Five ways to beat a three-man defence... the coach's view

Joaquín Caparros, Marcelino, Paco Jémez, Pepe Mel and Radomir Antic explain how to break down a back line like Italy's ahead of tonight's game.

Five ways to beat a three-man defence... the coach's view

Italy-Spain Live

Joaquín Caparros: “The battle is in midfield”

At the Euros, Italy beat us in the middle of the pitch. We couldn’t move the ball around because they had up to six players there. Everything starts with winning that battle in the middle line, to get Spain moving the ball around well because we have a lot of talent. From there, use the wings with quick players to unbalance them. Up front I’d put a striker as a reference point and who is dynamic enough to tie up two defenders at the same time. He will create those precious spaces.”

Marcelino: “Two against one and on the wings”

“I’d look to get the winger and the full back to try and get two-on-one on the flanks. Create that superiority at the same time as the winger gets into the inside channel the three defenders will leave. Italy occupy the frontal shooting zone very effectively and it is difficult to get the better of them there. You have to change direction a lot of times and, if they push up high, try and get behind them. Also, I think we’ll be able to damage them if we play two up front and pressure them.”

Paco Jémez: “Moving the ball around quickly”

“They are very strong in midfield and it’s difficult to get past them. The best way is in one-on-ones, with our two fastest players hugging the wings. To get to them we have to move the ball quickly so that they don’t drift inside. We also have to try and keep their defence together with this ball movement to open the spaces on the flanks for the winger or the full back to get in behind.”

Pepe Mel: “Winger and full back in a two-against-one”

“Their weakness with three defenders is on the outside. When a team plays three at the back you have to look for superiority on the wings. The full back and the winger have to double up with the full back playing long so that he can get on the end of the moves. It won’t be the same for Spain if Italy come out in a 5-3-2 or a 5-4-1 because that will decide how many players there are in the middle. At the Euros they used three to block us.”

Radomir Antic: “Quick transitions”

“It will be important where they put their line of three defenders. It is not the same if they are close to the keeper or higher up. They close down spaces in the centre very well but when the full backs are playing high that’s where you create channels to get in. The bad thing is that in football today wingers don’t exist, instead you have full backs playing long, which makes quick transitions to surprise the opposition difficult. And if you play false wingers, you end up with lots of players when you get to the opposition area…”