Talking Tactics | Cardiff City v Swansea City

1st April
First team
Liam Cullen Birmingham

Swansea City went into the international break on a high having beaten Bristol City 2-0.

Now comes a fixture that supporters look to when the schedule is released prior to the campaign as the Swans make the short trip to rivals Cardiff.

Ahead of the South Wales Derby, preview the action, taking a look at what to expect from Cardiff, the key battle and a key stat.

What to expect from Cardiff

Sabri Lamouchi

Cardiff have enjoyed a revival of sorts in recent weeks having won three of their last six to move three points clear of the relegation zone.

For context on the commendable turnaround, the Bluebirds had failed to win in 12 prior to their fine 2-0 win at Birmingham in mid-February, and are now unbeaten in three at home; they'll look to continue their resurgance at Swansea's expense.

A change in manager at the end of January initially failed to have the desired effect, but Sabri Lamouchi is beginning to get his ideas across to the players as they strive to consolidate a Championship spot.

Lamouchi has tinkered with a number of systems in order to turn Cardiff's fortunes around and, having used a three-man backline before their game at Rotherham was abandoned due to a waterlogged pitch, the 51-year-old may opt for the same setup for the south Wales derby.

With Callum Robinson sidelined due to injury - the 28-year-old has the most Championship goals (5) and assists of any Cardiff player (6) - the Bluebirds are robbed of their primary attacking threat.

Without his lead striker, Lamouchi might choose to line up with two frontmen in the form of Sory Kaba and Sheyi Ojo.

And the 3-5-2 formation may be the best port of call for Cardiff given how effective the setup was working at Rotherham prior to the international break, granting Callum O'Dowda and Mahlon Romeo the freedom to attack down the flanks and create the chances from wing-back.

The pair rank well for Cardiff in terms of chances created per game (both 0.7) and for crosses per game, O'Dowda (2.3) and Romeo (2.1) placing third and fourth, respectively. But the Bluebirds will know the importance of capitalising on their good play and putting the ball in the back of the net.

Cardiff have scored the fewest goals (28) in the Championship this season, thus reinforcing a statistically calculated weakness of 'finishing scoring chances'.

However, Cardiff aren't conceding many goals either. They have shipped just 41 league goals this season, that fewer than promotion chasing Middlesbrough (42), and just one more than Millwall in sixth.

They have proven to be resolute defensively, and if they can strike the right balance between defence and attack, then they'll pull away from danger in the coming weeks.

Yet with the goals not flowing at the Cardiff City Stadium - only Preston and Wigan (both 14) have scored fewer home goals than the Welsh side (16) this season - they will be keen to find a clinical edge against their local rivals in front of a fervent home support.

Swansea are, after all, unbeaten on their last three trips to their rivals, winning the last two, scoring six and conceding no goals in the process.

Key battle

Liam Cullen Ben Cabango

Regular minutes have been hard to come by for Liam Cullen this season, the Welsh forward registering just 707 minutes of game time in the Championship, yet he has made his time on the pitch count.

Indeed, Cullen has scored six league goals and registered one assist for Russell Martin's side this season, and that included the key opener in Swansea's final game before the international break, a 2-0 win over Bristol City.

However, Cullen won't have it easy against Cardiff, particularly with returnee Mark McGuinness shining following the culmination of his loan spell with Sheffield Wednesday.

The 22-year-old has made 10 starts for the Bluebirds this season, and has returned a better rating (7.01) than any other player for Cardiff.

In a derby that stretches back over 100 years, it's two players who have recently come to the fore that could play a key role in the outcome.

Key stat

Cardiff's lack of goals this season isn't for want of trying. A return of 11.4 shots per game is the 12th most in the Championship.

But, highlighting a statistically calculated weakness of 'finishing scoring chances', Cardiff have the worst conversion rate (6.6%) in England's second tier this term.