This article series will look at the Bluebirds' games from a tactical and statistical view.


The first match of the season ended in defeat but began with a 4-2-3-1 line up, with Kieffer Moore leading the line, and Bacuna partnering Vaulks in front of the back four. Hoilett and Ojo provided width with Ralls drifting, mainly to the left.

It was Bacuna's error that lead to Wednesday taking an early lead with the first chance of the game. Picking up a loose ball in space in his own half, Bacuna looked for options and dummied to play to Nelson. Windass (black arrow) covered the pass, and Bacuna instead looked for Bennett (blue line) but underhit it. Brown intercepted easily and released Windass, who was already beyond Nelson and being played onside by Morrison (at the bottom left of the picture) but was too far away to cover. Windass took the pass and finished well under pressure from Nelson and Bacuna, and Cardiff were a goal down after just 4 minutes.

For the next 30 minutes, Cardiff took control of the ball – Wednesday had the lead and were happy to let the opposition attack. Wednesday’s three man defence was protected by a five man midfield, who did such a successful job that Tom Lees, in the very centre of defence, did not need to make a single tackle for the whole game.

In this period, Cardiff completed 180 passes to Wednesday’s 50, 10 successful dribbles and were fouled eight times to Wednesday’s one. However, Cardiff were unable to penetrate, and only found a team-mate three times in the area. Of the home side's four first half shots, only Moore’s header from an in-swinging free kick caused any kind of concern, but he could not direct it on target.

For the final ten minutes of the first half, Wednesday began to attack again. They used the ball better than Cardiff had, and were themselves inside Cardiff’s area three times. This paid off for them as half-time approached, getting their second goal from a free kick routine. The ball was played high to the side of the box, where two Wednesday players (black circle) were up against just one defender.

The header was won easily, and Wednesday won the next flick-on. Rhodes pounced on this to prod the ball into the bottom corner.

It was a clever and well worked free kick, where the key is to play the ball before the defence realises there is an overload and sends over another player - as can be seen, Cardiff did have available players to do this. However, there were still three penalty box touches and three opportunities for the defence to get in a block. Failure to stop any of the touches meant a certain shot on goal from such close range.

Two goals down and Cardiff came out for the second half with no tactical changes. Ralls saw a lot of the ball for the next 15 minutes but with no shots, it was time for a change. Glatzel came on for Ralls and pushed forward as striker in a 4-4-2, with Murphy replacing Hoilett on the left wing. Just six minutes later, he switched to the right as Tomlin came on to play wide left. Murphy was unable to provide the dribbling runs that Hoilett had as Wednesday's like for like substitutions maintained their 3-5-2.

The final 30 minutes passed without Cardiff coming close to pulling a goal back, and struggling even to get the ball – having had over 70% possession in the first half (39 long passes and 240 short), they could get just 40% of the ball for the final 20 minutes (24 long passes and only 43 short as desperation set in). The two strikers managed no shots between them and Wednesday closed out the game without worry.

Overall, Cardiff’s first half showed promise as they tried to keep the ball on the floor, but was hamstrung by an individual error leading to an early opening goal. Had they not been chasing for 90% of the game, perhaps Moore may have been able to get more involved – but one centre forward against a back three will rarely find space. The wide players become more important, and for all Hoilett’s dribbling, Cardiff did not create any chances from his side of the pitch.

The second half was more concerning, with Glatzel and Moore producing very little. One unproductive striker is bad enough, but two only increases the workrate for the rest of the team. Cardiff's two in midfield to Wednesday's three ceded possession and forced longer passes. Glatzel and Moore are both suited to this style, but were unable win enough of their aerial duels.

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