Juventus centre-back Giorgio Chiellini says a generation of Italian defenders have been “ruined” by Pep Guardiola’s tactics.
Guardiola played for two seasons in Italy but has never managed in the country. Nevertheless, Chiellini says his work at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now Manchester City has been reflected in young defenders.
Speaking this week as Italy prepare to face Sweden in a World Cup playoff, Chiellini said Guardiola’s influence has led defenders to value distribution over marking.
Coining a new term for “the Guardiola way,” Chiellini said: “Guardiolismo has ruined many Italian defenders a bit — now defenders know how to set the tone of play and they can spread the ball, but they don’t know how to mark. Unfortunately, that’s the way it is.
“When I was young, we used to do drills to get a feel for the man you were making. Nowadays, from crosses, Italian defenders — and I can only really talk for Italian defenders, I am only relatively interested about foreign players — don’t mark their man.
“It’s a great pity because we’re losing our DNA a bit and some of those characteristics which had made us excel in the world.”
Despite his concerns, Chiellini said he believed Italy is still producing young defensive talent, including the likes of Juventus’ Daniele Rugani and Mattia Caldara, and AC Milan’s Alessio Romagnoli.
“Now, we need talented players up front, but we also need to bring somebody through in defence because we are never going to be able to play Spain’s tiki-taka because it’s not part of our philosophy,” he said.
“Anyway, there are some players emerging behind us: Caldara, Rugani and Romagnoli need to get some international experience, but it’s normal, in fact many of them have already played more games than I had at their age.”
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