Every manager has their own style of play, and the Premier League’s top six teams are guided in opposing ways by some of the world’s most well-renowned coaches. The same applies in the international game, with certain teams playing contrasting styles of play to others. There are some parallels between club and international football, with certain club teams adopting several characteristics of various international teams.
But how do England’s top six mirror certain international teams? And, which international team does each club match up to?
Chelsea – Italy
Under the guidance of Antonio Conte, Chelsea are taking the Premier League by storm this season, combining solid defence with ruthless attack. After managing Juventus and Italy, Conte developed a distinct team structure, which has featured three at the back.
He has implemented a similar system at Chelsea, who have the best defensive record in the league. Italy are traditionally known for having a stubborn defence. Beyond this, they are blessed with some wonderfully gifted footballers. Chelsea also have this, and Conte is developing his new side along the same lines as he did with the Italian national team.
Arsenal – Brazil
In the past, Brazil have possessed some of the finest players ever, their iconic samba sides are amongst the best to play football.
One evident admirer of these teams is undoubtedly Arsene Wenger — the Frenchman wants to play to entertain just as Brazil always try to do.
Over the last few years, however, Brazil have not been quite as flamboyant. They seem unable to win football matches by simply playing one way, and Arsenal perhaps fall victim to this as well. Although they have some supremely talented footballers, both Arsenal and Brazil have lost some of the backbone that previously successful sides have had.
Spurs – England/Belgium
Mauricio Pochettino is currently managing a golden generation of players at Spurs, and their Anglo-Belgian core has formed the fundamental part of his plans.
Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen have formed an excellent partnership in central defence, supported by the versatile Eric Dier. Up ahead, Moussa Dembélé, Dele Alli and Harry Kane are continuing their fantastic form.
These players are fully established English and Belgian internationals. But like England and Belgium, Spurs’ current crop of players are yet to win any major honours, and are still in the shadows of England’s top clubs. Positively though, they have a bright, young squad which is vastly improving.
Liverpool – Chile
Over the last decade, Chilean football has undergone a revolution, which has seen La Roja develop into one of the best international teams in the world. The catalyst behind their recent success is Marcelo Bielsa, who managed Chile between 2007 and 2011.
Bielsa also did a fantastic job at Athletic Bilbao in Spain, and the Argentine has had an influence on many managers with his high-energy tactics and aggressive press. One manager clearly influenced by Bielsa is Jurgen Klopp, who has arguably used Bielsa’s sides as a blueprint for the way he wants his sides to play.
Manchester City – Spain
Just as Conte has successfully brought a quintessentially Italian-style look to Chelsea, Pep Guardiola is gradually turning Manchester City into a team with typically Spanish characteristics.
Guardiola is a fan of tiki-taka and total football. So far this season City have the highest average possession in the Premier League (60%). The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager hasn’t quite had the same effect on his new club as Conte just yet, but he understandably requires time to invest further into his squad.
It is clear though how Guardiola wants City to play — his style and system adheres to Spain’s which has been so successful on the international stage.
Manchester United – Portugal
It is exciting times for both Manchester United and Portugal. After United replaced Louis Van Gaal with Jose Mourinho in the summer, it was clear that they wanted a proven winner to oil them through the gears and guide them through the next stage.
Mourinho has a good mix of experience and young, hungry players at his disposal, just as Fernando Santos had with Portugal — which was evident last summer as they famously won Euro 2016. In the tournament, Portugal demonstrated that they were a flexible unit who could play in different ways, and the pragmatism of Santos is a trait he shares with his Portuguese compatriot Mourinho.