On Friday evening, Cardiff City travel to Huddersfield Town under the floodlights as they look to clamber back into the top six.
The reverse fixture between the two sides is unlikely to make Huddersfield supporters feel very confident. Last time out the Bluebirds romped to a comprehensive 3-0 win at the Cardiff City Stadium, courtesy of goals from Kieffer Moore and Robert Glatzel.
Generally, the West Yorkshire outfit tend to struggle against Cardiff.
Over the previous fourteen matches played out, Huddersfield have failed to muster a single victory; Cardiff have won ten of those clashes and there is little to suggest that will change tonight.
How do the two sides fare in preparation for the showdown?
Both sides possess vastly different ambitions leading up to the fixture. But, along with Barnsley and Norwich, Cardiff are currently the team to beat. This may spur the Terriers on.
A 10-match unbeaten run sharpened with seven wins has propelled the Bluebirds into a fierce race for the play-offs.
Although Mick McCarthy’s side stumbled to a frustrating 1-1 draw away to Middlesbrough last weekend, an emphatic 4-0 victory over Derby County on Tuesday served as a swift reminder of the quality this side possesses. Huddersfield, meanwhile, are enduring a poor run of form.
Since the turn of the year, the Terriers have secured three points on only one occasion, a stunning 4-1 win over Cardiff’s arch-rivals Swansea City last month.
Despite a relatively impressive start to the campaign, which saw Huddersfield claim three wins and a draw from their opening six affairs, a stark drop in form has brought them into a relegation scrap.
Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at home to fellow strugglers Birmingham City will have only intensified relegation fears at the John Smith’s Stadium. And, with four of the current top six still to face, it is imperative Huddersfield recapture form soon.
It seems likely that Town boss Carlos Coberan will persist with the same line-up that drew to Birmingham midweek; no fresh woes emerged in the contest, but Huddersfield are still blighted with a significant injury list.
Defensive duo Harry Toffolo and Christopher Schindler are ruled out until April and May respectively, whereas Jonathan Hogg and Rolando Aarons also look to be unavailable.
Dutch midfielder Carel Eiting, who emerged as one of Town’s finest performers during the first half of the season, sustained a serious knee injury at the beginning of January. After returning to the Netherlands for surgery, it appears unlikely Eiting will play in the Championship again this season.
Additionally, star forward Josh Koroma is not expected to be back in action until next month following a hamstring injury in their 2-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday back in December.
On the other hand, Cardiff will be forced into a change after stalwart Joe Bennett ruptured his ACL against Derby County.
Young prospect Joel Bagan, who is held in high regard in the Welsh Capital, is widely tipped to deputise for Bennett.
It will be interesting to observe how Bagan fares in the more advanced wing back role, having plied his trade solely as a left-back previously.
Moreover, Jordi Osei-Tutu and Lee Tomlin both look set to finally return to action this month after lengthy layoffs.
Under the stewardship of the former Republic of Ireland boss, Murphy and Wilson have both emerged as crucial components but neither featured in their side’s win over Derby.
Predicted Huddersfield line-up:
Schofield; Edmonds-Green, Stearman, Sarr, Pipa; Bacuna, Vallejo, O’Brien; Holmes, Campbell, Mbenza
Predicted Cardiff line-up:
Phillips; Morrison, Flint, Nelson; Ng, Bacuna, Ralls, Bagan; Wilson, Ojo; Moore
Huddersfield Town: Isaac Mbenza
In the absence of Josh Koroma, Huddersfield have utilised Belgian winger Isaac Mbenza for a blend of productivity and invention in the final third.
And crowned with a prominent sense of dependability, Mbenza has thrived. Since Koroma’s injury, the 24-year-old has been his side’s chief creator with two goals and five assists from the right side of a front three.
Similarly to his creative compatriot, it has not always been plain sailing at Huddersfield.
After an eight-goal haul for Ligue 1 outfit Montpellier in the 2017-18 campaign, Mbenza departed for the Terriers on an initial loan deal with an obligation to buy the following year.
Following only one goal in his first two seasons coupled with temporary switch to Amiens last term, Mbenza has eventually unearthed his best form and will need to be closely tracked by the Cardiff defence over the evening.
Cardiff City: Leandro Bacuna
Leandro Bacuna surfaced as an unlikely hero against the Rams by bragging a buoyant brace against all odds.
It would be a fair sentiment to say that Bacuna is not typically associated with a clinical prowess, having not registered a single goal in the current campaign prior to Tuesday.
Now though, all eyes will be on the Curacao International to see if he can produce a good performance against ‘Town’.
For the third time, Leandro and his younger brother Juninho are set to face off and will create a good battle in the middle of the park.
Furthermore, it remains a mystery where the 29-year-old will be deployed over the course of the game.
On Tuesday, Bacuna featured as an attacking midfielder, much to the surprise of the Cardiff faithful who have become accustomed to seeing the former Reading man raise the tempo from holding midfield- or even as a makeshift right back earlier on in the season.
Wherever he plays though, Bacuna’s dynamism, energy and willingness to drive forward with the ball will provide a big threat to the hosts.
It is hard to look past Cardiff in this fixture given the form of the two teams.
There is a lot at stake for Huddersfield and a tough battle is expected, however, we expect Cardiff’s quality to shine through.
Huddersfield Town 0-3 Cardiff City
What time is kick off and where can I watch it?
The match will be shown at the John Smith’s Stadium from 19:45 and will be available on Sky Sports Main Event, Huddersfield Town TV and Cardiff City TV