Definition of catenaccio in English:



mass nounSoccer
  • A very defensive system of play, especially one employing a sweeper.

    • ‘Well, David, catenaccio is a style of football pioneered by Helenio Herrera's Internazionale side in the sixties, I think.’
    • ‘The one positive they can take home is that, after years of catenaccio, they showed they can play effective attacking soccer.’
    • ‘It would be nice to think this was a record, but in fact any visitor to Italy in the past 50 years might have had the same experience. ‘They still have catenaccio in Italy,’ Ronaldo once said. ‘They just don't call it that anymore.’
    • ‘This feat had been achieved by Jock Stein's men playing a swashbuckling brand of attacking football that was anathema to Latins tutored in the strangulating defensive ways of catenaccio.’
    • ‘One of the firmest stereotypes in football history - Italians being rigid, defensive-minded bores, too fixated with their catenaccio to care about offence - has been disintegrating for the past two seasons in particular.’


1970s: Italian, literally ‘bolt’, from catena ‘chain’ + the pejorative suffix -accio.