Match Preview | Cardiff City vs. Reading
The Bluebirds are back in action at Cardiff City Stadium this weekend, taking on Reading in a 3pm kick-off on Saturday. The Royals currently sit on top of the early Championship table, though Neil Harris’ men will be looking to build on the 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest last time out.
How do I watch the match?
In order to watch Saturday’s fixture, Match Passes can be purchased from Cardiff City TV, and are available for the price of £10.
Supporters in the UK & Ireland can also purchase a Commentary Pass for £5 a month, or for just £45 for the entire 2020/21 campaign.
International supporters can tune into the Bluebirds’ matches with a seasonal live Video Pass for £140. City fans overseas can also purchase a monthly Video Pass for £20 or an individual Match Pass for only £7.
Harris pre-Reading | Ready to start the league campaign
Neil Harris virtually spoke to the press and media ahead of Saturday’s fixture, reflecting on a positive week following last weekend’s victory at the City Ground.
“After three points on Saturday and a dominant performance, of course everyone is on a high in the training ground.” Neil began. “That little bit of added zip is back in the players, and it's been another really good week in training.
“If you can win two or three games in a row it shoots you up the division, the same as losing three or four. That’s where consistency becomes vital over a period of time. We didn’t have it in our first game, but in the second game we were very good.
“This week, to do the same against Reading, we'll have to play very well. We'll have to be solid defensively against a very good front four, and create goal scoring opportunities from a combination of fluent football, set-plays and direct play."
Opposition Focus: The boss
Veljko Paunović began his career with FK Partizan in the Serbian Super Liga, before making a move to the Spanish Segunda División in 1996. The attacking midfielder spent the majority of his playing days in Spain, firstly with CA Marbella, and then with Atlético Madrid. After an initial spell with Atléti’s ‘B’ team, Paunović soon made the step up to the First Team, making 52 appearances and scoring nine goals at the Estadio Vincente Calderón. He enjoyed three loan spells away from the club during his time in the Spanish capital, featuring for Mallorca and Real Oviedo, before a permanent move to CD Tenerife in 2002. A stellar spell in the Canary Islands earned Paunović a move back to Atlético, but he soon departed for a second time, featuring for the likes of Hannover 96, Getafe CF and Rubin Kazan before retiring in 2012.
Paunović took his first steps into management with the Serbian under-18 team in 2012, and took charge of the U19 team a year later. His success with the Serbian youth teams saw him promoted to manager of the U20 team in 2014, whom he led to glory at the 2015 FIFA U20 World Cup in 2015, defeating Brazil 2-1 in the Final. His debut job in First Team football came in the MLS, as Paunović became boss of Chicago Fire in 2015. He led the team to the MLS Play-Offs in 2017, but parted company with the Fire in 2019. The Serb took his first job in English football last month, replacing Mark Bowen as Reading boss.
During his pre-match press conference, Paunović said of the Bluebirds: “We know it’s not going to be easy – we have a very strong team in front of us, playing on their home soil. And we go to them off the back of a good win for them away from home. So that is in their favour.
“They are a good team coming from a good result. We know their strengths. And, on the other side, we know what we can do well, and what we can improve. We are going to prepare the best we can. Our best is our pinnacle. So we will work towards being successful against a strong opponent.”
Opposition Focus: The new lads
Several club stalwarts departed the Madejski Stadium the end of last season, including Jordan Obita, Garath McCleary and Wales international Chris Gunter, who began his career with the Bluebirds in 2006. The Royals have made three new signings this summer, with one man returning on a permanent deal following two impressive loan spells at the club. Ovie Ejaria, who spent a portion of the 2018-19 season and all of the 2019-20 campaign at Reading, has signed a long-term contract from Liverpool. The playmaker scored three goals and recorded five assists in 36 Championship games last term.
Another midfielder joined the Royals earlier in the summer, from League One side Shrewsbury Town. Josh Laurent (pictured above), who has signed a two-year deal at the Madejski, began his career with Queens Park Rangers, and has previously featured for Brentford and Wigan Athletic. He has started both of Reading’s opening Championship fixtures this season.
Earlier this week, Paunović added a third new recruit to his squad; young defender Lewis Gibson. The twenty-year-old has joined on a season-long loan deal from Everton, having made nine loan appearances for Fleetwood Town in the second half of last season. The centre-back has made four appearances for the England U20 side.
Opposition Focus: Ones to watch
Reading’s top scorer this season is striker Lucas João, who has netted four goals in all competitions. João has made an impressive start to the new campaign, beginning in fine form with a hat-trick against Colchester United in the First Round of the Carabao Cup. The Portuguese international, who has two caps for his country, went on to net the opening goal of Reading’s Championship campaign, during a 2-0 win over Derby County.
Goalkeeper Rafael Cabral was named as Reading’s ‘Player of the Year’ for the 2019-20 season, following an impressive debut campaign in Berkshire. Signed by former manager José Gomes, the Brazilian stopper has made three appearances for his national team, and has previously featured for Napoli and Sampdoria in Serie A. Rafael, who made his debut for the Royals against City last August, kept 13 clean sheets last term, and is yet to concede in Championship action so far this season.
Yakou Méïté made a habit of scoring against the Bluebirds last season, and will be looking to get on the scoresheet once again at Cardiff City Stadium. The twenty-four-year-old, who joined the Royals from Paris Saint-Germain in 2016, scored three goals in three matches against City last term – all coming within a frenetic nine-day period in late January and early February. Méïté netted the opener in Reading’s 2-0 home win against Barnsley last time out, coming off the bench to open his account for the new campaign.