Playing System of Cesare Prandelli’s Italy – Offensive Organization (1-4-3-1-2)

Cesare Prandelli likes to change the playing system of his team according to the opponent. But his foavorite formation is the 1-4-3-1-2:

1-4-4-2 Losângulo

Using the software TacticalPad ( we will study this formation adopted by the italian national team.

As the great principle of the game for the offensive organization, Italy adopts the “Mantaining and working ball possession to attract opponents creating free space behind them, passing the ball deeper”

SubPrinciple of the first phase – Creating the offensive game (when ball is still in defense area):

– Prefer the “Short Creation” from back (when possible) with one of the center backs. Good occupation of the space, deeply and widely (making the field larger). CBs opened widely beside the penalty area; ‘defensive pivot’ in the central area close to the penalty area; SBs wide (close to the sideline); 3 midfielders in the central zone and two forwards in the opponent’s central zone..

1ª Fase - Boa ocupação do espaço de jogo

– “Offensive concentration” close to where the ball is – most players in the corridor where the ball is (except the center back and the side back of the opposite side) then occupying the free space in the opposite corridor..

1ª Fase - Concentração no local da bola

– “Long creation” if the opponent is pressuring strongly. Long pass to the centre forward another forward or control the ball and 1-2 with a midfielder.

1ª Fase - Construção Longa - 2ª Bola1ª Fase - Construção Longa - Desvio PL

– Work the ball through the defensive line (carrying from one corridor to the other). The goalkeeper is one option to avoid opponent pressure.

1ª Fase GR como opção para circular

– Passing the ball to the ‘defensive pivot’ (preferable positioned behind the two forward pressing the center backs) to organize the game – passing it to one of the sidebacks. Very important: if under pressure shall not turn around after receiving the ball.

1ª Fase - Colocação no PV para rodar

– Getting the ball to one of the forwards (the one in the same side as the ball) from one of the 4 backs, preferably a low pass with the midfielders getting close quickly helping the forwards to keep the offensive action.

1ª Fase - Colocação no PL local

SubPrinciples of the second phase – Create striking oportunities (when ball is in the midfield zone):

– Constant support to ball carrier (creating pass lines – rhombus and triangles) through movimentation to zones around him. After bringing opponent to the ball area, put it in the opposite defensive side.

2ª Fase - Concentração Ofensiva em Redor da Bola

– Fill the central area (with the 4 midfielders) in a away to support the ball possession in the middle, creating free space to the side for the sidebacks (responsible for the ‘wide pitch’).

2ª Fase - Laterais fazem Campo Grande

– Defensive pivot as main reference for the offensive organization, being a constante option for passing (always staying close to the ball). After receiving it, based on the reading of the situation, pass it deeply to the side or to one of the forwards in the back of opponent’s defense..

2ª Fase - Pirlo como Organizador de Jogo

– “Offensive cover” to the forwards when they receive the ball by the middle players, to create pass lines and keep the offensive action.

2ª Fase - Apoio ao PL que recebe a bola

– Work at the central corridor, using the high concentration of forwards, with future use of the free space created in the side areas..

2ª Fase Jogo em Profundidade

SubPrincíples of third phase – striking:

– Good interaction between the two forwards (to find a path to cross the opponent’s defensive line).

3ª Fase - Combinação entre os PL 13ª Fase - Combinação entre os PL 23ª Fase - Combinação entre os PL 3

– Disrupt marking with the midfielders from back lines after getting the ball to one of the forwards.

3ª Fase - Entrada de um Médio desde trás

– Invididual progression of forwards with the ball when 1×1, not avoiding dribbles.

3ª Fase Progressão

– 1-2 shooting from side line to center using nearest forward.

3ª Fase - Tabelas com PL para finalização

– Fill spaces inside penalty area for shooting by a good number of players (at least 4). Zones to be filled are defined(1st post, 2nd post, penalty mark and penalty are bounds) but not the player (anyone can occupy it, according to the position and reading of the moment when there is a cross)..

3ª Fase - Ocupação de Zonas de Finalização

– Try always to shoot, allowing team to reorganize deffensively, avoiding to be caught unbalanced


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By Pedro Mendonça

About Pedro Mendonça: Real Madrid Foundation - Football Coach/Professor. UEFA B Football Coach. Physical Education Teacher. Author of: "Tactical Periodization: A Practical Application for the Game Model of FC Bayern Munich"

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