Looking over the probable line-ups for the upcoming season I'm seeing a common theme. With the exception being Atalanta, with a simple 4-4-2 and Torino with an exciting 4-2-4 formation that got them back into the Serie A, every other team is either using a 3-5-2 or a 4-3-3, with some teams having slightly modified it with either a 3-5-1-1 (Napoli, Bologna, & Udinese) or a 4-3-1-2 like Milan & Chievo or finally a 4-3-2-1 like Inter.
Some say 'Parody is Flattery', but I think Conte and Zeman would both feel less than flattered by this. Either way the influence of these two men and their formations will be very evident this season.
Those of you who followed the Azzurri's run in the Euro Cup should know that this was a struggle for Head Coach Cesare Prandelli, who used the 3-5-2 for the first game against Spain, when Italy drew 1-1, but then used a modified 4-3-3 for the remainder of the tourney. Some (mainly myself) have argued how in the Final game he should of reverted back to the 3-5-2, and how it would of been a much closer game. But thats in the past, and after many cold showers it is to be forgotten.
Zdenek Zeman may be best known for using the 4-3-3, but when you actually see a Zeman squad using it effectively how he preaches it, it looks a lot more like a 2-5-3, which creates a lot of goals. Pescara scored the most goals in the Serie B last season, and with all the fire-power Roma have at their disposal I suspect they should be considered favourites to score the most goals in the Serie A this season.
Zeman is not the only one who has used the 4-3-3 in the Serie A before. Massimo Allegri (Milans current Head Coach) used that same formation in the 2010/11 SERIE A season and won more than just Most Goals by a club that season, as Milan were crowned Scudetto Champions, which can be credited to the 4-3-3 formation that allowed them to score so many goals.
Antonio Conte last season preferred a more pass-heavy formation in the 3-5-2. (It will definetly still be used by new Juve bench boss Massimo Carrera while Conte serves his 10-month touchline ban). This formation keeps 3 central defenders back at all times, and is not as susceptible to a counter attack as the 4-3-3. The formation finally got its recognition by the Italian Soccer community only after Juventus finished the 2011/12 season as UNDEFEATED Scudetto Champions.
During last season, Mr.Conte was constantly called out by 'analysts' and 'experts' about how it does not produce enough goals. Antonio answered this at the end of the season himself: "While the 3-5-2 may not score a lot of goals, it rarely gives them up" and that is all that matters.
This season there will be a lot of talk on what formation will be better to use Zeman's 4-3-3 or Conte's 3-5-2. My vote will always be with my coach, but the main thing is that they both create very exciting, attractive Calcio, and while you try to decide which side you are on, I'll be enjoying all the action from the most competitive soccer league on the planet.