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Match Previews

Behind Enemy Lines | Birmingham City

An insight into Saturday's visitors...

3 December 2021

Our inside scoop comes from Brian Dick, BirminghamLive’s Blues reporter, who has followed Birmingham home and away through all their joys and sorrows.

Birmingham City currently sit 14th in the Championship table, with 26 points on the board.

“The first five or six games were really good, and they played above expectations. It looked as though the team had carried positive momentum from the previous season. A couple of players came in, in the summer and started well. Ryan Woods being one and Tahith Chong on loan from Manchester united.”

“People started to talk about a play-off challenge, but I felt that was ambitious – even though they were playing like a play-off team at the time. Sustaining that kind of form over 46 games is an incredibly tough ask.”

“Around October, The Blues lost their way. Defensively they were far too loose and conceded 12 goals in five games. Come the end of that period of games, any chance of a play-off spot or even a top half finish was extremely remote. It started to feel like previous seasons, but to be fair to Lee Bowyer, he went back to basics and tightened it up.”

“They’ve been in every single one of the last six or seven games. They won four of those and really looked like a solid, mid-table, Championship side. With such a small squad they’re venerable to injuries and that’s been apparent in recent matches.”

Manager Lee Bowyer took charge of The Blues back in March and steered The Midlands team to an 18th place finish. This season, his team have managed seven league wins, three of those on the road. 

“Blues aren’t playing pretty football at the moment. If you asked Lee Bowyer what his football philosophy is, I don’t think it would be the pragmatic stuff that they’re playing at the minute.”

“He has to cut his cloth and adapt his style according to the resources that he has available. He always plays with two strikers. He like his team to press and play with a high tempo. He demands pressure on the opposition and likes to get it into the box. Not quite long ball, but crosses that will certainly ask questions of the opposition defence.”

“I’m not sure that Birmingham,right now, are his dream Championship team, but what he has built is a defensively sound, competitive and physically strong team, that can defend at one end and score the odd goal down the other.”

Last time out, Lukas Jutkiewicz netted an 81st minute winner to hand Birmingham all three points against newly promoted Blackpool.

“It was far from a beautiful game. Blues weren’t very good in the first-half. Blackpool were much more fluid and easier on the eye, but they failed to create because of how well set up Birmingham were.”

“The Blues went to a back four in the second-half, with a midfield diamond and looked much more a threat on the ball. They kept Blackpool at arm’s length and managed to create that one chance to pinch it.”

“It wasn’t beautiful, but the squad has been down to 14 senior players at times in recent weeks. So, to be picking up any points in those circumstances is a good job.”

Prior to their trip to The Den, Birmingham have enjoyed life on the road and have picked up 12 points away from St Andrew’s. 

“It will be more of the same at The Den. It will be tight at the back, fairly direct and a lot of long throw-ins to put Millwall under pressure. They’ll want to get the ball into the box and hope that something will break.”

“Birmingham won’t be wide open, expansive, or looking to make the pitch big. It will be about containment and opportunism. I would imagine it’s going to be conservative, tight game.”

The man to watch

“Riley McGree is an eye-catching player. He has come into the side as a number ten or a central midfielder in the absence of Tahith Chong, who is out until March. McGree is the most likely player to carve open the Millwall defence with a spark of magic. He will return to his parent club in five games time, and he seems determined to leave a positive impression on Birmingham fans.”

“Of course, Troy Deeney is there as well. Not only does he compete physically, but he’s able to get the ball down and play. He’s built a good relationship with Scott Hogan, who makes the runs and Deeney has the ability to make the pass.”

Tickets are still available for Saturday's match and can be purchased by clicking here: Millwall v Birmingham City. 

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