Fulham v Derby - Championship Playoffs 2018

Discussion in 'Fulham FC News and Notes' started by MicahMan, May 9, 2018.

  1. MicahMan

    MicahMan Administrator

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    Fulham plays the first leg of their playoff matchup with Derby on Friday at Pride Park. The second leg will be played Monday, May 14. Both matches are played in the evening in England, so afternoon matches here.

    Fulham most recently faced Derby on a cold day back in March when many matches were postponed due to frozen pitches. Fulham jumped out to an early 2-0 lead and then held on to win 2-1. That victory came in the middle of our spectacular run against the top teams in the league.

    Back in November, Fulham hosted Derby and came away with a 1-1 draw. Fulham was by far the more threatening team in the match but gave up a goal due to some loose play at the back. At the time Derby was in the middle of what would be their best run of form, despite just coming off a loss to Reading. This was the first match of the season (that I'm aware of) when Sessegnon was pushed up top - Odoi came in at left back. It was clear from that match that we were missing a solid striker up front since we got good balls into the box but no one could convert. The only goal for Fulham was the odd time when they actually scored from a set piece when Norwood scored on a free kick. The following match was the 5-4 win over Sheffield that signaled the start of Fulham's long climb up the table. While that win is what kicked off the charge emotionally, the tactical changes that started to lead toward greater success seem to have begun with Derby.

    While on aggregate Fulham only has a 3-2 advantage over Derby, Fulham has been the more dominant team in both matches. Derby also limped into the playoffs with a string of losses before finally securing a critical victory over Cardiff. Derby can play well against the top teams in the league so Fulham should be careful of being over confident (the loss against Birmingham last week and the playoff loss last year should take care of that).

    Over the season Derby has had 6 losses at home vs. 5 on the road, so we'd certainly like to continue to give them more losses at home during this first leg. Derby has made a habit of getting draws on the road - 10 on the road vs 5 at home. The only team that Derby lost to away out of the top 9 was Wolverhampton. So if Fulham doesn't get a win at Pride Park, Derby has a very concerning track record of getting draws on the road.

    I am more positive on Fulham's playoff chances this year, not just because they are a better squad, but because they also play better at home. Last year Fulham had a better away record than home record. That was concerning in the playoffs when I think that home field advantage becomes even more important (I'm now ruing not collecting data on home vs. away records in the playoffs when I looked at playoff trends).

    I haven't heard anything about Matt Targett's condition heading into this match. He could be the key. If he isn't 100% I think Fulham may want to consider the back 4 used against Derby in November: Odoi, Ream, Kalas, Fredericks. Jokanovic needs to be willing to make early changes if some of the guys aren't working out. Christie has often played well coming off the bench and if Fredericks looks like he's not having a good night, he should be subbed out early. I also wouldn't mind seeing Kamara or Ayite start in place of Piazon.

    Fulham clearly has the talent and coaching to win this and a final at Wembley. They just need to put behind some shaky recent performances and play with confidence.
     
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  2. SoCalJoe

    SoCalJoe Well-Known Member

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    Was overconfident against Reading last year, far more cautious this time around. Just hoping the boys play their best football over the course of 180 minutes (or longer if it takes). If they do Wembley awaits, COYW!!!!
     
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  3. BarryWhite

    BarryWhite Well-Known Member

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    I have butterflies
     
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  4. jumpkutz

    jumpkutz Well-Known Member

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    I'm reasonably confident that our club record unbeaten streak combined with our experience in last season's playoffs will help us find a way past Derby County. I'm afraid that we'll succumb to the notoriety and newness of our first trip to Wembley since 1975, regardless of the opponent. But...the pitch is four meters wider than at the Cottage, so that should play in our favor, right?
    First things first, let's take care of Derby. Targett told a twitter follower that he is 100% fit, but who really knows? He seems to have had less and less of an impact on the proceedings on the pitch since his transfer, but that, like so many other things, could change Friday night. Another issue might be Birmingham's possible blueprint for beating us. Was it superior tactics, or did we just have an overdue subpar performance? Probably some combo of those, but I guarantee the Ram's coaches are scouring the video of all of our performances with the current lineup.
     
