Montreal to move Ferrari into unconventional left back role

Matteo Ferrari, Montreal Impact - May 2, 2012

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MONTREAL – Central defenders Alessandro Nesta, Nelson Rivas and Matteo Ferrari will all start for the Impact this Saturday against the Philadelphia Union at Stade Saputo (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE).

WATCH: Montreal Impact pre-match report

The question naturally arises whether manager Jesse Marsch is deciding to switch to a three-man backline or his usual four-man set.

Turns out it's more like a "three-and-a-half" defender formation in front of goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts. Ferrari will fill a less traditional left back role.

“We try to tilt it a little bit so that Matteo’s not an outright left back,” Marsch told reporters on Thursday. “We’re trying to feed into his strengths and the team’s strengths as well. Whatever he may call it, I just think it’s a modified center back position.

“And I think that [Nesta, Rivas and Ferrari] are all very smart and good enough players that it won’t be that big of an adjustment."

Ferrari has been playing more centrally this week in training than any other Montreal left back since preseason. So while the right back – expected to be either Hassoun Camara or Jeb Brovsky – will push up the field as per usual, don't expect the same attacking forays down the flank for Ferrari.

But the veteran Italian is certainly up for the defensive task at hand, whoever visiting Philadelphia boss John Hackworth throws his way.

Anything to help the Impact gain some revenge against a Union side that snatched the full three points with a late goal in a match played earlier this season. Ferrari says he's ready.

“I can say that I played against [Bayern Munich winger Arjen] Robben,” Ferrari said with a smile, "so it was a good test."