At the second stop of the season, the only true surprise in the rankings is Chievo. Maran’s team is currently in third place, just one point from Napoli, and they got there using game play devoid of dogmas, fluid and intelligent.

Among the many strategies Maran used to compensate for the inevitable technical gap that Chievo must bridge against almost all the other Serie A teams, the most attractive is the use of screen passing. Screen passing is based on the idea of setting up a passing line made up of several receivers in order to confuse the opposing team as to where possession will actually be developed, thereby freeing up one or more men to attack in front of the goal.

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In this case, there are four potential pass receivers set up diagonally to Frey: Birsa, Castro, Inglese and Floro Flores. The first two draw the Oddo’s playmaker and fullback out of position, creating the space attacked by Inglese behind them. If he were to receive the ball immediately, however, he would have to play with his back to the goal. So, he lets the ball go by for Floro Flores, who makes a one-touch pass back to him once he has turned to face the goal.

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A similar application also takes place between strikers and the halfback. Here Birsa lets the ball pass in order to draw Inter’s defensive line forward, following Meggiorini’s oncoming movement. The Chievo forward checks the pressure behind him and passes back to the Slovenian halfback, who can then kick into the space behind the Inter defence.
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But screen passing can also be used to move the defence horizontally. In this case, it is Castro and Birsa, perfectly position in the Udinese half-space, who are set up along the same passing line. Castro’s screen, combined with the movement of the two strikers, will draw the Udinese defence to the left and free up Birsa in front of the goal. And that is never good news for the opposing team.

Dario Saltari

Dario Saltari was born in 1989 and he holds a university degree in International Relations. He writes for L’Ultimo Uomo