The red and black stripes of Milan, the black and white of Juventus, the pale blue of Napoli and Sampdoria’s iconic blue with horizontal red, white and black bands across the midriff. For me, my love of calcio stemmed from a Sunday afternoon match aired on Channel 4, presented by the one and only James Richardson.

Playing this save, has again sent me down memory lane, reminiscing about my own memories, not only of Italian football, but football in general. Coming from a working-class background it was these games which were the most accessible, therefore it is understandable as to why calcio holds a special place for me.


Anyway, I thought it would be a good place to start this blog with a comparison to the last one (utilising data to make tactical tweaks), looking at our rolling xG.

How do the two compare?

  • We accumilated an xG of over two in three games, compared to one in the first half of the season.
  • We did not concede an xG of over wo, compared to six times in the first half of the season.
  • Torino, Inter, and Napoli restricted us to low quality goal scoring chances.
  • We had three gams where we restricted our opponents to low quality goal scoring chances (Cremonese, Udinese, and Monza).

Averaging both metrics across the sample of games, we are generating 1.47expected goals per game (an increase of 0.29 against 1.18), whilst conceding 0.93goals per game, a decrease of 0.43 from 1.36.

    What do I think has contributed to this improved performance?

    • The above comparison between the points gained in the first half of the season compared to the second half, shows we were more effective during the second half of the season, picking up nine more points.
    • We played seven of the ten biggest teams (sponsorship income) in Serie A at home in the second half of the season, there is a correlation between sponsorship income and final league position, with nine of the 10 highest earners finishing in the top 10. (Juventus the only exception to the above after finishing in 13th place).
    • A change of the centre-back partnership role duty.

    As you can see, the only other non-documented change to the initial tactic was the move away from a stopper, cover partnership to having both central defenders on defend duty. I made this change to improve the focus on building a solid defensive unit, with a defend duty the central defenders stay in line with their defensive partner, looking to break up attacks, mark opposing forwards and prevent the ball from getting into the box.

    My logic was moving away from a partnership which could split vertically to this new double defend duty should make us more robust, given the improved xG against, I am going to label this a success.

      As you can see, we closed the season, performing way above expectations, securing qualification for the UEFA Champions League on the last day of the season. This feat was achieved thanks to Udinese who defeated Atalanta at the Dacia Arena Friuli, denying them fourth place.

      Looking at the expected points table, you will see the closing picture tells a different story. We secured 20 more points than expected, this gives us the label of the biggest over-achievers in Serie A, as using expected points we should have finished 10th.

      Success at Bologna has not been built on attacking football, this is exemplified in the expected goals against column, we have conceded 18 goals less than we should have, this feat could not have been possible without Łukasz Skorupski.

        The Advanced Goalkeeping visualisation highlights how exceptional the Pole has been, he has the leagues second highest save percentage (89.81%), compared to Ivan Provedel of Lazio (90.52). However, he has come under more saves per 90 at 4.0 compared to 2.8, therefore making many more saves.

        His expected goals prevented figure of 17.6 is nearly double that of Marco Carnesecchi of Cremonese who closed the season with the second highest expected goals prevented of 9.6.

        He also had the second highest pass completion percentage of 89.24%, another key output, enabling us to play our possession based footballing philosophy from the back.

          The above visual is another little gem which I like to produce on Tableau, it is our best XI from across the campaign. The first image shows where the goals came from, Musa Barrow closed the season as our top scorer in Serie A, beating Marko Arnautovic by the single goal.

          Ricardo Orsolini provided the most assists (9), whilst Nicolás Domínguez picked up the highest overall average rating.

          You will note that we heavily rely upon the front three for goal contributions, this is a potential point to note for those of you who would like to replicate this tactic. I would suggest that if you are playing with a higher reputation side maybe look to have one player from either the defence or midfield to have a little more impact in the final third.

          Off course to do this and ensure that the team fluidity is maintained, you will need to remove the half-back role and adopt another support role (Defensive Midfielder, Deep Lying Playmaker, Ball Winning Midfielder, Regista, or Roaming Playmaker) all of which will reduce our solidity at the back and potentially leave the team more exposed to counter-attacks.

          Improvidus, apto quod victum. The translation, improvise, adapt, and overcome.

          I will leave you with the above phrase, a phrase which I feel captures what I have documented in this three part series, the value of the ball



          • SteinkelssonFM

            SteinkelssonFM is a distinguished tactician in the Football Manager community, celebrated for bridging the virtual and real football worlds through meticulous analysis. His knack for recreating iconic real-world tactics in-game, like Mário Zagallo’s 1970 Seleção strategy, offers a nostalgic yet innovative gameplay experience. An active blogger on Medium and WordPress, SteinkelssonFM shares his football philosophies and FM adventures, enriching the community with guides on youth development and tactical masterclasses. His contributions extend to the official Football Manager website, affirming his position as a reliable mentor for aspiring virtual football managers. Through his content, SteinkelssonFM continues to blend historical football charm with modern-day FM gameplay.

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