Catenaccio vs Parking the bus

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Post by The Franchise Thu Aug 04, 2011 4:00 pm

Who remembers the discussions we had not too long ago, discussing the differences between Catenaccio and parking the bus?

The major differences between the styles and of course which is harder to combat.

I am sure we have more then one discussion on the issue.

I thought a good idea might be to have the two different systems laid out for us and take a look as some of the key differences. Then perhaps discussion all the implications of that.

So first, we have the famed Catenaccio.


Catenaccio vs Parking the bus 177611_F_C__Internazionale

Now, I understand that its probable that the names of pitch dont mean much because we havent seen these players like we have the current P.T.B generation.

So, if you would like to know more and perhaps get a better understanding, here is a few paragraphs in my own words which hopefully gives whoever needs it, a better idea.


Helenio Herrera's Inter Milan weren't the first practitioners of Catenaccio, but they surely were the best. La Grande Inter as they became known as, the team became the supereme exponents of the system. Born out of negativity and distrust of skills and technique it became a feature for all of Italy. Herrera, a incredible tactican, motivator and perfectionist, he was the perfect uncompromising and tough personality behind such a system. We must understand, he was very much the Mourinho of his day, known a superb tactician but also a motivator of the highest order. I could fill this page of incredible stories of the lengths he would go to win. If I said, hiding the death of a centerbacks father so said player could play and only find out after the game wasnt close to the least humanitarian thing he has done, it says quite alot. Understand, he was totally unapologetic of his style with Inter.


As for his team, his idea was this. Take out a midfielder, placing him behind the defence, sweeping up, the chosen player was Picchi. This liberated the leftback to attack at will. Despite his positioning on the tactics board, Facchetti was a offensive force. One of the first and known even now as one of the best attacking fullbacks. In fact, his forward drives could be seen as key to the system. Its certainly one of the things which separated Inter from the rest. Herrera key idea was to get the ball played vertically, as fast as possible (though, not long punted aimless balls). He said "In attack, all the players knew what I wanted: vertical football at great speed, with no more then three passes to get to the opponents box".

But anyway, back to Picchi. He was a defensive director, a fantastic passer of the ball with superb vision. In front of him, Guarneri was an orignal centerback and from rightback Burgnich tucked in alongside him. At the time, the majority of Italy were employing a tornante as a right winger, which was a player who worked their tails off and covered the entire right flank alone. They usually were adept in attacking, they had to be to cover the rightwing, but the ability to track back and defend was key. Modern day players like Park Ji-Sung or Dirk Kuyt might of been these types back in the day. But back on point, with a tornante this meant that the leftwing was the more attacking, frequently cutting in from the flank and shooting on goal. This was the reason there effectively was no "rightback" as Burgnich sitting in his positon was perfect for any player trying to cut in from that side to shoot on goal.

Inter themselves had a tornante on the right side in Jair. Truthfully, he was not a great defender by any means, but he worked hard to track back. Truthfully, his positioning was more so because he was a player who required lots of space to attack because he loved to run at people, thus dropping deep he could do this. In front of Facchetti was Corso, a very creative player, not fast by any means, but he was the unlocker of defence by playing the final pass. Imagine perhaps a slower version of David Silva. Bedin sat in front of the defence, like a modern day defensive midfielder. However, he was different in that he didnt have to hold tactical discipline to sit in that space. He was instructed to run around all over the field, doing alot of closing down and defending. Think Lassana Diarra. Alongside him was the formidable ex Barca player, Luis Suárez, when signing for Inter, the most expensive player in the world. An otherworldly talent who had superb vision and the ability to hit any long pass accurately. A player who read the game well, picking up many interceptions, then releasing his passes before running in to join the attack. Imagine a more mobile version of Xabi Alonso. In attack, the well known Sandro Mazzola, a number 10/forward hybrid, close control, creativity, passing with a goalscoring instincts. A player of uncanny ability. Peiro the lone striker was only around for 2 seasons, he wasnt a spectactular player by any means, scoring just 8 goals in his time. His best work came years before in home country for Atletico, he perhaps harshly to say, lucked out being as the club.

