A tactical analysis of Massimo Carrera’s Spartak Moscow

”He changed our tactics and gave us character.” Spartak Moscow captain Denis Glushakov on Massimo Carrera.

Spartak Moscow haven’t won the Russian Premier League title since 2001, but they are currently sat five points clear at the top of the table with 40 points from 17 games. Their turnaround in fortunes can be attributed to Italian Coach Massimo Carrera, who has revolutionised ‘The People’s Team’ since taking over the reins back in August. The former assistant succeeded ex-boss Dmitri Alenichev, who resigned following the club’s early elimination from the Europa League at the hands of Cypriot side AEK LarnacaTactically, Carrera is similar to Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, who he previously worked with at Juventus. He shares Conte’s obsession for building the play out from the back, some attacking patterns, and even defensively, he prefers man marking and defending from deeper zones.

Not only are Spartak getting results under Carrera, but they are also impressing with their style of play. They are a team with clear ideas, an attacking mentality based on ball possession, and are to some extent a mix between Conte’s and Pep Guardiola’s teams. In terms of formations, Carrera mostly utilises 4-2-3-1, although he sometimes opts for 4-3-3 configuration.

​What follows is an exploration and analysis into the methods of Carrera, and the implementation of his tactics at Spartak Moscow.


PictureSpartak start the plays through short passes from the keeper to one of the centre-backs or to the defensive midfielder at the edge of their own penalty area. The full-backs are wide, while the other defensive midfielder is positioned behind the opponent’s first pressing line.

PictureCarrera relies on his centre-backs to progress the ball and to spot a good vertical option. Two of Serdar Tasci, Ilya Kutepov or Salvatore Bocchetti split wide in the build-up phase, offering a first option to the goalkeeper. They help progression of the ball through their vertical penetrative passes to the midfield or straight to one of the strikers, and they also advance with the ball through half-spaces if allowed, often when the defensive midfielders are marked.

PictureThe full-backs push high up the pitch and are responsible for providing width. Fernando drops between the centre-backs, while the wingers move inside into the half-spaces giving good presence between the lines.​