How a yellow jersey is dividing Brazil’s soccer powerhouses
Sunday, 28 September 2011 20:51
The race for the 2010 Serie A title was one of the most compelling stories in recent soccer history, even though the Italians were clearly the victors. Not until the final two weeks of the season, though, did the real drama play out. It was a drama that many of the nation’s media — and media at large — failed to understand, with only the very loud voices of Marcelo Brozovic and Leandro Damiao trying to tell people what to think.
Two Italian managers, however, were absolutely clear about the battle for the championship. Antonio Conte and Luciano Spalletti, who became just the third pair of Italian managers to combine for the title, were equally outspoken because the race for the title is nothing if not about individual performances. Italy won back-to-back championships because of Italy’s players, not because of Conte and Spalletti’s tactical brilliance.
If Italy plays like Conte and Spalletti in the next few weeks, the Italians will be the champions, and for all the talk of Italian managers being overpaid, there is, in fact, no such thing as a salary that can guarantee your success in the game. Conte and Spalletti understand that, just as their tactical acumen is not enough to win the top prize, so is it not enough to win a championship.
Italy has won more Serie A titles than any other country, and the Italians are not going to be stopped. However, the question is whether Conte is up to the task. I believe that Conte is capable of winning as many Serie A titles as he has so far achieved. I would not be surprised that he will win several more. At the same time, as any Italian would tell you, Conte’s main problem is his tactical nous. Spalletti has had his tactical nous tested since he arrived in Italy in the early 2000s, and it has not been tested as much as Conte. The first thing Conte does in this game is change Italy’s defensive system. Italy was defending deep in their own half when Italy