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  5. 30frames

    30frames New Member

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    I'm more worried about the semis. Once we get to Wembley with smooth grace and Premier League ref we can play 'our' game - assuming the super-tired team we saw on Sunday gets their rest.

    We are Bruce Lee in a Butterbean league and if other teams can goon it up against us (Reading in playoffs last year) - we are in trouble.
     
    #5
  6. MicahMan

    MicahMan Administrator

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    Birmingham's first goal and a number of other threatening possessions came from a willingness to attack immediately as soon as they received the ball. Often this led to an immediate turnover, but sometimes they caught a guy making a run and quickly attacked the net. This is the same kind of play I witnessed first hand last season when we were beaten badly by Wolverhampton. Their philosophy is that the more time you give Fulham to organize the less chance there will be to score, so even if there are only two guys on the break - go for it. As I said at the time of the Wolverhampton game, Fulham's center backs move out toward the wings with McDonald in the middle to form a three man line when Fulham is in possession. If an opponent attacks quickly sometimes the wing backs can't get back fast enough or if they do there is some confusion on who is covering who as things move from a three man line to a four man line.

    When Fulham faced that kind of attack on Sunday I was BEGGING Fulham to push forward quickly after stopping a Birmingham surge. They needed to catch Birmingham on the back foot to make them less likely to push as hard. Instead Fulham usually passed around at the back a couple times and gave everyone a chance to set up in the Birmingham half of the field. Fulham then couldn't convert their chances because of poor shooting, mixed up dribbling, and most commonly sloppy passing. This lead to long periods of possession with very little to show for it. The stats show this clearly - Fulham had 75% of possession but Birmingham had about as many shots as Fulham and more shots on target (7 to 5).

    So, in my mind it was a combination of Birmingham's tactics and poor quality for Fulham.

    In the previous matches this season with Derby, Fulham did have more possession, but not the ridiculous skew seen at Birmingham. Fulham would out shoot Derby, but both teams ended up with the same number of shots on target. They could try something different, a more Birmingham-like approach, since their normal style didn't work in the previous two encounters.
     
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  7. astroevan

    astroevan Well-Known Member

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    There is a very different mentality in the playoffs. I enjoy looking at matchups during the season as guidance, but there will be very different teams and strategies employed over the next two matches. Everyone wants to play their game in October or March but come May, it's do or die. This often leads to desperate tactics and cautious play.

    I'm hoping that Joka learned from last year that Fulham most likely won't be able to play their usual game against Derby. Reading knew if they played their normal game against Fulham, then they may have gone into the summer with a huge playoff defeat. Instead they employed a tight defense and physical tactics which put Fulham off of their game and ended up heading to the final.

    Fulham need an early goal (or three) to put the pressure on Derby. If Derby is allowed to sit back and carefully pick their chances, then it is going to be a long and stressful 180+ minutes.

    I've got my afternoon cleared tomorrow and the kid has a class at the gym so I'll be able to watch (and scream at the TV) uninterrupted.
     
    #7
  8. RDG

    RDG Member

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    Pardon the interruption - I'm here in DC and may be able to get away to watch the match. Does anyone know where I should go? (ahem!)
     
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  9. jumpkutz

    jumpkutz Well-Known Member

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    Spot on, sir. That's why I'm hoping our experience from last year will come into play. We definitely need to be more physical, even at the expense of a few cards, hopefully none red. But they'll come after us hard and high, you can bet on that. I think we'll be ready for it, or any other surprises they come up with. Because of last year....
     
    #9
  10. MicahMan

    MicahMan Administrator

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    I'm not in DC, so I don't know if this is where you should go, but the Lucky Bar in DC will be showing the match - I have no idea if anyone else will be there: http://www.luckybardc.com/ You could also try posting in the FulhamUSA group on Facebook to see if anyone there has plans.

