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What can Chelsea fans expect from miracle-worker Conte?

Sunday 3rd July 2016
Who is Antonio Conte and what can Chelsea fans expect?

After marvelling at an Italian team defying the low expectations of them at the Euros, many footballing fans are paying close attention to the antics of Antonio Conte. The man has been described as a nutcase, specialist, maniac and genius all within two weeks. His Italian side has looked well-oiled, disciplined and very tactically aware of their opponents weaknesses. So who is this mystery man that seems to be restoring Italy to its former glory?  

Conte Profile

Born in Leece, Italy the 46-year old Italian began his football playing career at his childhood club the Lega Pro club Leece until he then moved on to play for Juventus and become a Juve icon. He won 5 Serie A titles and a Champions League trophy whilst being the captain of the team.  After a successful stint at Juventus, he decided to retire and entered the managerial game in 2006. Success has followed him everywhere he's managed, he led Bari to the Serie B title in 2009, helped promote Siena to Serie A and then won a hat-trick of Serie A titles with Juventus before eventually moving onto the national team in 2014 for the Euros. Where he has been subject to much attention from the English public after the rumours circulating his future were confirmed, as he will be the new Chelsea manager.

Conte & Juventus

Conte picked up the reins at Juventus after they had just experienced two of their worst seasons in the club's history finishing 7th on both occasions. The Italian relished the opportunity to rebuild the Turin giants and did so immediately. Juventus were completely reformed under his spell, and his success laid down the foundations for Massimiliano Allegri to propel Juventus to greater heights, not only in the domestic competitions but also in Europe.

Conte's blueprint for success at Juventus was based upon having a system that facilitated the strengths of the whole squad, which led to him implementing the 3-5-2 formation. One of the main reasons Conte used the 3-5-2 formation at Juventus so prominently was due to his unique dilemma of having three top quality centre-backs in his team; Chiellini, Barzagli & Bonucci for both Juventus and Italy.
Conte has been able to build a unique level of trust with these three defenders from his time at Juventus and on the international scene and has never looked back. Conte initially played three at the back because he wanted to fully utilise the defensive depth within his squad which then highlighted the abundance of midfield maestros he also had. Antonio wanted to find the best system suited for the squad he inherited, not force them into his own ideals.

Conte's Italy

One of the few lingering doubts Chelsea fans have had over Conte while watching Italy at the Euros was his refusal to use incisive and creative players in his 3-5-2, against Spain they lined up with a robust midfield three of Parolo, De Rossi, Giaccherini and two wing backs of De Sciglio and Florenzi. His decision to start these players paid off but his reluctance to include agile and creative players such as Insigne and El Shaarawy raised a few eyebrows. However in the light of this decision Conte has ensured that his team still possess a form of passing diversity through the unique use of Bonucci.
As shown against Belgium, Bonucci possesses an exceptional passing range. He displayed this by sending several diagonals over the top for Éder and Pellè, which caused chaos amongst the Belgium back four. A long ball is often perceived as a cynical manoeuvre but in this scenario, it was tactically astute, through this move Italy were able to bypass the forward and midfield press of Belgium with ease and subsequently exposed the vacant space behind Belgium's midfield 3. Conte's Italian team are disciplined and positionally aware throughout all scenarios, Conte's Italy throughout the Euros have lined up and attacked in a 3-5-2 but defended in a 4-4-2 with the left wing back being De Sciglio or Darmian dropping back into left back to fill up any holes when under pressure.

The 3-5-2 System

A 3-5-2 formation portrays tactical flexibility within a side, playing three at the back relieves the wing backs of most of their defensive responsibilities giving them attacking freedom to aid the team. Wing-backs provide a team with an abundance of width which can provide opposing full-backs with a variety of conundrums as they have to decide whether to mark these wing backs or tuck in to protect their centre backs from midfield runners.
The only flaw in the 3-5-2 system can pertain to if the centre-backs are positionally inept, especially when facing a false 9 or lone striker, the three must decide together how to mark the opposing forward because the competence of the formation relies on cohesive organisation.

Conte & Chelsea:

Conte's undeniable resolve to take on a sinking ship and turn its fortunes around will fill Chelsea fans with much joy and optimism after their disastrous season last year. Just because Conte has predominantly used the 3-5-2 at his previous sides, it does not necessarily mean he will employ this tactic at Chelsea. It'll be interesting to see how he fits Fabregas, Oscar, Willian, Hazard, Costa & new signing Michy Batshuayi into one formation; he could use Willian and Hazard as inverted wing backs but that wouldn't allow them to be as effective as they could be. Also, will he persist with three at the back, if so how?  Perhaps he would play a back three of Ivanovic, Terry & Zouma. Zouma and Ivanovic would be the two outside CBs as they are the most mobile out of the three and Terry would play centrally due to his exceptional positioning. Whichever way Conte decides to set up Chelsea it is a guarantee that he will bring out the best in the overall Chelsea squad thus making them a force again. The whole Premier League should be on alert.
Mathaeus Abuwa

Arsenal fan with ample amounts of passion for both Cristiano Ronaldo & Real Madrid. I'm one of those bandwagonist hipster fans that will claim to know everything about football, but only watches the El Clasico outside of the Premier League. Forgive me, I'm trying. Oh yeah, #WengerOut. 

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