Pescara were promoted into the Serie A last June after beating Trapani in the promotion play-off and they have started life in the top flight very encouraging with impressive displays against some of the top teams. However, they haven’t won a game by their own performance as of yet (their only win coming after Sassuolo’s 2-1 win over them was changed to a 3-0 Pescara win because of Sassuolo fielding an ineligible player) and that needs to change if they are to stay up.
Under former AC Milan and Bayern Munich defender Massimo Oddo, Pescara have played some brilliant football since his appointment last summer. They impressed throughout the Serie B season last term, and have started life in the top flight with the same brand of entertaining attacking football. Oddo has used the 4-3-2-1 formation to great effect, with a very proactive passing game the key to Pescara’s style. The formation becomes 4-5-1 in defence, as the two attacking midfielders defend the flanks. The World Cup winner from 2006 has continued Pescara’s proud tradition of attacking football, as executed in devastating fashion by the 2011/12 side under Zdenek Zeman which featured future stars Marco Verratti, Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne.
Oddo described his team’s playing style in an interview with La Gazzetta Dello Sport:
“There’s always been beautiful football at Pescara. My style is based on good organisation above all else. I want intelligent players who can think for themselves, I don’t like predefined tactics.
“When a man has the ball, the other four must present him with solutions. Then it’s his responsibility to choose the best one.
“In Serie B they spoke of a Barcelona-like Pescara, of tiki-taka. But my priority are vertical balls, not possession. My models are Sassuolo and Napoli, who can execute that best.
“When we’ve got the ball, I want an organised chaos. We must be as unpredictable as possible, never static. We must be thinking by ourselves. And we need quality runs, because it’s important to pace ourselves.”
His preference for vertical passes has been evident throughout so far, with Pescara happy to cede possession against Inter at home for example, where they instead regularly threatened on the counter-attack.
As we can see above, the full-backs push on, with the Uruguayan Gastón Brugman acting as the regista. Valerio Verre is stationed as one of the two behind the striker Gianluca Caprari with a role to come more inside in search of the ball with Ahmad Benali more inclined to provide penetrating runs, as he did for his goal against Napoli in the first game of the season. Verre provided an inch-perfect pass through the defence with put Benali through on goal. Both centre-midfielders Memushaj and Cristante provide energy and make runs into the box whenever possible, and Brugman is controlling and balancing the midfield.
While performances have been really good going forward, Pescara haven’t scored enough goals and conceded to many. Oddo has said he won’t change his style against anyone, but maybe he should be more defensive at times? This is what he said himself:
“I won’t park the bus against Juventus in Turin. I’ll try going for it, that’s my philosophy. We must be well-organised when we don’t have the ball in the processes of marking, covering diagonals, and pushing play towards the wings.”
While an admirable stance, Pescara might need some fine tuning defensively in certain games in order to get the points they need to stay up. They do play really good attacking football, always on the front foot and trying to go forward. So far, they’ve played Napoli (2-2), Sassuolo (1-2, later overturned so now 3-0), Inter (1-2), Lazio (0-3), Torino (0-0) and Genoa (1-1). Based on the teams they’ve faced so far, their points tally is impressive. However, they were 2-0 up against Napoli, led Inter 1-0 until the last fifteen minutes and both Torino and Genoa had two men sent off against them. Defensive mistakes cost them both against Napoli and Inter which can’t happen in the future if Pescara are to remain a top-flight team next season.
The goalscoring burden rests heavily on Gianluca Caprari’s shoulders.
They’ve largely kept the same, young and highly-talented squad from last year with the likes of Verre, Brugman, Cristante and Caprari sure to go on the bigger clubs in the future. The big loss though, is last seasons talisman Gianluca Lapadula who scored almost 30 goals last year. His summer move to AC Milan left Pescara short of a true goalscorer, as Caprari who’s now leading the line is more natural playing as one of the two behind the striker. Pescara has missed so many good chances so far that the worrying trend is they play well, create a lot of chances but can’t take them. Combined with the defensive mistakes that keep popping up, Oddo might be a little worried.
Hopefully, the coming games will see Pescara pick up some wins to go with their impressive performances thus far. They’ve played some of Italy’s best teams so far and been equals to all of them (except for Lazio) so a run of ‘easier’ fixtures should see the team pick up some more points. They are a breath of fresh air and play some of the most entertaining football in the country at the moment, but unfortunately that will count for nothing if they can’t turn the good performances into equally as good results.