Championship 2018/19: Brentford vs Bristol City Tactical Analysis
Artwork by @chapulana

This post initially featured on our dedicated English Football League analysis site, eflanalysis.com

Brentford got their new era underway with a defeat, as they came out on the wrong end of a 1-0 scoreline at home to Bristol City. Niclas Eliasson struck home a volley with one minute to go to hand new manager Thomas Frank a loss in his first game in charge, and Brentford’s first home defeat of the season. The Bees have now dropped to 13th place in the Championship, three places off promotion ahead of their midweek game against strugglers Preston North End.

In this piece, I will look in depth at how Brentford Succumbed to defeat against fellow promotion chasers Bristol City in a tight affair at Griffin Park.

Brentford’s Poor Attacking Display

You can tell that Frank was the assistant manager to former manager Dean Smith as Brentford’s poor attacking displays continued once again. From poor finishes to a lack of cutting edge and creativity, Brentford put up an attacking display that shows exactly why they’ve drawn four of their last six Championship games.

Brentford started much the brighter side and should have really taken the lead in just the ninth minute of the game. A beautiful ball from captain Romaine Sawyers split open a weak Bristol City defence as Henrik Dalsgaard found himself in behind. His ball across to Neal Maupay should’ve seen Brentford one-up, however, the in-form striker somehow missed the ball as it hit his standing leg, and rolled off harmlessly for a Bristol City goal-kick.

Brentford Bristol City Match Analysis Tactical Analysis
Captain Sawyers plays a great defence-splitting ball in behind a resolute Bristol City
Brentford Bristol City Match Analysis Tactical Analysis
Graphic of the wonderful build-up play, however, Maupay’s poor finish leaves a sour taste in the mouth as Brentford should’ve been 1-0 up.

The Maupay chance proved to be one of many clear-cut chances for Brentford in the first half, as they struggled to break down what was proving to be a resolute Max O’Leary. The Bees did, however, look comfortable on the ball and showed the same good build-up play, at Griffin Park when attacking, as they did under previous manager Smith. In the first-half, Brentford had seven shots on the Bristol City goal, however, only two of those seven shots proved to be on target and made O’Leary work, as Brentford once again showed a lack of cutting edge up front.

Brentford started the second-half in the same vein of form they ended the first half, with good attacking build-up and a lack of cutting edge. This theme was cut short when Brentford were cut down to 10-men after a red card for centre-back Chris Mepham on 58 minutes.

Brentford Passing Out From The Back

Along with the good attacking build-up play from Brentford, there was also a greater emphasis on passing out from the back from Brentford under Frank. Goalkeeper Daniel Bentley often found his two centre-backs in front of him rather than playing the ball up-field. The only long balls up-field occurred when Bristol City pressured Brentford’s back four.

Brentford Bristol City Match Analysis Tactical Analysis
Brentford playing out from the back.

Options both in midfield and down the line from the central midfielder and left-back meant that passing out of the back was possible in the above-annotated image.

Brentford Bristol City Match Analysis Tactical Analysis
Daniel Bentley playing out of the back with his centre-back partners.

Another key aspect of Brentford’s attempt at passing out of the back is shown in the above image, as both centre-backs, Mepham and Erzi Konsa split to offer goalkeeper Bentley options either side of himself when on the ball.

Brentford Bristol City Match Analysis Tactical Analysis
Bentley being closed down, plays a cute ball into midfield to continue the theme of playing out of the back under Frank.

To continue the theme of passing out from the back, Bentley plays a great little-chipped ball into midfield after Bristol City players initially press high to try and stop Brentford from playing out of the back.

Narrow Loss

After a second-half that saw Brentford go down to ten men, they were ever so unfortunate to then concede a late winner to Bristol City. However, there were various poor defensive elements that have now occurred in two consecutive Championship games, with Brentford also conceding a late equaliser to Leeds United before the international break.

Brentford Bristol City Match Analysis Tactical Analysis
An annotated image of the game-winning throw in from Bristol City.

There are two mistakes in the taking of this throw-in which led to Bristol City grabbing the games winning goal. First of all, Brentford have allowed a short throw-in routine, with no one picking up Jay Dasilva, who receives the ball. Second of all, there is only one man, who has his back turned to the throw-in and three different Bristol City men unmarked within throwing distance of the throw-in.

Brentford Bristol City Match Analysis Tactical Analysis
A cross from the short throw, which led to Bristol City’s winning goal.

The mistakes continue, as the ball is whipped into the box, there are FOUR Brentford players who are marking no one in the box, whilst Niclas Eliasson remains unmarked at the back post for an easy tap-in for the winning goal. As well as the four men who are marking nobody, Yoann Barbet and Moses Odubajo are challenging for the same header whilst Eliasson remains free at the back post.

Final Thoughts

Whilst Brentford may have changed managers, the manner of the football they play remains the same with a variety of missed chances and a lack of concentration for the full 90 minutes in defence. The hill Thomas Frank must climb if he wants to achieve promotion to the Premier League this season is very steep, with the Dane needing to fix Brentford at both ends of the pitch if he is to succeed where Dean Smith failed.