THREE key battles that could determine Middlesbrough's clash with Cardiff City
Middlesbrough face a trip to Cardiff City this weekend and there will be plenty to keep an eye on in the Championship clash.
We’ve picked out three key battles that could determine the course of the match at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Robert Glatzel vs Dael Fry – Boro know all about towering forward Glatzel who scored a hat-trick against the Teessiders for German side FC Heidenheim during pre-season.
The German frontman signed for Cardiff less than a month later but endured a tricky start to life in the Championship, failing to score in his first five league games.
Glatzel did bag his first Bluebirds goal against Derby last week, though, and at 6’4 he can be a real presence.
Boro’s centre-back pairing of Fry and Ryan Shotton coped well with crosses into the penalty area against Reading last time out but are likely to face a sterner test on Saturday.
Aden Flint vs Britt Assombalonga – Two players who will know each other well following Flint’s spell at Boro last season.
“Britt and Ashley Fletcher know exactly what Flinty is and Flinty knows exactly what Britt is, and Britt is a good player,” said Boro boss Jonathan Woodgate in his pre-match press conference.
Assombalonga and Fletcher certainly have the pace to trouble Cardiff’s giant centre-backs and Bluebirds boss Neil Warnock will try to prevent his backline being exposed.
Joe Ralls vs Paddy McNair – Cardiff have consistently played in a 4-2-3-1 formation this season, with Ralls playing every minute in the league so far.
Like Boro midfielder McNair, Ralls, 25, finds himself in all areas of the pitch and has chipped in with two goals in seven games already this season.
Cardiff have found success by going direct this term so Boro’s midfielders will have to be alert to latch upon any second balls.
The Teessiders’ more offensive midfielders, which will most likely be McNair and Lewis Wing, will also have a responsibility to pose an attacking threat and create space for their side’s attacking players.