Part 1: "Characteristics of 3 Midfielders in a 3-Man Midfield" by Max Allegri

"Characteristics of Three Midfielders in a Three-Man Midfield."

Massimiliano "Max" Allegri, the current manager of AC Milan, presented his research during the
2004/2005 "Corso Master" (Master's Course.) His thesis was 18 pages in length and included many
uncomplicated diagrams. You may click the link above to download a PDF file to view the original in
Italian.

A Much-Traveled Midfielder

He was born in Livorno in 1967 and began by playing with his hometown team's youth sector. Allegri
made his Serie A debut in 1992 with Pescara. He also had spells with Cagliari, Perugia, Padova and
Napoli, respectively. While at Pescara, Allegri had a career-high of 12 goals in one season; however,
he was never capped by the senior level Azzurri.

Coaching Honors

 Panchina d'Oro in 2007-2008 with Sassuolo in Serie C1.

 Serie C1 Scudetto with Sassuolo in 2007-2008.

 Panchina d'Oro in 2008-2009 with Cagliari in Serie A.

 Serie A Coach of the Year in 2010-2011 with AC Milan in Serie A.

 Serie A Scudetto with AC Milan in 2010-2011.

 Italian Super Cup with AC Milan in 2011.

Translator's Note:

The Panchina d'Oro (Golden Bench) is an award given by fellow coaches.

Let's see what Mister Allegri had to say in his intriguing excerpts from Part 1.

Discussion Items

1. His introduction.

2. On the requisites of a key midfielder: The Regista/Number 4 player.

3. On the characteristics of the two inside midfielders (Numbers 8 and 10).

1. His introduction:

In modern football, various and different styles of play are applied which are utilized by taking into account
the physical, technical and psychological characteristics that a manager has at his disposal. I will present
a few playing systems focused on roles in the midfield. But I won't digress on systems to adopt based on

Or with the numbers 8 and 10 in front of four defenders. I moved to a 4- 3-3. .  Andrea Pirlo is a good current example of a regista in the vertice basso position both at Juventus and with the Azzurri. quite frequently in his thesis. I thought of adopting a 4-4-2. Later on. I inverted the midfield triangle and made the team play with two holding midfielders and an advanced trequartista (the number 8 or 10 players). And always keeping the two wingers and target striker in attack with a four-man defensive line. Translator's Note 1. numbers 7. the number 10." in Italian. And then segue to articulate the advantages/disadvantages that you'll find when the team is. This last year that just ended (the footballing season of 2004/2005) was my second experience as a manager. that I had at my disposal. I changed the midfield structure in the sense to play with a low-lying playmaker (the number 4 player). In such a way as to be able to take advantage of the potential of individual players. Consulting his diagrams would provide more clarity with this concept. He also refers to players by their traditional shirt numbers. On the requisites of a key midfielder: The Regista/Number 4 Player: The technical and tactical qualities of the three midfielders must be very different to those who chose to play with a number 4 in front of the defense and two inside midfielders (numbers 8 and 10). Then. SPAL. I was forced to make virtue out of necessity with regards to a choice of a style of play seeing that I didn't know all of the characteristics of individual players of a club. Because this would take the discussion too far outside of my intended task. Mr. I will try to reproduce one (4-3-3) from this section. which was a style that at least assured a good defensive cover. however. In fact. A Triangle with the Number 4 (vertice basso = the low summit position of 4) 10 8 4 The ideal midfielder in front of the defense (number 4/regista) would be above all endowed with:  Have a great deal of charisma in such a way to be able to better command the numbers 8 and 10 midfielders when not in possession of the ball and the three attackers. we played using the 4-3-3. to become acquainted with them. In the beginning.characteristics of the next opposing team. In the first eight games. With a trequartista. the number 4 player who in this example lines up in the "low summit" of a triangle. I had only joined the team a day before what was to be the same day the team departed for preseason training. Allegri used the terms of regista and vertice basso. I therefore had to think a little bit before selecting a playing module to make the team play. The literal term of regista means. one by one. 9 and 11. "movie director. in front of the two midfielders. I will begin to discuss the characteristics of individual players (midfielders). respectively. in possession of the ball. 9 11 7 10 8 4 3 6 5 2 2. due to reasons due to a reduced roster caused by various injuries. or is not.

