STAR PREVIEW: Cardiff v Fulham

Both Cardiff and Fulham were relegated from the Premier League last season and there ought to be no love lost between the pair when they face off tonight. Fulham manager Scott Parker deserved a great deal of credit for managing to rouse an impressive finishing effort from his squad after a disappointing Premier League season (just 26 points from 38 games) but that appears to be a thing of the past based on their excellent end to the Championship season.

Fulham lost only three of their last 20 league games, a record which becomes even more impressive when one notes two of those those defeats came against Leeds and Brentford, and they finished just short (two points) of automatic promotion and eight points ahead of Cardiff.

It’s worth noting that Cardiff were third in the post lockdown table with two points more than Fulham, and Neil Harris’s side are respected, but when the pair met at Craven Cottage, Fulham were very worthy 2-0 winners, breaking the deadlock when Dion Sanderson pulled down Aleksandar Mitrovic, who put away the penalty emphatically. From then on Fulham had the better of things and they were unlucky not to have another penalty when Curtis Nelson clearly handled Joe Bryan’s cross, but they got their second and their deserved win was backed up by Infogol’s rating of 2.66 expected goals compared to 1.30.

Since then Cardiff have impressed with three straight wins as Joe Bennett, Sean Morrison, Curtis Nelson and Dion Sanderson have all impressed in their rear-guard actions whilst Junior Holiett, Robert Glazel and Lee Tomlin all impressed going forward as they they beat Derby, Middlesbrough and Hull.

However, facing Fulham once again is a different test altogether and Scott Parker’s Fulham side are brimming with the talent needed to make an edge in tight games. Aleksandar Mitrovic, who topped the Championship scoring charts with 26 goals, thanks in no small part to the supply that Anthony Knockaert and Bobby Reid give him, and in Harry Arter and Tom Cairney they have two of the best midfielders in the division for both creating and controlling a game.

Cardiff City v Fulham
Championship Play-Off Semi-Final 1st Leg
19:45 Sky Sports Football / Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Ultra HD

HEAD TO HEAD RECORD
(Maximum 10 matches, since 2010)
JUL 2020 CHAMPIONSHIP Fulham 2-0 Cardiff
AUG 2019 CHAMPIONSHIP Cardiff 1-1 Fulham
APR 2019 PREMIER LEAGUE Fulham 1-0 Cardiff
OCT 2018 PREMIER LEAGUE Cardiff 4-2 Fulham
DEC 2017 CHAMPIONSHIP Cardiff 2-4 Fulham
SEP 2017 CHAMPIONSHIP Fulham 1-1 Cardiff
FEB 2017 CHAMPIONSHIP Cardiff 2-2 Fulham
JAN 2017 FA CUP Cardiff 1-2 Fulham
AUG 2016 CHAMPIONSHIP Fulham 2-2 Cardiff
AUG 2016 CHAMPIONSHIP Fulham 2-1 Cardiff
APR 2016 CHAMPIONSHIP Fulham 2-1 Cardiff

Cardiff aren’t opposed lightly – they lost only 3 games from 23 at home in the league – but Fulham have won at Nottingham Forest and drawn at West Brom since the restart and they have the quality to edge this encounter.

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