The way they line up, as you can clearly see, is defensive. A counter attacking side who never pressed, they say deep and then sprang onto the attack and used the space. Note also, more then just being defensive, this team was cynical, brutal at times in their approach to defending. Fouls, trips, pulling hair, pulling the fat on the back of players, stamping on feet, they were no hold bard. Now there is accusations of drug taking and match fixing, what is known is that Herrera without doubt gave his players various "pills", but saying anything more then this, could do a big injustice.

Inter eventually fell apart for a variety of reasons, form dropped, the team grew tired of Herrera antics and army like hold on the players, Luis Saurez wanted to go back to Spain and while the season started well, it all came to a head in the European cup final vs Celtic. Tired and nervous, the team with various members vomiting the night before the game, others getting no more then 3 hours sleep. Mazzola with the flu and Luis Suarez with cartilage damage the team couldnt keep with the rampant Celtic. Eventually falling in extra time with Captain Picchi asking the goalkeeper to let the goal in, it was eventually coming he said, they had nothing left.

Note, while I have tried to give modern day touches on the players and even how Inter played, La Grande Inter played in the early 60's. The football was totally different. I call Luis Saurez a more mobile version of Xabi Alonso, but the time afforded to him was just astonishing compared to what someone like Alonso might have on the ball. Also, the receiver of his passes, always seems to have more time to control the ball. I have seen from kick off, two passes later the ball is played back to Saurez, who plays a fantastic diagonal ball to what seems like based on position Jair. He is already in on goal down the right channel. Would such an easy option be available in today's game? Generally speaking, football is different, but I also feel easier for certain players. Its not too difficult to find some footage even on youtube of La Grande Inter and perhaps you an judge for yourself.





Compare this to what we at Barca have seen recently. I hopefully dont have to explain how these teams lined up and how they worked.


First we have Chelsea 09', Iniesta saving our bacon. Note, this is the team that played against us in the 1-1 2nd leg game and the positions are based on my re-watching the game.

Catenaccio vs Parking the bus 177744_Chelsea




Inter of 10'. Barcelona winning this game 1-0 but going out on aggregate. This was the most defensive team Inter had of 2 games.

Pre Motta sending off

Catenaccio vs Parking the bus 1sthalfa




Post Motta

Catenaccio vs Parking the bus 12nd





Vs Madrid last season, 0-2. Pre Pepe red, clear parking the bus.

Catenaccio vs Parking the bus 6kycd






Hope you enjoyed the read, albeit the long one.

The discussion could go more then one way I think.

One way might be discussing which of the 4 seem the hardest to break down.

Another might simply be the differences between them.



Last edited by The Franchise on Thu Aug 04, 2011 9:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by alexjanosik Thu Aug 04, 2011 6:31 pm

Oh yeah I distinctly remember the discussion.
The one where imambatman laughably tried to claim that catenaccio and PTB were one and the same.
I pointed out so many tactical differences between the 2 that he left.

On topic great idea dani.For me theres no doubt PTB is far harder to break down as there is simply no space in the final third.
In catenaccio there was comparatively far more space in the final third.

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Post by kiranr Thu Aug 04, 2011 6:57 pm

Catenaccio is so much better than park the bus. Atleast there is an attack plan in the strategy.

Park the Bus is like a desperate attempt to not lose while trying to nick a lucky goal. It has zero thought process behind it. Only people like Mourinho can employ it.

On the same topic, Mourinho had mentioned that he planned to attack with Kaka in the last 15 minutes of the first leg of CL. Do you guys think that would have happened? Do you think it was a wise strategy?
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Post by free_cat Thu Aug 04, 2011 7:06 pm

Wow, I managed to read all the brick, hehe! Very interesting read though.

I haven't watched many games from those times, but as long as I'm aware, there's a significant difference between that catenaccio and park the bus. It's that catenaccio was based in man-marking, while park the bus is zonal.

I think that defensively, PTB is stronger because there is less space everywhere in the pitch (10 men in front of the box), and zonal marking provides a collective defensive effort where is harder to find isolated situations or through balls.

But then again, if it's extreme park the bus, as the one we saw with Chelsea or Inter at Camp Nou, the attack is severly damaged and they will have no chances.
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Post by messixaviesta Thu Aug 04, 2011 7:59 pm

dani, that was an excellent read - enjoyed every word. Thanks for posting.

