All you need to know ahead of our season opener against the Bees.BCFC
Pep Clotet on how he’s feeling on the eve of the new season . . .
“I’m really looking forward to it, because I know how much this team likes to compete. We’ve been preparing for a month-and-a-half just to be there on Saturday and to try and put in a good performance and get the best result possible for ourselves. As with every game, you go there with a mentality of winning but at the end of the day it’s a competition and you never know what’s going to happen. But I see a team focused on trying to put in a good display.”
Pep Clotet on the belief he has in his players . . .
“I feel confident because the work the players have done in pre-season is very good, the level of preparation is very good. I think the Club has a very clear image of our situation and we’re very focused into that and that gives us strength as well going into the coming season.”
Pep Clotet asked about what he’s looking for from Blues this season . . .
“It’s really very simple, what I want is a team that can focus on going one game at a time, on doing one step after another and trying to perform in every game. My job is to make sure against Brentford that we are motivated, that we are focused and that we are able to put in a good display. And if we have a setback then we recover quickly and keep competing, that at the end of the day is the work of the coach.”
Pep Clotet on the challenge that lies ahead at Griffin Park…
“I think it’s going to be tough. Brentford have a very characteristic way of playing. They feel comfortable and they’ve been developing for years, especially last season when they changed from the 4-3-3 to the 3-4-2-1. They’re developing that and they’ve had a lot of games to do that – half of last season and the whole of pre-season. I think it’s going to be difficult because they’re at home, they’re comfortable with the way they’re playing, they have it very mechanised and will cause a lot of problems for us. But we will go there with the mentality of trying to make things as hard as possible for them. We know they’ve been tipped to have a very strong finish at the end of the league, but out on the pitch they’ll be two teams that want the same thing. Even though it’s not an easy start, we’ve got to go there with maximum ambition.
Thomas Frank on how his Brentford team are shaping up going into the new season . . .
“I think we are in a very good place. I think the way we have trained and the effort that has been put in every single day in training and in the friendlies, the players have done very well. Physically as well, we are in a very good place. Now we’re very much looking forward to Saturday against Birmingham, we’re looking forward to the fans coming and backing us and starting a magical season at Griffin Park. The players are in a very good place. There’s a very good spirit and a very good atmosphere in the group. The five new signings have done very well to be integrated and have settled in. Now we’re just looking forward to Saturday.”
Thomas Frank on whether last season's 28-goal top scorer Neal Maupay will be available having not played a single pre-season game amid transfer interest from Premier League clubs . . .
“Neal has been fine. He’s been training good. Let’s take that decision when we are coming to Friday. I know the players with us on 8 August are 100 per cent ready to kick on. Neal will be physically and mentally ready.”
Blues team news . . .
Ivan Sunjic has received international clearance to be in the squad. Jonathan Grounds (calf) and Cheick Keita (hamstring) are not available, but all the players that have featured in pre-season games have come through with a clean bill of health. Dan Crowley and Jake Clarke-Salter are in line to make their competitive Blues bows, if selected.
Brentford team news . . .
Ollie Watkins (dead leg) and Rico Henry (ankle) missed the Bees' last pre-season fixture - a 3-1 defeat to Bournemouth - but both are expected to be fit to face Blues. “We know they’re important players, so they are ready for Birmingham. There shouldn’t be any problems or any issues. I’m confident they’ll be ready,” said boss Thomas Frank after last weekend's reversal to the Cherries. But Said Benrahma, who scored 11 goals from midfield last season, is not expected to feature having not played a single minute of pre-season due to an ankle problem. Frank could hand debuts to Christian Norgaard, Ethan Pinnock, David Raya, Pontus Jansson, Mathias Jensen and Joel Valencia.
Last five meetings between Blues and Brentford
Championship 29 Dec 2018 Blues 0 Brentford 0
Championship 02 Oct 2018 Brentford 1 Blues 1
Championship 20 Feb 2018 Brentford 5 Blues 0
Championship 01 Nov 2017 Blues 0 Brentford 2
Championship 02 Jan 2017 Blues 1 Brentford 3
Facts and figures
- Blues have lost only one of their last 10 visits to Griffin Park.
- Blues have drawn five of their last six Championship fixtures.
- Brentford have won eight of their last 10 Championship home games.
- Brentford's Ollie Watkins has scored three goals in three games against Blues.
- Maikel Kieftenbeld scored his first Blues goal against Brentford in January 2016.
Gavin Ward will take charge of Saturday's game at Griffin Park. The Surrey-based official refereed 38 games last season - producing 128 yellow and eight red cards, as well as awarding eight penalties. He took control of two Blues fixtures last term, the 3-3 home draw with Hull in November and the goalless stalemate away to Sheffield United in September. Mr Ward will be assisted by Mark Pottage and Rob Smith.
BluesTV will be streaming the match live to International Subscribers. Those in the Great Britain and Ireland can get excluisve audio commentary. Blues legend Paul Tait will be providing expert analysis along with match commentator Dale Moon.
All away tickets have been sold.
The Club urges all supporters to be responsible in their behaviour and actions. Birmingham City knows that the overwhelming majority of our supporters do not indulge in anti-social activities and are passionate about the players and the Club. We appreciate this and never take it for granted. We adopt a zero-tolerance stance on anti-social behaviour and spectator misconduct. This includes - amongst other things - drunkenness, throwing of missiles and use and carrying of pyrotechnics (flares, smoke bombs), racist and/or homophobic chanting. Pitch encroachment is forbidden and against the law. Please DO NOT encroach onto the pitch, under any circumstances. Think of the damage you may be doing to your Club and also the punishment you may incur personally. It is important that bottles, coins, flares and other items not thrown at our matches. Again, we would like to thank the overwhelming majority of supporters for their backing and their understanding.