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Cardiff (a) - Fri 6th Nov 18:00 - What Can We Expect?


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6 minutes ago, Davefevs said:

 

Cardiff City (a) – Fri 6th November 18:00 (on Sky) – What Can We Expect?

Last season’s fixtures ended up with 1-0 wins for the away side and both resulted in the losing manager getting the sack.  I don’t think that’s on the agenda this time around, but both clubs will be mightily relieved to have won on Tuesday to end their respective winless runs ahead of this fixture and the upcoming international break.

Cardiff have made a slow start to the season having made the play-offs last time around, winning only 3 of their opening 10 league matches and find themselves well down the table in 13th place.  City after winning at Huddersfield have recovered to 7th.

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Pic 1 - Championship Table ahead of this weekend's fixtures [BBC Sport]

Who’s the boss:

The Bluebirds are managed by 43-year-old Neil Harris, the ex-Millwall man.  As a player, he was a Millwall legend, scoring over 120 goals across two spells between 1998 and 2011.  Was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2001 but after battling through treatment got the all-clear a year later and carried on banging in the goals thereafter.

He took over the u21s at the New Den in 2011 and had several caretaker stints before finally getting the job full-time in 2015 as they started life back in League One.  Harris led them to the play-offs in his first full season, but they lost to Barnsley.  He didn’t miss out second time around though, as Millwall beat Scunthorpe to achieve promotion.  Harris resigned from Millwall in October 2019, but with Warnock’s sacking a month later, he was appointed by Cardiff.  Harris got some momentum and achieved a playoff place (5th) but Fulham beat them in the two-legged semi-final.

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Pic 2 - Neil Harris - Cardiff Manager

Formation / System

Harris hasn’t deviated away from his 4231 starting formation that we saw last season when they won 1-0 at Ashton Gate in July.  That is until Tuesday against Barnsley where they won 3-0.

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Pic 3 - Cardiff's typical 4231 versus QPR last weekend

We can see the flat back four, two defensive midfielders screening / protecting the centre-backs and then three advanced midfielders to link-up with the centre-forward.

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Pic 4 - Cardiff retain their 4231 through substitutions (versus QPR)

Harris made a change at half-time on Saturday with Cardiff 2-0 down, bringing on Hoilett for Vaulks, and switching Ralls to play alongside Pack.  Ralls scored twice to draw the game level, but QPR scored late on for the win.  Tomlin replaced Murphy also.

However, on Tuesday he went against his standard system and changed it to a traditional 442 just to keep me on my toes!

62B66C5B-2CF8-4B56-85B3-C90D0A0ECC35.thumb.jpeg.b660209e92f084bd8eb883e2d2c152a8.jpeg

Pic 5 - Harris's 442 versus Barnsley

I wonder whether this was a reaction to a poor run, or a specific tactic to play over the top of Barnsley’s frenetic Gegen-press by introducing the physical Robert Glatzel alongside Kieffer Moore.  Dean Holden will be left guessing on Friday evening.  Could be some late tactical adjustments when the team sheets are revealed.  The other reason could Harris’s response to some defensive shape issues which I’ll cover later.

How do they play:

From watching Cardiff play it’s easy to get drawn into thinking they will be a typical direct team, but there appears to be no reliance on going long.  They aren’t a passing / possession team, but they aren’t long ball merchants either.  If we compare numbers, they’ve actually hit fewer long passes this season than City (522 vs 561) but they make less passes (3076 – 16.9% vs 3594 – 15.6%).  However, they are good at it, 59.8% find their target (49.4% City).  It is that success that means they can get possession higher up the pitch from knockdowns and loose balls.

At the other end of the pitch, Morrison and Nelson often dominate in the air and Cardiff lead the Championship in percentage of aerial duels won (55.3%) and defend the 5th most aerial challenges (behind Rotherham, Millwall, Wycombe and Stoke.  I think teams need to wise up and find different methods of attacking them (more on this later).  [all data from Wyscout before Tuesday’s matches]

Moore, Moore, Moore:

Not a reference to Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” but Kieffer Moore’s abilities up-front.  At at 6’5” he is very good in the air, but he is an effective part of their armoury with his willingness to run the channels too.  They aren’t over-reliant on aiming for him in the air at every opportunity.

