Middlesbrough v Birmingham City scout report: The key areas for Jonathan Woodgate's Boro side to exploit

Middlesbrough are unbeaten at home since mid-October, an unbeaten run which stretches over eight games.

Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 3:39 pm

Birmingham City will be looking to change that as they hope they can leapfrog Middlesbrough and move up the Championship table.

Pep Clotet’s side were last in action on Saturday when they drew 1-1 at home to Cardiff City.

Middlesbrough will be looking to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat away to Fulham last Friday and get back to winning ways.

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Jonathan Woodgate, Middlesbrough manager.

The sides have already met once this season with Birmingham running out 2-1 victors that time at home.

Controlling set pieces are going to be key for Middlesbrough at both ends of the pitch in order to get a positive result.

The Blues have been deadly from dead ball situations this season with 44% of all goals they’ve scored this season coming via a set piece.

Yet for all their strength in attacking set pieces, they have been vulnerable going the other way conceding from set pieces 13 times.

Middlesbrough will also have to be wary of Jude Bellingham, the sixteen year old has been heralded as a future star and is attracting Premier League attention.

With four goals and one assist as well as averaging two tackles a game, he is more than capable of marshalling a game from midfield.

Clotet has typically lined up his side in either a 4-4-2 or a 4-2-3-1 system this season typically favouring former Boro man Lukas Jutkiewicz to lead the attacks.

Jutkiewicz has led the scoring charts for Birmingham this season, netting on nine occasions and has given them a real presence in the opposition box winning eight aerial duels per game.

Keeping the ball on the ground will be key for Boro, the visitors win 30 aerial duels per game ten more than their hosts average.

The Riversiders can expect to have more than their fair share of time on the ball though, Birmingham had just 36% possession during their defeat to Luton and have averaged around 45% possession throughout the season.