Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Bradford City vs Swansea City - Match Analysis

Bradford City 0 Swansea City 5 - Carling Cup Final

Swansea: Dyer (16, 47), Michu (40), De Guzman (59 pen, 90)

Headline Stats
Bradford City - Swansea City
Goals 0 - 5
Attempts 3 - 15
Attempts On Target 3 - 10
Corners 1 - 8

Possession 40% - 60%
Stats taken from BBC Sport Website
Line Ups

Bradford City                                     Swansea City
12 – Duke (sent off)                         25 - Tremmel
02 – Darby                                        06 - Williams
16 – McHugh                                    22 - Rangel
23 – McArdle                                    33 - Davies (Tiendalli '84)
27 – Good (Davies ’46)                  07 - Britton
11 – Thompson (Hines ’73)            09 - Michu
14 – Atkinson                                   11 - Pablo
18 – Jones                                       12 - Dyer (Lamah '77)
24 – Doyle                                        15 - Routledge
09 – Hanson                                     20 - De Guzman
21 – Wells (McLaughlin ’57)           24 - Ki Sung-Yeung (Monk '62)

Subs                                                        Subs
01 – McLaughlin                                      01 - Vorm
05 – Davies                                             16 - Monk
04 – Ravenhill                                          21 - Tiendalli
07 – Reid                                                 26 - Agustien
26 – Turgott                                             14 - Lamah
17 – Connell                                            17 - Shechter
20 – Hines                                               19 - Moore

Why did I choose to analyse this game?

Despite the wealth of sites giving their opinions on various games, I don’t think there are many sites which offer true performance analysis of games (Zonal Marking is one, well worth checking out). I have decided to start doing small match reports on games every couple of weeks, time permitting and thought an interesting game to start with would the League Cup final. Both teams had a fairytale of sorts, League 2 Bradford the first team from the 4th tier to reach the final since 1961/62 and Swansea now in the Premier League and in site of the first major trophy in their 100 year history.


Difference Between the Teams

Having seen the previous rounds, and particularly the hype after beating Arsenal and Aston Villa, Swansea will have known that Bradford’s key tactic was the use of Hanson as a target man and to hassle them into giving up possession while playing forward quickly in a direct style. Swansea, renowned for their passing game, were quite a contrast to this and by overloading the midfield were able to comfortably pass the ball around Bradford. The gulf in quality was evident from the start and Swansea were perhaps better prepared by heeding the warnings of what had happened to Arsenal, Aston Villa, Wigan & Watford in earlier rounds.


Key tactics from each side

While it might seem obvious that Swansea won so comfortably by being better than Bradford, football is usually not so simple, especially in a one off cup game. The first key to Swansea’s victory was to stop Bradford’s aerial advantage of Hanson. Bradford’s tactic of dropping deep to try and put bodies in between Swansea’s midfield and the goal played into the Welsh teams hands, as the Bradford midfield dropped to a line around 20 yards inside their own half. Given this situation most defences would step up to create a unit around 15 yards behind this (around the half way line) but Swansea’s defence stayed in a position around 10-15 yards deeper than this, inviting Hanson & Wells to play further forward. This succeed in isolating the Bradford front men and any loose knock downs from them were generally picked up by De Guzman or Britton.



The Extra men in midfield for Swansea also encouraged Rangel and Davies to get further forward as Atkinson and Thompson the Bradford wingers were having to come infield to pick up Routledge, Hernandez and Dyer and with Michu drifting into the hole and making an auxiliary midfielder this gave Swansea what seemed like an overwhelming advantage of numbers. This method allowed Rangel and Dyer to get in round the back of Curtis Good, the Bradford left back several times and create chances by pulling the ball back to the onrushing attacking midfielders.


The passing & movement of Swansea allowed them to create triangles and Hernandez coming inside onto his right foot always allowed for an option whilst creating the space for Ben Davies to get wide and cross the ball. Whilst Bradford dealt with most earlier crosses into the box they struggled with the quick interplay of the Swansea midfielders, especially around the edge of their own penalty area.


Bradford’s main issue was around being too deep to affect the play and while they had men back in abundance they didn’t press the ball or stay tight enough to their men which made it difficult for them to win the ball back and prevent Swansea attacking. The possession count above taken from the BBC Sport website seems generous in comparison to some sources which put Swansea possession at anywhere between 75% - 93%


Focus players

Michu (Swansea City)

Michu’s goal scoring exploits this season have been well noted and he deserves every bit of acclaim that comes his way. While he played just behind a traditional forward in Spain and for most of the season behind Danny Graham, he was given the lone front man role for the final. In contrast to Adel Tarrabt, who was picked up on Saturdays Match of the Day for spending the majority of his time on the halfway line and not affecting the play in the right way, Michu generally stayed around the edge of the area, although always looked to come short to link up with the 3 attacking midfielders.

He noticeably drifted to the left and got a couple of great shots off from this area, prime examples being the shot which led to Dyer’s first goal and his goal, where he created the space and placed the ball excellently into the far corner, striking the ball between the legs of McHugh and using this to unsight the goalkeeper (or if you prefer sky’s version, he was “lucky”)

Michu has been invaluable for Swansea’s style of play, the quick 1-2’s he played with Hernandez, Routledge and Dyer around the edge of the area made it hard for Bradford to stop the tide of attacks for fear of a mistimed tackle but his strength in the air also gave Swansea the option to play crosses into the box as well.



Nathan Doyle (Bradford City)

Nathan Doyle is both an integral part of Bradford’s midfield unit but also the set pieces taker, throw in taker and seemingly focal point in finding the forward players. From the way Bradford set up on Sunday it seemed that his primary job was to aid the defence and, along with Gary Jones, provide a shield in front of the centre backs which would prevent Swansea’s 5 man midfield getting too much room.

This cautious approach seemed unnatural as I don’t suppose Bradford play this way against too many League 2 teams and this was evident in the first goal. The ball had been played forward but cleared from the edge of their area by Swansea, one ball took out both Bradford midfielders and allowed the ball to move quickly down the pitch with little resistance, ultimately leading to Dyer’s first goal.

By being so deep Doyle was forced to aim hopeful long balls up to Hanson rather than being able to find him effectively and was vastly outnumbered in midfield and must have felt like he was chasing shadows with Swansea swift passing game.



Was the result fair?

Unfortunately you’d have to say yes. Even the 5-0 scoreline could have been much more. Once Bradford had been reduced to 10 men on the hour for what was, for neutrals at least, a harsh red card for Matt Duke the Bradford goalkeeper Swansea were very comfortable. Bradford possibly showed too much respect for Swansea and would maybe have been better focusing on an “up and at them” style instead of trying to contain a team which many Premier League sides have failed to do. Despite all this Swansea’s tactics were absolutely spot on, testament to Michael Laudrup and his staff



Swansea had clearly done their homework on Bradford. They ensured the game was played to their strengths and nullified Bradford’s main threat to run out comfortable winners. Take nothing away from the run Bradford have had but Swansea’s excellent pass and move football, often used as a defensive tactic under Brendan Rodgers has been taken by Laudrup and evolved it into a free flowing attacking style which Bradford couldn’t deal with.


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