    Jump, something about what you said had me thinking that the playoff against Reading last year was a lot like that bombing run over Macho Grande. Hopefully Striker holds it together this time...
     
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  11. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

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    #11
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  12. astroevan

    astroevan Well-Known Member

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    I also agree with MicahMan regarding Piazon's position. I like Piazon but feel like he hasn't provided the same kind of spark recently that he has in the past. The last couple of times that I have watched a match, I feel like he has been the most invisible player for Fulham. That's not always a bad thing, but maybe someone else can provide a boost that he creates for himself or for another player.
     
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  13. Coach K

    Coach K Active Member

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    I'll be at my commencement speech for the University of New Orleans, but I'll be listening to GJ and dreaming of a trip to Wembley!

    Hopefully they score the game winner right at the most crucial moment of the speech and I'll get to jump up and yell, Come on Fulham! like in the movies :)
     
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  14. nevzter

    nevzter Well-Known Member

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    Dusted off and donned my Mcbride20 Great Escape shirt (and a thank you to SCJ!). ESPN+ queued up.

    COYW!

     
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  15. MicahMan

    MicahMan Administrator

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    Here we go. Feeling a little ill in anticipation. The starting XI:

    Bettinelli
    Fredericks, Odoi, Ream, Targett
    McDonald, Cairney, Johansen
    Ayite, Mitrovic, Sessegnon

    Subs: Button, Kalas, Christie, Norwood, Kebano, Piazon, Kamara

    Ayite did come on for Piazon (Jokanovic must be a reader of our forum! :D). No Ojo on the bench.
     
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  16. jumpkutz

    jumpkutz Well-Known Member

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    Ojo seems to be more focused on Anfield than us. That's cool. He hasn't done much since scoring the winner against Barnsley at the beginning of the record unbeaten streak. No Rui Fonte either. But that's a solid bench. Got no problem with any of those guys coming in if needed. We might lose a little bit if Button has to spell Betts, but that's the least likely scenario. Glad to see Ayite fit again. He's capable of causing defenders all sorts of fits. Here we go!
     
    #16
  17. SoCalJoe

    SoCalJoe Well-Known Member

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    I’ll leave it to those who watched, but checking the score and seeing the stats (shots, corners, and # of fouls Derby committed) is beyond frustrating.
     
    #17
  18. nevzter

    nevzter Well-Known Member

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    Frustrating, indeed. Lots of short corners and brilliant lateral and backward passes. A miss by Ayite on a one-timer 1 v 1 with the keeper (great pass to create that chance) and McDonald hit the woodwork. The stats flatter to deceive.
    COYW
     
    #18
    Last edited: May 11, 2018
  19. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

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    Jerome did a marvelous job of twisting himself around Targett and heading home -- all this from a pin-point cross. I have no problem with the goal. I'm pleased that it was the only goal and I'm confident on Monday.

    What I saw from Fulham --

    1. stupid corners. ALL OF THEM were short and several resulted in lost possession after two touches. Not a single cross that Mitro could capitalize on. I hate short corners anyhow, but to turn one into an automatic turnover ...
    2. a bad day in the office from Mitro. Several passes into him when he immediately lost possession on. His lay-off passing was diabolically bad.
    3. too much slow-slow-slow in the first half
    4. In the second half: Good hard shot from Mitro, crossbar rattler from KMacm, close misses by Ayite and Cairney -- any one of which Derby couldn't quibble over. Just didn't go in.

    What I'm concerned about Monday

    the one and only thing is the tiredness of the squad. Derby's early goal and ability to get through the extensive pressure we put on them in the first 10 minutes of the second half, allowed them to rest Jerome and others relatively early.

    The good news is that Targett and Cairney looked healthy.

    It is VITAL that we get the first goal Monday. Derby are well-coached and disciplined. It would be very very difficult to break them down if they have a two-goal lead.
     
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  20. astroevan

    astroevan Well-Known Member

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    74% possession... 2 shots on target. Looks like Fulham were up to their old tricks again.
     
    #20
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