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You must have sầu used the 4-1-2-1-2 diamond in FIFA or FM manager. What’s not khổng lồ like with four central midfielders (CMs)? Carlo Ancelotti & Massimiliano Allegri used it to lớn win a lot too. Not anymore. Few contenders use it. Only some mid-table teams vày, lượt thích U.C. Sampdoria and A.C. Chievo Veromãng cầu in Serie A. How have sầu we got here?

The 4-1-2-1-2 diamond

The diamond derived from a 4-4-2. Two wingers move sầu inside lớn create a midfield kim cương. This simple modification transforms how you attack; you have sầu better ball control in the center with four CMs as opposed to lớn only two in the 4-4-2. There are better passing angles. The four CMs now have sầu specialized roles because they all operate in a closed area; the wingers create most chances in the 4-4-2, & the two CMs nói qua the box-to-box duties. In the đá quí, the two most central midfielders giới thiệu the creative sầu responsibility, so they become Regista and Trequartista. The two wide midfielders bởi the box-to-box things. In the 4-4-2 you want two forwards with good headers because you attaông xã with crosses. You attaông chồng through the center in the kim cương and you don’t cross as much, so you don’t need all your forwards to be good headers & can now have sầu a more technical forward.

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Because the focus is on the center in the traditional kim cương, ball progression becomes narrow. Many think you don’t need to lớn operate on the flanks. No one can just attaông chồng solely in one area – but you approach them differently. The fullbacks (FBs) now bởi vì this job, but only in the last phase of the attack when the center is congested. Some teams, lượt thích Real Madrid last year, advance the ball through the wide area. Their đá quí is flatter, & the wide-midfielders sit deeper in the build-up. Their formation is a further variant of the kim cương.

Sampdoria are retro

Marteo Giampaolo has been a diamond’s devotee since his Empoli’s days. Sampdoria’s tactics adhere to lớn its original principles. They have sầu been a surprise; Sampdoria are 6th in the league và have beaten Milan, Juventus, & Roma.


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Uruguayan duo Lucas Torreira and Gaston Ramirez are the key players. Fabio Quagliarella captains the team and has enjoyed a renaissance with 15 goals. Ramirez is their Trequartista, their sole source of creativity: he has eight assists this season, leading the league along with Antonio Candreva, Ciro Imsản phẩm điện thoại, and Simone Verdi. Along with Quagliarella, he contributes to lớn the most lethal duo in the league, with Ramirez assisting the Italian six times.

Sampdoria want to lớn find Ramirez between the lines and let hyên work his magic. Positional exchanges are minimal. Torreira will pick up the balls from the defenders. He has great technique & excels in short passes. He liên kết the defenders và the attackers. When his passes find Ramirez, Sampdoria transition inlớn the attaông xã mode. Ramirez will dribble or pass lớn create for the strikers. The two wide midfielders, especially Edgar Barreto lớn, provide the second wave sầu of attack by surging forward in the center. The opponent will congest this area, leaving the flanks empty. Then the FBs carry the last wave of the attack by bombing down the flanks & sending crosses.

Sampdoria can’t always find Torreira in the initial build-up, especially when the opponent man-marks hyên ổn. Karol Linetty or Dennis Praet, usually only one of them starts, will drop on the same line as Torreira lớn create an overload, or they will use positional exchanges khổng lồ không tính phí themselves from their markers.

Sampdoria need Linetty or Praet lớn help Torreira. Excellent in short passes, Torreira is found a bit wanting when it comes to his passing range over long distances. Only 53% of Torreira’s passes are successful, 18th lowest ahy vọng 90 central midfielders in Serie A, according khổng lồ He must position cđại bại to Ramirez, otherwise, they can’t connect, thereby the spacing becoming very crucial.

Sampdoria also use long balls to bypass the opponent’s midfield when they can’t find Torreira. Duvan Zapata is the mặc định target. He is probably the most physical và athletic striker in Italy. The Columbian wins 2.7 headers per game, 13th highest amuốn Serie A strikers, according to whoscored. Not a bad number, but it is not elite neither. Sampdoria don’t care though. Even if they don’t win those long balls, their midfielders often regain the possession:

When they sover a long ball, the opponent’s defenders almost always head it baông chồng. Because Sampdoria’s midfielders position in multiple lines in the center, they often win the possession baông xã và immediately re-enter the offensive sầu phase. They create high pressure in the middle also because of their narrow formation:


How narrow? They can attaông chồng the center 30% of the time, the highest in Serie A, according lớn

This tactic is the closest thing to Gegenpressing you will find in Serie A. Italian teams lượt thích control & avoid disorder. This type of chaos is the most they can tolerate- controlled và measured.

Or you have sầu this sort of ‘ping-pong’ passes:

The two forwards give sầu you multiple pass targets. When one striker returns the pass khổng lồ the midfield, his teammates can always find the other striker or Ramirez making a forward run. Better if they are running into lớn the space created by him. The fast changes of the trajectory of the ball also create confusion to the defenders, once again the chaos being created within the control of the runs made by the players, measured.

Sampdoria are retro, like the teams in the 90s. You won’t find any other team in the top flight playing this type of rudimentary tactics. But maybe that’s why it works in Italy when everyone else devises complicated schemes. Sometimes simplicity just works, sometimes.

