Jamaica came into the match following a 3-0 defeat to Brazil in their opening game while Italy were looking to build on an impressive comeback against Australia in their opener. Jamaica, appearing in just their second World Cup game, were aiming to cause an upset and adapted their tactical plans accordingly. Instead of their usual 4-2-3-1 formation, they changed to counteract Italy’s 4-4-2.
As the favourites for this match, Italy were more proactive than in their opening match where they had just 37% of the ball. Against Jamaica, they were the aggressor as they took control of the game through a combination of intelligent positioning defensively and offensively. Victory for Italy would ensure they qualified for the last 16 of the tournament.
In this tactical analysis, we analyse how Italy overcame Jamaica to secure a 5-0 victory and therefore advanced to the last 16 of the World Cup.
Jamaica lined up in a 4-4-2 formation which played into Italy’s hands as they operated in a 4-4-1-1 formation, which morphed into a 4-2-3-1 in attacking moments. This created a numerical advantage for Italy in central areas, and as a result, Jamaica struggled throughout the match to progress centrally.
Italy were very compact horizontally, as they looked to win the ball in the Jamaican half of the pitch. Their shape created a 3v2 in central midfield which prevented Jamaica from being able to pass into their midfielders. Due to the narrow positioning of the midfield, they had access to the Jamaican back four to apply pressure. This was made easier by Jamaica’s inability to play longer switches of play out to the ball far fullback; instead, the ball was passed across the back four, which allowed Italy to shift across the pitch and still apply pressure. One of the wide players would often step forward into the forward line to create a front three, therefore enabling them to apply pressure on the ball.
Jamaica allowed Italy to build the ball from defence instead of focusing on preventing passes from breaking their lines; however, they didn’t execute their plan effectively. The spaces between the different units of the team were far too big, which allowed Italy to play the ball into their forwards easily.
Italy press high
Italy were happy to press further up the pitch. They allowed the Jamaican keeper to have the ball then pressed with a front two intending to win possession back in advanced areas of the pitch. They managed to do this successfully, creating numerous chances to score.
Italy’s first goal came as a result of pressure being applied on the Jamaicans in the build-up phase. They created numerical superiority around the ball, which made the Jamaicans go backwards. The ball was switched out to the Campbell whose poor body orientation, and subsequent poor touch enabled Bonansea to win the ball and drive forward into the box.
As the pass was played into Campbell she was turned with her body facing her own goal, to compensate for this she controlled the ball with the outside of her right foot to bring the ball in front of her. This slowed down her action and allowed Bonansea to apply pressure, which she shouldn’t have been able to do.
When Jamaica won possession in the middle third of the pitch, they were keen to transition into attack as quickly as possible. More often than not the first pass was played forward, looking for either Grey or Shaw to exploit any spaces left by Italy. This was when they looked the most dangerous as they could attack the Italian back four, without having to play their way through the pitch.
On the occasions Jamaica had to advance through the pitch with Italy back in their defensive shape, they struggled to find any consistent way to penetrate. Often a pass would be played into either wide player who would find themselves isolated against the touchline, before having to play a pass back towards their own goal.
Italy exploit the spaces
As a result of Jamaica’s poor vertical compactness and lack of pressure on the ball, Italy were consistently able to position themselves between the lines of pressure. These would often be played into central areas of the pitch with vertical passes, taking advantage of the numerical superiority they had.
On other occasions, Sabatino would drop into the space between the defence and midfield to receive the ball. With Gerelli playing slightly behind Sabatino, she positioned herself cleverly to receive the ball. Her movement caused problems for the Jamaicans as they didn’t know where she would be and who would mark her. The rest of the Italian team adapted their positioning around this movement to ensure they kept their attacking and defensive structure. Once the ball was played into the strikers, the midfielders were close enough to provide support enabling them to maintain possession in attacking areas.
Italy dominated the match with their superior positioning in both the defensive and offensive phases of the game. Their compact defensive shape focusing on preventing Jamaica from advancing in central areas was particularly effective in forcing them to play the ball into less dangerous wide areas before applying pressure to regain the ball.
In attacking areas, the movement of Girelli caused Jamaica problems as she constantly found herself in space to receive the ball between the lines. The quality of vertical passes into both her and Sabatino enabled Italy to easily bypass the Jamaica midfield, who tried without much success to prevent passes from being played through them.
If you are following the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 then you will find our FREE tactical preview magazine the perfect compliment to the tournament. You can download it HERE – each nation is previewed and we also profile their key player and young player to watch. Enjoy!