The talking points regarding the Serie A often focus on the battle for the scudetto with Juventus and Internazionale but mind you – the positions on the mid-table are proving quite the feisty battles as well. Hellas Verona was sitting in 9th before their game against 10th placed Fiorentina. In this tactical analysis, we will break down how Hellas Verona’s tactics won them the game against Fiorentina and look closer to the pressing system used by the home team.

Hellas Verona got a very needed win against a direct rival for a good position on the table, through a 66th-minute goal by Samuel Di Carmine. How this came about, we will also explain in this tactical analysis of Hellas Verona vs Fiorentina.

Line-ups

Hellas Verona’s manager Ivan Juric likes to play with three-man defence, as he also employed against Fiorentina with a 3-4-1-2 formation. His rival manager Vincenzo Montella did the same and fielded a 3-5-2 formation, as you can see in the image below.

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Line-ups Hellas Verona and Fiorentina. Credit: Wyscout.

Hellas Verona started with a back three and remained that back three of Salvatore Bocchetti, Koray Günter and Amir Rrahmani. They also fielded Darko Lazovic and Marco Faraoni as wingbacks, who both would assist the defence as the attack – depending on which phase the Verona team was in. Di Carmine and Eddy Salcedo were the two strikers in this 3-4-1-2 formation.

Fiorentina also started a back three with Caceres, Pezzella and Milenkovic. The difference to to the Hellas Verona formation was that the guest employed a five0man midfield and they approached this game slightly more conservative than their opponents. We will show this in the section about the defensive set up by Fiorentina, in this tactical analysis.

Defensive set up for Fiorentina

As stated earlier in this analysis, Fiorentina used slightly different tactics and fielded a more conservative 3-5-2 formation. They came to Hellas Verona to defend well and their midfield should be the key to that. We will look at the defensive set up of Fiorentina with their 3-5-2 formation and in the defensive phase when they employed a 5-3-2, as this tactical analysis will show.

First, we look at the 3-5-2 during Fiorentina build-up. Fiorentina played with three central defenders at the back which was the heart of the defensive line of Fiorentina. This three-man defence consisted of Nikola Milenkovic, German Pezzella and Martin Caceres, just behind the five-man midfield, this can be seen in the image below.

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Fiorentina’s 3-5-2 with a five-man midfield with different roles. The two wingbacks Dalbert and Venuti moving down the lines and Cristóforo dropping in order to assist the defence, while Benassi and Badelj play more progressive. Credit: Wyscout.

The five midfielders played as one line when they were building-up or going from defensive to attacking phase, with different roles as they progressed.  The wing-backs Dalbert and Venuti were making runs down the line, while the trio of Badelj-Cristóforo-Benassi would play in central midfield with Cristófore in a more defensive role. The two strikers Ribery and Vlahovic were not concerned with the defensive set-up, as their role remained the same in each phase of play.

Focusing on the defensive phase, we can see a few things in this game. When in this phase, the wing-backs in that midfield, would drop down and form a five-man defence. This defensive line was strengthened, but was not enough in numbers, because when Hellas Verona attacked, they often came with four or five players The trio of Badelj-Cristóforo-Benassi would drop as whole to make it eight defensive players in total and complete the 5-3-2 formation in the defensive phase, as you can see in the image below.

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Fiorentina’s 3-5-2 changes to a 5-3-2 when the defensive phase is in play. Wing-backs Dalbert and Venuti join the defence and the midfield also closes in to deal with the four attacking players from Hellas Verona. Credit: Wyscout.

The eight defensive players are concerned with four attacking players of Hellas Verona, with three other players behind them. By creating an 8v7 situation, Fiorentina has the numbers in their advantage.

This defensive set up by Fiorentina frustrated the home side on numerous occasions. Especially the defensive line of Badelj-Cristóforo-Benassi made it difficult for Hellas Verona to penetrate the Florence defence. The wing-backs dropping down to the defence and the three-man central midfield aiding them, made sure that the margins in this game were relatively small.