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Post by Albiceleste Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:07 pm

@messixaviesta wrote:dani, that was an excellent read - enjoyed every word. Thanks for posting.

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Post by The Franchise Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:46 pm

@kiranr wrote:Catenaccio is so much better than park the bus. Atleast there is an attack plan in the strategy.

Park the Bus is like a desperate attempt to not lose while trying to nick a lucky goal. It has zero thought process behind it. Only people like Mourinho can employ it.

On the same topic, Mourinho had mentioned that he planned to attack with Kaka in the last 15 minutes of the first leg of CL. Do you guys think that would have happened? Do you think it was a wise strategy?

Thanks everyone for their kind words, much appreciated, makes the effort worthwhile.

Kiranr I quoted your post to say, I dont believe Kaka was coming on. Or at least, if he was, it would of been

A. For another forward thinking player, thus not changing the pattern of the game.
B For a defender which would of gave us more space and gave us more chance of scoring.

I personally think its a fair idea, but it depends on what your aim is.

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Post by The Franchise Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:53 pm

@free_cat wrote:Wow, I managed to read all the brick, hehe! Very interesting read though.

I haven't watched many games from those times, but as long as I'm aware, there's a significant difference between that catenaccio and park the bus. It's that catenaccio was based in man-marking, while park the bus is zonal.

I think that defensively, PTB is stronger because there is less space everywhere in the pitch (10 men in front of the box), and zonal marking provides a collective defensive effort where is harder to find isolated situations or through balls.

But then again, if it's extreme park the bus, as the one we saw with Chelsea or Inter at Camp Nou, the attack is severly damaged and they will have no chances.

HAHA Yeah, after I read over it I realised just how long it was. I didnt intend it to be so long, but I had to get as much in as possible.

You are very right, Catenaccio was a man marking system. However, with the sweeper in front and the defensive midfield type player, those two didnt have a man to mark so to speak and could sweep up danger that entered spaces they thought they should mark. Primarily, it was a man marking system, but they outnumber the opponant defensively so there is a degree or zonal marking naturally.

I personally feel P.T.B is harder to get through, but more importantly I think especially that it takes less ability to pull off.

Other teams tried to play Catenaccio and they struggled and failed to do it well. The main reason is that La Grande Inter were able to punish teams with Facchetti, Mazzola, Cosso, Jair and Suarez. Other teams didnt have those kinds of players and therefore failed.

P.T.B teams, they dont need any creative players, they rely only on mistakes and set pieces. Therefore, in theory, any team can do it successfully.
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Post by kiranr Thu Aug 04, 2011 9:34 pm

Dani, you have given an excellent description of the way that Inter used to play.

They definitely used a lot of wingplay relative to other teams. The players seemed faster and stronger than other teams and they definitely had some powerful shot takers. The shots were like rockets when compared to the shots from teams like Benfica etc.

They definitely packed their box with defenders, but any team using wing play like Inter did could have broken the system down. Sadly all the teams i watched seemed to play through the middle and right into Inter's hands.

I think this system used by Inter was ahead of its time, but credit must go to the players as well.
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Post by The Franchise Thu Aug 04, 2011 9:50 pm

@kiranr wrote:Dani, you have given an excellent description of the way that Inter used to play.

Thanks Kiranr.

They definitely used a lot of wingplay relative to other teams. The players seemed faster and stronger than other teams and they definitely had some powerful shot takers. The shots were like rockets when compared to the shots from teams like Benfica etc.

They definitely packed their box with defenders, but any team using wing play like Inter did could have broken the system down. Sadly all the teams i watched seemed to play through the middle and right into Inter's hands.

I think this system used by Inter was ahead of its time, but credit must go to the players as well.

Agree, for their time they was way ahead of most in terms of athletic ability. Italians are not naturally athletic and when it came out Herrera was giving out "pills" before games, naturally people starting to say drugs. Of course, its possible, the players themselves started to suspect things and Luis Suarez said he often spat out the drugs in the toilet. Of course, Herrera found out and started secretly putting it in coffee. The truth, only he knows, but I think not enough people gave credit to the fact Herrera was a physical nut, he was obsessed with physical preparations and his training camps often had players away from the entire outside world for 2 weeks. At times, all they saw was each other, him and hotel staff.

