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Catenaccio (Lock)
by Jonathan Maghen

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Océ print/poster, 1/0 on pink paper, 24 x 36 inches
Edition of 11 + 2 proofs, numbered
Published by Textfield

Catenaccio is a tactical system in football with an emphasis on defense. In Italian, catenaccio means “lock”, emphasizing a highly organized and effective defense which is intended to prevent goals. The key innovation of Catenaccio was the introduction of the role of a libero, or sweeper, a player positioned behind the line of defenders. The sweeper’s role is to recover loose balls, nullify the opponent’s striker and double-mark when necessary. Catenaccio has been criticised for reducing the quality of football games as a spectacle; it became synonymous with “negative football” as it is focused primarily on defending. In the last thirty years Catenaccio has been largely abandoned for other, more balanced tactical approaches; Totaalvoetbal (Total Football), a tactical system created by Rinus Michels in the 1970s, eventually rendered Helenio Herrera’s version of Catenaccio obsolete.