Incoming Bayern Munich head coach Carlo Ancelotti has backed a counter-attacking team to win Euro 2016 and highlighted Leicester City and Atletico Madrid as examples of teams achieving success without playing possession football.
Leicester upset the odds to win the Premier League this season, while Atleti overcame favourites Barcelona and Bayern to reach the Champions League final where they were beaten by city rivals Real Madrid.
Spain head to France as the two-time defending European champions, successes they achieved with their famous possession, tiki-taka style.
But former AC Milan and Real Madrid boss Ancelotti believes Euro 2016 will see a different approach flourish.
“When I look back over the league seasons in the biggest football countries in Europe, and then ahead to the tournament in France over the next six weeks, I believe that Euro 2016 could be a tournament suited to one style above all. This could be the tournament of counter-attacking football,” Ancelotti told The Telegraph.
“Just look at how Leicester City have won the Premier League this season by counter-attacking against teams with pace and aggression. The same could be said of Atletico Madrid, who reached the final of the Champions League again with that approach of allowing opposition teams to have the ball and then attacking them quickly when possession was turned over.
“It is a simple truth that if you want a team to play out from the back, to build the play patiently, then that takes hours on the training pitch to develop and refine unless, like Spain, you have a group of players who have been doing it all their lives. A more simple approach is to set your side up to play counter-attacking football.”
England will be hopeful of going all the way at Euro 2016 after an impressive qualification campaign in which they had a 100 per cent winning record and Ancelotti believes Roy Hodgson’s men can end their 50-year wait for a major trophy by playing counter-attacking football.
“In the England team, for instance, Hodgson has Jamie Vardy, a player who has been stretching defences all season and doing it very well. I like Vardy and given the right circumstances I believe he could cause some big problems to opposition teams on the counter-attack. Harry Kane is able to play this way as well,” Ancelotti added.
“England have many quick forward players to counter-attack teams, although any side that wants to play that way has to be confident in its defence holding strong because there will be times when the opposition has a lot of the possession.
“I know there are concerns in England about the quality of the defence but when I look at Roy Hodgson’s squad I see a lot of very good young players – Kane, Dele Alli, Ross Barkley and then, new to international football, Vardy. Kyle Walker is a player I rate too. The challenge for Roy is to build a team out of these pieces.
“England could be a surprise success in this tournament if they adopt a winning mentality and pick their best team. To do that they need a positive attitude and to understand they have good players.”