I agree, teams played right into their hands it seemed. As you say, it was ahead of its time. One writer suggests that a failing of the system could of been if opponents swamped the midfield and then sprang balls out wide. Other Italian teams who tried this system often had that problem as the system began shows its cracks. There is a reason the system isnt used today, Inter themselves changed it not to long after the great years by adding another midfielder. Swamping the midfield and then using width gave the system fits.

But of course your right, credit has to go the players, they had at least 5 with superb talent which made it work, without them, it proved to fall apart.

This is the key reason I think P.T.B is "better" as nearly any team can do it with some success, but of course, Inter won games whereas teams who P.T.B never do. So while P.T.B was easier to do, Catanacio gave victories.

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Post by CBarca Thu Aug 04, 2011 10:53 pm

I hate them both, but at least Catenaccio is a legitimate strategy that has an overall game plan, proves that it can win games, and can be used successfully over a season, and has some initiative to attack the goal.

Parking the bus is pathetic, it's for people who are scared about one game because they know they are worse, defend defend defend, kick it up, and try to score a lucky goal with one striker. There are sometimes when a team can make parking the bus a....decently sewn together, well organized effort, for example, Inter (and I...partially? commend them for that).

It sounds bad, and in fact it's kind of horrible, the terms I'm using, because of course any strategy that works...relatively often (depending on the team) you could argue is a legitimate strategy. But I'm just biased and I hate these defensive, relatively luck based strategies that make football look terrible.
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Post by Aristotle Onassis Fri Aug 05, 2011 2:15 am

But does 'parking the bus' really count as a style the way catenaccio does?

Because, as I see it, 'parking the bus' is just an expression ... a way to describe a team protecting a scoreline by defending in extreme numbers.
Or would you disagree with that?

As well, I'm not too sure what Chelsea did was 'park the bus' - true, they were defending in numbers, but unlike Inter (in the 1-0 defeat) and Real Madrid (in the 0-2 defeat), they did have a plan of attack. When they won the ball back, then quickly fed it to a midfielder capable of making a pass, who'd then spray it to one of the forwards running into space.

As I recall, they had a quite a few chances to finish the game with a second goal.

Now I've never re-watched the game, but from memory, I believe what they did in the first-leg may have closer to a 'parked bus'. What little I remember from that game were hoofed balls up to Drogba and one or two missed chances on our part.
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Post by messixaviesta Fri Aug 05, 2011 5:54 am

@The Franchise wrote:
Kiranr I quoted your post to say, I dont believe Kaka was coming on. Or at least, if he was, it would of been

A. For another forward thinking player, thus not changing the pattern of the game.
B For a defender which would of gave us more space and gave us more chance of scoring.

I personally think its a fair idea, but it depends on what your aim is.


Agree completely.

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Post by The Franchise Fri Aug 05, 2011 1:19 pm

@Aristotle Onassis wrote:But does 'parking the bus' really count as a style the way catenaccio does?

Because, as I see it, 'parking the bus' is just an expression ... a way to describe a team protecting a scoreline by defending in extreme numbers.
Or would you disagree with that?

As well, I'm not too sure what Chelsea did was 'park the bus' - true, they were defending in numbers, but unlike Inter (in the 1-0 defeat) and Real Madrid (in the 0-2 defeat), they did have a plan of attack. When they won the ball back, then quickly fed it to a midfielder capable of making a pass, who'd then spray it to one of the forwards running into space.

As I recall, they had a quite a few chances to finish the game with a second goal.

Now I've never re-watched the game, but from memory, I believe what they did in the first-leg may have closer to a 'parked bus'. What little I remember from that game were hoofed balls up to Drogba and one or two missed chances on our part.

No, I dont dissagree with that at all. But we dont have a name for it to use and while yes, its not a permant style, it has been used so much there probably should be a name for it.

As for Chelsea, I in a way understand your point. But I would say a couple of things.

Catannacio also had a clear method of attack, despite this, I believe it worth including because the defensive ability was well know. The defensive ability was so good, it was worth talking about.

