fter poaching Serie A’s youngest manager in Roberto De Zerbi from relegated Benevento in 2017/18, Sassuolo have become one of the most exciting teams to watch. After finishing eleventh in both full seasons under the 40-year-old, this season will likely mount an attempt to put some distance between themselves and midfield mediocrity. They could try to push into those elusive European spots.

In this tactical analysis, I’ll take a look at De Zerbi’s tactics at Sassuolo, and, using analysis, how they can improve upon their unremarkable previous finishes.

Defensive Organisation

Sassuolo employ a compact defensive shape. This allows as little space as possible for their opponents in dangerous areas, as well as limiting space in between the lines. Out of possession, Sassuolo fall into a 5-3-2 low block, with a central midfielder dropping deep to create a back five, with the midfield three and front two forming a compact shape and not allowing penetrative passes into the central area

Sassuolo have two phases of defensive play, they either fall into the compact low block or will press their opponents. They have a more pragmatic pressing style against superior teams, but the main determining factor of the press are the phase of play and the position on the pitch where the ball is lost.

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