The fourth date of Serie A left several elements for tactical analysis. This tactical analysis also showed the huge difference between Lecce and Napoli. The match made clear the tactics of both teams and both coaches. The result and procedure of the match demonstrated the superiority of Napoli’s tactics over Lecce’s tactics. Each tactical analysis continues to indicate that Napoli will be one of the favourites to become Serie A champions. Meanwhile, Lecce will have to improve their tactics to avoid suffering.

The match offered several important points not to overlook in the tactical analysis. This is why the following tactical analysis will show us how and why Napoli was able to beat Lecce. Napoli’s tactics surpassed Lecce’s tactics. The analysis left interesting things to deepen Napoli’s victory over Lecce. In addition, the tactical analysis will be based on the tactics of both teams and what the coaches’ proposals were. For now, the clearest thing the tactical analysis made is that Napoli’s tactics were vastly superior.


Serie A 2019/20: Lecce vs Napoli – tactical analysis tactics
Taken from Wyscout.

Lecce based their match on a 4-3-3 tactic. The tactical analysis showed that coach Fabio Liverani wanted to occupy more sectors of the pitch across the width. Liverani continues with those tactics, but tactical analysis shows he is not getting results. Suddenly he should try to change the system, which is becoming very predictable. The idea is to cover the outer lanes with the retreat of the wingers and make a direct game with the possession of the ball.

Liverani, at least, has established a basic starting formation and that is valid. The players are practically the same in every match and a difference is beginning to form between the first team and the substitutes. In fact, Liverani only made one change with respect to the team from the last match. Marco Mancosu came in for Gianluca Lapadula, i.e. striker by striker. This means that Lecce didn’t change their scheme and the tactical analysis proved it.

For their part, Napoli changed their system from last season. From the 4-3-3 scheme to a 4-4-2 scheme. Carlo Ancelotti is trying to give his team more balance and the tactics are working for him for now. The team looks clearer when it comes to defending, something that failed a lot last season. As the matches go on Napoli looks more solid thanks to the tactics derived from the 4-4-2 formation.

In fact, only two players repeated with respect to the team that defeated Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League. Ancelotti made seven changes for this match, which could mean that the substitutes played. But the tactical analysis showed that it worked the same as the previous match. The good news is that the tactics remain the same and the team is becoming more and more entrenched in tactics.

Lecce’s 4-3-3

The previous tactical analysis showed that tactics based on Lecce’s 4-3-3 formation were not working. Well, this match was no exception. This tactical analysis also showed that Liverani’s strategy is not working. That made the game easier for Napoli and even more complicated for Lecce. The other problem that became evident during the tactical analysis is that Lecce has no variants to change during the games. In other words, the team continues to use the same tactics despite being outdone in every sector of the pitch.

Liverani’s initial idea was a midfield with a defensive midfielder and two interior midfielders, but he could not implement it. In other words, a triangle. But the tactical analysis showed that Lecce’s midfield had to play almost the whole match in line. Moreover, Lecce’s tactical system did not change at any point during the match.

Serie A 2019/20: Lecce vs Napoli – tactical analysis tactics
Lecce and their 4-3-3 system.

Also, when the team didn’t have possession of the ball, the idea was for two players to retreat. Filippo Falco and Diego Farias were in charge of going back a few meters and positioning themselves on the sides of the interior midfielders. This caused Lecce to defend themselves with a line of five players in midfield. In other words, a 4-5-1 formation according to tactical analysis.

Serie A 2019/20: Lecce vs Napoli – tactical analysis tactics
Lecce doing a 4-5-1 formation without possession of the ball.

The main problem for Lecce was that they couldn’t get the reference of several Napoli players. Especially when some Napoli players, such as Lorenzo Insigne, was located between the lines. Lecce used a system based on very rigid tactics and that was a big drawback. Lecce never left the rigidity of the tactical system and had no variants to face Napoli.

Serie A 2019/20: Lecce vs Napoli – tactical analysis tactics
Insigne taking advantage of the bad pressure of Lecce. The player positioned himself between the lines and found a space that was not taken by any player of Lecce.

Lack of pressure

Lecce could barely overtake their lines during some parts of the match. Faced with the pressure and suffocation from Inter, who came out to take the ball away quickly, Lecce could barely overtake a few meters on the pitch. Lecce tried to beat Inter in midfield, but that tactical system was not enough. The idea of Liverani’s tactics was to have numerical superiority in midfield. The tactical analysis showed that with a low and unbalanced pressure this could not be carried out.

For example, Lecce pushed the sides of the pitch a lot and left the other side completely free. In other words, they were pressing with several players on one of the wings, but the other wing was completely free. This was constantly taken advantage of by Napoli, who attacked the spaces generated with the fullbacks. Lecce never found the solution nor did Liverani correct this bad disposition of the tactics.

Serie A 2019/20: Lecce vs Napoli – tactical analysis tactics
Six Lecce players leaning to one side and generating a space on Napoli’s right side for an attack.
Serie A 2019/20: Lecce vs Napoli – tactical analysis tactics
The pressure towards the sides was one of Lecce’s constants during the match. This time, space was generated towards the other side of the pitch.

