The Sky Blues take on Birmingham City in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Friday night. Here’s everything you need to know about our opponents.
Name: Birmingham City
Stadium: St Andrew’s (first opened 1906)
Address: St Andrew’s Stadium, Cattell Road, Birmingham, B9 4RL
Pitch Size: 109 x 72 yards
Birmingham City have made a steady start to the season under new head coach Aitor Karanka, having finished two places above the drop zone last term.
Blues added plenty of experience to their squad in the summer including Neil Etheridge, George Friend, Spain international Mikel San Jose, Adam Clayton and Scott Hogan.
Karanka’s side have been difficult to breakdown this season, conceding 11 goals in as many matches, but have struggled in front of goal, finding the net on just nine occasions.
Aitor Karanka was appointed as Birmingham head coach this July, having previously guided Middlesbrough into the Premier League.
Karanka enjoyed a successful playing career featuring for both Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid as well as Spain at international level.
He began his coaching career with Spain’s under-16 side before becoming assistant manager to Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid.
After three seasons in Madrid he was appointed as Middlesbrough head coach in November 2013 and led the club to the Championship play-off final in his first full season in charge where they were beaten by Norwich City.
He eventually secured promotion to the Premier League the following season, finishing as runners-up, before being sacked in what proved to be a difficult first season back in the top-flight in March 2017.
The Spaniard returned to management with Nottingham Forest in January 2018 and spent a year in charge at the City Ground prior to his appointment as Blues boss this summer.
With Birmingham, Karanka has managed 12 matches recording three wins, four draws and five defeats.
Last Six Games
Lost – Birmingham 1-3 Bournemouth (Sky Bet Championship)
Lost – Birmingham 1-2 Wycombe Wanderers (Sky Bet Championship)
Won – Preston North End 1-2 Birmingham (Sky Bet Championship)
Won – Birmingham 2-1 Huddersfield Town (Sky Bet Championship)
Drew – Queens Park Rangers 0-0 Birmingham (Sky Bet Championship)
Lost – Norwich City 1-0 Birmingham (Sky Bet Championship)
Last Time We Met
The two sides last met in February this year with the Sky Blues beaten on penalties after a 2-2 draw in an FA Cup fourth round replay.
Birmingham came close to breaking the deadlock when City failed to deal with Marc Roberts’ long throw which was hooked goalwards and superbly cleared off the line by Dom Hyam.
The Sky Blues took the lead early in the second-half when Amadou Bakayoko’s shot deflected off Roberts and looped into the back of the net.
City almost added a second goal when Fankaty Dabo was sent clear down the right before crossing for Max Biamou who fired over the crossbar from 10-yards out.
Mark Robins side were dealt a cruel blow in injury-time when Harlee Dean headed home Jacques Maghoma’s cross from the right to send the game to extra-time.
Blues almost snatched a late winner when former City man Lukas Jutkiewicz headed against the crossbar.
The Sky Blues began the extra period on the front foot and almost retook the lead when Jamie Allen went on a surging run into the penalty area before seeing his effort deflected just wide of the post.
City deservedly went ahead six minutes from time when a fine team move ended with Callum O’Hare finding Biamou inside the penalty area before the striker coolly finished past Lee Camp to send the Sky Blues faithful into delirium.
However, victory was once again snatched away from City when Jeremie Bela’s cross from the right went in off the left-hand post with virtually the last kick of the game.
Birmingham would go on to win 4-1 on penalties, converting all four of their spot kicks, with Matty Godden on target for the Sky Blues.
Sky Blues Wins – 17
Draws – 16
Birmingham Wins – 24
Sky Blues favourite Dele Adebola enjoyed a spell with Birmingham early in his career before enjoying a five-season stay with the Sky Blues.
The Nigeria born striker began his career with Crewe Alexandra and made over 100 appearances for the Railwaymen over six seasons, helping them secure promotion to the First Division in 1996/97 via the play-offs.
His form for the Staffordshire club earned him a move to fellow First Division side Birmingham in February 1998 and after a bright start to life in the West Midlands, he fell out of favour despite helping them reach the 2001 League Cup final.
He spent time on loan with Oldham Athletic after suffering a long-term knee injury whilst at Birmingham before joining Crystal Palace for a season in August 2002.
The forward joined the Sky Blues the following season and finished the campaign on loan at Burnley, also spending time on loan at Bradford City at the beginning of the 2004/05 campaign.
He would eventually go on to make 163 appearances for City, scoring 31 goals, and became a firm favourite amongst the Sky Blues faithful during his five seasons with the club.
Adebola departed for Bristol City in January 2008 and impressed for the Ashton Gate club before sending two seasons with Nottingham Forest and finishing his career with Hull City.
Former Republic of Ireland international Liam Daish spent two seasons with Birmingham before finishing his professional career with the Sky Blues.
Daish came through Portsmouth’s academy, making one appearance for the club before joining Cambridge United where he made over 100 appearances and helped the club achieve successive promotions from the fourth division to the second division.
His impressive form at Cambridge saw him complete a move to Birmingham in January 1994 with Daish spending just over two years in the West Midlands.
He captained the side to the Division Two title as well as the EFL Trophy, making just shy of 100 appearances for Blues before signing for the Sky Blues in February 1996.
The defender managed just 34 appearances in a City shirt, across four seasons, having suffered a serious knee ligament injury during his time with the club.
Daish finished his career in non-league football with Havant & Waterlooville before retiring from football in 2003.
Oliver Langford will be the man in the middle on Friday night, taking charge of his ninth game of the 2020/21 season.
He last refereed the Sky Blues back in March 2016, when City were beaten 1-0 by Rochdale at the Ricoh Arena.
This will be Oliver’s 13th season as a Football League referee and he has only officiated the Sky Blues on one occasion, that being the aforementioned League One clash with Rochdale.
So far, Langford has awarded 42 yellow cards and one red card across eight matches in the Sky Bet Championship and Carabao Cup.
He will be assisted by Rob Smith and James Wilson with Geoff Eltringham acting as fourth official.