Graham Potter has helped Brighton achieve top-10 status and will be missed. However, new coach Roberto De Zerbi is eager to take his team forward with a different style of play.
The Italian coach, who has won back-to-back Serie A titles and European competition, is known for his heavy metal style of coaching with front foot tactics. He honed his craft at Darfo Boario, Foggia and Palermo before moving on to Sassuolo and Shakhtar Donetsk.
1. He is a better ball-playing goalkeeper
Roberto De Zerbi’s three-year reign at Sassuolo saw him introduce a possession-based system that has become increasingly popular throughout European football. His teams consistently punched above their weight during matches, helping them to finish eighth for two consecutive seasons.
His teams often play through the opposition press, taking advantage of spaces in advanced areas and encouraging short passing to create overloads. This allows wide and central attackers to exploit gaps between the back four and midfielders.
He draws his tactics from a variety of sources, but is particularly inspired by Marcelo Bielsa’s school. Additionally, he took an advanced tactical analysis course at Barcelona’s Innovation Hub which will further sharpen his understanding of English football.
2. He is a better goalkeeper in possession
De Zerbi prefers his teams to play a possession-based style of football, which is likely what Brighton will adopt under him. He has extensive experience in this type of coaching and was most recently the coach at Sassuolo where they ranked third for possession during the 2020/21 season.
The 43-year-old Italian has had several stints as a manager, beginning with amateur side Darfo Boario before leading Foggia to Serie C glory over two seasons and then leading them to Romanian victory at Cluj. Unfortunately, his first Serie A appointment proved disappointing and it was his time at Sassuolo that caught the attention of Brighton.
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Sassuolo consistently outpunched their weight, helping them to finish eighth in Serie A. Their double pivot was a cornerstone element of that strategy, drawing opponents into a deep build-up and providing space for their overlapping full-backs to move wide and get into advanced areas – supporting centre-forward and number 10.
3. He is a better goalkeeper under pressure
De Zerbi has long been associated with possession-based football, which he has brought to the Premier League in his former roles at Sassuolo and Shakhtar Donetsk. His teams recorded the highest possession share in Serie A for 2020/21, and he led Shakhtar to victory in the 2021 Ukrainian Super Cup.
His strategy involves positioning the goalkeeper as part of a deep double pivot that is drawn high up on the pitch. He uses short passes between his back four to encourage opponents to press, creating overloads in their build-up and giving wide and central attackers space to operate within it.
His distribution of the ball short is an indicator of his level of composure in possession. He tends to throw and roll instead of playing it long, likely because this method feels comfortable for him. Furthermore, one should observe whether his body orientation upon receiving the ball; this will determine if he can open up passing angles and options.
4. He is a better goalkeeper in the final third
De Zerbi prefers a possession-based strategy, playing short, direct passes along the ground to draw his opponents back into a tight press. This helps his side build from behind and creates overloads in advanced areas for central strikers to score goals.
Sassuolo’s Tito led them to the highest possession share in Serie A in 2020/21 and third place for 2019/20. Tito’s tiki-taka style of play encouraged his players to attack down all thirds, often leading them into deep blocks where they played intricate combinations.
He has long been a fan of Pep Guardiola and counts Bielsa as his mentor, so it should come as no surprise that Brighton were willing to give him the reins for the club. His style fits perfectly with Brighton’s playing style and they have made an impressive start under him with four wins and three draws so far this season, including victories over Anfield and Nottingham Forest.
Source: koora live