Tactical breakdown: How Bristol City got their overloads all wrong against Ipswich

Bristol City came into this match looking to bounce back from three successive league defeats as they look to maintain their push for the playoffs. A 1-0 defeat at home to Leeds at the weekend was a blow as they looked to move into the top six. Ipswich were aiming to build on a 1-1 draw last time out against West Brom, which saw their boss Darren Moore sacked in the aftermath of the result. In this tactical analysis, we analyse how Bristol City failed to beat an Ipswich side bottom of the Championship table.

Lee Johnson made five changes from the side that lost at home to Leeds on Saturday, with Lloyd Kelly, Jack Hunt, Niclas Eliasson and Andreas Weiman returning to the side and Stefan Marinovic making his debut in goal.

Bristol City Ipswich Championship Tactical Analysis
Credit: Wyscout.

Ipswich’s fast start

Ipswich started the match very much on the front foot as they made the early running. They interchanged positions which caused the Bristol City midfield and defence issues as they were dragged out of position. Ipswich favoured the right-hand side of the pitch when they were building their attacks with Andre Dozzell and Gwion Edwards linking up particularly effectively.

Isolated Diedhiou

A theme throughout the match was the large space between Famara Diedhiou and the midfielders of Bristol City. An often isolated Diedhiou was left trying to control long balls and bring others into play as Bristol City lacked a presence in the centre of the midfield in which to work the ball through the thirds. As a result, Diedhiou often found himself failing to maintain possession of the ball which prevented any sustained periods of pressure.

City’s wide focus 

Bristol City began to make an impact on the game through wide combinations on the left-hand side of the pitch. They often found Lloyd Kelly at left back who received the ball in more advanced areas and delivered several crosses into the box. These crosses were defended well by the Ipswich defence as they were first to every cross into the box.

Bristol City Ipswich Championship Tactical Analysis
Bristol City were constantly putting crosses into the box as their main source of chance creation.

City did eventually break the deadlock from a cross into the box, this time from a short corner routine involving Eliasson and Josh Brownhill before the former whipped a deflected inswinging delivery into the area that Adam Webster rose to head in from six yards out. This came on the back of a strong 10 minutes in which the home side had 62% possession of the ball and produced many crosses into the box.

Distances in the build-up

Far too often the distances between the defenders and midfielders were far too large, especially in central areas. Marlon Pack was most often tasked with the job of dropping into the defensive line alongside the two centre backs. This, in turn, created a back three whilst the two fullbacks pushed higher up. This tactic was somewhat unnecessary as Ipswich were only playing with Kayden Jackson as the sole striker. Bristol City had then created a 3v1 overload in the defensive phase, which in turn limited their options to advance the ball up the pitch.

When either of the centre backs or Pack received the ball the distances between them and the midfield was too big which prevented the ball from being passed through the thirds. Due to the lack of options to play forward the three of them would often circulate the ball between themselves before resorting to a long ball towards Diedhiou, who more often than not lost out in the aerial battle.

Bristol City Ipswich Championship Tactical Analysis
The Bristol City midfield are again too far apart to support the ball possessor.

Ipswich’s wide overloads

Ipswich looked to create chances by generating overloads in the wide areas of the pitch. The Ipswich fullback, ball near midfielder and wide player would all occupy spaces close to each other to facilitate quick combination play. Whilst they were able to maintain position and manipulate the Bristol City defenders and midfielders positioning they struggled to penetrate the defence and create clear cut chances.

Bristol City Ipswich Championship Tactical Analysis
Ipswich constantly overloaded in wide areas.

Conclusion

Bristol City missed their chance to return to winning ways against an Ipswich side cut adrift from safety at the bottom of the Championship. A combination of poor central occupation, a heavy crossing focus and some rather lacklustre performances contributed to an overall disappointing performance. With an 18 day break between fixtures, Johnson will have the time on the training ground to address the issues that have plagued them in recent matches.

Despite what looks like an inevitable relegation to League 1, there were promising signs for Ipswich in this match. The combination play displayed in midfield areas, particularly on the right-hand side, provide hope that they can at least remain competitive for the rest of the season.


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