Three Things That Huddersfield Need To Do To Win The Playoff Final
Huddersfield eventually won a desperately close, bruising battle of Yorkshire when a penalty shoot-out was all that separated them and Sheffield Wednesday in the play-off semi-finals.
They arrive at Wembley to play Reading as underdogs but they would be disappointed if miss out on the Premier League now, having topped the league in the early weeks of the season. David Wagner’s passion is infectious and his team know that one massive final push will be enough to make history.
Here, we look at three things his side will need to do to give themselves the best possible chance of success:
Get Tom Smith Forward
In 44 league games, Smith has managed an excellent 4 goals and 10 assists from right-back position, which is an astounding record. Getting forward down the right as much as possible could be crucial on the day given the way Reading line up.
If Smith can ensure that Reading’s left wing-back is forced to defend more than normal and hold his attention, he would essentially be an extra attacker, allowing the front 4 to outnumber the central defenders or force the Reading midfielders to drop back and help out, something that in itself will blunt the Berkshire side as an attacking force.
Play Supporting Three Forwards Narrow
The three playing behind Nahki Wells, whoever they may be on the day, should stay as narrow as possible. This tactic is fine at least on the right-hand side anyway, as long as Smith provides the width. It would mean that they can put sufficient pressure on Reading’s back three, who in normal circumstances have time to back each other up and pick out their short passes to the midfield easily.
Get Back To Neutral
Huddersfield started the season really well and it’s no coincidence that their best periods came when nobody was expecting it. They ended the regular campaign in bad form and looking mentally drained that they even got to this final by the skin of their teeth.
For the first time in a while though, they come into this game as genuine underdogs with most people marking third-placed Reading as favourites to win it. They should now have the opportunity to gather their thoughts and get back to neutral. They can simply let the better players such as Mooy and Smith enjoy their game and cause the havoc we all know they are capable of.