Secondly, I am not sure I agree that Chelsea had a clear method of attack. In the first leg, they had zero chances other then the one's created for them by Marquez making a mistake and allowing Drogba in. Other then that, nothing. In the second leg, which of course we are referring too, they did indeed made more of a game of it. But I am not sure I would call it a method of attack as such, but agreed, it was more then what Madrid and Inter conjured.

Truthfully I Feel the only difference was that Chelsea played better long balls and had better players latching on to them.

I think either game could of been used, probably the 1st was more defensive, but even so, the shape of the team wasnt different.
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Post by Aristotle Onassis Sun Aug 07, 2011 5:50 am

Alright. I think I see the crux of this: you're saying catenaccio is a proactive approach, while 'parking the bus' is very much a reactive approach.

One other thing.

If 'parking the bus' is a team defending in numbers for the majority of the match, then counterattacking at full pace (in limited numbers) in the short spells they do have the ball, couldn't we then classify even Inter's 3-1 victory as an example of a 'parked bus'?

To compare, in the 1-1 draw with Chelsea, Chelsea had a total of 9 attempts on goal, with 36% of possession. Whilst, in the 3-1 loss to Inter, Inter had 8 attempts on goal, with 32% of possession.
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Post by Adit Sun Aug 07, 2011 6:29 am

Nice read but you guys completely missed a important point.Catennacio is irrelevant at todays football because of the offside rule.Play a perfect catenaccio today,it will certainly get overwhelmed by todays tactics.
Catenacio teams strikers benefited from not having the offside rule,but with offside rule its no longer possible.

The so called PTB applies much better pressure on midfield than cattenacio ,so which is the more conservative method? clearly it is cattenacio for me.

lol@ so called PTB is hoping for lucky goals.Even though it is a conservative method it is stupid to think it works on pure "luck" than tactics.
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Post by alexjanosik Sun Aug 07, 2011 6:45 am

@Aristotle Onassis wrote:Alright. I think I see the crux of this: you're saying catenaccio is a proactive approach, while 'parking the bus' is very much a reactive approach.

One other thing.

If 'parking the bus' is a team defending in numbers for the majority of the match, then counterattacking at full pace (in limited numbers) in the short spells they do have the ball, couldn't we then classify even Inter's 3-1 victory as an example of a 'parked bus'?

To compare, in the 1-1 draw with Chelsea, Chelsea had a total of 9 attempts on goal, with 36% of possession. Whilst, in the 3-1 loss to Inter, Inter had 8 attempts on goal, with 32% of possession.

How many of Chelsea's attempts on goal were after we went a man down?

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Post by kiranr Sun Aug 07, 2011 6:50 am

@Adit wrote:Nice read but you guys completely missed a important point.Catennacio is irrelevant at todays football because of the offside rule.Play a perfect catenaccio today,it will certainly get overwhelmed by todays tactics.
Catenacio teams strikers benefited from not having the offside rule,but with offside rule its no longer possible.

The so called PTB applies much better pressure on midfield than cattenacio ,so which is the more conservative method? clearly it is cattenacio for me.

lol@ so called PTB is hoping for lucky goals.Even though it is a conservative method it is stupid to think it works on pure "luck" than tactics.

I think the offside rule was there in the 60s too.
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Post by Adit Sun Aug 07, 2011 7:04 am

If my memory is correct 1990 is the year that introduced a definite and correct offside rule.Previous laws had so many flaws,1990 law generally allows /helps (or fifa believes) teams to play attacking fooball and it doesnt help the defensive tactics at all.,Especially a formation using libero.
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Post by Aristotle Onassis Sun Aug 07, 2011 7:50 am

@alexjanosik wrote:How many of Chelsea's attempts on goal were after we went a man down?

No clue. (The previous post links to the sites those stats come from.)

.... If you wanted further comparison: In their 0-2 loss, Madrid had 6 attempts on goal, with 28% of possession.
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Post by The Franchise Sun Aug 07, 2011 11:23 am

@Aristotle Onassis wrote:Alright. I think I see the crux of this: you're saying catenaccio is a proactive approach, while 'parking the bus' is very much a reactive approach.

One other thing.

