Talking Tactics

Midfield role can help Bamba shackle King

Adrian Clarke 10 Aug 2018
Composite of Joshua King and Sol Bamba

Adrian Clarke explains why Neil Warnock may use a centre-back in front of his defence at AFC Bournemouth

Sol Bamba was a colossal figure for Cardiff City en route to promotion last season.

The 33-year-old defender is quick, strong, an intelligent reader of the game and is one of the first names on Neil Warnock's teamsheet.

However, the centre-back is likely to start in a slightly different role against AFC Bournemouth on Saturday.

Bamba was fielded at the base of Cardiff's three-man midfield in last weekend's friendly defeat by Real Betis.

He started in that position in only four Championship matches in 2017/18 but could repeat that role at Vitality Stadium.

King v Bamba

The prospect of a direct duel between Bamba and one of Eddie Howe's most influential performers, Joshua King, is an appealing one.

Playing behind Callum Wilson in AFC Bournemouth's 4-2-3-1 formation, King ended the last campaign as the club's joint leading scorer with eight Premier League goals.

He wreaked havoc with his directness inside the final third. King created 38 chances, a tally that was second only to Ryan Fraser's 42.

King is especially dangerous when delivering balls across the face of goal. He was the eighth most accurate crosser in the division in 2017/18.

Open-play crossing accuracy 
2017/18Accuracy
Cuco Martina33.3%  
Craig Dawson
Roberto Pereyra
Juan Mata 32.1%
Simon Francis31.6% 
Chris Brunt30.8% 
Steven Defour30.3%
Josh King29.4%

*Players with at least 30 crosses

Restricting the service into King, and tracking the 26-year-old's runs down the side of the box, will be Bamba's task.

It will not be easy. King is mobile and willing to drag his markers all over the pitch.

Ball-winner

Bamba was a powerful figure in his four appearances in midfield for Cardiff last term.

He attempted a total of 17 tackles against Ipswich Town, Derby County, Birmingham City and Leeds United, winning 11.

If he patrols the area in front of defence at Vitality Stadium this Saturday, Bamba is will be extremely physical.

His record at winning the ball back is exceptional (see below) so it makes sense for Warnock to use him this way.

Acting as a third central defender in front of Sean Morrison and Bruno Ecuele Manga, Bamba has the strength and nous to frustrate Bournemouth's main creators.

Championship's best in 2017/18
Tackles wonInterceptions
Massimo Luongo100Curtis Davies135
Joe Bryan87Sol Bamba112
George Saville85Jack O'Connell105
Sol Bamba76Liam Moore89
Ezgjan Alioski76Chris Basham88
Clash of styles

On paper, AFC Bournemouth's energetic and speedy play can trouble Cardiff but do not discount Warnock's side.

His team conceded only 23 goals in 23 away matches last season and were excellent at nullifying their opponents' most obvious danger men.

Also in this series 

Part 1: Fred's speed can bring best out of Sanchez
Part 3: Rondon's aerial strength can trouble Spurs
Part 4: Keita and Wilshere duel could decide Anfield match

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