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Pic 6 - Kieffer Moore's duels versus QPR [Wyscout]

We can see a tendency for Moore to favour the right sided channel when receiving balls played within Cardiff’s half, and that’s where he has most success too.  Earlier this season, Nottingham Forest stopped challenging him in the air and focussed on picking up the nod-downs and loose balls.  A dangerous tactic as Moore is capable of getting the ball down himself and bringing the midfield into play.

Once Cardiff have established possession over the halfway line, Moore becomes the target for diagonal balls into the box or crosses.

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Pic 7 - Pack aims for Moore versus QPR

In the above situation Cardiff have gained good possession inside QPR’s half.  QPR are in decent defensive shape, but Cardiff know the game-plan and Moore is the target.  He’s already trying to peel off of the back of QPR’s Barbet.

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Pic 8 - Moore has runners

Cardiff’s advanced players (circled) are on the move, they expect Moore to win the header.  Barbet decides to handle the ball and give away a pretty stupid penalty.  City can expect this angle of attack on Friday evening.

Cardiff are happy to put the ball in the box from more advanced positions too.

 

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Pic 9 - Vaulks crosses from 30 yards out versus Derby

Here we see Cardiff squeezing Derby into their own third where Will Vaulks (6) crosses into an area.  Cardiff will flood the penalty area where they can, their players are proactive when they see a ball hit into the air.  On this occasion it is Moore who gets on the end of it but heads tamely wide.

Mind the gap!

This is a very different Cardiff team in terms of defensive discipline.  I’m used to seeing the two defensive midfielders giving the forwards no space to receive passes into feet but they’re also really good at stopping the opposition breaking the lines.  However, this season I’ve seen the two centre-backs exposed more than I’ve ever seen.  This is something which City need to exploit.

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Pic 10 - Good movement from Derby creates space

In the example above its really good movement as a pair by Waghorn (9) and Jozwiak (7).  Waghorn comes short, Jozwiak hangs off of Nelson.  But as Jozwiak comes short, Waghorn runs forward to make Nelson worried about the space behind him, so he stays where he is.  There is also no pressure on the passer (Moore arrives well after the pass has been made) and Jozwiak gets the ball unmarked and turns towards goal.  We see Cardiff’s midfielders realising that they are now wrong side.

This starts to become a recurring theme and I wonder whether the 2 “DMs” are being let down by the three in front of them?

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Pic 11 - Cardiff concede a late goal to QPR

Although Cardiff’s back four and two DMs look in decent defensive shape as QPR play a long ball forward in the last few minutes, we see that the midfield three aren’t showing any real interest in where Morrison’s header might land.  Marlon Pack has got caught watching the header and Dominic Ball (red circle) anticipates that the ball might drop in the gap.  He guesses right, runs off of Pack and lashes a volley home from 25 yards for the winner.

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Pic 12 - Another runner off of the back of Cardiff's DMs (versus Barnsley)

A different game, a different example, but the same result, even with the new 442.  Pack and Vaulks allow the Barnsley player to run off of them on their blindside to create a crossing chance.  Lots of pointing, not enough marking!

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Pic 13 - More runners between the lines (versus Derby)

Here’s another!  Derby get a 4 on 4 break, but check the space the Derby player has, and the options he has.  I’m just not used to seeing Cardiff’s midfield running towards their own goal, they normally are so well positioned and ensure they are facing the opposition who can then only play in front of them.

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Pic 14 - Preston at it too!

And for good measure, here’s one more, versus Preston.  An obvious problem, but up to City to find a way to get players like Paterson in the pockets between the lines.

Going the other way: 

Until the system change on Tuesday Cardiff have had a wealth of talent in the attacking midfield areas.  Perhaps their first instinct is to attack rather than support their two DMs? You can see why when you see names like Lee Tomlin (now injured), Sheyi Ojo, Junior Hoilett, Joe Ralls, Josh Murphy and recent loan signing Harry Wilson from Liverpool.

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Pic 15 - Pack releases Ojo versus Derby

With little pressure on Pack in the centre circle he can pick out Sheyi Ojo with a pass between the lines.  Derby’s midfield not doing themselves any favours either.

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Pic 16 - Ojo drives towards the box

Ojo receives the pass, turns towards goal where Moore makes a Pukki-like run off of Christie and slots under the keeper for a goal.  An example of 5 marking too also!!

In the next example, simple enough instruction for City - don’t give Harry Wilson time to shoot around the box!

