We can’t be the only ones who are a little scared by Blues right now. We’re passing the ball around nicely, taking shots, we have some good young players and we’re winning at home. Something is clearly about to go wrong. However, we have to enjoy it while we can, and if England can outperform Wales again this weekend, that would be even better.
Cardiff sit four points below Blues, with Blues just two points below the playoffs. Another consecutive win would do wonders for Blues’ chances, and hope, of making it into the Premier League via Wembley, but Cardiff are a very solid team. They are, however, stylistically very different to Blues, as a Neil Warnock team, and will probably let Blues have the ball as much as they have at home, which would be nice. Blues have struggled more away from home when they haven’t been able to dominate, but we imagine Warnock is more willing to let Blues have control of the game.
Blues have no new injury concerns, with only Gary Gardner, Stockdale and Kieftenbeld injured. Jefferson Montero is fit, but Pep Clotet has confirmed he won’t be playing. There doesn’t seem to be much reason to change a Blues line-up that played so well in back to back games, though there may be a case to rest wunderkind Jude Bellingham, who may get something of a roughing up from Cardiff. We can’t see it, however – the teenager has been excellent recently.
Blues lost at the Cardiff City Stadium last time out two seasons ago, after going 3-0 down early on and clawing their way back to 3-2, but a little too late. At home, though, Che Adams scored the only goal of the game. Two draws occurred the season before, with Lukas Jutkiewicz scoring a late equaliser in Wales.
We imagine Blues will remain unchanged in Wales, after some impressive performances at home. Somewhat fortunately for Blues, former forward Isaac Vassell won’t be playing, so he can’t haunt a defence that is lacking in pace. Ivan Sunjic’s return last weekend was timely, and his presence in midfield will be a big boon against a physical Cardiff side.
Blues boss Pep Clotet spoke about recent form and the challenge Cardiff offer: “Confidence is high when you get wins especially the way we got the last few. We were able to link some very good performances with the results. People are in good spirits but the mentality when it comes to training is still to get better and know how everyone plays and try to improve so it’s a good moment to keep pushing forward.”
“Cardiff are a strong side at home. I expect it to be a physical challenge. Their side attacks very quickly and they pose a lot of problems wide. Their attacks in the box come from those sorts of situations. They always put pressure on whoever has got the ball, so it’s going to be difficult to stamp our football into it. You expect quality, because they have some quality players. The last time we went to Cardiff it was difficult and that squad got promoted and some of the same players are still there. We need to be at our best and focus on our strengths and try and put our beliefs into our football and try to be ourselves.”
Neil Warnock spoke about his side’s loss to rivals Swansea: “When we lost four or five on the trot in January there was a bit of criticism, but it’s not like a local derby. To play like we did, I’m not bothered with whoever you are, you’re not going to come away without criticism, and quite rightly so. That’s why we have to face it, it’s easy to turn your back. I’ve always been straight with them. We were poor, and we’ve got to improve and be better. We’ve still lost two in 12 games and four of the away games Wigan, Millwall, Blackburn and I can’t remember the other one. I think there’s four games we could have won, which could have given us another eight points. It is disappointing, but life’s too short and you’ve got to get on with it. But we can’t be left feeling too sorry for ourselves. We’ve got two really tough home games. Birmingham are flying at the moment and then there’s a derby with Bristol City. Birmingham play a style that will be difficult to break down. We’ve just got to try and do our best.”
Photo Courtesy: Roy Smiljanic / BCFC