Hellas Verona attacking 3-4-1-2 using wing-backs

Hellas Verona fielded a 3-4-1-2 which is a bit more attacking than a 3-5-2, but how did they go about in the attacking phase? In this tactical analysis, we will focus on the use of the wing-backs in Hellas Verona’s 3-4-1-2 system, more specifically – how the wing-backs were used when in the transition from defensive phase to the attacking phase.

In the defending phase, Hellas Verona played a 4-2-2-2 formation with a different role for either wing-back. right wing-back Faraoni dropped a line and joined the defence, which formed a back four. With the defensive block with Amrabat and Pessina playing in front of the back four, Hellas Verona employed six defensive players when they were in the defensive phase of play. In the image below you can see how the six players are lined up when they are switching up from defensive phase to attacking.

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Hellas Verona employed a back four in defensive phase with a defensive block of Amrabat-Pessina in front of it. Wing-back Faraoni drops down to the defence, while wing-back Lazovic stays high. When in transition from defence to attack, they started in the same formation. Credit: Wyscout.

Hellas Verona moves from defensive phase to attacking phase and in this transition the formation changes. Faraoni steps out of the defence and moves up on the pitch, while Pessina does the same on the left side. This means that the formation changes again to a back-three, rather than the back-four from the defensive phase.

While Pessina moves to the left and is playing higher up his own half, it is Amrabat who drops down and is trying to make himself available for a pass from either of the back three. The role of the players changes, with Amrabat charged with the build-up and Pessina with making runs down the line. In the image below we can see how they are lined up when they are in the build-up phase.

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Building up with Hellas Verona: Wing-back Faraoni moves up the pitch, leaeving Hellas Verona with a back-three again. Pessina moves to the left side and acts like a wing-back, while Amrabat drops and is the one that constructs the build-up from the middle. Credit: Wyscout.

Hellas Verona constructed their build-up from the back with wing-back Faraoni and Pessina who moves to the left, and Amrabat dropping down. In this part of the analysis, we will focus on the attack from the wing-backs Faraoni and Lazovic, as this was instrumental in the way the home team played form the flanks.

When you look at the image below, you can conclude a few things during this tactical analysis.

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Expected goal threat Hellas Verona by flanks. Credit: Wyscout.

Hellas Verona had 49 attacks in this game against Fiorentina. You can see that most of those attacks were conducted from the left-flank and they are responsible for 55% of the expected goals value, which is 0,89 xG. The right-flank makes up for 23% (0,37 xG), while the middle makes up for 22% (0,35 xG). In total Hellas Verona had a xG of 1,91 in this particular game.

When the wing-backs got the ball they often had two different options: pass the ball back to the upcoming full-back and occupy the Fiorentina players without the ball or make a run down the line themselves and provide a cross or pass.

In the first example, the wing-back does not have the ball but occupies two Fiorentina players and makes it possible for other players to make a decision. Full-back Rrahmani can move up on the pitch and has different passing options going forward, but he knows if he chooses to pass to Faraoni or Amrabat, press is inevitable. In the image below you can see a situation where this occurs.

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Wing-back Faraoni occupies two players from Fiorentina, allowing Rrahmani to give the long pass to Verre, who moves into the space behind the defence. Credit: Wyscout.

In the image above, Faraoni tries to make himself available by playing close to Rrahmani. Not only is it a risk to play that pass to Faraoni, but it also proves to be an advantage. By playing close to Rrahmani, he draws two Fiorentina players to him, which gives Rrahmani the time to give the long ball behind the defence and Verre could run in that particular space.

The second example is when the wing-back goes down the line and gives a pass into the final third. Lazovic was often sought on the left-side as we can see on the image on the xG-threat from the flanks. The left wing-back was more tasked with the attacking side than his colleague on the right flank, as we can see in the image below which shows the heatmap of Lazovic during the game with Fiorentina.

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Lazovic heatmap against Fiorentina. Credit: Wyscout.

Lazovic often makes a run down the line and has different options going forward. He can make a run down the line and he has different options when he arrives in the final third. He could go down the line even more and produce a cross for Salcedo who would move into the right position to attack that cross. Or, he could give a through ball to Di Carmine, who makes a run into the box. Which you can see in the image below.