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Pic 17 - Wilson within range versus Barnsley

A simple but quick two-pass move from the right wing, inside and then onto Wilson, who manoeuvres the ball onto his trusty left-peg and strikes the ball into the top right corner.  Against Huddersfield on Tuesday, City gave the Terriers a bit too much time around the box, but only Pipa was prepared to shoot.  I’d suggest if City do the same with Wilson on Friday it will likely end up with Bentley being a busy man!

Set pieces:

Cardiff will be a threat from corners and free kicks with the likes of Sean Morrison and Kieffer Moore, plus Robert Glatzel if he starts.  I’m glad that they decided to let Callum Paterson leave for Sheffield Wednesday (and Aden Flint) as he was always an extra physical presence to contend with.

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Pic 18 - Cardiff with a free-kick versus Barnsley

Although the free kick above is aimed for a dangerous zone, it is worth noticing that Kieffer Moore isn’t the target.  He’s situated to the right, but I am assuming he is doing this to take one of Barnsley’s best defenders away from the intended landing area to give Morrison a better chance of winning the ball.  Just something to watch out for.

The Players (as I expect them to line-up on Sunday):

GK: Alex Smithies (30) – former Huddersfield man who joined in the summer of 2018 for £3.5m.  A very good penalty save record throughout his career too.  Very agile.

RB: Leandro Bacuna (29) – Dutch u21 international, who has swapped international allegiance and plays for Curaçao.  Ex-Villa and Groningen player who is a really good player, can do it all…but prone to the odd poor moment too.  Brother of Juninho Bacuna at Huddersfield.  Played the last couple of games at right-back.

LB: Joe Bennett (30) – started at Boro, before moves to Villa, Brighton and loans to Bournemouth and Wednesday.  Steady LB who’s only missed two league games this season, and a good passer from the back.

CB: Sean Morrison (29) – physical centre-back who has made his way up through the leagues having started at Plymouth and then Swindon.  Had good spells at Huddersfield and Reading before arriving at Cardiff in August 2014.  A key part of the promotion winning side too.

CB: Curtis Nelson (27) – solid centre-back who I remember from his Plymouth days when he looked a good prospect.  No surprise he’s playing at this level and seems to have firmly cemented his place alongside Morrison, having ousted Aden Flint last season.

CM: Joe Ralls (27) – started in Cardiff youth set up and an underrated part of this current squad.  Left footed player with 3 goals this season, with a couple from the spot.  Will be the player busting a gut to pick up any loose balls and nod downs in our midfield and springing forward from there.

CM: Marlon Pack (29) – a player we didn’t expect to see signing for the Bluebirds last season.  Had a really progressive 6 seasons at The Gate, and whilst he got good reviews initially, I’m not sure he’s been as effective in a blue shirt as he was in a red one.  It’s possible, Pack’s competition may come from Will Vaulks (27) - ex-Rotherham man who has done really well under Harris having not got much of a look-in under Warnock who signed him, and then signed Pack

ACM: Harry Wilson (23) – Liverpool loanee with a hammer of a left-foot.  Welsh international who’s had loans at Crewe, Hull, Derby and Bournemouth and good scoring records at each.  Definitely need to close him down around our penalty area.

RW: Sheyi Ojo (23) – another Liverpool loanee with the ability to carry the ball into the dangerous areas.  Making a good impact in South Wales having spent last season at Glasgow Rangers.  Also had loans at Wolves, Fulham, Wigan and Reims.

LW: Junior Hoilett (30) – Canadian international who’s had a very good career, with 150+ games in both the Premier League and Championship.  Arrived on a free but with a rumoured £60k per week wage!  Skilful wide-man who likes to cut in onto his right foot and fire in shots.  Can change a game and imho one of the best players at this level.  Also, in with a chance of a start is Josh Murphy (25) - £10m signing from Norwich in the summer of 2018 when Cardiff were promoted.  Brother of Newcastle winger Jacob Murphy.

CF: Kieffer Moore (28) – another Welsh international who has battled through the lower leagues before making a name for himself at Wigan, prompting a move from Cardiff in the summer.  Started at Truro City before going on to play for Dorchester, Yeovil, Viking (Norway), Forest Green, Ipswich and Barnsley.  My Dangerman!

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Pic 19 - Kieffer Moore in action for Wales

If Harris keeps his 442 then he will use Robert Glatzel (26) as his second striker – the £5m signing from FC Heidenheim last summer, the big German has not made the impact expected, but looks more settled since the return from Covid last season.

