Alberto Zaccheroni has enjoyed an illustrious career as a football coach, one that has included stints in charge of Italian heavyweights AC Milan, Internazionale and Juventus as well as the Japanese and United Arab Emirates national sides. In this wide-ranging conversation, we asked him whether he was looking forward to his role as a member of the Technical Study Group (TSG) at FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, what kind of tactics he was expecting to see on the pitch, what he looked for when analysing matches and whether cultural factors could influence World Cup success.
Five talking points
The TSG role
Zaccheroni is looking forward to being part of the TSG at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. As he makes clear, there is no doubting the footballing acumen of his colleagues, a number of whom he already knows in person, and he will approach this new Middle-Eastern adventure with the same enthusiasm he showed when working in Abu Dhabi as a coach.
Tactics to expect in Qatar
From a tactical point of view, Alberto expects to see the same kinds of tactics as he saw in the UEFA Champions League. He is looking forward to a more intense, less cagey style of football than we have seen at recent World Cups, with teams looking to get the ball forward more quickly than four years ago.
Two keys to success
When asked to pinpoint key metrics for analysing a team's performance, Zaccheroni explains that overall performance is determined by two factors: how well a team can dominate the game by retaining possession, and how dangerous they are in attack. Teams need to score highly in both areas to be effective.
Japan and the UAE: contrasting cultures
Zaccheroni has coached in Japan and in the United Arab Emirates, and is well placed to compare these two diametrically opposed cultures. As a general rule, he observed a more collective ethos in the Far East, whereas players in Abu Dhabi tended to be more concerned with their individual performances.
Reflecting culture on the pitch
While it is true that football can reflect national cultures, the link is not as obvious today as it once was. Whereas national teams used to reflect the cultures of their national domestic leagues, a lot of today's international players play outside their home countries and come to their national sides with a range of different experiences. That range of experience is reflected in their behaviours on the pitch.