The magical Chievo

You should watch Chievo. They play high-cấp độ stuff. Rolanbởi vì Maran has imbued his diamond with modern ideas.


No star player here. Roberto Inglese is the closest (Napoli bought hlặng but have sầu left him in Chievo loan). You may remember Sergio Pellissier, he seems khổng lồ be around forever, but he is not starting anymore. The key players though, are Lucas Castro and Valter Birsa. Both are wingers-turned CMs.

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Like a traditional diamond, Chievo always try lớn find Birsa, their Trequartista, between the lines. They even play a 4-3-3 in the defensive sầu phase so that Birsa can lead the counter-attacks.


And you have sầu all those ping-pong passes or the midfield’s support by the box-to-box players that Sampdoria bởi vì. But Chievo don’t always play narrow. Only 27% of their attacks come from the center, 9th in the league, according lớn

Chievo don’t play the traditional đá quí. Ivan Radovanovic first picks up the ball from the center backs (CBs). The fullbacks (FBs) move up khổng lồ flank the midfield kim cương và Chievo enters the transition phase. Castro and Perparyên ổn Hetemaj then surge forward as the wingers and the formation becomes a 2-1-2-1-4. The FBs replace them to maintain the kim cương with Radovanovic & Birsa. The FBs can also switch the positions with the wingers.

You usually only see the 2-1-2-1-4 when the opponent sits deep và lets Radovanovic control the ball in the midfield. But Chievo, like most teams in Serie A, usually advance the ball on the flanks. And you won’t see the 2-1-2-1-4 in the final offensive phase. The shape looks lượt thích a 2-1-2-2-3. When you advance the ball so deep on one side, you don’t need another winger on the opposite side. He would have sầu been utterly useless. So he will drop in the middle và ready khổng lồ run inkhổng lồ lớn box to catch the crosses.

Birsa usually supports the wingers. The FBs will stay behind the wingers because they need to lớn cross or help recycle the ball if the wingers are closed down.


Chievo’s diamond is asymmetric. Hetemaj stays closer to Radovanoic. He can create the overload or the positional exchanges to help advance the ball as they enter the transition phase.

Castro stays further forward. He is their second most creative player. Castro, Hetemaj, Birsa and the forwards use a lot of positional exchanges và movements khổng lồ create space:

Look at those positional exchanges. They know exactly when và where khổng lồ go. You don’t see these movements in the traditional kim cương because Trequartista will hold the ball và everyone plays off hlặng. But the traditional kim cương can’t fully utilize both Castro & Birsa. Giving the ball’s control lớn only Birsa wastes Castro’s versatility. But playing the traditional 4-4-2, with them as wingers, is not effective & outdated. So Maran puts them cthảm bại together. Let them exchange duties as they see fit. And we have sầu this modern diamond with tons of shape transitions và positional exchanges. How can one not like Chievo?

It can be argued that Castro is their most important player. He has recently been injured for 75 days và Chievo only won one game out of 13. Maran loves Castro. They have sầu been together since Catania.

Too bad Maran isn’t coaching bigger teams lượt thích Juventus or Milan. Imagine what he can vì chưng there. But he also would not be able vày all these excellent tweaks because they take time khổng lồ be optimized và the big boys in Serie A don’t have sầu that much patience, unfortunately.

Diamond does not last forever

The Italian kim cương needs new tweaks if it is to lớn survive sầu. You just don’t have sầu the types of players lớn excel. Target man is a dying breed. And you don’t find Regista anymoreAll those dominant Italian teams with the kim cương had Andrea Pirlo at their times. The rise of Regista is an exception rather than the rule. Italy has seen Pirlo once (or Xabi Alonso for Spain). You can’t find players that can create so much from deep. Pirlo is a once-in-a-generation talent that we may never see again.

Same as Trequartista. But you won’t find him again because the modern tactics don’t favor such a role. Football nowadays demands tốc độ, movement, và positional play to lớn create space. They are the most efficient ways to attachồng. Using the Trequartista, by mặc định, implies having hlặng khổng lồ create almost everything, something that has become inefficient in the modern game.

Fielding a pure Trequartista is not economicalWe now have ball-playing center backs, FBs, inverted wingers and so on. Giving the control of ball to Trequartista means taking that away from these players, so he has to lớn be REALLY GOOD if you were khổng lồ vì chưng that. Even Lionel Mesđê mê does not warrant taking the ball away from Dani Alves, Andrés Iniesta, or Neymar. The formula just doesn’t add up for any contender.

The kim cương works for the mid-table teams. They don’t have the resources to lớn buy the best player at every position. If you are Sampdoria you bởi want Ramirez to have the ball all the time. He is clearly their most creative sầu and technical guy. But just like Real Madrid last year, even Chievo use a modified đá quí. Diamond is not the problem, the function of Trequartista is. His role doesn’t work for most teams. You will probably only find hlặng in FIFA or FM manager in the future.

That being said, it is a tactic that promises to keep evolving, the only constant in football- evolution. It remains khổng lồ be seen if the diamond will have further tweaks in the future & might over up being a very successful variant for a particular manager, side or even a league as a whole.