Soccer Books

Zonal Defending the Italian Way

Is your defense conceding goals like a broken sieve? Discover how to plug the gaps through adopting the tactics, formations and soccer training drills of the best defenders around – The Italians!

For leaking defenses everywhere, your solution has arrived! Zonal Defending the Italian Way provides an in-depth look at the Italian back four and their dedication to total team defending. This comprehensive guide looks at the history, tactics and soccer training exercises used by top teams in Italy’s Serie A, including AS Roma, Inter Milan, Juventus and AC Milan, and is packed with insights you can use to build your own team’s strength from the back.

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The Brazilians are known for their trickery and technical skill. The Germans for their organization and discipline. But when it comes to defense, then the Italians are the best around. So if you’re struggling for ideas on how to tighten your backline, how to concede fewer goals and how to win more games, then the tactics used by the best Italian coaches of the last two decades are the perfect ones to study.

Zonal Defending the Italian Way provides an in-depth look at the Italian back four and their philosophy of total team defending. This includes a look at the history of Italian’s dedication to defense above all else; how it has evolved to accommodate the more attacking style of football that modern audiences crave for and the strategies used by many of Italy’s leading coaches, such as Arrigo Sacchi, Marcello Lippi and Fabio Capello.

In addition, Zonal Defending the Italian Way is jam packed with soccer drills and exercises that were actually used to train the national team in Italy’s 1994 and 2006 World Cup campaigns. This makes this book an ideal addition to your library, whether you’re a student of the game or an elite level coach, because it will enrich your understanding of the Italian defensive game and how you can apply their World Cup winning drills to improve your own team’s defending.

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“I highly recommend this book to anyone looking who is looking to gain an understanding and education on the history and successes of the Zonal marking system and Italian defending as a whole.” –  Andy Mason, former academy player in England and now Player Development Officer for Atlantic Soccer Factory in South Jersey

“Discover the systems, formation changes and tactics used by Italy’s leading teams and coaches to lock out opposing attackers”

There’s a saying in Italy that ‘any home is built on the foundation’, and this applies to their philosophy of total team defense. For decades the approach of collapsing the team to defend counter attacks has been a stalwart of the Italian game. Consequently, if your defense needs tightening then you need look no further than at how the best coaches in Italy’s Serie A lock down the penalty area and block out attacks.

In the 2006 World Cup Italy demonstrated the value of a strong back four. Admittedly, their attack wasn’t the best in the tournament, leading to many low scoring games. But the fact that they battled through to lift the trophy at the end proved that you can have a mediocre attack if your defense is sound.

Through analyzing the formations and strategies used by some of the smartest tactical minds in Italy’s Serie A, Zonal Defending the Italian Way provides you with a comprehensive playbook on how to build a tight back four so you can lock out opposing attacks more frequently and win more games.

“Expertly written as both a study and training manual on adopting Italian tactics and formations into your own team’s training and strategy”

Author of Zonal Defending the Italian Way Michele Tossani is a coach and student of the game. Tossani is the author of a number of books including 4-4-2 vs 4-3-3, A Coach’s Guide to the 4-3-3, Champion’s League Tactics, Modulo 4-3-2-1 and Analisi Tattica Champions 2002 – 2003. He has also written numerous articles for the popular Italian soccer web site


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What’s included in Zonal Defending the Italian Way

The first half of the book provides an analytical look at the methods, philosophies and tactics adopted by Italy’s leading coaches over the last two decades. The second half is packed with detailed diagrams outlining real soccer drills and exercises used by the national team during two World Cup campaigns and those used by other leading coaches.

Why a flat back four? – The book starts by looking at why Italian coaches prefer a flat back four. This chapter also looks at the key components of a tight defense: flexibility, balance, simplicity and the ability to launch counter attacks. The differing responsibilities of fullbacks and central defenders are also assessed, and how a zonal defense can be best arranged to cover space and slow attacks.

Back and midfield lines – This chapter looks at the positioning defensive diagonals, which is the key to a defensive back four. Where to position central midfielders to best assist the defense, where the lines of coverage should be and how to react to back passes by opposing attackers are just a few of the questions analyzed and answered.

Modern defensive systems – Author Michele Tossani looks at Italy’s history of developing tough defensive strategies and how they have evolved today. This chapter analyses the defensive systems of Arrigo Saachi (coach of the 1994 World Cup team), Fabio Capello (former AC Milan and England manager) before looking at the defensive approaches of leading Italian clubs, such as Inter, AC Milan, Juventus and Florentina.

Training sessions and exercises – The second half of Zonal Defending the Italian Waymoves away from theory to offering practical soccer drills and training exercises taught by Italy’s top coaches. This includes drills used by Arrigo Saachi at the 1994 World Cup, Marcello Lippi at the 2006 World Cup and those used by Fabio Capello at AC Milan and more.

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From Zonal Defending the Italian Way you will gain:

  • An enriched understanding of the Italian zonal defending style
  • Insights on how to create a back four that functions as a unit, rather than individuals
  • A deeper understanding of the components of a strong defense: flexibility, fast counter attacking, balance and simplicity
  • An in-depth analysis of the different roles and responsibilities of the fullbacks and center backs
  • A detailed review of how coaches at modern clubs like AS Roma, Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan apply the flat back four
  • The background and history of the Italian approach to defending
  • Over 60 pages packed with soccer drills and exercises actually used by the Italian national team in two World Cup campaigns and those taught by leading Italian coaches, like Fabio Capello and Mario Berretta
“Zonal Defending the Italian Way provides a comprehensive analysis of defensive coaching methodology within Italy’s top professional league, Serie A, while also including training sessions on the topic from elite Italian coaches that can be modified to educate players at all levels.This book is a great resource for coaches who want to implement a quality defensive system but also one that can be easily adapted to fit the needs of any team composition.  It’s a must have resource for coaches who want to strengthen their background and coaching on the defensive side of the ball.” – Rob Parker assistant coach Union College (NY) Women’s Soccer.

“There are no better teachers on how to build a strong back four than the coaches competing in Italy’s Serie A”

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