Zona mista

Zona mista (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdzɔːna ˈmista]; in English, literally: "Mixed Zone"), often referred to as Gioco all'italiana ("The Game in the Italian Style"), is a tactic used in Italian association football mainly from the second half of 1970s to the mid-1990s. The introduction of this system has been attributed to Luigi Radice and Giovanni Trapattoni, then coaches of Torino and Juventus, respectively.[1] The tactic reached the highest sporting level with Juventus headcoached by Trapattoni becoming the first club in history to reach the European Treble having won the three seasonal UEFA competitions and, in 1985, the first European side to win the Intercontinental Cup since it was restructured five years before,[2] and the Italian national team, managed by Enzo Bearzot, which won the FIFA World Cup in 1982, for the first time since 1938, with notable participation from the Blocco-Juve;[3] making both teams acclaimed as among the greatest in sports history.[4]

Regarded as the tactical evolution of catenaccio,[5] zona mista requires each outfield player to perform, systematically and simultaneously, the zonal marking, the changing of positions and continuous attack on the spaces characteristic of totaalvoetbal, but also engaging in the defensive individual marking characteristic of Italian football. In this system, a player who moves out of his position is replaced by another from his team, thus retaining the team's intended organisational structure, and each player performs a different function. Several players, such as the sweeper (libero), the attacking full-back (terzino fluidificante), the returning winger (ala tornante) and the inside forward (mezzala) simultaneously play roles in both defence and attack, while the playmaker (regista) (e.g. Michel Platini, Lothar Matthäus or Roberto Baggio) regularly runs to the opponents' box to try to score. This flexibility made it much more versatile, fluid and offensive than the rigid standard scheme used in Italy at the time.[5][6] Although it is one of the first to use four defenders, zona mista is aesthetically more related to formations which succeeded it: 3–5–2 and an asymmetric 4–3–3 system.[7][8]

Zona mista proved highly successful at national and international level: with it, Torino won the 1975–76 Serie A, its first after the Superga air disaster; Juventus played some of its finest football ever, setting the most enduring record in the history of Italian football by winning six league titles and two cups in ten years.[9] Juventus then extended this success to the international arena, starting in 1977 when the club won the UEFA Cup without foreign footballers, an unprecedented achievement for any country's team.[10] Subsequently, it lifted the Cup Winners' Cup, the European Champions Cup, the UEFA Super Cup and the Intercontinental Cup, making it the first, and so far only, club to have won all possible official international competitions.[11] These achievements lifted the Serie A for the first time to the top of the confederation ranking at the end of the 1985–86 season, a position maintained for the following three seasons.[12]