Understanding Italian football part 3.2 – Terminology – Tactical roles

Andrea Tallarita follows up his studies of Fantasia and Furbizia to bring us the third installment in his Understanding Italian football series. In four sections, Andrea looks at the array of words that pepper the Italian game. Part II introduces terms used in tactical roles.

Regista

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This one has a very close equivalent to the English term ‘playmaker.’ The term ‘regista’ means ‘director,’ as in ‘film director’ or ‘director of the orchestra.’ This is not a position as much as a role – a regista can be placed in several spots on the pitch as long as he executes the operations demanded from him. A regista is the fulcrum of the game. He is the figure to whom defenders offer the ball as soon as they have conquered possession. He is also the figure to whom wingers and forwards return the ball when an offensive manoeuvre has been aborted and needs to be reset. Registi are very creative midfielders, endowed with superior passing skills from all ranges. If this part seems to overlap with our description of a trequartista, that is because a TQ is a regista by definition – however, a regista is not necessarily a TQ. A regista can lie further back than the latter or operate more often from the flanks. The role can be taken up even by mediani, when the latter are particularly versatile. The qualities of a specific regista will change depending on the position he is given on the pitch – a TQ will be more gifted in first-touch passing, while a deep-lying playmaker will have greater skills in possession. But a regista is defined by his tactical role, not by his position, and the only common attribute possessed by the myriad of players who have picked up this mantle is a strong disposition for passing. Two classical registi include Giuseppe Giannini from the past and Andrea Pirlo from the present.

Velocista

This is a very simple one. A velocista (pronounced: vehlocheesta) is any player whose primary attribute is speed, or at least one whose technical qualities directly depend on his capacity to execute at a great pace. Essentially, we are talking about a runner. Usually a velocista takes up a position as either a winger or as an SP.

Fluidificante (FO)

Like the regista, the fluidificante offensivo is less of a position than a role. Literally, the term translates into ‘he who makes things more fluid.’ Requiring a skill-set which falls halfway between the roles of the mezzala and the SP (the two positions to which an FO is most commonly assigned), a player who is a fluidificante is asked to be a fast runner with basic dribbling skills, a good short-range passing, decent agility in the box and – perhaps above all – plenty of stamina. While it is not unprecedented for an FO to have been placed in the centre of the pitch, these players most often start from the flanks. Again in common with the regista role, the FO can possess a varied range of skills as long as the basic ones described above are present. Patterns emerge to define the usage of FO players in Serie A by examining the formations. A 4-4-2 will sport two mediani in the middle and two FOs on the wings (this is the set-up preferred by current England Coach Fabio Capello, among others), or it may sport one mediano and one creative regista in the middle, at which point only one of the wingers is usually an FO, with his counterpart being more of an all-round player with abilities which also include defensive roles. When it comes to 4-3-3 formations it is more difficult to generalise, as the potential for combinations is very high. A common trend, though, would have one of the three offensive players endowed with skill-sets which qualify him as an FO, playing either as a mezzala flanked by a PP and an SP, or as an SP flanked by a PP and a fantasista (see below). An FO is a comparatively broad role in its definition, and it is very uncommon to find a team without at least one, potentially two or even three players who fall under its description.

Fantasista – also, Fuoriclasse

Our previous articles in this series have extensively fleshed out the quality of ‘fantasia’ (or, ‘imagination’). Crudely, fantasia represents the innate creative capacity to exploit brief windows of opportunity to blur, alter, amend or revert tactical scenarios by means of quick but highly sophisticated technical gestures, effectively making an offensive game impossible to anticipate or neutralise. A fantasista is any player who is endowed with such quality and who consistently makes use or show of it on the pitch, regardless of position or role. Fantasisti are most commonly used as PPs or SPs, though they invariably transcend those roles and produce actions incongruent with their original role. The anarchic and elusive quality of fantasisti gives them the slang appellation of fuoriclasse, meaning ‘out of class’ or ‘impossible to categorise.’ Fantasisti are the most prized and appreciated players in Italian football and invariably the matrix for the most beautiful game. The most prominent contemporary fantasisti are Antonio Cassano, Francesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero. Great fantasisti of the past include Roberto Baggio and Gianni Rivera.

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Understanding Italian football

Part 1 –
Fantasia

Part 2 –
Furbizia

Part 3 – Terminology
3.1 – Tactical deployment
– 3.2 –
Tactical roles

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