UK & Ireland Football

The Big Match Tactical View: Cardiff City v Liverpool

Carling Cup RSS / / 25 February 2012 / Leave a Comment

Free Bet
Peter Whittingham is Cardiff's key player in midfield

Peter Whittingham is Cardiff's key player in midfield

"Suarez will be licking his lips at the prospect of getting in behind the Cardiff centre-backs, who lack speed"

A final between two Scottish managers, Malky Mackay and Kenny Dalglish, who have both used various formations throughout 2011/12 - Michael Cox assesses where the tactical battle will be won.

Cardiff City v Liverpool, Sunday 4:00pm, BBC1 and Sky Sports 1.

Match odds: Cardiff City [10.0], Liverpool [1.41], The Draw [5.0].

If complacency is an issue at Liverpool in the build-up to this tie, Kenny Dalglish will simply have to remind his players of the result from last season's Carling Cup final, where Birmingham shocked Arsenal to record a famous 2-1 victory.

Although that result owed much to a disastrous defensive mix-up between Wojiech Szczesny and Laurent Koscielny, Alex McLeish's tactics also worked very well. He played a narrow midfield, flooded the centre of the pitch and didn't allow Arsenal time to settle on the ball. Cardiff against Liverpool is a very different match from Birmingham against Arsenal, but Malky Mackay might use a similar approach here.

Mackay has picked up a deserved reputation as a good tactician at Cardiff. Whereas the side played fairly basic football under Dave Jones, Mackay has made the side better on the ball and less predictable in terms of their tactics. A variety of formations have been used this season, featuring both one and two strikers - but it's likely to be the cautious approach here, with Kenny Miller alone upfront working the channels, in a 4-1-4-1.

The Bluebirds' key player is Peter Whittingham. Though known as a winger in his early days at Aston Villa, Whittingham is now deployed in an interesting deep-lying playmaking role, where he dictates the play and spreads the ball across the pitch to great effect. He has 12 league assists this season, three times as many as any other Cardiff player - partly because of his importance in open play, but also because he delivers an excellent dead ball.

However, by virtue of playing deep in midfield but not being a defensive-minded player, Whittingham has also picked up more yellow cards than any of his teammates.

Otherwise, Mackay's selection is unlikely to feature any major surprises, though Stephen McPhail and Mark Hudson face late fitness tests.

There are more question marks over Dalglish's shape and starting selection. In an attacking sense, while Andy Carroll has enjoyed a decent run of form, there is no doubt that Cardiff's defence is more vulnerable to pace than aerial power. Luis Suarez will be licking his lips at the prospect of getting in behind the Cardiff centre-backs who lack speed, while the tendency for the Welsh side's full-backs to move high up the pitch means that Craig Bellamy would be a good bet on the flanks, probably the left, against one of his many former clubs. Dirk Kuyt would add industry on the right of a 4-3-3.

Despite Liverpool's occasional problems without a holding player - away at Bolton was an obvious example - they might not need one here. Cardiff don't have an obvious number ten, and I think Steven Gerrard and Charlie Adam could be used to spray the ball forward in behind the Cardiff defence, with Jordan Henderson adding mobility higher up, and told to get close to Whittingham.

That would mean a place on the bench for Stewart Downing. This probably isn't the best game for him anyway - the hard-working, reliable Don Cowie protects his right-back well, whether it's Kevin McNaughton or Darcy Blake, and getting in behind the full-backs more directly is likely to be more promising for Liverpool.

I think the game might lack goalscoring chances early on - with a packed midfield and two strikers, Suarez and Miller, both drifting into the channels away from goal. I do worry about the speed of the Cardiff backline up against Suarez, though, and will back the Uruguayan to open the scoring at [6.2].

However, I think this could be a tighter game than expected, though the longer the match goes on, the more you expect the Premier League side's superior fitness to prove decisive. Therefore, I'll back Liverpool to win the game in extra time in the 'method of victory' market, at anything in double figures.

Recommended bets:
Suarez to score first at [6.2]
Liverpool to win in extra time at [10.0]

Read More UK & Ireland Football

Super Sunday Live: Arsenal v Tottenham & Cardiff v Liverpool

Bragging rights are at stake in the north London derby, whilst at Wembley the first trophy of the season is in sight of Liverpool and Cardiff. Mike Norman takes us through the day......

Lee Dixon: Liverpool to edge Carling Cup final

Steven Gerrard will be the one lifting the Carling Cup at the end of 90 minutes but this won't be easy and a single goal may well decide matters. Luis Suarez could be the man to get it, says Lee...

Carling Cup Special Big Interview: Peter Whittingham

Promotion chasing Cardiff are out to stop Liverpool lifting their first major trophy in six years in Sunday's Carling Cup final. Betfair went to Wales to meet goal scoring midfield man Peter Whittingham and learn more about what's lying in...

Post a comment

Free £20 Bet + Up to £1,000 Cashback

Join Today
How to claim your £20 Free Bet + £1,000 Cashback offer
  1. Open your account (3 mins)
  2. Make a deposit into your account and place a bet on your selection (minimum £20)
  3. Should your selection lose we'll refund your bet + get cashback on your betting for your first 30 days up to £1,000
  4.   £20 Free Bet + £1,000 Cashback, Join Today

Writers' Tips

Follow our daily tipsters

Sorry there are no tips today - Please come back later.

Get a $50-$2500 Poker Bonus

Play Now

Choose and earn a $50, $250, $500, $1000 or $2500 poker sign up bonus. Turn Loyalty Into Cash and earn up to 40% Valueback in the Players Club.

Join Betfair Poker Now.

£200 Casino Bonus

Play Now

100% deposit bonus up to £100 for all new casino players. Just join and play to claim.

Join Today. Click here to claim your £200 Casino Bonus

© Betfair 2007–12 | Contact Betting.Betfair team on: haveyoursay@betfair.com

Proud to back    

Betfair UK | Australia | Online sázení | Betfair Danmark | Wetten | στοιχήματα | Apuestas | Fogadas | Ireland | Scommesse | Norge | Онлайн ставки | Kladjenje | Vedonlyönti | Apostas | Zakłady | Vadhållning | 网上投注 | Betfair Corporate | Betting Education