If 'parking the bus' is a team defending in numbers for the majority of the match, then counterattacking at full pace (in limited numbers) in the short spells they do have the ball, couldn't we then classify even Inter's 3-1 victory as an example of a 'parked bus'?

To compare, in the 1-1 draw with Chelsea, Chelsea had a total of 9 attempts on goal, with 36% of possession. Whilst, in the 3-1 loss to Inter, Inter had 8 attempts on goal, with 32% of possession.

Well I dont think so, I dont think Inter did that in the 3-1 win.

When teams park the bus, there is an offensive element to it. When they have the ball they never commit men forward, players never run ahead of where the ball currently is and passes are generally high in the air as they cant be cut out and cover more distance.

They do this so they dont lose shape at any point of the game.

But in thr 3-1, Inter didnt do that, they committed more men forward then teams who do park the bus. Maicon got forward ahead of the ball, the right back. As did Cambiasso once or twice. So I didnt at the time consider it parking the bus, still dont.

Sure stats wise, Inter had less shots and a tad less possession. But its the context of which was important.

Chelsea set out from the start of the game in the park the bus mentality. Only later on did they start to come out and thats when all the penalty incidents occurs. It was a spell in which alot of action occured.

In contrast, Inter set out from the start not being this negative. After letting in a goal, they didnt change either. The fact Pedro could go 1 v 1 with someone for the goal, says the difference in space. Only after they got their goals and we started getting control of the game did they retreat into the ultra defensively posture.

They got their goals, 3 of them, then was utterly dominated possession wise for the rest as they had no reason to come forward.

Chelsea didnt come out, even their goal started from a long punt from the goalie. Only after did they leave their posts, when they needed something.

Overall, I dont consider that Chelsea the pinnacle of parking the bus, I think Inter in the second leg was THE most defensive of the bunch.
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Catenaccio vs Parking the bus Empty Re: Catenaccio vs Parking the bus

Post by The Franchise Sun Aug 07, 2011 11:30 am

@Adit wrote:Nice read but you guys completely missed a important point.Catennacio is irrelevant at todays football because of the offside rule.Play a perfect catenaccio today,it will certainly get overwhelmed by todays tactics.
Catenacio teams strikers benefited from not having the offside rule,but with offside rule its no longer possible.

The so called PTB applies much better pressure on midfield than cattenacio ,so which is the more conservative method? clearly it is cattenacio for me.

lol@ so called PTB is hoping for lucky goals.Even though it is a conservative method it is stupid to think it works on pure "luck" than tactics.

How so?

Look at the Madrid tactics, long balls to Cristiano..that was their one and only method of attack. How is that not gambling on luck?

Long balls are the lowest % passes, they are hoping for a mistake from the defence to get in using it. Of course the method depends on luck.

But about Catanaccio, how does offside effect it to the degree in which it cant be used? I cant see how thats true at all.

All that has to change is the striker, instead of running where he likes, stays onside and times his runs. Whats the big difference?

Also, offside did exists in the 60's.

Finally, PTB applied pressure to the midfield? Not really. Xavi, Iniesta often have alot of time and space on the ball, the issue is there is no space to make a pass from the midfield into the final 1/3.



Last edited by The Franchise on Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by messixaviesta Sun Aug 07, 2011 1:37 pm

@The Franchise wrote:the issue is their is no space to make a pass from the midfield into the final 1/3.

Key to the whole system - the very definition of PTB.


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Post by Aristotle Onassis Mon Aug 08, 2011 5:45 am

Thanks for the explanations The Franchise .... I'm out of questions.

I think from all that's been described here, I'm going to have to fall back on it being more an expression, a description, rather than a complete style all on its own. Parking the bus, that is.
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Post by free_cat Mon Aug 08, 2011 8:50 am

@Adit wrote:If my memory is correct 1990 is the year that introduced a definite and correct offside rule.Previous laws had so many flaws,1990 law generally allows /helps (or fifa believes) teams to play attacking fooball and it doesnt help the defensive tactics at all.,Especially a formation using libero.

The only change adopted in 1990 is that a player who is level with the defender is not offside, while previously he was offside (he had to be a cms. behind the defender). In practice that doesn't mean much, as Referees and linesmen have been deciding the offside rule in a "handcrafted" way, hence they never had enough precision for this small differences.
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