Defending and pressing
The introduction of a back three at Juve meant that Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini consistently featured in central defence, and gave Conte’s attacking midfielders the freedom to make regular forward runs. When defending they reorganised with a particularly compact and organised 5-3-2 that gave opponents minimal space to attempt to play through – Conte’s Juve proved particularly difficult to penetrate. If ever they looked vulnerable, it was after their attacking midfielders and wing-backs had made those aforementioned forward runs, and opponents were positioned to quickly counter. With only a single pivot offering protection in midfield, and an occasional lack of agility in their front two that undermined their attempts to counter-press and restrict opponents to their deep block, even a back three as experienced as theirs could become stretched.
A 5-3-2 mid-block and, when necessary, a lower block, have so far proved Conte’s most successful defensive approaches. His front two is used to screen attempts to build play through central positions, forcing opponents to take play wider, and in the case of Italy at Euro 2016, limiting the potential of high-quality opponents like Toni Kroos for Germany and Sergio Busquets for Spain. A further effective trait that exists in his mid-block is the wider pressing traps that follow their front two forcing play wide; their three central midfielders shift across, covering against access through the inside channel and advancing towards the opposing full-back. With Italy, Daniele De Rossi superbly covered against access into their opposing attackers, and their wing-backs effectively limited spaces that otherwise would have existed in wide areas, protected as they were by the three central defenders behind them.