Cardiff City: Is 5-3-2 the right formation?

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With many comparisons to Wales Euro 2016 tactics and formation, Cardiff City and Paul Trollope have struggled to reap the same reward as the National team.

Cardiff City: Is 5-3-2 the right formation?

It has been little under a month since Paul Trollope officially relinquished his duties as Wales First Team Coach. At the Cardiff City Stadium it is clearly visible that Trollope is trying to mimic the National team’s recently successful tactics. Wales and Chris Coleman have thrived on a 5-3-2 formation blended with a high-tempo passing tactic.

450 minutes without a Bluebird scoring

Trollope has employed the same policies at Cardiff City but is yet to acquire equivalent success. The Bluebirds had been dire in front of goal with just two goals in their first three league matches. Both goals  were scored by Blackburn Rovers defender Shane Duffy in a 2-1 victory on Tuesday night. 450 minutes, that is how long it took a Cardiff City player to register a goal this season – a fine strike from the unusually quiet and unperturbed Joe Ralls.

The young midfielder unleashed an unstoppable effort from 20 yards out, with his weaker right foot. That goal pulled the Bluebirds back on level terms with Fulham after Ryan Sessegnon became the first player born in this Millennium, to score in the EFL Championship

As is normally the case, after 450 minutes without one Cardiff City scorer, another came along just five minutes later. Anthony Pilkington curled a wonderful effort from outside the box into the far left hand corner. Pilkington looks to be getting back to similar form that saw him top scorer for the Bluebirds last season.

Struggling wing-backs

The 5-3-2 tactic is reliant on the intelligent movement of wing-backs on both channels. To have the ability to drive forward in attack, and link with the strikers and midfield as well as getting back to defend in an instant. The workload is high and Declan John is finally grasping his opportunity to show what he can do. Meanwhile, Jazz Richards – who is used to this tactic with Wales – has yet to find his best on the right side.

Glimpses of his ability are becoming more apparent but he has to have the confidence to take on his man past the final third. Picking the ball up in his own half and dribbling down the touchline is what we see, but as he reaches the final third; he stops and passes back and the attacks and counter attacks break down.

This had been part of the reason as to why the Bluebirds eleven had gone so long without a goal. Further stats show a severe deficiency in strikes on target. In this campaign so far, there had been only nine attempts before the trip to Fulham where a further three shots on target were achieved.

Goal-scorer a must

Another issue with the formation is the requirement of two strikers. In the last two matches Trollope has played two midfielders up front, with Lex Immers and Anthony Pilkington starting ahead of Frederic Gounongbe and Kenneth Zohore.

The latter pairing both showing little force up front so far. Immers has been one of the better players this season and does drop off to collect the ball but a poacher is needed if Cardiff are to mount any push for a play-off place this season.

With plenty of striking options around and money available, Cardiff must look to re-invest some of the transfer money from the sale of Fabio, on a goal-scoring striker.