Confederations Cup 2013: Tactical Trends and Changes to Watch for
With the 2013 Confederations Cup just one day away from its big kickoff, B/R previews what to look for in a tactical sense this summer.
Luiz Felipe Scolari and Cesare Prandelli, among others, represent experimental, tactically flexible coaches who love to tweak and toy with their side's shape and formation.
Keep a look out for the following potential changes.
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All hail the 4-4-2!
Luiz Felipe Scolari's 4-2-3-1 wasn't working when he took charge of Brazil, and rather than go down the expected 4-2-2-2 route, he's gone with a surprising return to the 4-4-2.
It's working—sort of. The Selecao's performances have improved, and the starting XI for their opener against Japan has been pre-determined in this shape.
It's still possession-based given the angles the attacking full-backs create, and the reserved nature of the holding midfield duo means it's tougher to counter.
The Famous 3-Man Defence?
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Brazil won the 2002 FIFA World Cup under Luiz Felipe Scolari using a 3-5-2 formation.
Most still can't believe he hasn't at least trialed it upon his second coming as manager, so could the Confederations Cup be the stage he uses to spring the ultimate surprise?
Fans are pining for Felipao to use David Luiz as a libero with Dante and Thiago Silva either side in a three-man defence. It would free the full-backs as wing-backs, removing the question marks over both Marcelo and Dani Alves in a defensive sense.
It would also retain the strike partnership the manager clearly favours, and Brazil's central midfielders are strong enough to impose themselves in any formation.
Adjusting to the Times
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As ESPN's Michael Cox quite rightly points out, Spain's depth is better than ever but their starting XI is not as strong as it has been.
Between 2008 and 2010, Andres Iniesta and company were at the peak of their powers. Now, they're still elite players, but there's definitely room to wiggle in the starting XI and the likes of Javi Martinez will be expecting opportunities.
This cup represents the perfect, competitive environment for Vicente del Bosque to shuffle his pack and shift his tactics ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
As it stands, he doesn't have a No. 9 and Xabi Alonso is unhappy—could this be the catalyst for a mini revolution on starting personnel?
Tahiti Parking the Bus
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Tahiti are the consensus worst team in the competition by a country mile. They're here to make up the numbers and enjoy the group stage while it lasts.
Teams who aren't under pressure generally play with freedom, but the low calibre players will dictate a defensive strategy, even if they stand very little chance of grinding any sort of result out.
Chelsea fans who are sick of being told their side parked the bus against Barcelona could be in luck here, as we're fully expecting to see 10 on the goal line going for that famous 0-0.
Extreme Flexibility from the Azzurri
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Cesare Prandelli won tactical hearts worldwide when he switched seamlessly between the 3-5-2 and the 4-4-2 diamond at Euro 2012.
He's taken a diverse, flexible side to Brazil, and you can expect to see even more tactical nuances and changes throughout the competition.
Several of Italy's stars—including Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Barzagli—are starting to wear down their careers. As such, Prandelli needs to find the optimal formula to introduce new blood such as Stephan El Shaarawy on a regular basis.
Tactical tweaks abound.