At the same time. 2. "the regista". Because in the non-possession phase. And therefore always be able to lose his marker in such a way to play a role as a point of reference for all of his other teammates. In the situation where you have to defend with six defenders on an attack with the ball in the middle. The team expects that he will be the one to provide balance in a nerve center of the pitch. Important: When the team finishes its play. numbers 7 and 11. limiting his time and space of play. number 9 goes to close down the possibility of back pass from the opponent's D player to his teammate. the behavior of the three midfielders and four defenders will be as follows: 1. and number 10.  A great technical sense. defenders or midfielders. 2. His offensive insertions will be few and far between during the game. by dropping down. therefore. to come out. must also be endowed with:  Good technique to be able to give time of play to his team.  An outstanding positional sense (without tactics) to be able to play short balls when there is a need to move the ball around. or above all. likewise: 1. the regista/number 4 has a duty to immediately recall the two midfielders and three attackers to place themselves in their proper positions to be able to win the ball back. number 4 takes the place of number 8.  He must also be capable of pushing the ball up quickly to create chances and must never lose his position. to be able to change the line of play when his team is being pressed. The number 4. who are in favor of their own attackers. seems to be the most relevant specific quality for a footballer who is tasked with these duties. C. On the characteristics of the two inside midfielders (numbers 8 and 10): . The regista/number 4 looks to put himself in the shadow of his rival. when the opposing team begins a play. Don't jump out but slow down the opponent's action by rotating. The number 8 comes out on his rival number 3 outside man. the number 4/regista has to allow time for the two wingers. pushes toward the center. Don't jump out but slow down the pace.  An outstanding long and precise kick to be able to quickly transform a defensive play into an offensive one (such as the counterattack).  In a case when three attackers are cut out of the ball recovery phase. to be able to easily find the opposite part of the pitch where the rival team is presumably less covered. And calling for number 8 to cover him from behind while the back four defenders remain compact. 3. who has the ball. and for the numbers 8 and 10 midfielders to cut inside forward. Lastly. This is due not to leave the central zone of the pitch unguarded.  For example. he can offer cover (he acts as a screen) for your defenders by looking to go forward to block vertical or diagonal plays by opposing players. A.

Even if the number 8 has lesser technical qualities than his number 10 teammate. he must know how to accompany the play to be able to finish (a shot from outside the box). Or to go and close out the play by transmitting eventual combinations (movements) that come to be built. Above all. because given that the team plays with a center forward and two wingers. with a cross.Compared to the central midfielder.  And above all. For example.  Know how to perfectly execute a pass. must:  Be able to create numerical superiority (getting by his marker) through dribbling. there are many times when they have to insert themselves into the attacking zone without the ball. above all. Usually. the number 8 must:  Have greater tactical qualities. one of the two (traditionally.  Help out the central midfielder to give balance to the team and to recover balls from the opposing side. the two internal ones (numbers 8 and 10) have to be in possession of good running ability. The insertion times in the various offensive solutions are fundamental to be able to arrive with a shot on goal from outside the box.  Help out his midfielder companions more. Compared to the number 10. the number 10).  Work in a more-measured way when the team doesn't have the ball. be able to push up the action quickly (verticalize) to be able to create positive chances for the three attackers to finish off. on the other side of the pitch. . Number 8 is also a good header of the ball (for challenges on throw-ins and goal kicks) and is physically strong.  Have a good shot from afar.

