Giorgio Chiellini, the Juventus centre-back, has claimed that a generation of Italian defenders have been “ruined” by Pep Guardiola’s tactics.

While Guardiola played for two seasons in Italy, he has never managed in the county. Nonetheless, Chiellini believes that his work at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City is reflected in Italy’s young defenders.

Speaking as Italy prepare to host Sweden for the second leg of their World Cup playoff, Chiellini said that Guardiola’s influence has led to defenders prioritising distribution over marking. He said, “Guardiolismo has ruined many Italian defenders a bit, now defenders know how to set the tone of play and they can spread the ball, but they don’t know how to mark. Unfortunately, that’s the way it is. When I was young, we used to do drills to get a feel for the man you were making. Nowadays, from crosses, Italian defenders, and I can only really talk for Italian defenders, I am only relatively interested about foreign players, don’t mark their man.”

He said that the situation is a ‘great pity’ as the players are losing their Italian DNA and the characteristics that helped the team to excel.

However, he does think that Italy is producing young defensive talent with players such as Juventus’ Daniele Rugani and Mattia Caldara, and AC Milan’s Alessio Romagnoli.

“Now, we need talented players up front, but we also need to bring somebody through in defence because we are never going to be able to play Spain’s tiki-taka because it’s not part of our philosophy,” he said.

He said that players such as Caldara, Rugani and Romagnoli need more international experience but said that many of them have already played in more games than he had at their age.