In addition, Lecce did not exert high pressure on Napoli. Napoli’s backline was able to play quietly with passes between free players. This means that Liverani positioned most of his players in the midfield area. Usually, Farias and Andrea Tabanelli exchanged positions, but really without any end and objective in tactics.

Serie A 2019/20: Lecce vs Napoli – tactical analysis tactics
The striker, wingers, and interior midfielders trying to play as close as possible, but without real pressure. Napoli always had the freedom to play from behind.

Napoli’s 4-4-2

As we said before, Ancelotti changed its tactics and system this season. From a 4-3-3 formation, it went on to a 4-4-2 formation, which has generated a better balance for the team according to tactical analysis. In addition, Napoli has been much more organized in each line and with well-defined roles for each moment of the match.

Napoli’s main characteristic is the amount of movement their players generate. This means that Napoli can change the scheme depending on the context of the match. For example, Piotr Zieliński played the role of axis with Fabián Ruiz and Elif Elmas as interior midfielders. Kévin Malcuit and Faouzi Ghoulam were several meters ahead and Insigne was joined by Fernando Llorente and Arkadiusz Milik. That is to say, Napoli practically carried out a formation 2-3-5 with the possession of the ball.

Serie A 2019/20: Lecce vs Napoli – tactical analysis tactics
Tactical disposition of Napoli in some passages of the game. A 3-5-2 formation is what can be seen, but this is generated from the movements of the players from a 4-4-2 base system.

In addition to the tactical movements of the players, Napoli made a high pressure to Lecce to recover the ball quickly. The idea was to press Lecce’s backline and generate some mistake in the possible receivers of a pass. In this work, Llorente and Milik stood out, who were in charge of covering the passing lines.

Serie A 2019/20: Lecce vs Napoli – tactical analysis tactics
Pressure from Napoli to Lecce backline. Llorente and Milik were in charge of covering the passing lines between center backs and fullbacks.

Immediately Lecce was trying to start the game from behind Napoli was starting to overtake several meters to exert more pressure. To the pressure of Llorente and Milik were added Insigne by the left side, Elmas, Zieliński and Fabián Ruiz. This generated that the possible receivers of Lecce were uncomfortable. Napoli surrounded the Lecce players with six players, generating numerical superiority.

Serie A 2019/20: Lecce vs Napoli – tactical analysis tactics
Six Napoli players surrounding possible Lecce receivers. The numerical superiority is evident, which made Lecce not free to play from the back.

Variants in attack

The most important thing in the many tactical variants that Napoli has in the attack are the full-backs. Ancelotti has focused on giving a much more marked attacking role to the full-backs and this has been evident in the tactical analysis. The full-backs constantly go several meters forward and cover the entire length of the pitch. Also, having two tall and strong forwards like Llorente and Milik, the full-backs become an option to pass through the sides.

Serie A 2019/20: Lecce vs Napoli – tactical analysis tactics
A constant that was seen during the game. The fullbacks of Napoli advancing several meters to generate more options in attack. This practically formed a line of four players with the strikers.

This is why both Ghoulam and Malcuit usually ran to the spaces generated by the bad pressure of Lecce. This was another variant within the attack tactics. The long passes for the full-backs were made by one of the two centre backs to skip lines and take advantage of Lecce’s mistakes.

Serie A 2019/20: Lecce vs Napoli – tactical analysis tactics
Koulibaly making a long pass into space for Ghoulam to run there and generate another variant in attacking tactics.

In addition, Insigne practically plays like a striker. Last season he played as a winger on the left side much further up, but now Ancelotti uses him in another role. The idea for Insigne’s tactics is for the player to first cover his position in the 4-4-2 formation. In addition to that, Insigne’s role is to join the attack when he can. This means that Napoli plays with almost three strikers.

Serie A 2019/20: Lecce vs Napoli – tactical analysis tactics
Insigne playing very close to Llorente and Milik as a third striker.


The situation for Lecce is clear: either they change their tactics and try variants in the scheme or they are going to suffer. Lecce’s idea is to stay in Serie A this season, but at this pace it’s difficult. For now, they are one of the candidates to be relegated to Serie B. The tactical analysis showed that Liverani must change tactics because the results are becoming urgent.

Lecce spent several years in Serie B and struggled to return to Serie A, so they’ll have to do something else to keep up. For now, Lecce will have to prepare their next match against SPAL. There can be a good opportunity to show different tactics, as they are an affordable rival. What is clear is that with a tactical proposal of attack based on the formation 4-2-3-1 they can achieve it.

For their part, Napoli is one of the serious candidates in Serie A. Ancelotti’s tactical changes for this season are paying off. Napoli will fight Serie A with Inter and Juventus for sure. The tactical analysis showed that Napoli has a group of players with very clear tactical ideas. The team is understanding the coach’s idea and that’s the most valuable thing.

Napoli will play Cagliari on the next matchday at the San Paolo Stadium. Ancelotti will probably use some of the usual first-choice players on this occasion. But the best conclusion of this tactical analysis is the demonstration that substitutes can also play and fulfil their roles. The tactics are working and Ancelotti found in the 4-4-2 system the best way to make a balanced team.

Artwork by @chapulana

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