Norwich City oust Bristol City due to strong second half performance

Norwich Bristol City Championship Tactical Analysis
artwork by @chapluana.

The Championship had an exciting match in store for everyone when Norwich City entertained Bristol City with both teams trying to keep their promotions dreams alive. The Canaries were fighting for a direct promotion place, while Bristol City were trying to keep their spot in the playoff places for promotion. It proved to be a thrilling match with a 3-2 victory for the home team.

In this tactical analysis, we will look at two tactical trends during this Championship game. We will have a look at how Bristol City set up defensively and Norwich’s strong second half which led them to alter the game.


Norwich City vs Bristol City teamsheet

Both teams set up with a 4-2-3-1 formation, which could lead to an interesting clash of formations. Norwich City’s manager Daniel Farke set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with McLean and Trybull posing as a low defensive block. Pukki was the sole striker in front of Hernandez, Stiepermann and Buendia. Norwich were the team higher in the table and it was expected that they would dominate this game, especially because they were playing at Carrow Road.

Bristol CIty’s defensive display

Lee Johnson opted for a slightly different approach than Daniel Farke. Although the first half was a strong offensive display with two goals, it was the defensive display that frustrated Norwich as well. Bristol’s 4-2-3-1 looked more like a 4-1-4-1 at times, revealing its more defensive approach to this game.

Bristol City in defence

Bristol City had a solid back four which was supported by three midfielders when under attack. Pack played between in front of the defence and his role was to connect the midfielders to the defence. Central midfielders Paterson and Brownhill also dropped down in the case of an attack, with the wide midfielders having a more attacking role. This would be the case in a counter attack. O’Dowda and Paterson changed position, which suited their defensive role better.

Pack playing in front of the Bristol back four

Pack played as the fifth defender in these situations as is portrayed in the image above. This was fundamental to their way of defending.

Central midfielders dropping to the defence

When Norwich pressed high, the wide midfielders would drop down and pose as some sort of full backs, as you can see in the image above. In most of the situations there were enough defensive players to confront the attacking players of Norwich.

Norwich’s strong second half

The first half was not the strongest half Norwich had played this season, but their attacking intentions were quite clear. They wanted to press high with Hernandez, Stiepermann and Buendia and in doing so, support Pukki.

Norwich City’s 4-2-3-1

Midfielders Herandez and Buendia played as wingers in attack. They made runs down the line and assisted the striker Pukki with crosses. The low defensive block McLean and Trybull also assisted in the attacks by covering each flank. This was expected, but in attack, central midfielder Stiepermann also would make runs deep into Bristol City’s half. This meant that that four players (Pukki + Hernandez, Stiepermann and Buendia) would lead the attack against Bristol.

Norwich’s four forwards in attack

in the image above you can see the four important players leading each attack, but just behind them, you can see defensive midfielder McLean playing a bit higher. This was needed in the second half because Norwich City were trailing Bristol City 1-2 and had to find a solution to get through the defence that frustrated them in the first half.

They started to think more offensively and that resulted in 16 shots in the second half with six of them going on target. This meant that Norwich started to use their full backs more. Especially Lewis was used a lot on the left side and made runs into the opponents half.

Lewis was sought often on the left side in the second half

This led to the equaliser by centre back Godfrey, but the winner by McLean was an example of a reinvigorated Norwich City. McLean was the key to a better second half by the home team. McLean started to support the attacking four more in the second half and that caused more threat in front of the goal.

McLean has a lot of options

McLean was the leader of the orchestra during the second half. Instead of playing the 4-2-3-1 in attack, Norwich City changed it to a 4-1-1-3-1 formation which gave them more options going forward. On different occasions, McLean could distribute his passes to the upcoming full-backs Lewis and Aarons, who would deliver crosses into the box. Another option was that he could play the ball through the middle to either Pukki, Hernandez, Stiepermann or Buendia. It was only fitting that ultimately it was McLean that got the winner with a good volley after just over an hour of football.

Final thoughts

It was an exciting match at Carrow Road and the promotion-chasing hosts were tested heavily by their opponents, who put on a collective defensive display. In the end, it was the change to incorporate McLean more into the attacking style that saw Norwich break through the steady Bristol City defence and get a vital win in the Championship.