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Lazovic with different options when goes down the line. He could go even further and produce a cross for the upcoming Salcedo, or he could cut inside and give a through ball to Di Carmine. Credit: Wyscout.

Lazovic crossed the ball 4 times into the box in this game, but with no success. He could not reach Di Carmine or Salcedo with his crosses. The passes to the final third, give better numbers though. He gave 9 passes to the final third from the position he was in and 6 of them were completed, which is 67%.

If we look at the numbers Faraoni put out on the other flank, the numbers are slightly different. He put out in 1 cross, which did reach its target. He attempted 4 passes to the final four, but only 1 on of them was completed (25%). This tells us that the option of going down the line was sought by both wing-backs, but no concrete chances were created from this option.

Direct passing style of play: Amrabat

As said, the margins were relatively small as you look at the shots both teams have conducted in this Serie A game. Hellas Verona had 19 shots in this game of which 7 were on target. Their opponents Fiorentina had 13 shots on target, but were less accurate and produced 1 shot on target. However, this was not were the battle was won by Hellas Verona. It was their direct passing style of play that led to chances.

While Hellas Verona had a pass completion of 83,25% in this game, it was not the number of passes that is interesting to watch, but the way they passed the ball and how they did it, that was what made Hellas Verona create meaningful chances on the Fiorentina end.

Hellas Verona had 151 passes forward and 67 passes to the final third in this game against Fiorentina. The intention to pass it forward, when being under pressure by the defensive block of Fiorentina, gives away the attacking intentions of Hellas Verona. They wanted to get to the goal as quickly as possible, to pose the biggest threat.

Instrumental to their distribution of the ball to the final third, was defensive midfielder Amrabat. This can be seen on the pass map in the image below, where he is illustrated as the midfielder that seems to be the centre of the passing style of play.

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Amrabat’s passing map for Hellas Verona vs Fiorentina. Credit: Wyscout.

The Moroccan international had pass completion of 84% with 8 passes played to the final third and 9 passes forward. The midfielder drops down from midfield in the build-up and orchestrates his pass forward and to the final third, as you can see in the image below.

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Amrabat passes forward to Pessina and make sure the ball progresses. His direct passing style of play is important in the passing of Hellas Verona. Credit: Wyscout.

This progressive pass makes sure that Pessina could play it further to the wing-back Lazovic to creates a chance from the flanks. However, the direct style of play was best recognised within the shot assists from the middle, which tells us more about the chances created in this game by Hellas Verona.

Amrabat had two shot assists in this game and the distribution to the final third can be seen in these two situations. In the first situation, he passes the ball from his own half to Di Carmine who makes a run forward in the transition from defending to attacking. This can be seen in the image below.

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Amrabat passes to the ball to Di Carmine from his own half. Credit: Wyscout.

His direct way of thinking of getting the ball as quickly as possible to goalscoring position is what made Hellas Verona dangerous on the break. His direct passing and through balls were a threat for Fiorentina and this can also be seen in the second example of a pass by Amrabat, we will show you in the image below.

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Another pass from Amrabat to Di Carmine, this time a through ball. Credit: Wyscout.

Amrabat created two chances from the direct style of play he had in this game and his drive forward in combination with his passing, made Hellas Verona dangerous on the break. But his passing from the back to progress the game is not to be disregarded as he keeps the momentum of the attack going.

Conclusion

The distance between the two teams on the table was very close and that was something that could be seen in the game as well. Neither side was better in terms of producing shots and creating goalscoring opportunities. It was the difference in their formation (3-4-1-2 vs 3-5-2) and the direct style of passing by Hellas Verona that ultimately saw the home side win this game. Initially, Hellas Verona had difficulty penetrating the Fiorentina defence, but the system of direct passing and a clever finish made sure that the three points remained in Verona.


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Marc Lamberts

My name is Marc Lamberts. Freelance journalist and Arts & Culture student. Football fanatic. Love 3-5-2. UEFA C. 27. Dutch.
Marc Lamberts