Prediction:

Both teams will fancy their chances after midweek wins, but I see City returning back across the Severn Bridge with a point.

Cardiff City 1:1 Bristol City

Interesting to see if we go with a back three against ‘one’ or try to match Cardiff up in formation.

My big concern against Cardiff is height , both defensively and offensively. Could we see Fam start ?

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My summary is, I expect Cardiff to cheat throughout the game & for the referee to allow them to get away with holding, tripping, pulling, pushing, diving & time wasting (if they are in a position to want to).

Exactly what I expect from Cardiff, Millwall, Birmingham, Preston & Stoke before every game we play against them all.

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12 minutes ago, daored said:

Interesting to see if we go with a back three against ‘one’ or try to match Cardiff up in formation.

My big concern against Cardiff is height , both defensively and offensively. Could we see Fam start ?

I thought he worked hard with not much quality first half v Bournemouth, but he’s been very lacklustre this season in limited opportunities.  Martin has defended the near post more than adequately this season so far.

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Just now, Davefevs said:

I thought he worked hard with not much quality first half v Bournemouth, but he’s been very lacklustre this season in limited opportunities.  Martin has defended the near post more than adequately this season so far.

I agree he hasn’t made Dean have to make a decision in the sense of how Semenyo has done. I think he’s our fourth striker currently 

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19 minutes ago, daored said:

Interesting to see if we go with a back three against ‘one’ or try to match Cardiff up in formation.

My big concern against Cardiff is height , both defensively and offensively. Could we see Fam start ?

Cardiff went with two up front in midweek to try & end their run of no wins & it clearly worked, so I’d say he’s more likely to stick to two up top against us tomorrow.

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34 minutes ago, daored said:

Interesting to see if we go with a back three against ‘one’ or try to match Cardiff up in formation.

My big concern against Cardiff is height , both defensively and offensively. Could we see Fam start ?

Think we will struggle against any set play which includes 100 long throws!!  We ain’t the biggest team and Vyner picking up Morrison or Moore isn’t a good thought

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We did well there last season, 1-0. COD was good and I think he was good second half vs Hudds. Hopefully he and the team plays good again. The win on Wednesday was important for confidence think we can win again. Solid defensive and we have several players who can score. It would be lovely to have COD as a matchwinner. Criticied him a lot but maybe he now have the confidence and can play well.

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59 minutes ago, Tipps69 said:

Cardiff went with two up front in midweek to try & end their run of no wins & it clearly worked, so I’d say he’s more likely to stick to two up top against us tomorrow.

They did, 4231 every game....started my clips editing on Monday and Tuesday, had it all planned and then see he goes 442.  Bastard!! 😉

I suspect he will stick with it....but jeez, Pack looks like he’s treading water in most of the stuff I watched. If they go 442 then he could easily be isolated.

In the past in their 4231 Ralls gets through so much ugly stuff, gobbling up loose balls in the CAM it means Pack can stay deep.  But in a 442 he’s having to cover a lot more of the pitch.

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His passing heatmap is all over the place....good for Cardiff, bad for him.  At City we were used to him sitting around the centre circle and dictating.

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I honestly don’t know.  A lot will depend on how Harris lines up.  If he goes 442, then I can see him going 352, Moore back in for Rowe.  He might go that way anyway and if Harris goes back to 4231 he could either switch Vyner out of CB into RB or push him into midfield.  So I think he starts 352 and sees how Harris goes.

(Started back at Lloyds yesterday)

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9 hours ago, Tipps69 said:

My summary is, I expect Cardiff to cheat throughout the game & for the referee to allow them to get away with holding, tripping, pulling, pushing, diving & time wasting (if they are in a position to want to).

Exactly what I expect from Cardiff, Millwall, Birmingham, Preston & Stoke before every game we play against them all.

Didn't know you were a red, Donald

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12 hours ago, Tipps69 said:

My summary is, I expect Cardiff to cheat throughout the game & for the referee to allow them to get away with holding, tripping, pulling, pushing, diving & time wasting (if they are in a position to want to).

Exactly what I expect from Cardiff, Millwall, Birmingham, Preston & Stoke before every game we play against them all.

Yep, & having added Wilson, who like several other Liverpool players (Mane, Salah) has absolutely no issue with diving to try & win penalties, that will if anything get worse.

