What Antonio Conte will bring to Tottenham Hotspur – Tactical Analysis

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In one of the most surprising moves of the season, Antonio Conte has officially been named as the new Totttenham Hotspur boss. The Italian manager has a proven track record for success, winning league titles in each of his last three managerial roles – at Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan. Conte will now be hoping to carry over his success to Tottenham, which dares to be his toughest challenge yet. Here is a quick tactical analysis of what Conte could bring to Spurs in 2021-22.

SYSTEM OF PLAY: 3-4-2-1 / 3-5-2

Antonio Conte has used back-three formations wherever he’s been. Whether he prefers some variation of the 3-5-2 or some variation of a 3-4-2-1 at Spurs remains to be seen, but you can almost gaurantee that we will be seeing a back-three early on in Conte’s time in charge. Positively for the former Chelsea boss, many of his players have either played in back-three formations for their national side, or for their former clubs. Harry Kane and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg both should be able to easily adjust due to their involvement in back-three systems at England and Denmark respectively, as should new centre-back Christian Romero – who came from the 3-4-1-2 heavy Atalanta. A three at the back formation would also get the best out of Sergio Reguilon, who is an excellent attack-minded fullback, and would potentially allow a recall for Matt Doherty, who flourished as a right-wing-back at Wolves. Heung-Min-Son and Lucas Moura would be intelligent and versatile enough to adjust to any formation, and these are the types of players Antonio Conte will likely rely on with his high intensity, high pressing style of football.

Within a three at the back system, it’s worth noting still just how many players the club still desperately need to sign. Another centre-back would be vital to creating the kind of atmosphere Conte desires, as would a genuinely world class central midfielder to play alongside Hojbjerg. For the time being, a 3-4-2-1 would be a natural fit for Spurs under Conte, as it would allow Son, Kane and Moura to start together in the positions they are most comfortable with. A front two of Son and Kane would be an interesting dynamic, but something that would take more time for their superstars to adjust to. While Conte’s personality can be a bit intense, to say the least, sometimes he favours players you wouldn’t necessarily expect – like Victor Moses at right-wing-back for Chelsea or Christian Eriksen in a deeper role at Inter Milan. So while it’s easy to say Dele Alli and Tanguy Ndombele might not fit into his plans due to their supposed laziness in training and beyond, when it comes to Conte, you can’t discount anyone.


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Ever since that nearly year in the UEFA Champions League final under Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham have been woeful with their pressing. Not only has it been disorganized, it’s been practically non-existent. Antonio Conte will undoubtedly look to change that. Both Inter and Chelsea played high tempo football, and Spurs will need to do the same in order to pick up the slack and climb up the table. Perhaps Conte will even look past Harry Kane in this quest, and set his sights on someone new entering the door to lead the charge. Did anyone say Lautaro Martinez?

Son and Moura will however be able to adapt to a high pressing game, while players like Hojbjerg, Reguilon and Romero already have that mentality from previous clubs and national team set-ups. But once again, a few new faces are sure to enter the scene if Conte truly wants to implement a high press with his Spurs side. The hurdle of what to do with Harry Kane will certainly be the biggest question mark in Conte’s quest to impose his principles, but Spurs are not a million miles away from being capable of implementing a similar amount of intensity and desire to Inter Milan’s title winning team.

Tottenham fans should at least feel encouraged by Conte’s extraordinary defensive records at former clubs, and know that he will play solid defensive football, without being an inherently defensive manager. In Nuno, Spurs had the worst of both worlds in a defensive manager, who couldn’t teach his players or team how to properly defend. They ended up conceding 16 goals in his 10 matches in charge, the same amount as third-to-bottom Burnley. Under Conte, defensive frailties will not be as cruelly exposed, due to the manager’s focus on defensive principles in place through the formation itself and its inherently compact structure, in addition to quick defensive transitions.

emphasis on possession

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While Antonio Conte’s teams love to counter-attack, they also typically keep a fair amount of the ball and play out from the back through specific principles of play. This will be a welcomed change for Spurs, as they look to both create a more attack-minded brand for themselves, and take the ball back into their own hands…or feet. Under Nuno Espirito Santo, Spurs were abysmal in possession, and went long spells in many games without having much of the ball at all. Through having industrious wing-backs, Tottenham will see a massive increase in possession in the wide areas in particular, as they look to create wide overloads and then deliver dangerous balls into the box.

Without having a Toby Alderwerield like figure at the back, Spurs will likely struggle to implement all of Conte’s principles straight away. However, both Hojbjerg and Skipp are solid in possession, and should help Spurs achieve a more seamless transition toward a possession-based game. Even in matches where Nuno’s team had more of the ball, they did absolutely nothing with it, blindly passing it around between their centre-backs instead. That will change under Conte, who will emphasize both a quickness in transition and a quickness in progressing the ball forward in possession. Sergio Reguilon’s role on the wide left would also likely expand to more of a crucial play-maker, since his abilities on the ball are superior to most of the players in the squad. Whatever happens, you can guarantee that Tottenham will not only keep more of the ball under Conte, but be more effective with what they do with it.


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Antonio Conte serves as a fascinating choice as the next Tottenham Hotspur boss. The Italian has typically been more of a short-term manager in recent times, but Spurs fans will be hoping they can keep hold of Conte for years to come and allow him to truly build a legacy at White Hart Lane. A back-three formation, with a press and possess mentality will likely be the dominating dogma when Conte enters the door. Unfortunately for Spurs and Conte himself, the club are in desperate need of several new faces if they are truly to implement the former Premier League winner’s principles of play to the maximum. For now, they lack several of the pieces needed, even if Spurs are guaranteed to have that new managerial boost straight away under his influence. Regardless, Conte’s return to the Premier League promises to only bring more entertainment to an already fiery league, and create a more exciting Tottenham Hotspur dynamic again for the first time since Mauricio Pochettino.

So there it is! A quick tactical analysis of what Antonio Conte could bring to Tottenham Hotspur. Be sure to check out more of our Tactical Analyses, and follow on Twitter @mastermindsite to never miss an update. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

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