CHAMPIONSHIP playoff semi-finals are more than a tactical battle. They are a battle of bottle, determination, consistency and so much more.

Southampton have already beaten the Baggies twice this season, a fact which can serve as a psychological win ahead of Sunday's 2.15pm kick-off.

However, ask a West Brom player about that and they will probably tell you that their record against Saints serves as extra motivation.

The biggest difference between Southampton's first win against West Brom and their second victory was the changes they made at the back.

At the Hawthorns, Jack Stephens was drafted in as a left-back while Shea Charles started in holding midfield in Flynn Downes' absence.

Skipper Stephens was required to step inside to create a back three when playing out, done so to help alleviate the opposition's two-man press.

Charles was also tasked with being smarter with his positioning. When Walker-Peters burst up the field, he tucked in on the right.

Daily Echo: Southampton defended in a standard back four.Southampton defended in a standard back four. (Image: EFL)Daily Echo:

These tweaks turned the battle into three versus two when playing out the back, making possession safer and opening up the field. 

Ryan Fraser started on the left and scored the opener. When Stephens inverted, the Scot dropped deeper, almost to create a back five.

Fraser dubbed Martin a genius for cooking up the new approach and that was not the last time he altered things to beat a tough opponent.

Speaking to the Daily Echo about the system, Fraser said: "With the manager being the genius that he is, we dropped Jack back in to make it a three vs two when building up.

“That allowed me to come a little bit deeper. Everyone knows what needs to be done when the gaffer changes things.

"The whole squad buys into his ideas because we trust him one million per cent - that is huge in football.

“I can give him all the praise because that is what he does. We can’t always praise one-dimensional football."

Saturday's win over Leeds United saw similar tactical elements deployed. This time they lined up with a true five-at-the-back system, helping them play out once more.

As outlined in our breakdown of that 2-1 win, Saints were more direct and also made better use of late runs into the box.

READ MORE: How Southampton made tactical tweaks to beat Leeds United on final day

Will Smallbone scored the winner after charging into the box to meet Walker-Peters' cross from the right.

Daily Echo: Will Smallbone makes a late burst into the box to meet Kyle Walker-Peters' crossWill Smallbone makes a late burst into the box to meet Kyle Walker-Peters' cross (Image: EFL)

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Runs from deep were something the Baggies struggled to deal with in the reverse fixture at St Mary's earlier in the season.

Southampton’s first goal came from West Brom not tracking runners. First Stuart Armstrong darts in behind to receive a through ball from Charly Alcaraz.

Daily Echo: Stuart Armstrong races onto Charly Alcaraz's through ballStuart Armstrong races onto Charly Alcaraz's through ball (Image: EFL)

The Scot pulls across to Adam Armstrong, who sees his close-range effort blocked, however, Smallbone has made a late run into the box and arrives in time to send the rebound just over the line.

Daily Echo: Will Smallbone arrives in the box late as Adam Armstrong has an effort blockedWill Smallbone arrives in the box late as Adam Armstrong has an effort blocked (Image: EFL)

Daily Echo: Will Smallbone's close-range effort crosses the line despite West Brom's best efforts to clearWill Smallbone's close-range effort crosses the line despite West Brom's best efforts to clear (Image: EFL)

Against Sheffield Wednesday, West Brom's penultimate game of the season, the Baggies also struggled to react quickly and cut out goals.

All three goals scored by Danny Rohl's Owls came because their reactions were sharper.  

If Che Adams, who was forced off against Leeds last weekend, is not passed fit, Southampton will not only lose his goalscoring edge but his ability to bring his teammates into the game too.

When Adams is at his best he is dropping deep to receive the ball, spraying it out to a teammate and bursting forward into a dangerous attacking area. 

Without him, Martin would need to turn to Sekou Mara for the most Adams-like replacement - although he too could still be unfit after missing the trip to Leeds.

While Mara has not been able to find a level of consistency this season to permanently dislodge Adams, he did impress last time at the Hawthorns. 

Southampton and West Brom will also have to deal with the issue of facing the same opponent twice in the same week.

Unlike when Martin sprang a surprise on Leeds last Saturday or at West Brom in February, the close proximity of fixtures limits their opportunity to do that. 

Instead, the winning side will have to ensure they do what they set out to do so well that the opposition are unable to stop them, even though they know what to expect.

"We've been really adaptable with personnel, with the formation and in the way that we try to build up or press the opposition," Martin explained.

"We change things week on week, depending on the opposition, but we do so without losing who we are and the main principles of our performance.

"I think the first game will reveal a lot to both coaches. Then there will be tweaks and adaptations for the second game.

"But we are never going to fundamentally change the principles of what we do. I'm pretty sure Carlos won't change his either.

"It's going to be interesting. I'm looking forward to it, and we'll see what happens."