Zaccheroni's 3-4-3 Udinese 1997-98 135 goals scored 3.7 xg


Aug 15, 2011
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Recreating the brilliance of Alberto Zaccheroni's Udinese in the virtual realm of Football Manager requires a meticulous understanding of the key principles that fueled their success during the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons. Here's a detailed breakdown to guide you in emulating this iconic three-four-three formation:

Positive Mentality: Setting the Tone
Begin your journey by instilling a 'Positive' mentality in your squad. This serves as the bedrock for an aggressive and proactive playing style, akin to Zaccheroni's Udinese, ensuring dominance on the field while minimizing counterattack vulnerabilities.


In Possession: Crafting the Symphony
  • Fairly Wide Attacking Width:
    • Create a fluid attacking dynamic by employing a 'Fairly Wide' attacking width. This allows your team to centralize play while leveraging the width provided by the wing-backs, enabling exploitation of both central and wide areas.
  • Build from the Back: Play Out of Defense:
    • Mirror Zaccheroni's trademark style by implementing 'Play Out of Defense.' This essential instruction fosters a patient and controlled build-up from the defense, aligning with Udinese's composed possession play.
  • Slightly Shorter Passes and Higher Tempo:
    • Craft intricate passing sequences reminiscent of Udinese's quick, intelligent play. Opt for 'Slightly Shorter Passes' and a 'Higher Tempo' to facilitate rapid ball circulation, catching opponents off guard and creating fluid attacking movements.
  • Low Crosses:
    • Emphasize 'Low Crosses' to replicate Udinese's preference for grounded deliveries. Adjust to 'Floated Crosses' if blessed with three tall forwards known for their heading prowess, ensuring your tactics align with your squad's strengths.
  • Work the Ball into the Box:
    • This instruction encourages your team to create scoring opportunities within the box rather than relying on shots from outside. It promotes a patient and strategic approach, emphasizing quality chances over quantity.


Transition: Seizing Opportunities
  • Counter and Counterpress:
    • Integrate 'Counter' and 'Counterpress' into your tactics. Zaccheroni's Udinese actively defended, pressing opponents to regain possession swiftly. This dual approach sets the stage for launching effective counter-attacks from advanced positions.
  • Goalkeeper Instructions:
    • Direct your goalkeeper to 'Distribute to Center Backs' and 'Take Short Kicks.' This aligns with Zaccheroni's emphasis on building play from the back, ensuring a controlled distribution and initiation of your team's offensive movements.


Out of Possession: Defensive Mastery
  • High Pressing Line and Higher Defensive Line:
    • Dominate the defensive phase with a 'High Pressing Line' and a 'Higher Defensive Line.' This compact defensive structure limits opponent space, replicating Udinese's cohesive defensive unit.
  • Trap Outside and Step Up More:
    • Utilize 'Trap Outside' to force opponents toward touchlines, limiting their passing options. Combine this with 'Step Up More' to implement an effective offside trap and disrupt the opponent's offensive rhythm.
  • Prevent Short GK Distribution and Trigger Press Much More Often:
    • Strategically prevent short goalkeeper distributions by employing 'Prevent Short GK Distribution.' Combine this with 'Trigger Press Much More Often' to incessantly press opponents, disrupting their build-up and creating turnovers in advantageous areas.
  • Stop Crosses:
    • Bolster your defensive resolve by instructing your team to 'Stop Crosses.' This prevents opponents from delivering dangerous crosses into the box, maintaining defensive solidity.


Players instructions

Goalkeeper: Luigi Turci - Sweeper-Keeper in Support
Luigi Turci operates as a sweeper-keeper in support, and no specific additional instructions are given.
Central Defenders: Valerio Bertotto and Alessandro Calori - Wide-Center Backs in Support
Both central defenders, Valerio Bertotto and Alessandro Calori, are deployed as wide-center backs in support. They are instructed to dribble more to aid in the build-up play and mark tighter to maintain defensive solidity.
Central Defender: Giovanni Bia - Ball Playing Defender in Defend
Giovanni Bia plays as a ball-playing defender in a defending role. He is tasked with covering the central areas and providing support in building up from the back. To ensure positional discipline, he is instructed to close down less.
Wing-Backs: Helveg and Bachini - Wing-Backs in Attack
The wing-backs, Helveg on the right and Bachini on the left, assume attacking roles. To exploit the wide areas effectively, they are instructed to run wide with the ball, stay wider, and mark tighter.
Central Midfielders: Giannichedda and Walem - Box-to-Box and Roaming Playmaker
Giannichedda, positioned as the right central midfielder, plays the role of a box-to-box midfielder with a focus on ball-winning. Walem, on the left, operates as a roaming playmaker, emphasizing distribution. Walem is instructed to dribble more, mark tighter, and move into channels.
Inverted Wingers: Amoroso and Poggi - Inverted Wingers in Attack
Amoroso and Poggi, deployed as inverted wingers, cut inside to play in central areas. They are instructed to sit narrower, roam from position, pass it shorter, tackle harder, and mark tighter.
Striker: Oliver Bierhoff - Advanced Forward in Attack
Oliver Bierhoff serves as the advanced forward in an attacking role. His instructions include dribbling less to focus on link-up play, shooting more often as the primary goal-scorer, and defending with harder tackles and tighter marking.


To bring the magic of Alberto Zaccheroni's Udinese back to life on Football Manager, the emulation journey began with the 1998-99 database in Football Manager 2023, applicable to Football Manager 2024 with a starting date set in July 2022. Despite the database reflecting a period where Zaccheroni, Helveg, and Bierhoff had moved to AC Milan, a bit of managerial maneuvering using the Football Manager Offline Editor was employed. This ensured the return of Helveg, Bierhoff, and other key players to Udinese, recreating the squad of the iconic 1997-98 season.
The results of this tactical homage were nothing short of spectacular. The team clinched the double, securing both the Italian Serie A title and the Italian Cup. However, the dream run in the UEFA Champions League was halted in the Quarter Finals by a formidable Manchester United. In Serie A, the squad boasted the best attack, netting an impressive 135 goals. The defense, though not the absolute best, held its ground with the 6th best record, conceding 50 goals. Bierhoff emerged as the talisman, finding the net a staggering 77 times across all competitions, including being the top scorer in Serie A with 56 goals. Amoroso contributed with 39 goals, Poggi added 10 to the tally, and Helveg showcased his playmaking prowess with an impressive 30 assists.
Statistical insights further illuminate the success of the tactic: an xG of 3.97 per game demonstrated offensive prowess, while a pass completion ratio of 88.31% highlighted the team's exceptional ball circulation. Defensively, the team maintained a tackles won ratio of 76.79%, showcasing their effectiveness in winning back possession.
In the second save I used the current database (upgraded to February 1st 2024) and managed Juventus. I won SERIE A with 88 points (3 points more than AC Milan), 94 goals scored (best attack) and 27 goals allowed (2nd defense) and Dusan Vlahovic with 36 goals is the Serie A Topscorer. With a xg of 2.47 per game we always dominated our opponents playing beautiful football.
In conclusion, this emulation of Zaccheroni's iconic 3-4-3 at Udinese proved to be not only a nostalgic trip down football history but also a winning formula in the virtual realm of Football Manager. The results speak volumes, underlining the potency and effectiveness of this classic tactical approach.







Tactic analyisis, emulation, stats and highlights in my youtube video



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