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Tactics Preview: Pep Clotet’s Birmingham City

The Blues, now under the permanent management of Pep Clotet, will be tricky opposition on Saturday afternoon.

Huddersfield Town v Birmingham City - Sky Bet Championship - John Smith’s Stadium Photo by Ian Hodgson/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

Birmingham City have had a mixed start to the season. Since beating Luton Town at the end of October, they have gone five games without a win. Despite winning two of their first three away games, Birmingham have not won on the road since mid-September, shipping three goals on three separate occasions, as well as four to Cardiff.

Birmingham line up in a 4-4-2 with either Alvaro Gimenez or Lucas Jutkiewicz usually leading the line. Averaging less than 50% possession per game, the Blues will be happy to let Reading keep the ball for spells in the game and offer threats in attack including the likes of Dan Crowley and Jude Bellingham. Birmingham place an emphasis on tricky wingers, and with the likes of Jefferson Montero on the bench, they have strength in depth in this area of the field.

Having only scored 19 goals in 19 games this season, a relatively tight defence sees them sit only four points above Reading in the table. With a mix of youth and experience at the back, Birmingham’s stand-out performers this season have been primarily defenders. With left back Kristian Pedersen playing every game this season, including scoring three goals already this season, he provides a threat at both ends of the pitch.

This is only bettered by forward Jutkiewicz, who has five goals to his name this season, and is a big threat in the air. In the middle of the park, tough-tackling Ivan Sunjic provides an additional level of quality to what Blues fans have been used to in recent years, with six yellow cards to his name also this season, perhaps hinting at the new signing looking to man mark Ovie Ejaria on Saturday afternoon.

In goal, Lee Camp has been dropped for the up-and-coming former academy keeper Connal Trueman, who has overseen three 1-1 draws in a row since coming into the side. Despite Reading failing to score against Birmingham in their last five home league games, they will be confident of beating a side in and around them in the table, especially with the return of Ovie Ejaria.