Preview: Millwall vs. Birmingham City – prediction, team news, lineups…

Preview: Millwall vs. Birmingham City – prediction, team news, lineups…

Both scrapping for their second-tier lives near the foot of the league standings, a rejuvenated Millwall side will welcome Birmingham City to The Den on Saturday afternoon in the Championship.

The Lions were forced to share the spoils at Blackburn Rovers in the week, whilst Blues produced a late comeback to earn a point from playoff-chasing Hull City.

Since the arrival of Neil Harris back to the Millwall managerial hotseat, the Lions have collected seven points from three matches against Premier League hopefuls Southampton, Watford and Blackburn, whilst having an average of just 27% possession across that trio of contests.

Consequently, those of a certain footballing view will argue that Millwall are back to their effective best following a departure from their hard-to-beat values under Joe Edwards, although better care with the ball would have allowed them to collect all three points on Tuesday night.

Netting his maiden goal for the Lions – and his first in over a year following an injury-riddled 12 months – Burnley loanee Michael Obafemi scored off the bench at Ewood Park in the second period, but Rovers’ leading marksman Sammie Szmodics was able to bag his 20th of the Championship term to force a share of the spoils.

After collecting just three points from seven second-tier matches before his arrival, 46-year-old Harris is taking the glass-half-full view of the Blackburn draw, with his Millwall troops lifting themselves up to 18th in the league standings, two points ahead of Stoke City in 22nd.

Back-to-back home defeats to Kieran McKenna’s Ipswich Town and fellow strugglers Sheffield Wednesday in February signalled the end of Edwards’s time as Lions boss, but Millwall were victorious in their most-recent fixture at The Den on March 2, when a third-minute Zian Flemming goal was enough to defeat Valerien Ismael’s Watford.

Entering the field of play during the final 10 minutes at the MKM Stadium on Tuesday night for his 306th competitive appearance as a Birmingham player, Lukas Jutkiewicz produced a trademark header to fire his side to a much-needed point against Liam Rosenior’s Hull City.

Blues looked destined for a third-straight loss since the departure of Tony Mowbray to receive medical treatment when Ozan Tufan’s right arm handed the hosts a first-half lead, but a tempting Alex Pritchard cross was met by the former Burnley striker to level the contest late on.

As much as Birmingham have looked to move away from their toxic relationship with the Championship relegation zone under ambitious American ownership, Saturday’s visitors are facing one last scrap for survival before the club can, hopefully, enjoy an on-field transformation in the summer.

Mark Venus’s side currently occupy 20th position in the second-tier standings after collecting one point in their last three matches, leaving Blues just a single point above Steve Schumacher’s Potters, who lie in the highest of the relegation spots, but the Second City club have crucially played a game fewer than all of their relegation rivals.

Birmingham’s biggest win of the 21st century arrived at The Den in January 2012, when a Marlon King brace – alongside goals from Curtis Davies, Chris Burke, Adam Rooney and a young Nathan Redmond – sealed a resounding 6-0 success for a side who had been knocked out of the Europa League a month earlier.


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