For us having come to the end of what? 7 games in 21 days, it will be interesting to see who starts. I think we will remain 3-5-2 but wouldn’t be shocked to see Taylor Moore back, Dasilva has had to manage his time on the pitch recently & I think he may well be a sub.

If Tyreeq is well I expect him & Paterson to return alongside O’Dowda & up front I expect Wells to start (still the only striker to score in the league) possibly alongside Famara after Martin has played the full 90 in the last two. Whilst that may seem harsh on Semenyo, he is ideal to bring on against tiring defenders.

Take a point now, don’t expect many goals, but how we handle Moore & defend set pieces will probably be key.

Edited by GrahamC
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I'd like to see us continue with the 4-3-3 formation we switched to against Huddersfield. However, whatever the formation, it is paramount for me that we start the game with 2 proper CMs. Bakinson should be one, and either Nagy or Massengo alongside him.

Cardiff are a solid side and if Deano selects just one proper CM I fear we will not be able to compete (BTW. Brunt is not a proper CM!).

 

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Do others agree we keep Rowe in at LCB? Moore has underperformed and in my opinion you shouldn’t alter the back line too often, unless you have to, e.g. injuries or loss of form. Especially after a win too!
 

                        Bentley


       Vyner         Kalas        Rowe

                       Bakinson

Hunt        Pato         O’Dowda    Dasilva

                  Martin 

                                Semenyo

 

I think Antoine deserves a start tonight and I feel Bakinson would be better than Nagy against a physical side like Cardiff.

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4 hours ago, Colombo Robin said:

Didn't know you were a red, Donald

I’m going to have to assume that this is some hilarious stand-up routine of yours & that maybe you are trying to relate me to the American billionaire rather than that of the Disney duck? Sadly, if this is the case, you couldn’t of aimed it at someone who knows less about politics & general news as I literally never watch the news & don’t do social media (unless this is called social media?). So I know more about the duck than I do about the billionaire & your reference is therefore lost.

But you never know, the rest of the forum could be rolling around on the floor requiring their underwear to be changed through such hilarity?

Edited by Tipps69
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1 minute ago, Lew-T said:

Do others agree we keep Rowe in at LCB? Moore has underperformed and in my opinion you shouldn’t alter the back line too often, unless you have to, e.g. injuries or loss of form. Especially after a win too!
 

                        Bentley


       Vyner         Kalas        Rowe

                       Bakinson

Hunt        Pato         O’Dowda    Dasilva

                  Martin 

                                Semenyo

 

I think Antoine deserves a start tonight and I feel Bakinson would be better than Nagy against a physical side like Cardiff.

Still not convinced by Rowe. But agree Cardiff will bully Nagy. Which is a pity I thought his performance othe nite was good and a place deserved for the next game. Bakeinson/Brunt seems best middle two to not get bullied and I feel Massengo be bullied too which is pity he needs game time 

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He is going to go with 5-3-2 again no doubt about it. Can’t see them training a new formation for weeks and weeks and then changing it with two days notice and only one training.

I thought Rowe was poor on Tuesday so I’d prefer to see Moore back in.  
 

                      Bentley

        Vyner.  Kalas.  Moore

Hunt.         Bakinson    Dasilva

               Nagy   Paterson 

           Semenyo.  Martin 

Two of COD, Nagy and Paterson.  Don’t mind which two.  Hopefully no Brunt. 

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Just now, Rocking Red Cyril said:

Still not convinced by Rowe. But agree Cardiff will bully Nagy. Which is a pity I thought his performance othe nite was good and a place deserved for the next game. Bakeinson/Brunt seems best middle two to not get bullied and I feel Massengo be bullied too which is pity he needs game time 

Nagy for me. Brunt offers no mobility in the middle and he's not displaying the leader-type qualities I was expecting from someone with his pedigree

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1 hour ago, brady bunch said:

Nagy and Massengo are too liable to be bullied by a Cardiff side.

Nagy and Massengo are pro footballers at a very high standard and whilst they could effectively be outmuscled I am sure they can adapt their games accordingly.

 I would prefer either over Brunt in midfield. 
 

Brunt looks a little lost to me. He hasn’t hit the heights but I still feel he could be useful to the team over the course of the season. 

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14 hours ago, Davefevs said:

 

Cardiff City (a) – Fri 6th November 18:00 (on Sky) – What Can We Expect?

