The EFL Championship play-offs threw up two very intriguing ties – Derby vs Leeds was always going to be a highlight following ‘Spygate’ earlier this season, while a West Midlands derby between Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion was the second semi-final. Villa came into this game on a good run of form, having won ten games on the spin to storm into the play-off spots, before losing to Norwich and then drawing with Leeds on the last day in controversial fashion. West Brom, on the other hand, had been in and around those positions for the majority of the season, and thus it was a massive shock when the club sacked Darren Moore in March, despite the Baggies being in fourth place. This tactical analysis will look at the first leg of this semi-final and how it sets up the tie for Tuesday’s second leg
Dean Smith picked his first-choice back four, with Tyrone Mings returning after being rested on the final day of the season. Glen Whelan anchored the midfield, with John McGinn and Jack Grealish playing further forward, and Tammy Abraham continued as the lone striker.
West Brom went with a back three for this game – Craig Dawson, Kyle Bartley and Ahmed Hegazy playing at centre-back with Mason Holgate and Keiran Gibbs as the wing-backs. Chris Brunt came into midfield, while Matt Phillips and Jay Rodriguez supported Dwight Gayle.
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