FeatureSerie A

The B-B-C at the heart of Italy

B-B-C: We often hear the saying in football, “The most underrated position in football is
Defense”. This is probably said because of the lack of proper statistics to back up a
defender’s hard work and effort he puts in a game of football. Sure, there are stats to
showcase a defender’s worth, but if they were really given credit, rather than favouring
the goal scorers of the game, the last defender to win a Balon D’or wouldn’t have been
Fabio Cannavaro that too, 13 years back in 2006.


Nevertheless, I’m going to talk about the famous Italian pairing of CB(s), the other B-B-
C of football, the #TRIO of Bonucci, Barzagli, Chiellini and how they revolutionized the
art of defending.

Here is how the B-B-C was formed

The arrival of the Italian coach, Antonio Conte at Juventus on 22nd May 2011 marked
the beginning of the trio, and also, the beginning of domination of  The Old Lady; in
Italian and world football.


Giorgio Chiellini, who was present at the club before Conte, had been previously
deployed as Left Back and Centre-Back, but originally played as Left-Back under Conte
during the first period of his managerial reign.

Leonardo Bonucci, who was also present at the club before Conte, usually played as
CB in a four-man defence alongside Chiellini but would find himself fighting for the
starting berth with fellow countryman Andrea Barzagli, when Conte initially played a 4-
4-2 or a 4-2-4.

Conte was quick to chalk out his main tactic and changed the formation of then
Juventus lineup to a 3-5-2, where he played the #TRIO of CB(s) as his back three, aided
with wingbacks and deep-lying playmakers. This is where the partnership between
Bonucci, Barzagli and Chiellini started forming, they clicked and clicked well. Juventus
won their first Scudetto in nine years, conceding the least number of goals in the league
with only 20 goals and also qualified to the finals of Copa Italia that year.


The following years were full of success for the club and people started praising
Conte’s innovation and the back three of Juve. Juve won three back-to-back
Scudetto(s) under Conte from 2012 to 2014, where his defence was the key reason of
his triumph, alongside the world-class goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon between the sticks
for him. Juventus won the 2nd Scudetto despite their top-scorers being midfielder
Arturo Vidal and forward Mirko Vučinić, both with just ten goals and this further
solidifies the point of how crucial their defence was for their success.

Bonucci was their ball-playing CB, who could launch an attack from the back with long
passes, whereas Barzagli and Chiellini stood firm like rocks for oppositions trying to
break them down. Barzagli’s anticipation and sprint speed combined with Chiellini’s
“no-nonsense” style of gameplay and his versatility proved to be the key to their and
the team’s overall success. Because of the latter two’s brilliant defensive capabilities,
Bonucci could use his creative front to combine with other players, mainly with Pirlo to
set up attacks from the back and also score some important goals for the club. All of
their solid positional sense and ability to read the game brilliantly and adapt
accordingly is the focal point to be stressed and analysed upon if one is to know their
real reason for success, which stats fail to showcase often.


Juve and Conte didn’t have a good relationship. He showed a very strong personality
and things were complicated by an economic dispute between him and the club. The
club failed to bring two of the players Conte demanded, Juan Cuadrado and Alexis
Sanchez. The vacancy of Italy’s national team managerial position also had something
to do with his timing of exit. Conte left Juventus at the beginning of the 14-15 season to
join Italy’s national team as their manager.

Massimiliano Allegri replaced Conte at the club, even after initial ambivalence. He
continued the trademark 3-5-2 for some time but later shifted to a 4-man backline.
This meant that Barzagli was shifted to a Right-Back role in the start of the 15-16 season
ahead of Stephen Lichtsteiner, where he impressed but this shift broke the trio of B-B-
C t Juventus.

A feud between Bonucci and Allegri being the main reason, an exit of the player
followed to AC Milan which furthermore separated the #TRIO. Though he returned to
Juve the next season, their partnership didn’t remain the same any longer.
In the last home game of the 18-19 season for Juve, the veteran Barzagli played his last
match and announced retirement, this officially marked the end of the B-B-C trio of


To summarize, Conte brought a revolution to football by innovating with the three-at-
the-back formation which led to the genesis of one of the greatest three-man
partnership we have seen in football. They were crucial for their club to end the
dominance of AC Milan in the Italian domestic scene and brought about their
dominance, which is evident as Juve recently won their 8th consecutive Scudetto. They
also are the prime example, teams take when they play with three at the back, like
Conte himself did when he took over Chelsea.

Their gradual separation from being together didn’t affect Juventus much as the
building blocks of the future success of the club were already put ion by the #TRIO and
Conte, but seeing them play together and dominate at such high footballing levels is
something mere words can never express.




    A guy who loves football

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