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Conte Ball Just as Important as Guardiola
As much as I hate to say it, the Antonio Conte and Diego Simeones of the world are just as important as a Pep Guardiola. Meaning coaches who maintain an uber-defensive style of play amid an era where teams want to be as attacking and expansive as possible. Any entertainment industry or sport where everyone does the same thing is stale and boring. In the same way, where every superhero needs a villain, the soccer world needs counter-football artists.
The key to appreciating what a coach like Conte does is understanding the absurdity of it. They say it is easier to destroy than build, but I'd argue that is no longer the case in modern soccer. With the increased popularity of expansive and entertaining soccer comes a near requirement by fan bases that their teams also play in an enjoyable, ball-dominating, risk-taking manner. So if you're going to play defensively, you had better win and do a lot of it.
In the case of Simeone and Conte, they continue to exist as juggernauts because they are two of the best winners in the game.
There is also an art to defending, soaking up pressure, and exploiting the right moments to counter. For some, that may actually be more entertaining than dominating possession, diligently batting away attack after attack in an organized manner before springing for a counter like a serpent who has stalked its prey. In addition, those counters often result in the most entertaining quick-paced combinations to goal.
There's just more to soccer than dominating the ball and attempting to play in a way that optimizes the chances you create. The defensive side of the ball is perhaps more difficult to coach in the modern game as players become more skilled. What coaches like Antonio Conte and Diego Simeone do is just as important as what Pep Guardiola does. They all contribute to the growing evolution, debate, and entertainment of how soccer should be played, the yin to the yang, the supervillain to the superhero.
You will enjoy those coaches more once you understand they are a necessary evil.
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