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[av_heading heading=’Jorginho’s role in Sarri’s tactical scheme’ tag=’h1′ style=’blockquote modern-quote modern-centered’ size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=’custom-color-heading’ custom_font=’#ffffff’][/av_heading]

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Author: Alfredo Giacobbe

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If a team bases its game play on precise mechanisms practised during training, and if the opposing teams come onto the pitch with the specific intent of blocking those mechanisms, a coach finds himself in a crucial dilemma: either find a solution or be forced to distort your game play.

This is what happened to Sarri, who found the Napoli adversaries blocking his playmaker Jorginho in the last matches. Just like a cog in a Swiss watch, Jorginho is the main gear that sets the Neapolitan play mechanism in motion and in the last 5 matches Napoli’s scoring average dropped from 2.23 to 1.2, partly for this reason.

Udinese were the first to successfully come up with an effective way to block Napoli’s playmaking. They did it with a man to man marking system in the midfield: deep-lying forward Thereau stayed on Jorginho and kept him from receiving the ball. Hamsik and Allan were also covered man to man, respectively by Badu and Bruno Fernandes.

Behind them, the third man in the Friuli midfield, Kuzmanovic, was ready to make a move if they got open.
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The lack of any plays developing in the centre areas of the pitch produced two effects: first of all, it forced the Napoli midfielders to stay back and support the centre backs, re-establishing the numerical equality between the Udinese players on the outside and the wings in Napoli’s trident.

Then the Neapolitans were forced into areas of the pitch where it was more difficult for them to be a threat to the opposing team’s penalty area.

Roma also tried a similar countermeasure to limit Jorginho’s game play. In the phases without ball possession, the Romans set up with a 4-4-2 where either Nainggolan or Perotti covered Jorginho in the centre. This time Napoli was ready with an alternative play strategy.
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Albiol and Koulibaly took up most of the slack for Jorginho. More often than in the previous matches, the two centres served the ball up for their teammate behind the opposing midfielders.

With Higuain trying to keep the defenders deep in order to create space, two players were the targets of Albiol and Koulibaly’s passes: the halfback, staying extremely high on the attackers‘ line and the wing on the same side as the halfback who made a move toward the passer, coming toward the centre. So Napoli employed a dual threat, spreading the play wide and short in the middle, difficult for the adversaries to read.
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The second solution Sarri came up with was to move Jorginho to other areas of the pitch with the ball. If either Hamsik or Allan dropped back to provide support for the centre backs, the Brazilian playmaker would move up to cover the position the inside forward had left free.

The three Napoli midfielders rotated their positions often in order not to give any points of reference to the rivals covering them man to man.
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Alfredo Giacobbe

was born in Naples where he lives and works as an engineer. He is an author for l’Ultimo Uomo.
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