Barnsley head into the weekend looking to finally climb out of the relegation zone as they make the trip south to face Bristol City tomorrow.
The Tykes are in a rich vein of form under new head coach Gerhard Struber and will look to continue that against play-off hopefuls Bristol City, who are currently on a run of form more suited to Barnsley’s league position than their own, with five defeats in their last seven games.
Since the end of November, the Tykes have been in great form, winning four, drawing three and losing just two in the league, helping them rise from a seemingly bleak position at the bottom to within just a point of Stoke City and safety.
This has been in no small part down to Gerhard Struber’s transformation of the side and their style of play to being more attacking and suited to their strengths rather than previously outlining some of their weaknesses.
A change in formation and reshuffling of personnel has helped massively in Barnsley’s upturn in form and Struber will be thinking that the side has even more in their locker, being such a young and inexperienced squad.
With the trip to Ashton Gate up next for the Tykes, we take a look at what side we expect Struber to field tomorrow…
Barnsley operated in a host of formations under both Daniel Stendel and Adam Murray as both struggled to make heads or tails over the best fit for each player in each position, switching from a range of four and three at the back formations.
Struber has settled on a 4-3-1-2 formation since taking the job and has found great balance between defence and attack in doing so, despite still being a tad too leaky for his liking still.
In goal will be an enforced change, with Brad Collins coming in to replace Sami Radlinger who was confirmed by the head coach as unavailable due to illness yesterday. Collins had a regular run in the first-team earlier on in the season before being immediately replaced by Radlinger when Struber came in for his first game against Blackburn and now has the opportunity to prove a point to the head coach this weekend.
In front of Collins will be an unchanged back four of Joe Williams, Bambo Diaby, Mads Andersen, and Clarke Oduor. This appears to be what will be Struber’s back four, give or take the right-back slot that will now be contested between Williams and new signing Kilian Ludewig, but he may need time to get up to speed, having not played much senior football this season.
Clarke Oduor has been a revelation in the past few games as he slots in at left-back and he will be looking to continue that at the weekend when they face the Robins.
In a midfield diamond will be Aapo Halme, Marcel Ritzmaier, Luke Thomas and Alex Mowatt. At the base of this midfield four will be Halme who has been brilliant in a new role for the Tykes, moving up from centre-back to play in the middle of the park and help break up opposition attacks. Either side and in front of him are the players that are helping Banrlsye gain more control of games and with Ritzmaier, Barnsley have a player well-suited to Struber’s system, having come from his side Wolfsberger AC.
Mowatt is the link between the midfield and attack, his performances of late have been a key reason for Barnsley’s resurgence in the league and push for survival at the moment.
Up front will remain Connor Chaplin and Jacob Brown, who are forming quite the partnership in attack at the moment. Chaplin is finally starting to hit the goalscoring form that people expected of him at an early age, while Brown is turning provider an awful lot of late.
Just the one enforced change for Barnsley as they see Radlinger sit out and wait for Cauley Woodrow to return to fitness, but there is no reason why they should change their lineup beyond that, given how they played against the Terriers last time out.