FOOTBALL managers have indulged in some strange tactics over the years but Thiago Motta could be about to revolutionise the game as we know it.
The Italian, 38, is set to become the coach of Serie A side Spezia after Fiorentina snapped up the impressive Vincenzo Italiano.
Many fans may not find the exploits of the Aquilotti, who finished 15th last season, one to watch but Motta's peculiar idea of a fantasy formation may prove otherwise.
In a 2018 interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport detailing his unique approach to tactics, he outlined his plan for a 2-7-2.
This would see a 4-2-3-1 setup undergo a huge shake-up by pushing the full-backs into midfield… along with the GOALKEEPER.
The wingers and central attacking midfielder would also push up to offer their legs to what Motta described as a, you guessed it, 'offensive' style.
He explained: "My idea is to play offensively.
"A short team that controls the game, high pressure and a lot of movement with and without the ball.
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"I want the player that has the ball to always have three or four solutions and two team-mates close by to help.
"The difficulty in football is, often to do things simply but to control the base, pass and get free.
"I don't like the numbers of the field because they trick you. You can be super offensive with a 5-3-2 and defensive in a 4-3-3 – depending on the quality of the guys.
"I had a game a while ago where the two full-backs ended up playing as the No9 and No10."
Since the days of the 1-1-8 formation – when association football was younger than Jude Bellingham – the game has settled into a handful of predictable setups.
Coaches have still managed to impress their own creativity to get the best out of their players.
The goalkeeper starts the play, with his feet and the attackers are the first to put pressure to recover the ball.
Spain famously won Euro 2012 with a 4-6-0 tactic that deployed a false-nine striker, namely Cesc Fabregas, to generate the maximum amount of possession and fluid midfield running.
Pep Guardiola occasionally pulled out a 2-3-5 formation at Bayern Munich that saw his full-backs play alongside the midfield, three of which were so far forward as to be part of the attack.
But teams do not have to be obviously dominant to change things up, as Guus Hiddink's Australia side proved at the 2006 World Cup.
The Socceroos reached the last-16 thanks to a 3-6-1 strategy that put Tim Cahill behind Mark Viduka up front, aided by two flying wide men on either flank.
Former Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Inter Milan midfielder Motta has previously taken charge of PSG's Under-19s side and Genoa.
In an unsuccessful stint with the Italians he largely deployed a 3-4-2-1 and won just two of his ten games.
Therefore this could be his opportunity to unleash the 2-7-2, which includes the goalkeeper as the 'first attacker'.
He added: "The goalkeeper counts as one of the midfield seven.
"For me, the attacker is the first defender and the goalkeeper is the first attacker.
"The goalkeeper starts the play, with his feet and the attackers are the first to put pressure to recover the ball."
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