Last season’s fixtures ended up with 1-0 wins for the away side and both resulted in the losing manager getting the sack.  I don’t think that’s on the agenda this time around, but both clubs will be mightily relieved to have won on Tuesday to end their respective winless runs ahead of this fixture and the upcoming international break.

Cardiff have made a slow start to the season having made the play-offs last time around, winning only 3 of their opening 10 league matches and find themselves well down the table in 13th place.  City after winning at Huddersfield have recovered to 7th.

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Pic 1 - Championship Table ahead of this weekend's fixtures [BBC Sport]

Who’s the boss:

The Bluebirds are managed by 43-year-old Neil Harris, the ex-Millwall man.  As a player, he was a Millwall legend, scoring over 120 goals across two spells between 1998 and 2011.  Was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2001 but after battling through treatment got the all-clear a year later and carried on banging in the goals thereafter.

He took over the u21s at the New Den in 2011 and had several caretaker stints before finally getting the job full-time in 2015 as they started life back in League One.  Harris led them to the play-offs in his first full season, but they lost to Barnsley.  He didn’t miss out second time around though, as Millwall beat Scunthorpe to achieve promotion.  Harris resigned from Millwall in October 2019, but with Warnock’s sacking a month later, he was appointed by Cardiff.  Harris got some momentum and achieved a playoff place (5th) but Fulham beat them in the two-legged semi-final.

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Pic 2 - Neil Harris - Cardiff Manager

Formation / System

Harris hasn’t deviated away from his 4231 starting formation that we saw last season when they won 1-0 at Ashton Gate in July.  That is until Tuesday against Barnsley where they won 3-0.

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Pic 3 - Cardiff's typical 4231 versus QPR last weekend

We can see the flat back four, two defensive midfielders screening / protecting the centre-backs and then three advanced midfielders to link-up with the centre-forward.

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Pic 4 - Cardiff retain their 4231 through substitutions (versus QPR)

Harris made a change at half-time on Saturday with Cardiff 2-0 down, bringing on Hoilett for Vaulks, and switching Ralls to play alongside Pack.  Ralls scored twice to draw the game level, but QPR scored late on for the win.  Tomlin replaced Murphy also.

However, on Tuesday he went against his standard system and changed it to a traditional 442 just to keep me on my toes!

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Pic 5 - Harris's 442 versus Barnsley

I wonder whether this was a reaction to a poor run, or a specific tactic to play over the top of Barnsley’s frenetic Gegen-press by introducing the physical Robert Glatzel alongside Kieffer Moore.  Dean Holden will be left guessing on Friday evening.  Could be some late tactical adjustments when the team sheets are revealed.  The other reason could Harris’s response to some defensive shape issues which I’ll cover later.

How do they play:

From watching Cardiff play it’s easy to get drawn into thinking they will be a typical direct team, but there appears to be no reliance on going long.  They aren’t a passing / possession team, but they aren’t long ball merchants either.  If we compare numbers, they’ve actually hit fewer long passes this season than City (522 vs 561) but they make less passes (3076 – 16.9% vs 3594 – 15.6%).  However, they are good at it, 59.8% find their target (49.4% City).  It is that success that means they can get possession higher up the pitch from knockdowns and loose balls.

At the other end of the pitch, Morrison and Nelson often dominate in the air and Cardiff lead the Championship in percentage of aerial duels won (55.3%) and defend the 5th most aerial challenges (behind Rotherham, Millwall, Wycombe and Stoke.  I think teams need to wise up and find different methods of attacking them (more on this later).  [all data from Wyscout before Tuesday’s matches]

Moore, Moore, Moore:

Not a reference to Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” but Kieffer Moore’s abilities up-front.  At at 6’5” he is very good in the air, but he is an effective part of their armoury with his willingness to run the channels too.  They aren’t over-reliant on aiming for him in the air at every opportunity.

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Pic 6 - Kieffer Moore's duels versus QPR [Wyscout]

We can see a tendency for Moore to favour the right sided channel when receiving balls played within Cardiff’s half, and that’s where he has most success too.  Earlier this season, Nottingham Forest stopped challenging him in the air and focussed on picking up the nod-downs and loose balls.  A dangerous tactic as Moore is capable of getting the ball down himself and bringing the midfield into play.

Once Cardiff have established possession over the halfway line, Moore becomes the target for diagonal balls into the box or crosses.

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Pic 7 - Pack aims for Moore versus QPR

In the above situation Cardiff have gained good possession inside QPR’s half.  QPR are in decent defensive shape, but Cardiff know the game-plan and Moore is the target.  He’s already trying to peel off of the back of QPR’s Barbet.

