World News – GB – Preston North End vs Millwall: Tactical Review // Du Finney


Millwall came over and did a job at North End in Deepdale on Wednesday night The Lions were controlling some big spells of the game (you can control a game without the ball), but they didn’t sit in a boring and deep block as some have hinted They used aggression in large areas, they used Ryan Woods very cleverly and they use their CBs well too Here’s how they beat North End

Millwall set up in a 5-2-3 on paper However, their WB starting position was very high, and their WBs looked to engage 1v1 with our FBs, leaving their CBs wider to face. to Sinclair and Potts who played very close This allowed their WBs to put pressure on our FBs if they received the ball in wide areas Their 3 CB covered the width of the pitch well and handled channel balls with ease

Malone (LWB) ready to engage the man-to-man with Rafferty (RB) if the ball is played square This either forces a channel ball or forces Rafferty to play indoors where there is no not much space

As you can see Millwall used this 2-3 box shape to compress the core areas and force us to go wide They kept this shape well throughout and used it when we were in our first possession phase

This limited our access to the central game, especially since Alan Browne was not good at playing across the lines

Millwall kept this form in the second half as you can see above Their distances were good and there was little room for PNE players meaning we either had to try to go straight into bypassing the central third, or play wide for the FB

So this basic shape once again forced the accumulation of North End wide, outside shape, or long, on the shape Millwall knew that PNE did not have the quality of CB, CB, 6, 6 (Storey, Bauer / Hunts, Ledson, Browne) to play incisive passes through form This is a personnel issue (more on that later)

As the game progressed through Millwall’s half of the field, they compacted into a tighter 5-4-1 form with Wallace and Bennett falling deeper into a 4-line with Woods and Leonard (CM) This compacted the space between the defensive line and the midline, meaning there was no room for PNE to operate in the central areas Again, North End had to give us wide areas to stretch Millwall’s shape – but we lack quality in large areas

Here is an example of the 5-4-1 shape This is not particularly deep, I would call it a mid block As we can see the shape has shifted to the side of the ball leaving all of the ‘space on the side of the ball where Rafferty is

This is a popular theory with many managers, because the only way to find Rafferty is with a long diagonal ball – when the ball leaves the ground it is not in control, and when the ball is moving in. the air, the Millwall the form has time to move It is not a danger unless you have an exceptional passer of ball

Again A 5-4-1 compact form with all the space on the other side Ledson attempts a complex pass in Sinclair but it is easily handled So when North End entered the final third zones they lacked quality in wide areas to cross and make contact, and they lacked penetration / dynamic movement behind Millwall’s back 5 This led to just 048 xG for PNE (our lowest of the season)

While Millwall’s initial form (5-2-3) and secondary form (5-4-1) were effective, they were also very aggressive in their use of the back wings with and without the ball. Romeo, in particular, offered a lot of energy and pace to get Millwall up the pitch and pin Andrew Hughes As previously mentioned, Millwall’s full-backs were playing directly against the North End full-backs, and Millwall’s aggression left Hughes and Rafferty pinned deeply for much of the game.

These 4 screenshots show the aggression of the wingers out of possession They are either ready to press if the ball is played from the back, or as in some cases, the winger has pressed very high and forces the rear side to move back

Malone and Romeo showed good discipline and energy to keep this going for 90 minutes and won the battle in the large areas Rafferty and Hughes, both physically limited, failed to beat their winger in 1 on 1 situations, which made them quite futile as an offensive force

When Millwall had the ball the wingers’ positioning was aggressive again – mainly Romeo who is adept at moving the ball forward through dribbling and also offers great width with the ball running It was another theme and once again this forced the North End full-backs to stay deep He also pushed Potts / Sinclair back on occasion to double up 2v1

First, let’s take a look at Millwall’s full-back 3 in his preparation phase, as his positioning allowed full-backs to move high on the pitch. Millwall’s wider center-backs (Hutchinson and Wallace) often moved into full-back areas, allowing full-backs to move 20 yards higher

The positioning of the center-backs created dilemmas for the Preston press, as we like to press in the center, but Millwall’s widening of the center-backs increased the distances to go and they managed to play successfully with quick combinations, with Ryan Woods showing good movement to receive the ball

Expansive 3 backs that act effectively like a 4 rear would, just with 1 center rear This allows the rear fenders to move down the midline

