Soccer is a sport that has many styles of play. Some coaches like to play it safe and prioritize defending.
The first example of ultimate defending is the “Catenaccio” system implemented by the Argentine coach Helenio Herrera in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. His 5-3-2 system was revolutionary at the time winning the European Cup (now Champions League) in 1964 and 1965. His style was often criticized because it was all possession and not many goals. People called it “boring” and “dull”. But that incredibly organized defensive style influenced (even to this date) the Italian national team. The Italians are notorious for defending with all 11 men behind the ball. They have stayed loyal to the “Catenaccio” and have went on to win the 2006 World Cup in Germany.On the other side of the spectrum, there are coaches who are more focused on the spectacle of their attack. “Total Football” is the best example of the wonderful show attacking football was. It gained strength in the early 1970’s with Ajax from Amsterdam. The idea of “Total Football” was all out attack and constant rotation on the 10 outfield players. For example, the full-backs had the freedom to attack or even shift to the middle of the pitch if they had to. Ajax celebrated four titles and 46 consecutive wins at home in two years. The Dutch national team followed up by playing the same style in the 1974 and 1978 World Cups. The world was in awe. They’ve never seen such things. Although they lost the final in both of those tournaments, they left a legacy that will never be forgotten by any soccer lover.
In modern football, coaches are constantly judges for the number of titles they win per season and not the style the use to play. Marcelo Bielsa has always been criticized for “playing nice but not winning titles”. Fans often label him as “mediocre”, but is he really? Bielsa has built a school of football, how many coaches in history can brag about that? Bielsa’s list of students consist of Jorge Sampaoli, Javier Torrente, Eduardo Berizzo, Gerardo Martino and some even say that Pep Guardiola is of that school. “Marcelo Bielsa is the best in the world. He makes his players better.”
What style of play do you enjoy watching? Let me know what you think. Follow me on Twitter @PerezTBE