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Antonio Conte explains why Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola have yet to beat his Tottenham Hotspur team and how spurs can win a trophy

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Antonio Conte explains why Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola have yet to beat his Tottenham Hotspur team and how Tottenham can win a trophy

Antonio Conte has been delving deeply into his Tottenham tactics, how he teaches the players with Subbuteo, and what he expects from them in specific roles.

With his back three and front three, the 53-year-old has developed a very specific style at Tottenham, and that system has swept the club back into the Champions League with a fourth-place finish last season, and the north London outfit have begun the current campaign with two wins and a draw.

Conte spoke with former England midfielder Owen Hargreaves for Premier League Productions, using his Subbuteo table to explain his system’s thinking.

“We use this Subbuteo to study and then sometimes to explain some tactical situations to the players. I’m at home with this. This (3-4-3) is our system, our formation, that we are using in Tottenham,” said the Spurs boss.

“I think that when a coach, a manager, arrives in a new club, I think you have to pay great attention and try to exploit the characteristics of your players. Then you need to adapt your idea of football.

“I always thought in the past when I saw Tottenham with the three players in front that the good system would exploit the strikers, because the strikers are important players for us.” For Conte the key to a successful side is being able to quickly change between attack and defence and vice versa, as well as breaking down stubborn teams.

“I think that a good team has to be good to recognise different phases during the game, because if you find your opponent defends very deep then you have to be good. In this case you have to stay with all of the players [in the opposition half] and bring one of these two [wide centre-backs] to attack as well,” he explained.

“Then you have to prepare with the other four players [the central midfielders and the remaining two centre-backs] for the counter attack. At the same time when you are defending in your half pitch, then you have to be good. You have to be good to be narrow defensively and then exploit the space for the counter attack.

“I think a good team that wants to try to be competitive, to win something important, the players have to be good offensively and defensively and find the right balance in both situations.”

Conte also revealed that he prefers his striker and central defender in the back three to be a specific distance apart, and he admits that he is working hard with his players to give them the ability to unlock teams that sit back deeper on the pitch.

“I think it’s best for a team to stay within 30-35m between front and back, for example Harry [Kane] to Eric Dier. If you are in the half pitch of your opponent or if you stay deep because you are defending a cross then our striker has to stay within 30m to 35m and I think that this is very important. Don’t create the space. You have to be a team in every moment, defensively or when you are attacking,” he said.

“For the characteristics of the players, we have players that are very good when they find a lot of space in front of us. We have players like Sonny and Deki and the same also Lucas Moura and now also Richy. They are very good if they have space to attack.

“But at the same time you know very well that an important team has to be very good to stay in the half pitch of the opponent and then find space. We are working a lot to try to improve this situation because when you don’t find a lot of space we need to improve.

“Also this season we’re trying to implement different solutions to last season. I have worked for seven months with these players and for this reason we are trying to make rotations with different players in different positions, but at the same time the most important thing is to occupy that space.”

Central midfielders play an important role in the middle of the field, and Conte explained what he expects from the players who fill that role in his system.

“These two [central midfielders], they need to have two important characteristics,” said the Italian. “A good engine and good stamina because they are involved in both situations defensively and offensively but at the same time if there is the opportunity to bring one of these two players up because they feel the opportunity to score a goal or make an assist, they can go.”

Another important role in Spurs head coach  formation is his flying wing-backs, who must act as defenders one moment and auxiliary strikers and wingers the next. That is why Conte prefers a specific type of wing-back.

“The wing-back is really important if you play with three at the back. They’re important because it’s no good if they are too defensive because in this position you need to have quality. I like to have players that in the past was a winger because in this situation they are good at one vs one,” he said.

“I remember very well that when I arrived in Chelsea I started to play with a 4-2-3-1, but when we lost against Arsenal I decided to change. Then I discovered Victor Moses in a really fantastic way that position.

“It’s the same for Ivan Perisic. He was a winger and in my first season in Inter Milan he wasn’t so convinced about this role. He wasn’t 100% and in the first season Ivan struggled a bit and now I think he’s one of the best players in this role.”

Conte’s Tottenham Hotspur have beaten Liverpool and Manchester City, with neither Jurgen Klopp nor Pep Guardiola able to defeat them.

“I think that in every game it’s important to have a plan. It’s very important to try to keep your characteristics and exploit your characteristics, but at the same time it’s important also to have respect for your opponent,” said the Tottenham head coach.

“Against Liverpool and City, if you go to press high, they are very good. Liverpool are very good to have three players [in the centre of the pitch] and then to attack this space. The same also with Manchester City. They are really good with the ball. In my opinion you have to exploit the weaknesses defensively.”

Conte believes that organization is the key to restoring Tottenham Hotspur’s glory years.

“The organisation has to excel the talent. This is very, very, very important,” he said. “If you have talented players you need to put these players in the best position. If there is organisation behind, you have a lot of possibility to become a winner.”

Antonio Conte explains why Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola have yet to beat his Tottenham Hotspur team and how Tottenham can win a trophy

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