Murray Wallace (LCB) moved to LB zone Quick triangulation of the ball and good movement to the blind side saw Woods face forward

As no PNE 10 (DJ) was beaten with traffic, and Ledson jumps to squeeze Woods, there are acres of space for Bennett to attack He then fell into the space vacated by Ledson who was trapped in the pressing, and suddenly Millwall is behind our midfielder Note Malone’s (LWB) positioning throughout this – high, wide and on the last line of the North End, pinning the Really Good Hughes of Millwall

Here is an example of Ben Pearson’s absence from North End, as Ledson was drawn into situations he shouldn’t have

Again Millwall’s wider center-backs are found in the back areas Another triangulation that draws DJs to the press, and once again Woods easily ends up with acres Millwall made the pitch very efficient and North End apparently struggles to cope

Once again Millwall opens the pitch with his LCB in the LB area Both rear wings are so high they aren’t even in the shot Millwall is definitely not a 4-4-2 and a long ball

Millwall’s aggressive starting positions meant their wingers carried a threat in transition, and when they returned the ball a winger was always ready to move quickly. This ended up pinning the North End full-backs

These 3 scenarios all happen within the first 30 minutes Romeo’s aggression and positional pace causes problems in the North End and due to the offensive threat he poses, Hughes is really struggling to have a impact on the game

Hughes was caught here and Romeo carried the ball 30 yards, pinning Potts and dragging Storey into a wide area – not where you want your center back to defend Romeo is a great outlet

Once again Millwall breaking to the beat and disrupting the form of North Ends Teams that carry this threat but can also defend space like Millwall can be very hard to beat – they disorganize your structure but remain themselves very organized

Attack Millwall with one rear wing passing to the other With Millwall’s breadth so high, North End is pinned again and there is no wide outlet – there is only Riis against 3 central rear

At 0-1 outside the house, Millwall’s LCB provides the attack width, and the LWB has moved to the inside channel to attack the box North End RB and RW are back in their own box because of this Millwall is definitely not a deep defensive block

80th minute Romeo (RWB) pinned our LW, and Hutchinson (RCB) pinned our LB Intentional attack North End was pushed back by Millwall’s broad aggressive dominance and this played a major role in their victory

In addition to their broad dominance and clever use of the back 3, Millwall’s midfielder form with and without the ball caused problems at North End Woods’ ability to orchestrate from the depths and ability of Wallace and Bennett to shoot in central spaces allowed Millwall to progress vertically with relative ease

In doing so, Millwall was controlling the scheme of the game and not allowing North End to enter any attack rhythm

A player of Woods’ ability is able to perform short or long passes Here he has 3 or 4 options on the ball and Wallace and Bennett fell into space in PNE’s midfield using a Smart positioning Wallace in particular was very effective in finding space alongside the PNE midfielder

Millwall shifts his midfield very well creating depth and angles Woods played in Leonard here and Wallace settles into the space Browne left when he presses Leonard Wallace is on the blind side of Ledson

Wallace is found with a sharp pass behind North End midfielder 2 vertical passes and Millwall attacks PNE’s defensive line

Due to all that has been mentioned so far, North End has been very deep throughout the game As our players lack the ability to play sharp vertical passes, we ended up bringing more and more players in our front row, because no player wanted to take responsibility (bravery) It suited Millwall

Alex Neil saw this and in all honesty tried to rectify by removing Ledson and pushing DJ deeper to act as a pivot He has the most quality in our team and it showed in the brief amount of time he was deep He played several assists and moved the ball with urgency

Excellent vision and execution to unlock Millwall DJ’s defense in 15 minutes showed the value of a player capable of moving forward – like Ryan Woods did all night

Millwall was a level above North End both tactically and physically Another side that beat us in large areas and compacted the central space North End needs more quality and courage (like the showed DJ) and more franchise in large areas (Fisher, Barkhuizen), etc.

You can listen to our post-match episode of the From the Finney podcast below, just hit play on the player Or, find us in your regular streaming apps, just search for « From the Finney » and you we will have

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Preston North End FC, Birmingham City FC, EFL Championship, Josh Harrop, Millwall FC, Alex Neil, Darnell Fisher, Jayden Stockley, Aitor Karanka, Alan Browne

World News – GB – Preston North End vs Millwall: Tactical review // Du Finney
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