After Antonio Conte's Italy completed their final preparatory match ahead of Euro 2016 — a straightforward 2-0 win over Finland with Chelsea-linked Antonio Candreva scoring one and assisting the other — the incoming Chelsea manager talked a bit about his tactics and strategies for the national team. Obviously, this doesn't necessarily apply to Chelsea (one of Conte's strengths is his adaptability), but perhaps we can still glean a few ideas of what may lay in store for us once he takes over in Cobham after the Euros.
"I do everything except counter-attacks. I do not play on the counter. I never even train counter-attacks. It is not in my concept of football. When we have the ball, we have our ideas. When we lose the ball, we try to be tight, press the opposition and try to win it back as soon as possible."
"Against Belgium we will have our say. Do not expect defence and counter in that game, because it is simply not part of how I view football. Counter-attacks are when you sit back and then propel yourself forward at pace. We've got players who can do that, like Ciro Immobile, Simone Zaza and others, but in my idea of football we want to play the game and use the ball. If we lose possession, we have to be aggressive and win it back in their half, as that'll make it easier for us to close on their goal."
"We are working on those concepts, today we met a side that again tried to not play. Even when they went 1-0 down, they didn't change their approach. With all due respect, evidently we are doing something right if the opposition sit back in their own half and wait for us."
The key takeaway is maybe the emphasis on gaining, retaining, and using possession, as opposed to a more reactive gameplan of sitting back, winning possession deep, and countering in-behind the defense. Chelsea have employed both strategies in recent seasons; we'll see what Conte cooks up for us.
"I experience the game with intensity and live it along with my players, so I try to pass on this enthusiasm, passion and even desire to step on to the field!"
"I am also getting back into the habit of being on the touchline. We'll start playing every three to four days, so I need to train my voice for shouting too. I think the players share my concepts, I have a fine group of players and above all of men. I hope to continue working the way we have been, with determination and the desire to overcome obstacles."
-Antonio Conte; source: Football Italia
Everyone acknowledges and realizes that this Italy side is one of the weakest in recent memory. Conte's hoping to make up for any lack of skill with hard work and determination, two qualities that he will need to (re-)instill into this Chelsea bunch to elevate us beyond our current station.
I don't know about you, but I can't wait for him to get started.