, the game of throw-in, defense and counter-attack. First because abroad no one used the three-man defense, considered defensive because of the lowering of the wingers who transformed it into a five-man line. Secondly, because such a system does not include the classic offensive wings, i dribblers that jump the man and that today’s football, especially that of the Premier League, carries in the palm of his hand. Thirdly because if many play without real strikers to preserve balance, let alone having two pure and close players on the pitch: it’s unsustainable.

But no, and the presumed defects of this game system have become Inter’s main strengths. The three-man defense helps the central players because there is an extra teammate in protection, therefore it allows you to have normal defenders in the squad, not necessarily of the highest level. The wingers do not jump the man but can have running functions, with high physical impact (see Dumfries) or directing and finishing (see Dimarco): in essence it allows you to place advanced full-backs who, in a back four, would struggle . Finally, the two strikers become difficult to mark for the other rearguards, used to dealing with only one pure center forward. In addition, the offensive combination strengthens both players, see Lautaro who exalts himself in the area (brace) when he can share the job with a teammate, who knows that he will be able to obtain the same favor in return the next time.

To get to this level, the 3-5-2 has passed through the hands of several coaches and has gone through numerous modeling. That of Inter, the most developed in the panorama, has evolved in the transition from Conte to Inzaghi: the mechanisms of the former have remained as the foundations of the current interchange scaffolding. Thus, we have gone from the classic 3-5-2 as a plastered, linear form, an evolution of the 4-4-2 of the 90s, therefore easy to read and contain, to the contemporary one where the players move within the system breaking the lines and becoming a flowing whole. This is how the Nerazzurri escaped the intense pressure from Fiorentina in the first half hour. If the opponent follows the checkers, the gaps are created by moving them. Of course, defenders need to have the feet of midfielders and midfielders have the soul of defenders, so we need versatile players, but this is the characteristic required today. The strongest are those who could play in any position. It is because of this perpetual internal movement that Guardiola has found Inter interesting and competitive. The 3-5-2 won the second consecutive Coppa Italia and played for the Champions League. The beauty of stereotypes? When they are denied.

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