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Italy's victories, I believe, come from basically two things: 1) an extremely well thought out and adaptive defense (defense has always been Italy's stock in trade and the clubs always spend a lot of time and thought in preparing their defense) that spoils and blunts the opposing attack; and 2) extremely rapid counterattack.

This time around, Conte not only has his usual well thought out defense, he reinforced it by actually pressing much higher up the field than the usual Italian 'catenacio' (Italy's preferred formation nowadays is 3-5-2) thus when they took the ball away, it only took a few Barcelona like intricate passes at midfield to rapidly get the ball moving into the opponent's box. Or if they started much further back, they had already drawn in most of the opposing team and could rapidly make long passes in counterattack.

Xavi, the great retired Barcelona midfielder called Italy's performance "half Barcelona, half Atletico Madrid" (the latter always playing a tight defense/counterattack game which is how they beat Barcelona in the Champions League.

For all their intensity and excitement, the Italians play a very cerebral game. Now whether these tactics will work against a much deeper (in terms of field use) Germany is yet to be seen but I can bet you the Italians have already been working hard on tactics that will defeat Germany.


Italy v Germany, that is the game I want to see the most. Only wish it was going to be the final.

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