Match Preview | Cardiff City vs. Birmingham City
Cardiff City are back in action in midweek, taking on Birmingham City at Cardiff City Stadium. The fixture between the Bluebirds and the Blues in the Welsh capital gets underway on Wednesday evening at 7pm.
How do I watch the match?
A Cardiff City TV Match Pass can be purchased now for just £10 in the UK & Ireland. International Match Passes are available for just £7 per game, or £20 a month.
Cardiff City TV's broadcast includes a pre-match show ahead of a multi-camera production, with commentary and replays.
Supporters in the UK & Ireland can also purchase a Commentary Pass for £5 a month, or for just £30 for the remainder of the 2020/21 campaign.
There are two ways to get hold of this Wednesday's Cardiff City vs. Birmingham City matchday programme.
The Bluebird - edition 10 for 2020/21 featuring Curtis Nelson as cover star and feature interview, can be ordered and delivered in its traditional print format from Cardiff City FC SuperStore.
The Bluebird is now available digitally as well as in its traditional print format.
The newest copy of The Bluebird - Cardiff City vs. Birmingham City is now available to download!
To purchase, download the MatchDayInfo App, visit 'My Teams', and click 'Season Programme Pass'!
Individual copies of The Bluebird digital can be purchased before each game for £1.99 per edition.
Harris pre-Birmingham | We have to be ready
Cardiff City manager Neil Harris spoke to the press and media ahead of Wednesday’s fixture, aiming to return to winning ways against the Blues.
“In football you get a chance to build momentum again and get back to winning ways. That's what our plan is tomorrow.
“They're a big side, who change their shape regularly. We have to be ready for how we want to play against them.
“Sometimes people have to stand up and be counted in moments like this. We'll get fresh legs in and it gives chances for others to prove their qualities.”
Opposition Focus: The boss
Aitor Karanka became Blues boss in the summer, replacing Pep Clotet. The 47-year-old began his career with Athletic Bilbao, featuring for the club’s ‘B’ side in 1992 before moving up to the First Team a year later. Karanka featured in 118 La Liga matches for Bilbao over four seasons, before following coach Jupp Heynckes to Real Madrid in 1997. The once-capped Spanish international spent five seasons at the Santiago Bernabéu, winning one La Liga title, in 2000/01, and three UEFA Champions League victories, in 1997/98, 1999/00 and 2001/02. Karanka returned to Bilbao in 2002, making another 64 league appearances for the club. The central defender finished his playing career with Colorado Rapids of the MLS, retiring from the game in 2006.
After taking his first steps into coaching with the Spain U16 team, Karanka was appointed as Assistant Manager to José Mourinho at former club Real Madrid in 2010. He spent three years alongside Mourinho, lifting one La Liga title before the pair departed the club in 2013. Karanka followed his mentor to England, taking his first managerial role with Middlesbrough. After losing the 2015 Championship Play-Off Final to Norwich City, Boro went one better in the 2015/16 season, earning automatic promotion back to the Premier League. However, Karanka left the Riverside Stadium by mutual consent in March 2017, with Middlesbrough eventually relegated from top flight. He returned to management in January 2018 with Nottingham Forest, but spent just over a year at the City Ground, having led Forest to a 17th placed finish. The Spaniard took up the reigns at Birmingham, his third managerial role in the Championship, back in July.
Opposition Focus: Season so far
The Blues come into tomorrow’s fixture sitting in 16th position, equidistant between both the Play-Off places and the relegation zone. Birmingham are nine points behind sixth placed Brentford and nine points above 22nd placed Derby County, and will be hoping that their results over the festive period elevates them into the top half of the table, and towards the direction of the top six.
Karanka’s men suffered a narrow defeat on the weekend, losing 1-0 to promotion chasing Watford at St. Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium. Kristian Pedersen conceded a late penalty, which earnt him a second yellow card, and allowed Troy Deeney to step up and give the Hornets all three points. Prior to that match, the Blues had been victorious in their previous two outings. Birmingham had defeated Bristol City 1-0 at Ashton Gate, and then beat Reading 2-1 at the Madejski Stadium.
City made nine permanent signings during the summer months, which saw Karanka reunite with former Middlesbrough duo Adam Clayton and George Friend. The Blues also signed goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, who returns to CCS tonight having spent a memorable three seasons in the Welsh capital. Birmingham recently added another midfielder to their ranks; Croatian international Alen Halilović joined the club on November 23rd, having previously featured for Barcelona and AC Milan.
Opposition Focus: Ones to watch
Jérémie Bela is Birmingham’s joint top-scorer alongside several of his teammates, all of whom have found the back of the net twice. However, the 27-year-old has caught the eye on several occasions this season, whilst also supplying four league assists. Bela, who made his international debut for Angola earlier this year, has missed the last two Championship matches through injury, but could return to action against the Bluebirds.
Iván Sánchez arrived at St. Andrew’s in August, having helped Elche gain promotion to La Liga last season. The winger has made an impressive start to life in the Championship, and has missed just one league match so far for the Blues. The 28-year-old has recorded three assists this season, including for the decisive goal during Birmingham’s recent victory over Reading on December 9th.
Maxime Colin is the only player to feature in all 18 of Birmingham’s Championship fixtures this season. The right-back joined the club from Brentford in 2017, and was a mainstay in the Blues’ side under both Garry Monk and Pep Clotet. Colin’s reliability at the back has continued under Karanka, and the Frenchman has also contributed one assist so far this term.