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Oct 20, 2015 at 7.45pm UK at ​Cardiff City Stadium
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Preview: Cardiff City vs. Middlesbrough

Sports Mole looks ahead to the Championship fixture between Cardiff City and Middlesbrough on Tuesday.

Two of the Championship's early pacesetters meet at the Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday evening when Cardiff City take on Middlesbrough.

The hosts come into the match three points outside of the playoffs in eighth position, while Boro are second despite a mini slump in form of late.

Cardiff City

Cardiff manager Russell Slade looks on ahead of the Sky Bet Championship match between Millwall and Cardiff City at The Den on October 25, 2014

It is fair to say that Russell Slade has not won over the vast majority of Cardiff supporters since taking charge and, if reports are to be believed, the club's board are not convinced either.

The Bluebirds finished 11th last season, which was disappointing on their return to the second tier, but they are threatening to improve on that this term under the former Leyton Orient boss.

They have suffered just two league defeats from 11 games so far, although a lack of goals has probably cost them a few extra wins that would see them comfortably in the top six.

A drab goalless draw at struggling Preston North End on Saturday will do little to appease the supporters who are not content, with Slade and his players no doubt seeing that as two points dropped rather than one gained.

Recent form: WLLWDD


Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka during the Capital One Cup First Round match between Oldham Athletic and Middlesbrough at Boundary Park on August 12, 2014© Getty Images

After winning four games on the bounce to move up into the automatic promotion spots, Middlesbrough's form has tailed off slightly, with a draw and defeat in their last two outings.

Despite that, they remain second in the table but only on goal difference. Reading, Birmingham City and Burnley are all on 21 points with them and are threatening to move ahead.

Aitor Karanka will be disappointed with the performances of late. A below-par display at the Madejski Stadium a fortnight ago allowed Reading to get a 2-0 win and close the gap between the sides, before a goalless draw with Fulham last time out.

David Nugent thought that he had given Boro the lead and what would have been the win, but his strike was disallowed for offside and as a result, Boro missed the opportunity to move two points clear of their nearest rivals whilst allowing Brighton & Hove Albion to extend their lead at the top.

Karanka's men have a solid record away from home so far, winning two, drawing two and losing just one of their six fixtures on the road.

Recent form: WWWWLD
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWLD

Team News

Cardiff striker Sammy Ameobi in action during the Pre season friendly match between Cardiff City and Watford at Cardiff City Stadium on July 28, 2015

Cardiff midfielder Sammy Ameobi could start again, although Kenwyne Jones is ruled out of this one with injury. Ameobi could therefore provide support for Joe Mason in attack.

David Marshall has regained his position as first-choice goalkeeper, while Lee Peltier could continue ahead of Fabio in defence.

Middlesbrough have no fresh injury concerns, which means that Karanka could name an unchanged side from the one that drew with Fulham. Christian Stuani, though, should start in attack after missing out on the weekend with injury, while Ben Gibson and Diego Fabbrini could also start.

Cardiff City possible starting lineup:
Marshall; Peltier, Morrison, Connolly, Malone; Pilkington, Whittingham, Dikgacoi, Ralls, Ameobi; Mason

Middlesbrough possible starting lineup:
Konstantopoulos; Kalas, Ayala, Gibson, Friend; Clayton, Leadbitter; Stuani, Downing, Fabbrini; Nugent

Head To Head

Middlesbrough have had the better of it between the two sides in recent years, winning their last three matches against Cardiff in all competitions.

They did the double over the Welsh side last season courtesy of a 1-0 victory on their last visit to the Cardiff City Stadium, before emerging 2-1 winners in the reverse fixture earlier this year.

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We say: Cardiff City 1-1 Middlesbrough

On paper, Middlesbrough have the stronger side but Cardiff are a tough nut to crack on home turf, losing just once so far this season. With both sides struggling for form of late, this one has a score draw written all over it.

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Who will win the Championship match between Cardiff City and Middlesbrough?

Cardiff City
Cardiff City
Middlesbrough's Spanish manager Aitor Karanka gestures from the touchline during the English Championship play off final football match between Middlesbrough and Norwich City at Wembley Stadium in London on May 25, 2015
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