Throughout the ages there have been many football tactics that have left their mark on the pages of history. Katenaccio is one such football tactic. This is probably the most ‘misunderstood’ tactic in football history. Catenaccio is also an Italian word, meaning ‘door bolt’ – which in Bengali means a door latch. With this word, it is possible to understand the motto of Catenachio. How? I will come to that discussion a little later. And well, the word is Italian, but Catenaccio was born but not in Italy.
The first person to use Catenaccio was Austrian football coach Carl Rappan. In the 1930s, Rappan was the coach of a club in Switzerland. The Geneva club was semi-professional, which made the team very happy to play against professional teams both physically and technically. He came up with a system that would be defensive based on overcoming the opponent’s pressures and counter-attacking them. Under him, the Servate Club started playing much better in this new system.
Originally, it was this formation that Rappan arranged for his own and the team’s convenient defense, his ‘Veru’. In this formation the game starts with two fullbacks in defense. There are three halfbacks in the midfield. There is a striker on the attack front, with two inside forwards on either side, and two wings on both ends. This tactic was naturally very effective for teams playing counter attack with any long ball.
In this place, Rappan used his talent. In Rappan’s system, two halfbacks would come down and form a back four with two fullbacks. Two inside forwards would come down from the attack front to the midfield, forming a three-man midfield. The job of the two halfbacks was to stop their wings during the opponent’s attack. As a result, the attack would have stopped a lot. Fullbacks would then become centerbacks.
Suppose the attack is coming from the right side. The halfback has the responsibility to stop the winger. One of the two centerbacks climbed up to block the inside forward, the other centerback moved very quickly to fill the space left by the other centerback.
After the defense line, Bolt was the last man of the defense before the goalkeeper. The responsibility of this bolt would change in the game. This player had to do hard manmarking during the opponent’s attack. Sometimes he would stop the attack of the opponent from the wing together with the halfback, he would snatch the ball from the opponent’s leg and move towards the midfield with full vigor. This is where the original strategy of Rappan’s ‘Veru’ system was.
In 1938, Rappan took charge of the Swiss national team. Rappan also used his ‘Veru’ in the Swiss national team and found success there as well. Rappan’s Switzerland lost to England in a friendly just before the 1938 World Cup. The team also lost to Germany in the first round of the tournament.
The influence of Swiss football in Italy in the forties and fifties was quite good. But Giuseppe Zipo Viani was the first to use an extra player in defense in Italian football. Viani was the coach of the Italian club Salernitana. Using this system, Vienna brought his team to Serie A in 1948.
Rocco was the coach of his hometown Trieste. He used the idea of using an extra player in defense at Triestina. In 1948, Torino reigned in Serie A. Using his gameplan, Rocco finished Serie A with his team Triestina from two points in the points table. Rocco took charge of Italian second division club Pandova after leaving Triestina. He also got success by using his ‘Veru’ there. Rocco later took charge of AC Milan in 1981. The Italian won his first European Cup for Milan in 1973 using the Veru.
Helenio Herrera, who visited Valladolid, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and most recently Barcelona, took charge of Inter Milan in 1970. Taking charge of Inter Milan, Herrera formed an all-conquering team, known in the pages of history as ‘Grande Inter’. Herrera is a coach whose team is more popular than his own. People know this winning team as ‘Herrera Inter’.
Herrera uses the same position-based tactics in Inter from Barcelona. Despite scoring the second highest goal in the first two seasons in this tactic, Inter finished second and third at the end of the season, respectively. Herrera’s coaching career at Inter Milan is under threat. He changed his game system to save his job, creating a blueprint for Catenachio.
Herrera’s inspiration was Milan coach Rocco. Herrera decides he will use the concept of playing Rocco’s extra one in defense in his game. Armando Pitchie began his career at Inter Milan as a rightback. Herrera changed the pitcher’s roll on the field, lowering the rightback pitcher behind the defense line. Pitchie’s role in this three-man defense plan was as ‘Libero’ or ‘Sweeper’. The Italian did not have much speed to adapt to the new role of being versatile as a player. He could easily take possession of the ball from the opponent. He used to start the counter attack with all the great passes.
Herera sorted their team into 5-3-2 or 1-4-3-2 formations. He divided the team into four parts. In the first part there is a ‘Libero’ or ‘Sweeper’, in the second part there are two defenders. Defenders also become four based on the opponent’s game, with five midfielders (three as needed) and two forwards. Sandro Majola was one of the two forwards in Herrera’s team. Majola, He also gave his partner Benianimo de Giacomo a chance to score. Playmaker Luis Suarez Miramantes provided the ball as a playmaker in midfield. Herrera never ‘bus park’. He would not give the fluidity of the game for the sake of defense. Catenaccio’s main goal was to counter-attack by deflecting the opponent.
Brazilian winger Jair da Costa played on the right side. Although forward by nature, he was a halfback in the Herrera system. When the team was defending, Herrera was the rightback. Giasinto Facetti played on the left edge; He was a leftback, but like Herr, he became a halfback. Like Gerrard, the Italian leftback contributed equally to defense and attack. Zer or Fachetti would deliver the ball to the goalposts provided by a sweeper pitch or playmaker Suarez. These two halfbacks were one of the two most important members of the Herrera Plan. The success or failure of the team’s attack depended a lot on this player. These two halfbacks were also quite active in defense.
Herrera has faced widespread criticism for this change in the game system. Many commented that such defensive tactics were appropriate for the survival of small teams but did not go well with giants like Inter Milan. But Herrera did not agree with their opinion. It was his system that brought him great success as an Inter. In the four years from 1972 to 197, Inter became the three-time Italian champion. In 1973 and 1975, Inter brought home the title of European Champion. Herrera Inter also won the Intercontinental Cup twice, in addition to the Europe-Italy win. Once in 1984, again in 1975.
Herrera left Inter in 1986 to join Roma. In Roma, Herrera also uses his own Catenaccio, but his only achievement there is a Coppa Italia. In 1972, Inter Milan reached the final of the European Cup once again. This time Katenachchi also lost to Ajax’s Total Football. Gradually, the effects of the cataclysm began to subside. Many coaches have tried to use Catenaccio to succeed, but no one has succeeded like Herrera.