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

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

Cardiff City will be looking to make it seven straight Championship victories when they travel to the Riverside Stadium on Saturday afternoon to face Middlesbrough.

The Welsh club will enter the contest off the back of a 2-1 win at Bournemouth on Wednesday, while Boro suffered a disappointing 3-1 home loss to Bristol City on Tuesday.

Match preview

Middlesbrough's Marc Bola celebrates scoring their second goal against Reading on February 20, 2021© Reuters

Boro saw a two-game winning run come to an end on Tuesday evening as they suffered a 3-1 home defeat to Bristol City, with Neil Warnock's side finding themselves three goals behind at the interval.

Dael Fry registered for the hosts in the 80th minute, but it was a case of too little, too late as Bristol City left the Riverside with all three points to climb into 12th position.

Boro are currently ninth, three points behind sixth-placed Cardiff, and there is no downplaying the importance of this weekend's contest as both teams have ambitions of making the playoffs.

Warnock's team have won eight of their 16 home league matches this season, which is not a disastrous record taking everything into consideration, but they have lost five of their last six Championship fixtures at the Riverside, including heavy defeats to Rotherham United and Brentford.

Boro's recent record against Cardiff is also disappointing, meanwhile, losing four of their last five Championship matches with the Welsh outfit, but the points were shared in a 1-1 draw earlier this season.

Cardiff City's Perry Ng in action with Bournemouth's Diego Rico in the Championship on February 24, 2021© Reuters

Cardiff's form under Mick McCarthy has been excellent, winning six and drawing two of their eight matches since the 62-year-old's arrival towards the end of January after Neil Harris was relieved of his duties.

The Bluebirds, as mentioned, are currently sixth in the table, level on points with seventh-placed Bournemouth and a point behind fifth-placed Reading, all on the same number of matches.

The Welsh side made it six straight Championship victories on Wednesday evening as they recorded a 2-1 success at Bournemouth courtesy of goals from Sean Morrison and Kieffer Moore.

There is still a lot of football to be played between now and the end of the season but another win on Saturday would only fuel suggestions that they are capable of earning promotion back to the Premier League.

Only Norwich City (32) have picked up more points away from home in the Championship than Cardiff (28) this term, while they have only conceded 15 goals in their 16 league fixtures on the road.

Middlesbrough Championship form: DLLWWL

Cardiff City Championship form: WWWWWW

Team News

Middlesbrough's Ashley Fletcher celebrates scoring against Reading on July 14, 2020© Reuters

Boro are expected to be without the services of Ashley Fletcher, who was forced off in the early stages of the defeat to Bristol City, with Chuba Akpom now in line to start.

Yannick Bolasie, Marcus Browne and Marcus Tavernier remain unavailable for selection, but Warnock is expected to make at least a couple of changes from the side that lost on Tuesday.

Indeed, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing could come into the starting XI alongside Akpom, while Britt Assombalonga is another option in the final third of the field.

Cardiff will again be without the services of Joe Ralls, Isaac Vassell, Jordi Osei-Tutu, Sol Bamba and Lee Tomlin for this weekend's contest, but the Welsh side did not pick up any fresh issues against Bournemouth.

As a result, McCarthy could name an unchanged side, with on-loan Liverpool attacker Harry Wilson operating as part of a front three with Moore and Jacob Murphy.

Sheyi Ojo and Leandro Bacuna are among those pushing for spots in the team, but the manner of the performance against the Cherries means that it might be a case of same again for McCarthy.

Middlesbrough possible starting lineup:
Bettinelli; Dijksteel, Fry, McNair; Mendez-Laing, Howson, Morsy, Bola; Watmore, Kebano, Akpom

Cardiff City possible starting lineup:
Phillips; Morrison, Flint, Nelson; Ng, Vaulks, Pack, Bennett; Murphy, Wilson, Moore

SM words green background

We say: Middlesbrough 1-1 Cardiff City

Boro will be desperate to bounce back from the disappointment of the defeat to Bristol City, and we can see Warnock's side stopping Cardiff's winning run. There are only three points between these two sides in the Championship table, and we are expecting a well-matched contest this weekend.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at 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

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Cardiff City winger Josh Murphy pictured before the Premier League meeting with Newcastle United in January 2019
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