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Pic 8 - Moore has runners

Cardiff’s advanced players (circled) are on the move, they expect Moore to win the header.  Barbet decides to handle the ball and give away a pretty stupid penalty.  City can expect this angle of attack on Friday evening.

Cardiff are happy to put the ball in the box from more advanced positions too.

 

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Pic 9 - Vaulks crosses from 30 yards out versus Derby

Here we see Cardiff squeezing Derby into their own third where Will Vaulks (6) crosses into an area.  Cardiff will flood the penalty area where they can, their players are proactive when they see a ball hit into the air.  On this occasion it is Moore who gets on the end of it but heads tamely wide.

Mind the gap!

This is a very different Cardiff team in terms of defensive discipline.  I’m used to seeing the two defensive midfielders giving the forwards no space to receive passes into feet but they’re also really good at stopping the opposition breaking the lines.  However, this season I’ve seen the two centre-backs exposed more than I’ve ever seen.  This is something which City need to exploit.

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Pic 10 - Good movement from Derby creates space

In the example above its really good movement as a pair by Waghorn (9) and Jozwiak (7).  Waghorn comes short, Jozwiak hangs off of Nelson.  But as Jozwiak comes short, Waghorn runs forward to make Nelson worried about the space behind him, so he stays where he is.  There is also no pressure on the passer (Moore arrives well after the pass has been made) and Jozwiak gets the ball unmarked and turns towards goal.  We see Cardiff’s midfielders realising that they are now wrong side.

This starts to become a recurring theme and I wonder whether the 2 “DMs” are being let down by the three in front of them?

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Pic 11 - Cardiff concede a late goal to QPR

Although Cardiff’s back four and two DMs look in decent defensive shape as QPR play a long ball forward in the last few minutes, we see that the midfield three aren’t showing any real interest in where Morrison’s header might land.  Marlon Pack has got caught watching the header and Dominic Ball (red circle) anticipates that the ball might drop in the gap.  He guesses right, runs off of Pack and lashes a volley home from 25 yards for the winner.

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Pic 12 - Another runner off of the back of Cardiff's DMs (versus Barnsley)

A different game, a different example, but the same result, even with the new 442.  Pack and Vaulks allow the Barnsley player to run off of them on their blindside to create a crossing chance.  Lots of pointing, not enough marking!

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Pic 13 - More runners between the lines (versus Derby)

Here’s another!  Derby get a 4 on 4 break, but check the space the Derby player has, and the options he has.  I’m just not used to seeing Cardiff’s midfield running towards their own goal, they normally are so well positioned and ensure they are facing the opposition who can then only play in front of them.

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Pic 14 - Preston at it too!

And for good measure, here’s one more, versus Preston.  An obvious problem, but up to City to find a way to get players like Paterson in the pockets between the lines.

Going the other way: 

Until the system change on Tuesday Cardiff have had a wealth of talent in the attacking midfield areas.  Perhaps their first instinct is to attack rather than support their two DMs? You can see why when you see names like Lee Tomlin (now injured), Sheyi Ojo, Junior Hoilett, Joe Ralls, Josh Murphy and recent loan signing Harry Wilson from Liverpool.

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Pic 15 - Pack releases Ojo versus Derby

With little pressure on Pack in the centre circle he can pick out Sheyi Ojo with a pass between the lines.  Derby’s midfield not doing themselves any favours either.

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Pic 16 - Ojo drives towards the box

Ojo receives the pass, turns towards goal where Moore makes a Pukki-like run off of Christie and slots under the keeper for a goal.  An example of 5 marking too also!!

In the next example, simple enough instruction for City - don’t give Harry Wilson time to shoot around the box!

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Pic 17 - Wilson within range versus Barnsley

A simple but quick two-pass move from the right wing, inside and then onto Wilson, who manoeuvres the ball onto his trusty left-peg and strikes the ball into the top right corner.  Against Huddersfield on Tuesday, City gave the Terriers a bit too much time around the box, but only Pipa was prepared to shoot.  I’d suggest if City do the same with Wilson on Friday it will likely end up with Bentley being a busy man!

Set pieces:

Cardiff will be a threat from corners and free kicks with the likes of Sean Morrison and Kieffer Moore, plus Robert Glatzel if he starts.  I’m glad that they decided to let Callum Paterson leave for Sheffield Wednesday (and Aden Flint) as he was always an extra physical presence to contend with.

