On Tuesday, Birmingham City take on Middlesbrough in the EFL Championship. In the reverse fixture back in October 2021, it was the team from West Midlands that came out on top against the team from Northeast with a 2-0 away victory. Marc Roberts and Scott Hogan got the goals for Birmingham City that day. Coming into this game, Birmingham drew 0-0 with Hull City, and Middlesbrough also drew 0-0 with Millwall.
Coming into this match, Birmingham are in 19th position on the points table. Their record stands at 10 wins, 11 draws, and 16 losses after their goalless draw against Hull City. Birmingham City have conceded 56 goals this campaign, but xGA predicted them to concede only 42 goals – a woeful underperformance defensively.
Birmingham City have only one player who has reached double figures in goals. Scott Hogan has outperformed his xG output by two goals this season. He has not received adequate support from his teammates. No other Birmingham City player has even scored half a dozen goals. Gary Gardner is the team’s second-highest goalscorer, with only five goals to his name.
Defender Marc Roberts generated the most xT for Birmingham City so far this campaign, particularly from his throw-ins. Jeremie Bela is Birmingham City’s second-most successful threat creator this season. Most of Birmingham City’s threat came from the left wing this season.
Middlesbrough come into this game after a goalless draw against Millwall. That result left them eighth on the league table. Their record now stands at 16 wins, 8 draws, and 12 losses. xG predicted Middlesbrough to score 54 goals this season, but they have scored only 46 goals – a big underachievement going forward.
That underachievement for Middlesbrough can be seen in the ‘Attacking and Creativity’ column. xG per 90 ranks them in the 67th percentile, but goals per 90 ranks them only in the 48th percentile. Middlesbrough have only 0.74 assists per 90 and 0.79 expected assists (xA) per 90. They have around 47 passes into the final third per 90, which indicates Middlesbrough progress the ball very well, but it is in the final third that they lack the cutting edge to score the goals.
Birmingham City are 16 points off relegation, which means they are mostly safe but not quite safe yet. They must use this match to distance themselves further from the relegation zone. For Middlesbrough, they need to perform in the attack. In their last five games, they have scored only seven goals, which is not good for a team that wants to be in the promotion play-off spots. Both teams need to win this game for different reasons.