The battle for 5th and 6th place in the Championship is really hotting up and after a long season, teams are now being faced with matches that will feel more like cup ties. Boro and Bristol City currently find themselves just outside the play-offs and this is a game that neither can really afford to lose.
Even a draw wouldn’t be a great deal of use to either manager so expect a fiercely competitive affair with the stakes high. Boro are certainly the side under greater pressure to make the top six but their chances took a blow as they lost 2-1 against Sheffield United in midweek.
That was match one in a decisive four-game sequence that sees Boro face the two sides directly above them and the two sides directly below them in succession. You would be forgiven for thinking that the play-offs have already started as every match is going to be a big one and Boro really need to win this having dropped points in 4 of their last 5 games.
Bristol City looked all but out of the battle for the top six when they lost at Millwall last weekend but they responded well with a 3-1 home win over Birmingham in midweek. They were very happy travellers earlier in the season but they could really do with a few results away from home now and this would not be a fantastic time for them to start for Boro.
Overall, Boro have looked lacking in creativity and ideas at times and under Tony Pulis their most likely route to a goal has simply come by giving the ball to Adama Traore. He’s a huge threat with the ball at his feet but was among three players sacrificed at Half-Time at Bramall Lane in midweek as Pulis rang the changes.
Against the weaker teams Boro tended to still have enough but they have a shocking record at home to the top ten this term. They’ve lost at home to all of the current top five and 9th placed Sheffield United are the highest current ranked team that they’ve beaten at the Riverside.
That record will give plenty of hope to Bristol City and could also play on the minds of the Boro players. The suspension of Grant Leadbitter will also disrupt things for Boro and could allow the visitors to get a foothold in the game. All things considered Bristol City appear to have a good chance of coming away with something despite their inconsistent away form. The head-to-head also backs that up with the Robins boasting a good record at The Riverside.
Bristol City have won all of the last five meetings. They’ve taken 11 points from their last 5 league visits to the Riverside.