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OPPOSITION VIEW: MIDDLESBROUGH

3 November 2014

Essential reading on Tuesday's opponents

MIDDLESBROUGH

Nickname: The Boro
Manager: Aitor Karanka
2013/14: 12th
Ground: Riverside Stadium
Fastest road route from Carrow Road: 227 miles (4 hours 10 minutes)

THE LOWDOWN
Sitting in third place in the Sky Bet Championship at the beginning of November, Middlesbrough have proven their credentials as promotion candidates this season.

Saturday’s convincing 3-0 win at Rotherham United means the Teesiders have lost only one of their last ten league matches, a run that has been helped by the fact that they boast the joint meanest defence in the division having conceded just 12 goals up to now.

Their best period of form came in September, following up three successive wins over Huddersfield, Cardiff and Brentford by taking Liverpool to penalties in their Capital One Cup meeting at Anfield.


Boro’s results at home haven’t been entirely convincing, however, with Sheffield Wednesday, Reading, Blackpool and Watford all taking something away from their trips to the Riverside.

Captain Grant Leadbitter is their leading goalscorer in the league with six, with the former Ipswich man closely followed by Spanish striker Kike, who is on five for the campaign.

In 2009, Middlesbrough’s 11-year stay in the Premier League was ended by relegation.

They have triumphed in the second tier of English football by winning the title four times, while they also boast a League Cup trophy (2004).

Their current squad contains one former Norwich City player in Daniel Ayala (2011-14), who made ten appearances during his spell at Carrow Road.

THE BOSS
A Champions League winner as a player, Aitor Karanka assumed his first senior managerial post when he took over as Middlesbrough boss in November 2013.

The Spaniard was previously assistant to Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid, where he triumphed in Europe’s elite club competition as a central defender.


Karanka replaced Tony Mowbray in the hotseat on Teeside and guided them to a 12th-place finish by the end of the 2013-14 campaign.

Born in Vitoria, he played for Athletic Bilbao before transferring to the Bernabeu in 1997, where he would go on to make 93 appearances.

He returned to Bilbao before wrapping up his career with Colorado Rapids in MLS. The 41-year-old earned a solitary cap for Spain’s national team.

Just before he took the job at Middlesbrough, Mourinho was glowing in his praise of Karanka, saying: “I think whatever club gets him, in England or in another country, will be a lucky club.”

THE SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Dimitrios Konstantopoulos, Connor Ripley, Tomas Mejias, Jamal Blackman.

Defenders: Damia Abella, George Friend, Daniel Ayala, Ryan Fredericks, Ben Gibson, Andy Halliday, James Husband, Kenneth Omeruo, Rhys Williams, Milos Veljkovic, Jonathan Woodgate (c).

Midfielders: Grant Leadbitter, Adam Clayton, Lee Tomlin, Emmanuel Ledesma, Dean Whitehead, Mustapha Carayol, Adam Reach, Emilio Nsue, Albert Adomah, Bryn Morris.

Forwards: Kike, Luke Williams, Jelle Vossen, Patrick Bamford, Bradley Fewster, Yanic Wildschut.

NEXT UP AT CARROW ROAD
Brighton, Saturday November 22 – 3pm
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