In a must win Premier League game, Cardiff City failed to break down a poor Huddersfield Town team. The match ended 0-0 in what was one of the worst Premier League matches you’ll see.
It’s been a drag bringing myself to write this VFTN Analysis, I’ll admit. That’s how bad the game was. Yes, as others have pointed out, we’ve all seen much worse Cardiff City games over the years, but this was the Premier League. The Greatest League In The World TM.
Yet, here we are. This week’s VFTN Analysis. Enjoy.
Cardiff sluggish in possession
Look, Cardiff are never going to be the best in possession. I think (off the top of my head) we’ve had the most average possession once this season. It was probably a similar stat last season.
On Saturday, though, Cardiff were particularly bad on the ball. My feeling watching on from the stands was that Cardiff were completely overran by Huddersfield – that the Terriers dominated proceedings.
On reflection, I’m not quite sure that was completely the case. Huddersfield were the better side, undoubtedly, but Cardiff’s poor retention of the ball only presented David Wagner’s side with more opportunities to dictate the game.
Cardiff completed just 57% of their passes and had just 38.9% possession. At home. Against the league’s worst side.
There were poor showings across the pitch, with just three players completing more than 70% of their passes; Aron Gunnarsson, Victor Camarasa and Bruno Manga.
Huddersfield take Cardiff’s key man out of the game
Not literally, of course, but it was clear that David Wagner (who has since been relieved of his duties as manager of Huddersfield) set up his side to frustrate Cardiff’s key man, Victor Camarasa.
Almost everything good from Cardiff this season has gone through Camarasa and when he is nullified, as was the case on Saturday, Cardiff simply can’t function.
The Spaniard was clearly playing with an injury, which didn’t help, but Huddersfield would always double up on him. Captain Jonathan Hogg, who was sent off in the reverse fixture, could be seen patrolling Camarasa closely at all times, giving him no space to breathe.
Shift to three at the back caused nothing but problems
If was obvious at half-time that something needed to change. Neil Warnock took that action and shifted the side’s formation to reflect a 5-3-2 system. The thinking was valid; Cardiff needed more numbers centrally and more runners in behind.
Sadly, the shift didn’t have great effect. Cardiff’s shape was all over the place and Wagner was astute enough to spot a weakness quickly.
Firstly, the back three of Bruno Manga, Sol Bamba and Sean Morrison looked haphazard, which was odd considering how well they did as a back three away to Crystal Palace.
Where Huddersfield really sought to punish Cardiff was down their left flank, where Nathaniel Mendez-Laing was playing as a right wing back.
All second half, Huddersfield targeted that area, knowing that the winger was not too adapt at defensive play. There was space to exploit, which pulled Bruno Manga out of position. There was holes all over the right hand side and its fortunate Huddersfield didn’t make Cardiff pay.
A day to forget for Cardiff City. Huddersfield were the better side and Cardiff were simply not at the races. On reflection, a point is therefore a positive, but Cardiff can’t play like that again this season.
Reinforcements are clearly needed and hopefully the Bluebirds can get someone through the door before the next match against Newcastle away from home.
Over and out.
Scott is a lifelong Cardiff City fan and freelance football writer. Scott hosts the VFTN podcast.