It may arguably be the worst time to play Leicester City as the Foxes’ confidence is sky high after a ruthless 9-0 away win at Southampton. Brendan Rodgers will make changes for this game which could give Burton Albion hope, however, it can also mean that the players coming in have a point to prove to get into the starting 11. What Burton Albion can take confidence from is the fact they made the semi-finals of this competition last year and this may give them a boost going into this game.
This tactical analysis breaks down the tactics used by Rodgers and Nigel Clough as the two teams look for a spot in the Quarter-finals of the EFL Cup.
As expected both teams made changes for this EFL Cup tie with a chance for some of Leicester’s squad players a chance allowed to bid for a place in the first team. Rodgers has a distinctive way he likes his teams to play. This meant he was keen to keep the same formation so that everyone in the squad knows their roles if they are called upon.
Burton also made changes from their game at the weekend as Liam Boyce came in for Lucas Akins and Reece Hutchinson replaced Richard Nartey. It did not affect their formation as the kept to the 4-1-4-1 that matches Leicester. Setting up, in the same way, could potentially be dangerous as Leicester have a much better team and could expose Burton’s weaknesses. However, sticking to what you know can mean they play at their best as they know where everyone should be and is a safer approach to the game.
Foxes pounce early
From the outset, it was clear what Burton’s game was. They committed players forward to put pressure on Leicester’s backline to try and force mistakes. This is a bold tactic as in recent years the Foxes are famous for their quick counter-attacks. One of Leicester’s traits this year has been stretching their opponents by keeping players out wide and this tactic continued into this game.
However, because of Burton’s high press Leicester can capitalise on a mistake and break with devastating effect. The first goal came as a result of a poor pass from Burton on the edge of Leicester’s penalty areas. And a good pass out to Demarai Gray enabled him to bring the ball up the pitch. With men committed forward all it took was a run from Marc Albrighton to drag the right-back John Brayford across the pitch to allow the marauding Youri Tielemans the freedom of the left of the pitch. He then finished off the move with a lovely first-time ball to Kelechi Iheanacho who had a tap in.
Burton struggled to contain Leicester as every time they went forward they were able to find gaps in the defensive line as Burton were more concerned with keeping a good shape. this allowed the Foxes to get in behind on many occasions as defenders were not close enough to their man. It is also a very dangerous way of playing as the Leicester forwards are much quicker than the defence so there would be no catching them.
In the example above Jonny Evans has three players available all of which do not have a man near them. He opts for Albrighton but it is slightly mistimed saving the Brewers this time. Nevertheless, it only took Leicester 20 minutes to double their lead. The goal came from a mistake again but it was not helped by the formation.
More trouble for Burton
For the second goal, it was a poor pass from Burton’s centre-half on the halfway line meant the two central midfielders where out of position and could not provide the defensive cover. and in this case, the holding midfielder was also behind the Leicester City forwards. as a result with Leicester having men in advanced positions, they were able to get in behind and without the numbers back Tielemans was free in the box to punish the mistake.
Burton’s failure to adapt to the way that Leicester where playing caused them so many problems. As the defence was more concerned about getting into shape rather than picking up players. Therefore as mentioned in the analysis before it was easy for Leicester to get in behind and they often had multiple options in the box to choose from. this is illustrated here:
This particular situation ends with Gray blasting the ball over and wide. This, unfortunately, was not the only example of how easy it was to break Burton down. The attacking for the Foxes was made a lot easier by how well Hamza Choudhury was playing. The defensive midfielder controlled the backline very well as he kept the ball moving well when on the ball. And defensively he was disciplined.
The Brewers best chance of the half came in extra time as Leicester where caught in a similar set up to the way they have been causing problems for Burton. In this example, it was Gray that was the wrong side of Nathan Broadhead. This allowed him to get through on goal and force a smart save from Danny Ward.
Dyer second half
From the first half, it was clear Burton was struggling to cope with Leicester. therefore changing it at half time was no surprise. Clough decided the best option was to put on former Leicester player Lloyd Dyer for Reece Hutchinson. The pace Dyer gives not only provide better cover for Gray but a more attacking threat.
A tactical decision Clough made was to push the full-backs higher up. This gave Burton more options on the ball and defensively it meant they were able to press higher up more effectively. It was also clear Burton were struggling with the Foxes width so in the second half both full-backs and wide midfielders stayed by the touchline.
Burton started the second half in lively fashion and their high press did force Leicester into mistakes. this gave Burton the chance to create some opportunities of their own. This was rewarded with a goal in the 52nd minute.
The goal came from putting the foxes under pressure and with players being wider, the ball fell to Boyce. The keeper could have potentially done better with the hot but it was cleanly struck and with the aid of a couple of deflections it made it difficult for Ward.
Is Burton getting back in the game?
Despite the good start to the half Leicesters wide players in Albrighton and Gray were still causing Burton problems so it looked like Leicester would restore their two-goal advantage. However, with the confidence boost of the goal Burton continued to push and with the pace of Dyer, Burton was able to cause similar types of issues to the ones Leicester were causing them. In this example, Ward is forced into an exceptional save from Scott Fraser.
Unfortunately for Burton, Leicesters quality started to shine through. This is because they were able to control the ball making it difficult for Burton to great any chances. as a result, Leicester was able to finally put the game to bed with a third goal in the 89th minute.
The goal came as a result of Burton pushing men forward in search of an equaliser, and with the tactic of pushing their full-backs higher up the pitch, there was space for a ball in behind. Gray’s pace has been causing issues for the Brewers backline all night. He was able to lose Kieran Wallace and had a simple pass to James Maddison.
To conclude this tactical analysis, last seasons semi-finalist provided a good test for Leicester as the Second half tactical changes meant they were able to offer more of a threat going forward. Nevertheless, Leicester was far too good for Burton and not only did the struggled to cope with Rodgers high tempo style but the quality of players meant Burton had to work for any opportunity.
With teams like Liverpool and Manchester City both playing the youngsters this competition is a great chance for the Foxes to get their hands on some silverware. And the way they are playing it would not be surprising if they go far in the EFL Cup. For Burton, it will not be a repeat of last years success but a respectable performance in this game might give the confidence to kick on in the league.
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