EFL Championship 20/21: Brentford vs Swansea City - tactical analysis - tactics
the wing-backs pushed up to make a front four.

Both teams would be looking to rectify the mistakes made in last season’s playoffs as neither could find a way out of the EFL Championship. With Brentford looking more likely to struggle due to the depletion of their stars, than their counterparts in this match, it was very likely that they may have lasted a little longer in the match than their opponents in Swansea as the two sides have had contrasting start to their respective seasons.

In this tactical analysis, we take a look at the tactics employed by the managers of Brentford and Swansea City.

Lineups

EFL Championship 20/21: Brentford vs Swansea City - tactical analysis - tactics

David Raya started in goal for Brentford with Rico Henry, Ethan Pinnock, Charlie Goode and Henrik Dalsgaard making up the back four ahead of him from left to right respectively.

Emiliano Marcondes, Mathias Jensen and Josh Dasilva started in midfield for Brentford.

Bryan Mbuemo and Saman Ghoddos started on the right and left-wing respectively with Ivan Toney starting in the number 9 spot for Brentford.

Freddie Woodman started in goal for Swansea City with Marc Guehi, Ryan Bennett and Kyle Naughton starting ahead of him as the three centre-backs from left to right respectively.

Jake Bidwell and Connor Roberts started in the left and right wingback role respectively, with Jay Fulton and Korey Smith starting in midfield for Swansea.

Yan Dhanda started in the number 10 spot behind Jamal Lowe and Andre Ayew as the two strikers for Swansea.

Brentford were equal parts excellent and lethargic

After losing their star player in Said Benhrama just hours before the transfer deadline, it seems like they haven’t had the chance to recover from it fully. The summer of 2020 has been a particularly harsh one, as they prepare themselves for yet another long season in the EFL Championship. Thomas Frank will be looking for ways to challenge for a playoff spot yet again, as he narrowly missed out last season, with his side beaten by current Premier League strugglers Fulham. With two of their key players not at the club anymore in Watkins and Benhrama. It could be a while before Brentford come across a promotion opportunity.

EFL Championship 20/21: Brentford vs Swansea City - tactical analysis - tactics
The goalkeeper playing as the sweeper – centre back.

Brentford have been known for quite a few reasons, and playing attractive attacking football is one of them. The team builds its attack out from the back, with the goalkeeper usually playing as the third centre back in the sweeper role. With patient possession play, they look for opportunities to play through the opposition with incisive passes that cut open the opposition. They play with flair and fluidity, which allow them to play quick passes with their teammates as they’re more than willing to take risks.

An adventurous side in attack, they defend as an expansively narrow unit as everyone chips in to aid the team when defending. A high block allows the opposition space to run behind, but also tends to trap them in their half. Their defending wasn’t that good on the night, as they had on continuously rely on their goalkeeper to bail the defence out. With their expansive style, they offered runs in behind themselves and were seldom caught out as the defence haplessly came back to defend frantically.

EFL Championship 20/21: Brentford vs Swansea City - tactical analysis - tactics
Everyone falling in behind to aid the defence.

Their attacking capabilities and qualities were far more impressive than their defensive qualities. They played very wide when attacking, and usually would isolate their opposition by creating overloads out wide, which went well as Swansea only had one player each on the flanks. Their passing style was very varied as they would often mix it up by going long or playing quick exchanges depending on how and where the play was developing.

EFL Championship 20/21: Brentford vs Swansea City - tactical analysis - tactics
Creating overloads to outnumber the opposition.

The goal they scored was typical of their style of play, playing through their opposition in a fast passing manner, not allowing them to react in time to prevent the goal. Both the full-backs would conservatively push up the field to support the attack but would always be wary of the threat Swansea possess on the counter. Once they scored the goal, they started imposing themselves onto Swansea and pressured them more and more to endure the best spell of the game. With their attacks starting to get more rigorous as they would constantly overload the opposition half as the half came to an end. It would have been a surprise the way the second half started, as they were completely thrown off the rhythm, they had ended the first half with.

