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Preview: Middlesbrough v Blues

The 119th meeting between the two clubs comes less than a month after the pair faced off at St. Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium.

BCFC

Blues return to league action as they visit the Riverside Stadium to face Middlesbrough on Saturday lunchtime in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

Launching the Sky Bet Championship weekend, the 12:30pm kick-off sees Aitor Karanka return to his former club for the first time as Blues Head Coach.

The 119th meeting between the two clubs comes less than a month after the pair faced off at St. Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium in December and both will be looking to respond after exiting the Emirates FA Cup last weekend.

Competing at the third round stage, Blues were beaten 3-0 by 2018 winners Manchester City away from home, whilst, also on the road, Boro were knocked out by fellow Championship side Brentford.

Unbeaten against the Teessiders last term, Blues will be heading north in search of their first victory on Boro turf since 2013. On that occasion, Nikola Zigic was the matchwinner when he converted a Shane Ferguson cross in the final ten minutes.

THE OPPOSITION: 

Middlesbrough are amongst the Sky Bet Championship’s in-form teams and have won on four of their last five league outings. The most recent of these successes saw them bounce back to defeat against Sheffield Wednesday by claiming all three points at Wycombe Wanderers in their first game of 2021.

Ahead of the second-half of the season, this leaves Boro on the edge of the play-off places and, under the stewardship of Football League Houdini, Neil Warnock, you would expect to see them in and around the promotion picture in the months to come.

Following their relegation from the top flight in 2017, the North East club have come close to returning to the Premier League just once when they finished fifth the next season. However, hopes of an instant return were extinguished when they were defeated over two legs in a play-off semi-final by Aston Villa.

This came under the management of Tony Pulis who had replaced former Blues boss Garry Monk. He was then succeeded by Jonathan Woodgate before Warnock stepped into the breach last term and guided Boro away from danger to finish 17th.

Starting this season with a defeat, Warnock’s men then went ten games without losing before succumbing to league leaders Norwich City. But rallying again, Boro have no doubt been boosted by the arrival of former Sunderland forward Duncan Watmore. The 26-year-old is their top scorer with five goals and he recently secured a long-term deal on Teesside.

LAST TIME OUT: 

Blues bowed out of the 2021 Emirates FA Cup against Premier League Manchester City. Not taking Blues lightly, Pep Guardiola named a strong side at the Etihad Stadium and was handed a few scares by Aitor Karanka’s team. However, on the day, City proved more clinical in the final third. The Citizen’s progression to round four came courtesy of three first-half goals, as Phil Foden added to an early Bernado Silva double.

Middlesbrough also waved goodbye to cup dreams for another season as they were beaten 2-1 at the Brentford Community Stadium. In a repeat of the 2015 play-off semi-final, Halil Dervisoglu gave the Bees a half-time lead before Sam Folarin levelled matters shortly after the break. But Boro were unable to build on this and conceded what proved to be the winner when Saman Ghoddos found the corner with 64 minutes played.

WE MEET AGAIN:  

Middlesbrough 1 Blues 1, 21 January 2020

Blues last visit to Teesside - despite only yielding two goals - was nothing short of eventful.

Having seen Lee Camp superbly stop Paddy McNair’s penalty, Blues deservedly led going into the break from Lukas Jutkiewicz’s tenth goal of the season. And it seemed it would stay that way until nine minutes from time when Ashley Fletcher flicked home an equaliser for Boro.

Then in a final twist, or so it seemed, Blues thought they had won it when Jutkiewicz hit the net for a second time. But referee Andy Woolmer, who had allowed the goalscoring move to progress from back to front, disallowed the goal for an incident that had taken place deep in Blues’ half. This controversy sparked ugly scenes on the touchline and the game ended with boos ringing around the Riverside.

BLUES TEAM NEWS: 

Zach Jeacock (ankle), Caolan Boyd-Munce (thigh), Alen Halilović and Gary Gardner (hamstring) are all out through injury. 

HEAD-TO-HEAD: 

Blues wins: 45 

Draws: 36

Middlesbrough wins: 37 

 

LAST FIVE MEETINGS: 

Championship 19 Dec 2020 – Blues 1 Middlesbrough 4

Championship 21 Jan 2020 – Middlesbrough 1 Blues 1 

Championship 04 Oct 2019 – Blues 2 Middlesbrough 1 

Championship 12 Jan 2019 – Blues 1 Middlesbrough 2

Championship 11 Aug 2018- Middlesbrough 1 Blues 0 

BLUESTV: 

Supporters in the UK can watch this game live on Sky Sports Football with coverage starting at midday.

Only viewers in selected countries will be able to watch our game against Boro on BluesTV. There is no pay-per-view for this fixture. Further details are available here

MATCH OFFICIALS: 

Referee: Darren England

Assistant Referees: Darren Cann and Derek Eaton

Fourth Official: Darren Bond

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