The art of defending(to win) was introduced in the early 60s and the Italians were the ones that perfected that strategy and used it to dominate world football for 4 decades winning 4 FIFA world cup (one shy of Brazil) and 12 UCL(Milan 7,inter 3, juve 2)…
Little wonder that the most boring champions league final was played between two top defensive mindeditalian teams; 2003 UCL was won on penalties with Andrily Shevchenko scoring the winner.
Catennaccio literally means ‘calcio’ in Italian it means to lock up,to bolt.
AC Milan used it to perfection in the 1970s and excelled before “total football” was discovered by the Dutch as the perfect antidote, thus Ajax defeated inter by 2:0 in 1972 European cup final, and the next year 1973, Ajax defeated AC Milan by 6:1
Another period that saw Italian defense excelled was the 90s where the club AC Milan were the masters of defensive walls using formation like 1–4–4–1 (O.M.G) with the back 1 as the “libero”
Ac Milan paraded Paolo maldini, Alessandro Nesta,Costacurta, Jaap Stam,and Cafu with Maldini as the libero, no wonder they excelled.
Juventus from the 2010s had their own share of defensive powers; chiellini, bonnucci,etc and the result is 7 consecutive series A scuddetto.
This defense is something being passed from one italian generation to another. Its their pride and they take glory in it.
Most foreigners that played in italian leagues noticed that they use defense as “Machiavellian art” to cause subtle foul play.