Hey guys, this is my first time writing an article so pls forgive me for my naive comments if they are not appropriate.
Looking at our current inter squad, i cannot be more pleased than anything else other than our current midfield line-up. Julio Cesar is world-class. Our defense is really impressive with maicon, samuel, lucio, chivu/santon. Our attack is formidable with eto'o, milito, pandev and balotelli. However, our midfield is nowhere the same standard compared to our world-class attack or defense. Agree?
Mourinho won the UCL in 2004 with an extremely disciplined Porto team. Its midfield consists of the 3 tenacious DMs - Mendes, Costinha and Maniche with Deco as the trequatista. It pretty much resembles our current diamond formation and our current midfield line-up does not seem to lose out too much when compared to the mediorce line-up of Costinha, Maniche and Mendes.
So what is the problem? Yes, the word is tenacious. Mourinho's side triumphed in 2004 because of their discipline and extremely strong defensive mentality. They believed as long as they scored.. they were going to win because they were not going to concede. That was how strong that mentality was. Its discipline coupled with the tenacity of the midfield ensured the opponents had no space or time to control the ball.
Lets compare it with Mourinho's chelsea side then. His 4-3-3 revolutionalized EPL with its 3 ferocious and tenacious midfielders - Makelele, Essien and Lampard. All three of them are extremely dynamic and tenacious. Makelele was the best DM, Essien the best box-to-box tenacious ball-winner and Lampard one of the best finishers as well.
So look at our own midfield again and reflect just a little bit. Its not because 4-3-3 is not able to work in Italy. It's because we don't have enough quality in our midfield to play with just 3 midfielders. Cambiasso and Zanetti are nowhere near tenacious.. they are considered passive. Cambiasso is intelligent, quick-witted but he lacks speed and tenacity. Zanetti is a tank, would not stop running, protects the ball well.. but does not have the impact factor as compared to true midfielders (e.g. essien, lampard & etc.)
Muntari and Motta have been disappointing. Muntari has tenacity but lack the technical abilities to control our midfield when required. Motta is too injury-proned and he has a weak mentality. He requires the whole team to be playing well in order for him to play well.
The lack of dynamism and tenacity is ruining our play. We dont have enough quality in midfield to link-up between our world-class defense and attack. Hence, our best way is always to pump it up and hope our extremely good attacks and bring down the ball, control it and wait for our slow midfield to catch up. Even so, sometimes they dont reach in time, making us proned to stupid counter attacks (e.g. Siena and Bari games).
Stankovic and Sneijder are the only real dynamic midfielders we have. That is not enough. We are placing 100% reliance on Sneijder at the moment and I'm pleased he has lived up to it well. However, he is still not the true trequatista with flair that I think we are lacking. Sneijder is good at shooting, set-pieces and tight-controls but is still nowhere near the flair levels of ronaldinho, kaka, gourcuff and players like this.
To sum it up, our midfield is too slow on and off the ball. It is not compact and dynamic enough not because our midfielders are poor but because of the passive character and nature of our midfielders. Hence, we do not have the quality in midfield to play with 4-3-3 and we dont have quality wingers to play with 4-3-3 as well unless RQ7 can be consistent (i.e. which is impossible at this current rate).
Our best chance is to stick with 4-4-2 diamond. Hopefully the signing of Mariga can bring some strength and tenacity to our midfield. Still, there are many issues to be addressed with our diamond midfield and it would only be truly tested when we play against Chelsea. Lets hope for the best.