Editor’s Note: We’ve had a few pieces lately that involved , specifically, Alexi Lalas and his time overseas in Serie A with Padova.
Thus we decided to reach out to the now-ESPN analyst and get his perspective on playing abroad. The following by….Alexi Lalas, with questions by Eric Giardini:
TSG: You joined Padova in 1994 during the height of Catenaccio that the great Milan teams of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s were using so successfully to win 3 European titles and 5 Scudettos. What was it like playing this defensive style of soccer and how did it differ from your duties with the USMNT?
Alexi Lalas: The defensive tactics of Italian soccer are well documented. And if you’re a club like Padova, who’s simply looking to stay up in Serie A, your reliance on defense is only amplified.
We were not going to be possessing the ball or dictating play against most teams. So we basically played in a 5-3-2. The player in the middle of the back 5 would often fall back like a sweeper and provide additional safety and another layer of cover. The outside backs only pushed forward on the counter.
But from the first day I arrived we trained on our defensive team shape, it was as important as stretching.