Sacchi: ‘England tried to play Catenaccio’

Arrigo Sacchi explains where England and Gareth Southgate went so badly wrong against Italy in the UEFA EURO 2020 Final. ‘They tried to play Catenaccio.’

Luke Shaw had opened the scoring within two minutes of kick-off at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, but after 30 minutes of difficulty, the Azzurri regrouped and equalised through Leonardo Bonucci.

Gianluigi Donnarumma made two saves in the penalty shoot-out, with Marcus Rashford also hitting the woodwork, after a game that saw Italy dominate possession with over 60 per cent of the ball.

“The English copied us: they scored a goal and then everyone back defending, just like those teams who are still faithful to Rappan, who invented Catenaccio last Century,” wrote Sacchi in La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Perhaps Southgate thought he was playing against an Italian team that only knows how to defend and counter.”

Sacchi, whose Grande Milan of the 1980s is considered perhaps the best club team of all time, has always been vocal in his criticism of defensive tactics, and came down hard on England.

“Starting a defender, Kieran Trippier instead of Bukayo Saka, already said so much about Southgate’s tactics, as evidently he didn’t know much about the ideas of his colleague Roberto Mancini.

“We had feared the English would try to copy the performances of Austria and Spain, based on pressing, which had caused problems for the Azzurri.”

Sacchi hopes that this triumph with attacking, positive football can inspire more in Italy to follow that example.

“Thank you to Mancini, who gave the Nazionale a style of attacking football in a difficult moment for our sport. I hope the Italy masterpiece can give enthusiasm and set the example for Italian coaches to renew and evolve their ideas.

“Their ability to be protagonists on the field, their collaboration and the football ideas that guide and illuminate them increased their courage, understanding and personality.”