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Preview: Cardiff City vs. Middlesbrough - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Championship clash between Cardiff City and Middlesbrough, including team news and predicted lineups.

Neil Warnock returns to former club Cardiff City this weekend with the aim of maintaining Middlesbrough's solid start to the 2020-21 Championship campaign.

Boro have lost just one of their six league outings and enter this match one point better off than Cardiff, who are themselves unbeaten in three games.

However, Warnock has not won an away league match against City since April 2006 - a 1-0 victory as Sheffield United manager, drawing four and losing two since then.


Match preview

Boro boss Neil Warnock on September 11, 2020© Reuters

Next month marks the one-year anniversary since Warnock departed the Cardiff City Stadium after a slow start to the 2019-20 season.

Experienced manager Warnock has plenty of happy memories from his time in South Wales, not least guiding the Bluebirds to the Premier League for just a second time.

The promotion expert has made clear that his aim is to take Boro back to the top flight, and he has made a decent start to his first full campaign at the Riverside Stadium.

Since narrowly losing to Watford on the opening day, Boro have drawn three and won two - those two victories coming in their last three matches, against Barnsley and Bristol City.

The Smoggies have kept a clean sheet in their last two matches and will be looking to keep their momentum going in the Welsh capital on Saturday.

However, Cardiff have produced some decent displays either side of the international break, even if that is not entirely reflected in their points return.

A goalless draw at free-scoring Blackburn Rovers and a battling 1-1 draw at home to Bournemouth sandwiched a 1-0 win at Preston North End, leaving Cardiff 13th.

Cardiff City's Harry Wilson celebrates scoring against Bournemouth in the Championship on October 21, 2020© Reuters

Harry Wilson struck the Bluebirds' equaliser in that draw with Bournemouth, but he must share the credit with goalkeeper Alex Smithies, who produced a world-class save at 1-0.

The pressure is on Warnock's predecessor to match last term's top-six finish at the very least, though if that is going to happen then City need to improve their home form.

Harris's men are winless in their three home league games so far this season - they have not gone four without a win at home from the start of a Championship season since 2007-08.

This might be the perfect fixture to change that, though, as Cardiff have won their last four Championship meetings with Middlesbrough, conceding just one goal in those four games.

Cardiff City Championship form: LWLDWD

Middlesbrough Championship form: LDDWDW
Middlesbrough form (all competitions): LDDWDW


Team News

Joe Bennett in action for Cardiff City on January 9, 2017© Reuters

Harris failed to strengthen at right-back during the summer and his side are now short of options on both flanks, with Jordi Osei-Tutu, Joe Bennett and Greg Cunningham injured.

All three will be working hard to get back to fitness, but for now it may be a case of sticking with Leandro Bacuna and Joel Bagan, who impressed on his league debut in midweek.

Kieffer Moore was named among the subs against Bournemouth and will return to the side in place of Robert Glatzel here, while Josh Murphy and Joe Ralls may also come in.

As for Boro, Warnock revealed after the win over Bristol City on Tuesday that captain Britt Assombalonga remains a fitness doubt due to a fresh injury issue.

With a lack of striking options up top on the back of a disappointing window in that regard, Chuba Akpom will again lead the line for Boro, with Patrick Roberts providing support.

This is the second of five games in a fortnight for Middlesbrough, so Warnock may be tempted to rotate in other areas of the pitch.

Marcus Tavernier, Marcus Browne and Nathan Wood were second-half subs at Ashton Gate and may come into their manager's thinking for this tough test.

Cardiff City possible starting lineup:
Smithies; Bacuna, Morrison, Nelson, Bagan; Ralls, Vaulks; Murphy, Wilson, Hoilett; Moore

Middlesbrough possible starting lineup:
Bettinelli; Dijksteel, Fry, McNair; Howson; Spence, Morsy, Saville, Johnson; Roberts; Akpom


SM words green background

We say: Cardiff City 1-0 Middlesbrough

This will be an emotional occasion for Warnock on his first return to the Cardiff City Stadium since departing the Bluebirds 11 months ago.

His new side have made themselves very tough to beat - the true hallmark of a Warnock side - but they do not tend to do well in this fixture.

Cardiff have won 15 of their last 19 home league games with Boro, including victories in each of the last three by the same 1-0 scoreline, which we can see being repeated here.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a home win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home Win:data

ID:419349:cQx

Who will win Saturday's Championship clash between Cardiff City and Middlesbrough?

Cardiff City
Draw
Middlesbrough
Cardiff City
100%
Draw
0.0%
Middlesbrough
0.0%
1
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Cardiff City's Harry Wilson celebrates scoring against Bournemouth in the Championship on October 21, 2020
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Neil Harris pays tribute to "excellent" Harry Wilson
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Norwich CityNorwich138321710727
2Bournemouth1375121111026
3Bristol City137331611524
4Swansea CitySwansea13652158723
5Reading137242017323
6Middlesbrough12561125721
7Stoke CityStoke136342118321
8Brentford135531812620
9Watford125521410420
10Millwall134721210219
11Luton TownLuton135441113-219
12Blackburn RoversBlackburn1353525151018
13Queens Park RangersQPR134541518-317
14Barnsley134451414016
15Preston North EndPreston135171617-116
16Huddersfield TownHuddersfield134361517-215
17Birmingham CityBirmingham133641012-215
18Cardiff CityCardiff133551313014
19Rotherham UnitedRotherham133371216-412
20Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest13337916-712
21Coventry CityCoventry133371323-1012
22Wycombe WanderersWycombe13238619-139
23Sheffield WednesdaySheff Weds13346712-57
24Derby CountyDerby13139520-156

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