Even though they were leading Swansea one goal to nil, the style of play suggested that they were trying to preserve it rather than extending it, as Swansea came out in the second half flying and raring to take Brentford down. Brentford stuck to their system and style of play but had to settle in deep to endure and see the pressure off that they were being put under as Swansea came at them wave after wave. With their discipline now under the test, they had improved their press and had an average PPDA of 11.1, but their play was still very much reactionary and on the back foot for most of the second half.

With Brentford giving away the goal after continuous attacks, it would feel like trouble in paradise all over again. As they did try to maintain their impact on the game by trying to threaten them by quick counter-attacks, but it wasn’t enough to get them a victory. A flamboyant side who try to play a certain way, but they’re nowhere near good enough to get results on a weekly basis in a very long season with as many mistakes they make in every single game.

Swansea made their own luck as they combined discipline and flair

In his second season in charge of Swansea, Steve cooper will be looking to build on a relatively successful season in 19/20, as he would be preparing for a serious promotion push this season. But 20/21 doesn’t come without its problems, as Tottenham snapped up their star defender in Joe Rodonm in the domestic window. He will have to shape and form his team on a collective foundation now more than ever as he may not get a chance time and time again to deliver the desired result.

They played with a back 3, and their wing-backs provided the width in a set-up which was more focused on plugging up the central channels in all three departments. The team defends as a unit, with almost every player assigned their duty and zone to mark and patrol. The team was set up in a man to man press, but wouldn’t go about pressing the opposition haphazardly all over the pitch, but waiting for a trigger to go at the man with the ball at his feet. They were very solid defensively, as they would try to draw out defensive duels against their opposition 1v1 as they won 48% of all the defensive duels, they got involved in.

With a hybrid block of mid and high, they were attempting to invite runners in behind them, but just enough to trap them in individual battles as they would physically outmuscle their opposition. They were a compact side who would stuff up the middle channels and the middle of the park when defending. The goal they conceded was very shameful, as the defenders just stood and watched, while the opposition played through them. Not one player went to challenge the player or put the ball nor the goal scorer under some pressure to even attempt to change the outcome.

EFL Championship 20/21: Brentford vs Swansea City - tactical analysis - tactics
The wing-backs pushed up to make a front four.

With pace in their front two and Connor Roberts out wide on the right flank, they would try to get in behind with relative success and would threaten every time went up into the final third. Roberts was the higher of the two wing-backs which would seldom make the shape look like a lopsided 3-4-1-2 with Bidwell sitting deeper than his counterpart even when attacking. When Swansea would push up deep into the final third, the attackers would make a temporary front four with either Bidwell slotting down the left, or one of the two forwards shifting a to the left and Dhanda joining the attackers to complete the four.

EFL Championship 20/21: Brentford vs Swansea City - tactical analysis - tactics
Majority of their attacks coming down the right side.

With positional flexibility in their defenders, it allowed them to switch between back three and back four in phases of the game to maintain attacking and defensive shape depending on the need of the moment. Their progressive play was very simple, as they had to play without the ball more often than not, as they averaged 43% possession to Brentford’s 57%. Their defensive mettle was constantly put to the test, as Brentford would try to put them through the sword every chance they could find.

As the game progressed, and particularly in the second half, they improved considerably, as they would change their press and start putting the opposition ball carriers under pressure and more frequently as they had an average PPDA of 11.1. they showed grittiness and ruggedness that was missing in the first half, and their midfielders started to maximise their impact on the game as all three of them played in separate lines, rather than in and around each other.

EFL Championship 20/21: Brentford vs Swansea City - tactical analysis - tactics
Players pushing up as Swansea searched for a way back into the game

As the game progressed, Swansea took the game to Brentford with their proactive style and kept on knocking at the door, not giving the opposition any time on the ball to pick a pass. In the end, the goal came, and it was nothing less than what they deserved from the match. And once they got the equalizer, they went back to their first half-press trying to preserve what they had and take away a decent result back home. Swansea are conservatively attacking, and wait for a passing option to arise, with discipline and flair in a fair balance in the team, they got the job done.

Conclusion

A match analysis that was boring and exciting in equal parts. It was a fair match as the xG suggests with both teams scoring 1.3. The passing accuracy explains the playing style quite well as Brentford maintained a pass accuracy of 86% to Swansea’s 80%.