Gattuso’s Tactics Foiled by Lazio’s Quick Counter-Attacks

Gennaro Gattuso stuck to his favorite formation and tactics in Sunday’s derby against Lazio. However, Gli Azzuri’s inability to respond to quick counter-attacks proved their undoing.

Using the 4-2-3-1 formation

Gattuso has used the 4-2-3-1 formation more than any other setup since taking charge of Napoli. This leads to a robust set of tactics. The manager tends to instruct his players to build patiently with short passes, and occasionally direct, through balls for the striker, Andrea Petagna.

Napoli also likes to have one player in a free role. Dries Mertens usually played as a trequartista. His injury meant that Piotr Zielinski was given this responsibility.

Both Zielinski and Petagna showcased their skill on the ball and created chances. However, most attacking plays were slow and predictable. Pepe Reina, Lazio’s experienced keeper, had little trouble in keeping a clean sheet on Monday.

Losing possession and failing to guard against turnovers

Napoli’s patient build-up play is a sound tactical choice. However, it ran into two main issues. The first is that Gli Azzuri’s most technically proficient players, Dries Mertens, Victor Osimhen, and Diego Demme were unavailable. The team created goal-scoring chances, but few caught Lazio’s experience three-man defense off guard.

Secondly, this style allowed Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio to make use of their favorite style of play. The Biancocelesti are most effective when able to counter-attack. Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s bossing of the midfield line allowed Ciro Immobile to be a constant threat.

Besides this, the poor performances of Kalidou Koulibaly and Mario Rui are note-worthy as they rare. Lastly, Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s positional issues, created a lot of space for Adam Marusic to exploit.


Napoli remains one of the most exciting teams in Serie A. Gattuso’s man-management and his tactics have consistently yielded positive results. A fresh perspective against FC Torino should make them favorites to win the game.

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