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Pic 18 - Cardiff with a free-kick versus Barnsley

Although the free kick above is aimed for a dangerous zone, it is worth noticing that Kieffer Moore isn’t the target.  He’s situated to the right, but I am assuming he is doing this to take one of Barnsley’s best defenders away from the intended landing area to give Morrison a better chance of winning the ball.  Just something to watch out for.

The Players (as I expect them to line-up on Sunday):

GK: Alex Smithies (30) – former Huddersfield man who joined in the summer of 2018 for £3.5m.  A very good penalty save record throughout his career too.  Very agile.

RB: Leandro Bacuna (29) – Dutch u21 international, who has swapped international allegiance and plays for Curaçao.  Ex-Villa and Groningen player who is a really good player, can do it all…but prone to the odd poor moment too.  Brother of Juninho Bacuna at Huddersfield.  Played the last couple of games at right-back.

LB: Joe Bennett (30) – started at Boro, before moves to Villa, Brighton and loans to Bournemouth and Wednesday.  Steady LB who’s only missed two league games this season, and a good passer from the back.

CB: Sean Morrison (29) – physical centre-back who has made his way up through the leagues having started at Plymouth and then Swindon.  Had good spells at Huddersfield and Reading before arriving at Cardiff in August 2014.  A key part of the promotion winning side too.

CB: Curtis Nelson (27) – solid centre-back who I remember from his Plymouth days when he looked a good prospect.  No surprise he’s playing at this level and seems to have firmly cemented his place alongside Morrison, having ousted Aden Flint last season.

CM: Joe Ralls (27) – started in Cardiff youth set up and an underrated part of this current squad.  Left footed player with 3 goals this season, with a couple from the spot.  Will be the player busting a gut to pick up any loose balls and nod downs in our midfield and springing forward from there.

CM: Marlon Pack (29) – a player we didn’t expect to see signing for the Bluebirds last season.  Had a really progressive 6 seasons at The Gate, and whilst he got good reviews initially, I’m not sure he’s been as effective in a blue shirt as he was in a red one.  It’s possible, Pack’s competition may come from Will Vaulks (27) - ex-Rotherham man who has done really well under Harris having not got much of a look-in under Warnock who signed him, and then signed Pack

ACM: Harry Wilson (23) – Liverpool loanee with a hammer of a left-foot.  Welsh international who’s had loans at Crewe, Hull, Derby and Bournemouth and good scoring records at each.  Definitely need to close him down around our penalty area.

RW: Sheyi Ojo (23) – another Liverpool loanee with the ability to carry the ball into the dangerous areas.  Making a good impact in South Wales having spent last season at Glasgow Rangers.  Also had loans at Wolves, Fulham, Wigan and Reims.

LW: Junior Hoilett (30) – Canadian international who’s had a very good career, with 150+ games in both the Premier League and Championship.  Arrived on a free but with a rumoured £60k per week wage!  Skilful wide-man who likes to cut in onto his right foot and fire in shots.  Can change a game and imho one of the best players at this level.  Also, in with a chance of a start is Josh Murphy (25) - £10m signing from Norwich in the summer of 2018 when Cardiff were promoted.  Brother of Newcastle winger Jacob Murphy.

CF: Kieffer Moore (28) – another Welsh international who has battled through the lower leagues before making a name for himself at Wigan, prompting a move from Cardiff in the summer.  Started at Truro City before going on to play for Dorchester, Yeovil, Viking (Norway), Forest Green, Ipswich and Barnsley.  My Dangerman!

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Pic 19 - Kieffer Moore in action for Wales

If Harris keeps his 442 then he will use Robert Glatzel (26) as his second striker – the £5m signing from FC Heidenheim last summer, the big German has not made the impact expected, but looks more settled since the return from Covid last season.

Prediction:

Both teams will fancy their chances after midweek wins, but I see City returning back across the Severn Bridge with a point.

Cardiff City 1:1 Bristol City

Fantastic analysis, Dave. I would definitely start Fam for his physical presence at both ends of the pitch and persevere with Wells who is happier on his travels.

Tyreeq is an ideal choice to press Pack, but do we start another DM alongside who can tackle, because options are limited to the disappointing Brunt, unless Tommy moves across from left wing-back/left-centre back.

With space available I'd also start the ever improving COD.

 

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