instead. He gives support to the two holding midfielders besides. 9 and 11) who comprise the attack. On a triangle using a "vertice alto" or the trequartista (number 10) and the characteristics of the holding midfielders: When you play with two holding midfielders and a trequartista in front of the defense: 10 8 4 The characteristics that all three of them need to possess are completely different than those of the midfielders who were referenced above (Part 1). The other one. They must not never abandon the central zone of the pitch. These two holding midfielders have the task to protect the defense when the team doesn't have the ball and give balance to the team. in the defensive one. . The number 10 trequartista. He must:  Always lose his marker as a reference point for the development of the offensive play. and with greater reason. they shouldn't ever find themselves above the line where the ball is either in the offensive phase. One of the two must be more endowed with characteristics of a regista in such a way to be able to be a reference point for the four defenders in the offensive build-up phase. has to surely be furnished with a great deal of dynamism. the two holding midfielders who position themselves in front of the defense are fundamentally for team balance. when necessary. or the advanced midfielder. With this formation. At one time. also for the four defenders. players endowed with these characteristics were called cursors of the midfield. outstanding running ability and be a good header of the ball.Part 2: "Characteristics of 3 Midfielders in a 3-Man Midfield" by Max Allegri 1. And always be in support of the number 10 trequartista and the three men (numbers 7. By always accompanying the play. has the task of an offensive regista and lesser defensive duties than the other midfielders.

"movie director. On the advantages of a 4-3-3 with a vertice basso (the number 4/regista): In the following example. Translator's Notes 1. He also refers to players by their traditional shirt numbers. the number 4 player who in this example lines up in the "low summit" of a triangle.  And last of all. in my opinion. Translator's Note 1. Andrea Pirlo is a good current example of a regista in the vertice basso position both at Juventus and with the Azzurri. has the proper time to make passes for eventual insertions by his teammates. a relatively long time happens when you are able to find balance in the central part of the pitch which is the nerve center for every offensive or defensive play. The literal term of regista means. Mr. Let's take a look at a few examples making reference to the items discussed above. (verticalize)  Have a good shot. 2. Allegri used the terms of regista and vertice basso. you have many more offensive solutions (a greater number of players in addition to the ball). Allegri used the terms of regista and vertice alto. Allegri's example with a Number 4 (vertice basso = the low summit position) and the two inside midfielders: (Partial replication of Figure 11) 9 11 7 10 8 4 Surely. . Consulting his diagrams would provide more clarity with this concept. in this section of his thesis. 2." in Italian. If you play with a vertice basso and two inside midfielders. in this section of his thesis. And restarts are quicker once you win the ball back such that there are greater possibilities to carry out either lateral or central insertions with the two inside midfielders. I'll discuss what are. The two inside midfielders must know how to coordinate and alternate themselves in offensive insertions not leaving the central midfielder alone to guard the midfield.  Knows how to push the play up top quickly and make the last pass. Mr. He also refers to players by their traditional shirt numbers. the advantages of a 4-3-3 with a vertice basso when the team has the ball compared to the 4-3-3 with the vertice alto. the number 10 player who in this example lines up in the "high summit" of a triangle.  To have good technique and dribbling skills to be able to create numerical superiority. Mr.  To move about most of all in the area of the pitch in between the midfielders and opposing defenders.

often means that you have to call into the cause one of the two fullbacks to alternatively participate in the offensive play. 2. 3. Allegri's example with a Number 10 (vertice alto = the high summit position) and the two inside midfielders: (Partial replication of Figure 16) 9 11 7 10 4 8 3 2 6 5 This module. respectively. Roberto Mancini had a detailed analysis of the Trequartista's role in his coaching thesis. however. Let's take a look at a few possible solutions. 3. the defenders have a double support system in front of them that can better open up opportunities to penetrate or agitate a compactly-structured defense. The author used several diagrams with many arrows pointing in various directions along with accompanying explanations that I will not replicate here. On the 4-3-3 with a "vertice alto" or the trequartista (number 10): Mr. Translator's Notes 1. In this case. . The author used several diagrams with many arrows pointing in various directions along with accompanying explanations that I will not replicate here. with more defensive characteristics than the 4-3-3 using a vertice basso. Looking at his diagrams would likely make his points much clearer than I ever could only in writing. Because the two holding midfielders. being able to utilize a lesser number of offensive solutions served up by the midfielders. Given that the two wingers/outside men drop back to sustain the beginning of an offensive play. mostly remain stuck in front of the four-man defensive line and they always ensure a good cover. Looking at his diagrams would likely make his points much clearer than I ever could only in writing. compact team. evidently offers a greater sense of balance in the backlines. numbers 4 and 8. It seems evident that this playing system will be more efficient if you have to attack against a closed.