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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Forest may struggle against fired-up Cardiff

Bluebirds hoping for automatic promotion

Cardiff boss Neil Warnock
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Cardiff have conceded the fewest goals in the Sky Bet Championship and their reliable defence should help them overcome Nottingham Forest and take another huge step towards a place in the Premier League.

The Bluebirds got back on track with last Saturday's gutsy 2-0 win at Norwich but are still battling it out with Fulham and Aston Villa for the second automatic promotion spot.

Cardiff are delighted to have got to this stage of the season with their fate in their own hands but there is the potential for bumps on the road with tricky trips to Derby and Hull coming up.

Beating Forest looks vitally important.

Need-to-win factors are skewing the betting with Cardiff long odds-on to overcome a lower, mid-table Forest side assured of second-tier status next season.

But Cardiff have shown themselves to be the far superior team (the gap between them is 34 points) and should prevail even if the visitors produce a fully committed performance.

Forest ended any lingering doubts over their Championship status by winning 2-1 at home to Ipswich last Saturday.

However, they were poor for the vast majority of the match and needed an 89th-minute Ben Brereton penalty and an injury-time Joe Lolley goal to turn it in their favour.

It was widely anticipated that the Tricky Trees would improve under new owner Evangelos Marinakis, who bankrolled an energetic recruitment drive over the last two transfer windows.

But Forest are a work in progress and their points tally of 49 is only four more than at the same stage last season.

A big improvement will be expected next term and there will be pressure on manager Aitor Karanka, who has presided over four wins, five draws and seven defeats since he was appointed in early January.

Karanka has a promotion on his managerial CV from his time at Middlesbrough and may do better after a full pre-season with the players.

But for now Forest look an ordinary Championship side and appear ideal opponents for a Cardiff team desperate to get over the line.

Before the late flourish against Ipswich, Forest had gone six games without finding the net.

They may struggle to make an impression against Cardiff and there is odds-against value in backing the hosts to win the game without conceding.

Cardiff win to nil
1pt 11-8 BoyleSports, Sky Bet

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Team news
Joe Ralls and Jazz Richards have shaken off injuries and return to the squad. No fresh injuries are reported.

Nottingham Forest
Lee Tomlin cannot face his parent club and Aitor Karanka has said he will make changes over the last four games of the season.

Key stat
Nottingham Forest have failed to score in six of their last seven fixtures.

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Forest look an ordinary Championship side and appear ideal opponents for a Cardiff team desperate to get over the line
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