Each year I try to re-create the Grande Inter set up to see if A it is possible and B if it can be effective in the modern game.
This year, I think I may just have cracked the formula.
A common misconception is that Herrera's team was straight up defensive, when it was actually quite attacking. The team was more about efficiency than defense ;
In Helenio Herrera's version in the 1960s, four man-marking defenders were tightly assigned to the opposing attackers while an extra player, the sweeper, would pick up any loose ball that escaped the coverage of the defenders. The emphasis of this system in Italian football spawned the rise of many top Italian defenders who became known for their hard-tackling and ruthless defending. However, despite the defensive connotations, Herrera claimed shortly before his death that the system was more attacking than people remembered, saying 'the problem is that most of the people who copied me copied me wrongly. They forgot to include the attacking principles that my Catenaccio included. I had Picchi as a sweeper, yes, but I also had Facchetti, the first full back to score as many goals as a forward.' Indeed, although his Grande Inter side were known primarily for their defensive strength, they were equally renowned for their ability to score goals with few touches from fast, sudden counter-attacks, due to Herrera's innovative use of attacking, overlapping full-backs. Under Herrera, Inter enjoyed a highly successful spell, which saw them win three Serie A titles, two European Cups, and two Intercontinental Cups
Some key features i wanted were: less possession than the opponent, but more shots overall - Want me players to get the ball up, and attacked with speed. no sideways rubbish. Another thing i wanted was to be hard to break down, so that if the other team was set up to defend and be boring, that they would have a chance to hit me on some nonsense counter. The needed to be under pressure from my team all the time, and to have any mistakes taken advantage of.
the main player roles i wanted to mirror were the attacking fullbacks Tarcisio Burgnich and Giacinto Facchetti, Armando Picchi the sweeper, Suárez the playmaker, Jair the winger, Mario Corso the left midfielder, and Sandro Mazzola, who played on the inside-right.
LWB for facchetti was an easy one
Burgnich is tougher, but I went with a CB/BPD on the right side of central defence as the DFB option was hopeless and isolated in game
Picchi is a central sweeper/libero
Suarez i alternative between APM and DLP, depends on the players you have available
Jair is a Defensive winger, no other real options there
Mario Corso I struggled with. The player roles on the wings werent right. And i dont think he was a true inside forward. I alternated between a left sided AM and a left sided BBM
Mazzola ideally would be a right sided Trequartista, but I didnt have the player for it, and Lukaku is a great CF playing on the right (see below)
With the above in mind, I set about firstly trying to map out the starting positions, a little tricky given the rigidity of FMM, but eventually settled on an Asymmetric set up. I've tested it out a with a flip reverse to similar effectiveness (RDW drops to RWB, and LWB pushes up to LDW - and CF and AM switch sides). Also effective was change the strikers to a TM/AF set up - guess it depends on the forwards you have available.
It was a real struggle to find the right fullbacks, and I'm still not completely satisfied with the return from any of my LWBs
I also tested out a slightly different set up dropping the AM back a bit. Have included both here, they both work well, I can decide which is better