The great start to the season for De Zerbi’s Brighton

The great start to the season for De Zerbi’s Brighton

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A year ago the Italian coach Roberto De Zerbi was called by the English team Brighton to replace Graham Potter, who after four victories in the first six days of the championship had been signed in the running by Chelsea for over 20 million euros. De Zerbi was already considered one of the most interesting coaches around but was left without a team after his contract with Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk was terminated due to the war.

De Zerbi’s hiring at Brighton didn’t surprise much and indeed, curiosity was high right from the start. Already in previous years, Brighton had stood out for the innovative management methods of its owners, one of the first to have adopted analytical strategies as a corporate standard when they were not yet as widespread in football as in other sports.

These strategies had contributed to giving the English team a purely offensive character even with the previous managers, and above all to not leaving any aspect of the game to chance. For these reasons, Brighton was already considered an ideal team for De Zerbi, a former footballer who grew up in Milan’s youth team during the winning period of Arrigo Sacchi, a coach who takes inspiration from when he says he wants to control the game by “holding the ball”. In fact, his teams are known for defending themselves and obtaining the greatest opportunities in attack through continued ball possession and the reasoned development of actions.

After about a year since his signing at Brighton, the results have also exceeded expectations. Sixth place last season was Brighton’s best ever Premier League finish and earned them their first European Cup qualification in the club’s history. In this new season, after six days of the Premier League – the most followed and competitive championship in Europe – the team is actually third in the table after beating Newcastle and Manchester United, among others.

«It’s one of the best teams in the world for how it plays. To win we studied a lot, it took me hours to understand all the game alternatives they have” said recently Matías Almeyda, the coach of AEK Athens who managed to beat Brighton in the first European match played in the English city . However, it was a spectacular and open match until the 3-2 goal scored by the Greeks five minutes from the end.

Despite the result and despite the fact that the midweek match was new for Brighton, on Sunday the team immediately returned to winning the league in the so-called south coast derby against Bournemouth. With this latest result Brighton became the first team outside the big six of the English championship (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, United and Tottenham) to have won at least five of their first six league matches in the last eighteen years .

In England the term Brighton’s game has been referred to for some time now DeZerbiBall, as is usually done with teams that offer a recognizable style of play that identifies their coaches. In the recent victory against Manchester United, for example, the three goals scored by Brighton were preceded by a total of 65 passes (30 only for the second), the most for an English team according to the data collected by choose for the last 17 years.

The series of passes that preceded Brighton’s 2-1 win over Manchester United (Opta)

After the first five days of the six played so far, Brighton had already scored 15 goals (now with 18 they are the best attack in the championship) and these had been preceded by a total of 137 passes: on average around nine before each goal, more than any other championship team, including Arsenal and Manchester City, the two great English teams who offer a similar and equally effective game.

However, what is surprising about De Zerbi’s Brighton is the way in which a small-medium sized team manages to prevail through the game in such a clear way, despite the fact that the English league has evolved profoundly in recent years. The contribution given by great foreign coaches such as Pep Guardiola, Arsene Wenger, Mikel Arteta, Jürgen Klopp and Unai Emery has in fact brought about changes in the tradition of the Premier League, characterized by the old English style of play based above all on athleticism and aggression.

Another significant piece of data that has been circulating recently is the overall value of the players with which Brighton beat Manchester United. The cost of the eleven starters chosen by De Zerbi was in fact around 18 million euros, which is what United paid for just one of their full-backs, the Portuguese Diogo Dalot. If, however, the entire United team is taken into consideration, the overall cost is almost one billion euros.

Player recruitment is another aspect that Brighton were already famous for and which is now supporting the results achieved by Da Zerbi.

No established players have ever arrived at Brighton. The company’s line has always been dictated by numbers, by making players discovered in minor leagues work, or who had not been understood elsewhere: as in the case of the thirty-year-old central defender Dan Burn, bought already at an advanced age for less than 4 million euros and resold for 15 million to Saudi-owned Newcastle.

But it was after last year’s sixth place that the company achieved the highest capital gains in its history. Alexis Mac Allister, bought in 2020 for just over 10 million euros from Boca Juniors, was sold to Liverpool (after winning the World Cup with Argentina) for around 60 million. He went even better with another midfielder, Moisés Caicedo, bought in Ecuador in 2021 for less than 30 million euros and sold to Chelsea in the summer for 133 million, the current spending record for the Premier League.

Caicedo and Mac Allister had been fundamental in the results obtained last season, yet they have already been replaced adequately: by the German Mahmoud Dahoud for example, signed at no cost by Borussia Dortmund, and by Billy Gilmour, bought already last year by Chelsea but initially used as a reserve. The player who is the most exciting, however, is the Japanese Kaoru Mitoma, an attacking winger bought two years ago from Kawasaki Frontale and now fundamental for the offensive department together with the eighteen-year-old Evan Ferguson, who after the six goals scored as a reserve last year now he is a starter and has already made four in five games.

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2023-09-25 15:15:57
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